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Why Aurelia over Angular, React, Ember or Meteor

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After looking at the path of migrating from AngularJS to Angular 2, I'm changing lanes.

TL;DR - After analyzing the current state of Angular 1, Angular 2, React/Redux, Aurelia, Ember & Meteor, I'm using Aurelia for my next project.

Since attending ng-conf 2015, and the announcement of Angular 2, I felt 2015 would be the year the internet stood still to wait for Angular 2.

It turns out that wasn't the case at all. Instead, it seems React became the new hot thing. I haven't done anything serious in React, I've done a few tutorials. It seems pretty straight forward. I know there are people that really like it.

But for whatever reason, I just can't seem to take the React plunge. I can't really put my finger on it. Maybe it is because it is not a full framework, but rather just a tool to make components. I haven't really looked into Flux or Redux either.

Perhaps it is jsx that just feels weird to me. I don't really mind jsx either. But, one thing that I think would annoy me often enough is to remember to use className instead of class in my elements. And I'm sure className would end up in some of my html where I don't intend it to be.

As Angular 2 has neared its beta release, I decided to give it a try. I was excited. I REALLY wanted to like it. I even have tickets for ng-conf 2016 for the 3rd year in a row. I think it is fair to say I have drunk the Angular kool-aid.

But the Angular 2 tutorial really left a bad taste in my mouth. I hated the new syntax. It's difficult to type and hard to grok. For example:

2 *ngFor="#hero of heroes"
3 [class.selected]="hero === selectedHero"
4 (click)="onSelect(hero)"
6 <span class="badge">{{}}</span> {{}}

Look at all those new symbols: *, #, [], ()

If I felt uncomfortable with JSX, this makes me more uncomfortable.

As for TypeScript, I'm fine with transpilers. I've taken a liking to CoffeeScript. There are a number of things I don't like about CoffeeScript, but I prefer it over ES5. But again, TypeScript left me feeling frustrated. Want to make JavaScript more verbose and unpleasant? Use TypeScript. (Note: After attending ng-conf and using ES2016 for a while, I may give TypeScript another try at some some point to see if I like strong typing)

So now what?

In my frustration somehow I came across a new framework that was in the works - Aurelia.

I knew nothing of Rob Eisenberg or Durandal or anything else he did. I didn't know that he used to be on the Angular 2 core team and he left because he didn't like the direction things were going.

But when I saw the templating syntax, it just made sense. Want to bind to value? value.bind. What if you just one way binding? Want to specify two way binding? value.two-way Want to just bind once? value.bind-once What if you want to bind to src of an anchor tag? src.bind

Just carry that pattern where ever you need to.

So that led me down a path of learning more about Aurelia - and I like what I see.

Anothor choice I briefly considered was Ember. I've heard good things about ember.js, but I have never looked into it because I've often heard it compared to Ruby on Rails. I've heard it has a steep learning curve and it is very opinionated. From what I've seen of Aurelia, if Ember was like RoR, I would compare Aurelia to Django. You use convention over configuration to save you time and help you manage your project, but if you need to step out of the framework, you can.

Also, one more choice I briefly considered was Meteor. I suppose if I were started a new project from scratch, I would probably go with Meteor as it gives you so much out of the box. But I wouldn't use Blaze. I would opt for Angular or React for templating. Blaze just doesn't give you much. But whereas I am starting a new project with a back-end in place and many existing APIs, I think Aurelia is a better choice.

So today at work we spent a couple of hours deliberating the pros and cons of Angular 2, Aurelia and React. We even went so far as to rate various benefits and provide rankings to them such as syntax legibility, learnability, community, etc. Our scores looked something like this:

1Angular 2: 487
2Aurelia: 649
3React: 656

Our data based decision would point us to React. But then we did a straw poll. 7 people voted and these are the results:

1Angular 2: 0
2Aurelia: 5
3React: 2

So the decision has been made. We will be starting two new projects in Aurelia.

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Dustin Davis

Dustin Davis is a software engineer, people manager, hacker, and entreprenuer. He loves to develop systems and automation. He lives with his wife and five kids in Utah.

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