The JavaScript Migration Trend

Over the past few years, we assisted multiple clients with migrating their projects to a new frontend technology. We want to investigate why so many migration tracks have occurred.

The history

The JavaScript Single Page Applications boom started with Angular and Backbone in 2010 and React in 2013. I remember those good old days of manually configuring workflows in Gulp, or hours of debugging a Grunt configuration file.

For projects that started around this era, their original versions were written in tech that is outdated by now (~10 years old). Even if the development team followed an upgrade path (e.g., diligently performing AngularJS updates), the core tech and setup of the project could still feel ancient by now.

Over the years, when newer frameworks started popping up, the old ones got obsolete. For example, some of the older frameworks:

  • AngularJS v1 LTS period ended in 2018
  • BackboneJS hasn’t had a major release since 2014 (last minor release in 2019)

The rapid pace of web development

Why do frontend web technologies, including JavaScript frameworks and libraries, feel like legacy so fast?

In general, the technology is still relatively new. As previously mentioned, the current JavaScript paradigm for SPAs began around 2010. Early technologies often undergo more rapid evolution.

The dynamic nature of web development leads to an ever-changing collection of standards and technologies. These factors give frontend techs shorter lifespans than their backend counterparts.

Standards and non-functional requirements

The rapid pace is fueled by the benefits project teams can gain when updating or embracing new technology. Developers and other stakeholders advocate for change when new standards become the norm or significant advancements are available in areas like:

  • Performance
  • Scalability
  • Maintainability
  • Security
  • Modern UX

Developer availability and motivation

There is also a correlation with developer availability. Because of the scattered nature of the JS Framework landscape and quick shifts and evolutions, developers tend to shift quickly to newer and more fashionable frameworks. Because the new shiny frameworks use different techniques and are more fun to work with, the incentive to keep the ‘legacy’ skills top of mind is limited. Projects stuck with a framework like AngularJS struggle to find developers to work on them.

Migrations in the wild

In the next blog post we’ll share some practical use cases from our experience in helping clients bring their projects up to date. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter to stay up-to-date!