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ADOPT?

  • If you are faced with building a single-page application (SPA) and trying to choose a framework to build with, Ember.js has emerged as a leading choice. Our teams praise Ember for its highly productive developer experience, with far fewer surprises than other frameworks such as AngularJS. The Ember CLI build tooling is a haven in the storm of JavaScript build tools, and the Ember core team and community are highly active and responsive.

  • In the avalanche of front-end JavaScript frameworks, React.js stands out due to its design around a reactive data flow. Allowing only one-way data binding greatly simplifies the rendering logic and avoids many of the issues that commonly plague applications written with other frameworks. We're seeing the benefits of React.js on a growing number of projects, large and small, while at the same time we continue to be concerned about the state and the future of other popular frameworks like AngularJS. This has led to React.js becoming our default choice for JavaScript frameworks.

  • With the increasing complexity of single-page JavaScript applications, we have seen a more pressing need to make client-side state management predictable. Redux, with its three principles of restrictions for updating state, has proven to be invaluable in a number of projects we have implemented. Getting Started with Redux and idiomatic Redux tutorials are a good starting point for new and experienced users. Its minimal library design has spawned a rich set of tools, and we encourage you to check out the redux-ecosystem-links project for examples, middleware and utility libraries. We also particularly like the testability story: Dispatching actions, state transitions and rendering can be unit-tested separately from one another and with minimal amounts of mocking.

  • A lot of work has gone into Spring Boot to reduce complexity and dependencies, which largely alleviates our previous reservations. If you live in a Spring ecosystem and are moving to microservices, Spring Boot is now the obvious choice. For those not in Springland, Dropwizard is also worthy of serious consideration.

TRIAL?

  • Butterknife is a field and method binding view-injection library. It allows the injection of arbitrary objects, views and listeners, thereby ensuring cleaner code with reduced glue code for Android development. With Butterknife, multiple views can be grouped into a list or array with common actions applied to the views simultaneously, without heavy reliance on XML configurations. Our project teams have used this library and benefited from its simplicity and ease of use.

  • With the increased need for Android-based applications, Dagger offers a fully static, compile-time dependency-injection framework. Dagger's strictly generated implementation and nonreliance on reflection-based solutions addresses many of the performance and development issues, thereby making it suitable for Android development. With Dagger, there is full traceability with easy debugging because the entire call stack for provision and creation is made available.

  • Dapper is a minimal, lightweight ORM of sorts for .NET. Rather than trying to write the SQL queries for you, Dapper maps SQL queries to dynamic objects. Though it's not brand new, Dapper has steadily gained acceptance from ThoughtWorks teams working in .NET. For the C# programmer, it removes some of the drudgery of mapping relational queries to objects while still allowing complete control over the SQL or stored procedures.

  • Interest in the Elixir programming language continues to build. Increasingly, we see it used in serious projects and hear feedback from developers who find its Actor model to be robust and very fast. Elixir, which is built on top of the Erlang virtual machine, is showing promise for creating highly concurrent and fault-tolerant systems. Elixir has distinctive features such as the Pipe operator, which allows developers to build a pipeline of functions as you would in the UNIX command shell. The shared byte code allows Elixir to interoperate with Erlang and leverage existing libraries while supporting tools such as the Mix build tool, the IEx interactive shell and the ExUnit unit-testing framework.

  • We’ve been enjoying the rapid component-level UI testing that Enzyme provides for React.js applications. Unlike many other snapshot-based testing frameworks, Enzyme allows you to test without doing on-device rendering, which results in faster and more granular testing. This is a contributing factor in our ability to massively reduce the amount of functional testing we find we have to do in React applications.

  • Immutability is often emphasized in the functional programming paradigm, and most languages have the ability to create immutable objects—objects that can't be changed once created. Immutable.js is a library for JavaScript that provides many persistent immutable data structures, which are highly efficient on modern JavaScript virtual machines. Immutable.js objects are, however, not normal JavaScript objects, so references to JavaScript objects from immutable objects should be avoided. More teams are using this library for tracking mutation and maintaining state in production. We recommend that developers investigate this library, especially when it's combined with the rest of the Facebook stack.

  • Some of our ThoughtWorks teams have had very positive experiences with Phoenix, a server-side web MVC framework written in Elixir. In addition to being streamlined and easy to use, Phoenix takes advantage of Elixir to be extremely fast. For some developers, Phoenix evokes the joy they experienced when first discovering Ruby and Rails. Although the ecosystem of libraries for Phoenix is not as extensive as for some more mature frameworks, it should benefit from the continuing success and growth of support for Elixir.

  • Most of our iOS teams are now using the Quick and Nimble pairing for their unit tests. In the RSpec family of behavior-driven development (BDD) testing tools, it provides very readable tests (with describe blocks) across Swift and Objective-C and has good support for asynchronous testing.

  • We are seeing continued success with React Native for rapid cross-platform mobile development. Despite some churn as it undergoes continuing development, the advantages of trivial integration between native and nonnative code and views, the rapid development cycle (instant reload, chrome debugging, Flexbox layout) and general growth of the React style is winning us over. As with many frameworks, care needs to be taken to keep your code well structured, but diligent use of a tool like Redux really helps here.

  • In the Android application-development world, Robolectric is a unit-testing framework that has been used by multiple teams within our technical community. It offers the best option among those available for writing real unit tests that extend or interact directly with Android components and support JUnit tests. We caution, though, that because it is an implementation of the Android SDK, there might be device-specific issues for some tests that pass in Robolectric. To manually mock all the Android dependencies, ensuring only test of the system-in-test will require a lot of complex code, and this framework addresses this effectively.

ASSESS?

  • Aurelia is considered the next-generation JavaScript client framework and was written using a modern version of JavaScript: ECMAScript 2016. Aurelia was created by Rob Eisenberg, the creator of Durandal. He left the Angular 2.0 core team to dedicate his time to this project. The great thing about Aurelia is that it's highly modular, contains simple small libraries and is designed to be customized easily. Aurelia follows the pattern of convention over configuration, which enables easier production and consumption of modules, but there are no strong conventions that you have to adhere to. Aurelia has a large community, and in the project website you can learn more by using the tutorials.

  • ECMAScript 2017—not to be confused with ES7 (a.k.a. ECMAScript 2016)—brings several noteworthy improvements to the language. Browsers are expected to implement this standard fully in the summer of 2017, but the Babel JavaScript compiler already supports a number of the features today. If you make extensive use of JavaScript and your codebase is under active development, we recommend that you add Babel to your build pipeline and begin using the supported features.
  • We have been prompted to reconsider Elm because of the rapid adoption of Redux framework. Elm—the original inspiration for Redux—offers the view componentization and reactiveness of React.js along with the predictable state of Redux in a compiled, strongly typed functional language. Elm is written in Haskell and has a Haskell-like syntax but compiles down to HTML, CSS and JavaScript for the browser. JavaScript programmers rushing to embrace React.js and Redux might want to also consider Elm as a type-safe alternative for some applications.

  • When we look at REST implementations in the wild, we frequently see REST misused to naively retrieve object graphs through chatty interactions between client and server. Facebook's GraphQL is an interesting alternative to REST that might be a better approach for this very common use case. As a protocol for remotely retrieving object graphs, GraphQL has received enormous attention recently. One of GraphQL's most interesting features is its consumer-oriented nature: The structure of a response is driven entirely by the client, not the server. This decouples the consumer and forces the server to obey Postel's law. Client implementations are now available in many programming languages, but we have seen a flurry of interest of Facebook's Relay, a JavaScript framework that was designed to support the React.js stateless component model.

  • JuMP is a domain-specific language for mathematical optimizations in Julia. JuMP defines a common API called MathProgBase and enables users to write solver-agnostic code in Julia. Currently supported solvers include Artelys Knitro, Bonmin, Cbc, Clp, Couenne, CPLEX, ECOS, FICO Xpress, GLPK, Gurobi, Ipopt, MOSEK, NLopt and SCS. One other benefit is the implementation of automatic differentiation technique in reverse mode to compute derivatives so users are not limited to the standard operators like sin, cos, log and sqrt but can also implement their own custom objective functions in Julia.

  • We have been intrigued by the Physical Web standard created by Google. The idea of Physical Web is simple—beacons broadcast a URL—but the possibilities are broad. Basically, this is a way to annotate the physical world, tying objects and locations into the digital realm. The current transport mechanism is Eddystone URLs over Bluetooth LE, and sample clients are available. Although there are obvious security concerns with following randomly discovered links, we are most interested in use cases with customized clients where you can filter or proxy the URLs as required.

  • Rapidoid is a collection of web framework modules, including a fast low-level HTTP server implemented from scratch on top of Java NIO. Clever usage of off-heap input/output buffers, object pools and thread-local data structures provide Rapidoid an edge over other NIO-based servers like Netty. Being a fairly new project, Rapidoid has yet to implement a few features like built-in cache and SSL support; we suggest you check the roadmap for updates.

  • We've been enjoying how Recharts integrates D3 charts into React.js in a clean and declarative manner.

  • We are excited that the Redux paradigm has made its way to Swift-land in the form of ReSwift. We’ve found real benefits in the simplicity and readability of codebases once state and state changes are managed in a central place and common idiom. This also helps with building "offline first" applications.

  • Despite the fervor surrounding the spate of new headsets, we believe there are many VR and AR scenarios that make sense in the browser, particularly on mobile. Given this trend, we have seen an uptick in usage of Three.js, a powerful JavaScript visualization and 3D rendering framework. The growth in support for WebGL, which it is based on, has helped adoption, as has the vibrant community supporting this open source project.

  • In the ever-changing world of front-end JavaScript frameworks, Vue.js has gained a lot of ground as a lightweight alternative to AngularJS. It is designed to be a very flexible—and a less opinionated—library that offers a set of tools for building interactive web interfaces around concepts like modularity, components and reactive data flow. It has a low learning barrier, which makes it interesting for junior developers and beginners. Vue.js itself is not a full-blown framework; it is focused on the view layer only and therefore is easy to integrate with other libraries or existing projects.

  • Widespread adoption of AR/VR as a collaboration and communication medium requires a modern and readily available video streaming platform. WebRTC is an emerging standard for real-time communication between browsers that enables video streaming within commonly available web technologies. The range of browsers that support this standard is increasing, but Microsoft and Apple have been slow to adopt WebRTC in their proprietary browsers. If momentum continues to build, WebRTC could form the future foundation for AR/VR collaboration on the web.

HOLD?

  • AngularJS helped revolutionize the world of single-page JavaScript applications, and we have delivered many projects successfully with it over the years. However, we are no longer recommending it (v1) for teams starting fresh projects. We prefer the ramp-up speed and more maintainable codebases we are seeing with Ember and React, particularly in conjunction with Redux.

  • Many iOS developers are using JSPatch to dynamically patch their apps. When a JSPatch-enabled app runs, it loads a chunk of JavaScript (potentially via an insecure HTTP connection) and then bridges to the main Objective-C application code to change behavior, fix bugs, and so on. While convenient, we think monkey-patching live apps is a bad idea and should be avoided. When doing any amount of incremental patching, it's very important that your testing process matches what end users will experience, in order to properly validate functionality. An alternative approach is to use React Native for the app and AppHub and CodePush to push small updates and new features.

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