When Do You Use a Library Or Framework Versus Vanilla Javascript?

When Do You Use a Library Or Framework Versus Vanilla Javascript?

Deciding between a library, framework, or Vanilla JavaScript can be pivotal for web development projects. We've gathered insights from distinguished software engineers and CEOs to share their wisdom. From aligning technology with project complexity to considering long-term project maintenance, explore these four expert opinions on making the best tech choices.

  • Align Tech With Project Complexity
  • Match Tech to Project Scope
  • Choose Vanilla JS for SDKs
  • Consider Long-Term Project Maintenance

Align Tech With Project Complexity

The decision to use a library/toolkit/framework or Vanilla JavaScript depends on project complexity, team expertise, timeline, and specific requirements. Simple projects with limited functionality may be better suited for Vanilla JavaScript. Larger projects with complex UI, state management, and routing could benefit from frameworks like React or Vue.js.

Frameworks can provide components, virtual DOM, and rich ecosystems, accelerating development. However, for small, experienced teams building high-performance websites, sticking with Vanilla JavaScript can reduce performance overhead.

Tight deadlines may favor frameworks with reusable components and tools. Specific requirements like complex UIs, consistent components, or micro-frontends might necessitate a framework or toolkit (built externally or internally). Ultimately, the choice should align with project needs, team expertise, and the level of internal developer organizational support.

Susan Potter
Susan PotterDistinguished Software Engineer, Referential Labs

Match Tech to Project Scope

As a CEO of a software development company, I always advise our team to consider the project requirements and timeline when deciding between using a library or framework versus Vanilla JavaScript. If the project is complex and requires a lot of functionality, a framework like React or Angular can save time and provide structure. However, for simpler projects or when performance is a priority, sticking to Vanilla JavaScript can be more efficient. For example, if we're building a small landing page with minimal interactivity, using Vanilla JavaScript would be the way to go to keep things lightweight and fast.

Alex Stasiak
Alex StasiakCEO & Founder, Startup House

Choose Vanilla JS for SDKs

Using Vanilla JavaScript gives me full control over the code, maximal compatibility, and minimal external dependencies. But it only makes sense in just a few scenarios, one of which is the creation of specialized tools such as a JavaScript SDK.

An SDK often needs to be lightweight and fast, without the overhead of additional libraries or frameworks. For example, if I'm building an SDK to be used by other developers to integrate my API into their projects, I'd want it to be as streamlined and efficient as possible. Using Vanilla JavaScript allows me to write code that doesn't rely on external libraries, making it more broadly compatible and easier to maintain in a developer's ecosystem.

When building almost anything else, I would opt for a framework or library like React or Angular. That way, I don't reinvent the wheel or end up building a makeshift framework of my own to handle concerns like component reusability, state management, and data fetching.

Matthew Lam
Matthew LamFull-Stack Developer, Penfriend

Consider Long-Term Project Maintenance

Choosing between using a library or framework versus Vanilla JavaScript often hinges on the specific needs and scale of the project. As a CEO overseeing web development, I recommend considering a few key factors:

  • Complexity and Size – For smaller, simpler projects, Vanilla JavaScript might be sufficient and more efficient, avoiding the overhead of learning and integrating a new framework. However, for more complex applications, such as those requiring extensive dynamic content, a framework or library can significantly speed up development and provide robust features out-of-the-box.
  • Development Speed and Scalability – Frameworks like React or Angular provide structured ways to build scalable applications quickly. They offer reusable components and data-binding features that can reduce bugs and increase development speed. For instance, in developing a large-scale application that required a responsive user interface with real-time data updates, we opted for React due to its virtual DOM, which efficiently updates the UI.
  • Community Support and Resources – Popular frameworks and libraries often have extensive community support and resources, making it easier to solve problems and find developers familiar with the technology. This can be a decisive factor when timelines are tight and scalability is a necessity.
  • Long-Term Maintenance – Consider the long-term maintenance of the project. Frameworks can impose certain structures that might make it easier to maintain and update the application as your team or technology evolves.

In summary, while Vanilla JavaScript can be ideal for simpler, lighter projects to keep things straightforward and lean, frameworks and libraries offer powerful tools and structures necessary for more complex, scalable applications where speed, efficiency, and future growth are priorities.

Shehar Yar
Shehar YarCEO, Software House

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