Thomas Fuchs
Hi, I'm Thomas Fuchs. I'm the author of Zepto.js, of, and I'm a Ruby on Rails core alumnus. With Amy Hoy I'm building cheerful software, like Noko Time Tracking and Every Time Zone and write books like
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I for one welcome our new micro-framework overlords

April 11th, 2011

In the beginning there were the script kiddies and everyone saw that things were pretty bad. So people dismissed the ideas of mouse trails and wobbly status lines and, more-or-less quickly, moved on to actually useful libraries, the first of which being Prototype.js back in 2005, followed by many others. Over the years, one of these libraries, jQuery has become the de-facto standard for JavaScript frameworks on the web (but others continue to be used).

All of these monolithic libraries have one thing in common: they try to solve the same problem, and the scope of this problem is a big one. It’s not easy to provide a fully cross-browser environment and API for DOM manipulation, data crunching, class-based OO and more. And this shows in code bloat. These libraries are HUGE, being 100+ kilobytes in code size, and even minified and gzipped they are pretty big.

What’s wrong with that? A whopping 100% of sites or apps using these libraries don’t use all the features they provide. That wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to transfer these libraries to the client every time. Some solutions exist for making it better (say, Google’s Libraries API), but it doesn’t really get down to the root of the problem.

I for one welcome our new micro-framework overlords—small frameworks and libraries that do one thing only, not trying to solve each and every problem, just using pure JavaScript to do it. Easy to mix and match, and to customize to your needs.

Micro-framework group hug!

(cc) jans canon — Micro-framework group hug!

Here is just a small selection of these micro-frameworks (this list is far from complete):

What you’ll find these libraries have in common is an emphasis on small download size.

Small code is good code: the fewer lines in your source, the fewer bugs you’ll have, plus it will download and execute faster.

And an other big advantage is that all the building blocks work stand-alone, which counteracts the this needs to be implemented as a jQuery plug-in for no reason mentality anti-pattern.

There’s even work being done on meta-micro-frameworks, like Ender.js that strive to provide a “homogenized” mix of useful micro-frameworks that gets you started quickly, but you can later cut off parts or replace modules.