Frontend frameworks: Next/Nuxt/Gatsby: Mastering one or knowing all

By Arso Stojović
Read time 6 min
Posted on June 26, 2024
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Frontend frameworks

Frontend frameworks, mastering one and being an expert, or knowing more of them but not going deep into their functionalities?

I came across a discussion on Reddit about this topic and it inspired me to devote myself to this topic and write an article. Before I start dealing with this issue, I have a rhetorical question.

Do you only know English or other languages? With knowledge of the English language, you can communicate in most places, but there is a big chance that even those who understand you will not be able to answer you.

Is it worth it to you that you only know English? Why do you know all the tenses, and grammar rules and have a pronunciation like a British royal family, if someone can't answer you or knows English as well as Tarzan?  Is your knowledge practical in that case? 🤔

If you ask me, the same goes for frontend frameworks, being an expert can have some benefits, but it can also lead you to a dead end from which you can only get out if your knowledge is practical.

While being an expert in a single front-end framework, like React, is valuable, it's not always practical for all projects. For instance, creating a simple blogging website with React might be overkill due to its complex setup and state management. A framework like Vue.js or a static site generator like Gatsby can provide out-of-the-box solutions, making development faster and easier.

Don’t you agree? So what to do? Let’s get started with an analysis of both options.

As you may know, there are numerous top frontend frameworks, and it is impossible to mention all of them, so I decided to make a list of top frontend frameworks, based on usage and developer preference:

  • React remains a top choice for building interactive UIs and single-page applications due to its component-based architecture and virtual DOM for efficient rendering. These features and an extensive ecosystem make it ideal for scalable and dynamic projects.

  • Angular is loved for its comprehensive MVC architecture, two-way data binding, and TypeScript support. It is highly suitable for large-scale, enterprise-level applications, though it has a steep learning curve compared to other frameworks.

  • Due to its simplicity, flexibility, and easy integration opportunities, Vue.js is becoming devs' fav framework. Its versatility and progressive framework approach allow for incremental adoption, making it great for both small and large-scale apps.

  • Svelte is unique in that it shifts much of the work from the browser to the build process, resulting in highly optimized and performant apps. It offers a simple syntax and minimal boilerplate, making it ideal for projects prioritizing speed and efficiency.

  • Although not as modern as other frameworks, jQuery remains relevant for simple projects due to its ease of use in DOM manipulation and event handling. It's lightweight and has a vast plugin ecosystem, though its usage has declined with the rise of newer and modern frameworks.

  • Definitely, the most used React-based framework**, NextJS,** is often a dev's choice**.** Next.js is known for its server-side rendering capabilities, improving performance and SEO.

  • Backbone.js provides structure to web apps with its models, views, collections, and routers. It’s lightweight and flexible, making it suitable for projects requiring a minimalistic and simple architecture.

  • A framework built on Vue.js, Nuxt.js focuses on server-side rendering and static site generation, making it great for improving performance and SEO.

  • Gatsby is optimized for building fast static websites and apps with a focus on performance and SEO. It uses GraphQL for data management.

If this isn’t enough, let’s go through some statistics.

Some statistics show that developers really like to try out new technologies and different tools for their projects. So let’s start with the Stack Overflow survey:

Frontend frameworks trends

NPM downloads

NPM downloads

Ok, trends and research indicate that the tools market is fluctuating and constantly changing. Plus, developers have the pretension to use different tools in different projects.  1:0 for knowing all. Let’s keep going.

Mastering one framework: Community opinion

I’ll leave my opinion for the end of this article, now I want to focus on the opinions and views of the Reddit community who participated in this discussion.

Why?

They are mostly developers with experience, and based on their experiences they have come to certain conclusions.

So, let's get debatable:

Reasons for being a master in one framework

Reason #1: Ability to solve problems in depth

This is one of the popular POVs: Mastering one framework gives you the capacity to solve complex issues and create sophisticated solutions. Deep expertise enables you to understand a framework's complexities and advanced capabilities, allowing you to develop better and more effective solutions.

My doubts: Would you agree with me if I say that, relying solely on one framework, may limit your ability to adapt to new technologies? The tech industry evolves rapidly, and frameworks can become outdated. If you're too specialized, you might struggle to transition to new tools and methodologies, making you less versatile in a dynamic job market.

Reason #2: Job security

Mastering an attractive framework makes you more attractive to employers. Companies often seek specialists who can make a significant contribution from the get-go. This statement sounds like it makes sense.

My doubts: While expertise in a "famous" framework can increase job prospects, it also means your skills are tied to the framework's market trends. If the framework falls out of favor, your job security might be at risk. Moreover, being highly specialized might make you less appealing to employers seeking developers with diverse skill sets who can adapt to various project needs, right?

Reason #3: Adaptability

Some say that mastery of one framework does not prevent the ability to acquire additional ones when needed. Deep experience can provide the skills and information needed to master different frameworks more easily.

My doubts: Even if you master one framework well, sudden shifts in technology requirements may still pose challenges. You will become more agile in an industry that is rapidly changing when you learn and experience different frameworks continuously.

Reasons for being okay at many frameworks

Reason #1: Adaptability

Being familiar with multiple frameworks makes you more adaptable. It allows you to quickly pick up new technologies and tools as needed, making you more valuable in a dynamic industry. You can work on a variety of projects and easily transition between different tech solutions.

My doubts: While versatility is beneficial, being only okay at many frameworks might mean you lack the deep expertise required to solve complex problems efficiently. You might find it challenging to achieve the same level of proficiency and productivity as someone who has mastered a single framework.

Reason #2: Broader perspective and problem-solving

A lot of front-end developers think that exposure to multiple frameworks broadens your perspective and enhances your problem-solving skills. You become more open to different approaches and can make more informed decisions when selecting the best tool for a given problem.

My doubts: However, without a deep knowledge of any one framework, you might struggle to implement these solutions effectively. The lack of specialized skills might lead to poor performance and code quality.

Reason #3: Future-proofing your skills

Indeed, the tech industry is constantly evolving, and frameworks can quickly fall out of favor. By being familiar with multiple frameworks, you reduce the risk of your skills becoming outdated. You remain flexible and can easily transition to newer or more in-demand technologies as they emerge.

My doubts: While this approach helps you stay current, it might prevent you from achieving the depth of expertise needed to excel in specific roles or projects. You might be seen as a generalist rather than a specialist, which could limit certain career opportunities.

Reason #4: Job flexibility

Driven by experience, some people say that knowing multiple frameworks makes you more employable. Employers value developers who can work with various technologies and adapt to different project requirements. This flexibility can open up more job opportunities and make you a valuable asset to any team.

My doubts: How to stand out as an expert in a highly competitive job market? Employers might prefer candidates with deep expertise in a specific framework, especially for roles requiring specialized skills.

Mastering one or knowing all? My POV

Here’s my debate winner:

Frontend frameworks conclusion

In web development, it's not just about the tools you use, but the problems you solve with them. Having this perspective, you are one step closer to becoming a versatile developer. Often, you'll hear the saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one." In the dev industry, where tools and frameworks are highly similar, this is especially true.

Understanding core concepts, rather than focusing on specific frameworks, is key.

This broad knowledge allows you to adapt and apply your skills to various technologies. The goal is to become a T-skilled developer: having in-depth expertise in one area while maintaining a broad understanding of related fields. As a developer, it’s essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different frameworks to make informed decisions based on project requirements.

Speaking of core concepts, versatile skills, and project requirements let me show you a practical example of how that can be applied across various frameworks.

Next/Nuxt/Gatsby BCMS code starters

Concepts such as server-side rendering, or static site generation, and efficient state management are foundational and can be applied across various frameworks.

To illustrate this, I'll use BCMS code starter projects using Next.js, Nuxt.js, and Gatsby. Each project leverages the same core concepts while utilizing the unique features of each framework:

  • NextJS starters: Demonstrate server-side rendering and API route integration, showcasing how NextJS excels at building dynamic applications.

  • NuxtJS starters: Highlight file-based routing and seamless SSR, emphasizing Nuxt.js's flexibility and power in the Vue.js ecosystem.

  • Gatsby starters: Focus on static site generation with excellent performance and SEO benefits, illustrating Gatsby's strengths in creating fast, static websites.

Each of these starters uses the same foundational concepts (and BCMS headless CMS) but applies them in ways that highlight the distinct advantages of the respective frontend frameworks.

For a detailed comparison of these frameworks, including their key features and differences, you can check out my blog article Gatsby vs Next vs Nuxt: Key Features and Differences.

Conclusion: Become the T-shaped developer

In conclusion, don't master just one or learn all frontend frameworks, instead become a T-shaped developer.

If I go back to the story's beginning, as a T-skilled developer you will be able to speak British royal English but also communicate with Tarzan without difficulty. 😎The learning curve will be short.

This versatile skill set allows you to adapt to different project requirements, leveraging the right tool for each job, and ultimately becoming a more valuable and effective developer. By focusing on core concepts and versatile skills, you can ensure that you are prepared to find solutions for a wide range of challenges in the ever-evolving field of web development.

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