Back in October, I wrote a blog about JavaScript Fatigue and how to keep up with the fast pace of change in the technology world of the internet. But there is one key item I left out.

Will the popular library/framework you’re working on now, fade away?

There is risk in that what you learn today may not be relevant in a year or two. For me, that happened in 2012, just a year before React was released to the public. I was working for a company that needed to move a 20-year-old desktop application to the web. I had built a web application before but not to the extent that this one needed to be.

At the time, I joined a local meet-up group and they had just started a series of sessions covering some of the popular JavaScript libraries/frameworks. I learned about Single Page applications (SPA) and needed to find out what libraries/frameworks to choose. Each month, the meet-up hosted a new session on a different library/framework. The list was long and included a number of frameworks and libraries like:

Back then I had a team of four developers and none of them had a lot of experience with large web applications or SPAs. The challenge I had, therefore, was what technology to choose. The backend choice was easy. We all had experience with C#.NET and so Microsoft’s ASP.NET MVC was a natural choice. But we wanted to develop a SPA, so the Microsoft Razor page approach was not an option for us.

After reviewing the libraries/frameworks and talking to developers, I choose Sencha’s Ext JS.  Ext JS at the time was very popular. It had a strong community of developers and it was being used in large organizations. One key item was its documentation. It was a large framework with an extensive collection of UI widgets, but it also was one of the best-documented frameworks.

The core EXT JS framework was based on the MVC design pattern. MVC has been around for decades and all developers were familiar with it. It seemed to be the best fit for our team.

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Over the next few years, we rewrote the application with Ext JS and moved it into production.  Then something started to happen; we started having a problem when it came to finding developers that either knew EXT JS or even wanted to work on it. Angular was becoming the popular kid on the block and EXT JS started falling out of favor with developers.

The company hired a new CEO and the vibe in the community started to change and other open source frameworks were becoming popular as they were backed by large organizations like Google and Facebook.

Did I make the wrong decision? Sencha is still around. They still claim 60% of the Fortune 100 companies use Sencha. The product I helped rewrite is still in production.

From a business decision, I don’t think it was the wrong chose. For me, it was a good transition framework that helped me moved from being a desktop developer to a SPA developer. But would I write a new application today in EXT JS?

No.

Today I haven’t used Sencha for over two years. Today I focus on React for my main JavaScript library. It’s an open source library backed by Facebook. It currently has on average 200,000+ downloads a week from the npm repository. The development community is strong and is showing no signs of slowing down. But I still keep my eye out on the new kids on the block, such as Vue.js

It’s a changing world and you have to always be on the lookout for what changes will last and what changes will not.

 

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