Web Dev 2023 - The Evolution of JavaScript Frameworks in 2023

Web Dev 2023 series

2023 stands out as a landmark year in the ever-changing world of web development, especially in the JavaScript framework landscape. These frameworks are not just tools for building websites and applications; they are the backbone of our digital world, constantly evolving to meet new challenges and opportunities. Today, we'll explore the significant updates and trends that have defined popular JavaScript frameworks such as Next.js, Vue.js, Nuxt.js, Svelte, and Angular, and how they are shaping the future of web development.


The introduction of the App Directory and Server Components in Next.js was a bold move. While it promised a more organized and efficient development process, it received mixed reactions. The concern primarily revolved around the perceived instability these changes brought. As developers, we seek innovation, but not at the cost of reliability. This update serves as a reminder that even well-intentioned changes need a balance between innovation and stability.

Next.js: App Directory and Server Components

This year, Next.js introduced its app directory, a transformative change that leverages the latest features of React 18, including React Server Components. This directory structure, known as the app router, is now the recommended approach for building Next.js applications. Key features include Nested, Grouped, and Parallel routes, Suspense loading states, and error boundaries.

Nested, Grouped, and Parallel Routes: These features, along with Suspense loading states and error boundaries, enhance the routing capabilities in Next.js.

Structure Changes: The routing in the App Directory is determined by directory names, diverging from the older pages router where file names dictated the route names.

Special Files for UI States: Files like layout.tsx, page.tsx, loading.tsx, error.tsx, and not-found.tsx are used to define various aspects of UI and routing behavior. Each of these files has a specific purpose, such as defining shared layouts, page contents, loading interfaces, error interfaces, and 404 pages.

New Pattern for API Routes: The route.ts file introduces a new pattern for defining API routes, now called Route Handlers.

The directory structure itself is intuitive. Routes are determined by directory names, while specific files within these directories perform various functions. For instance, layout files define shared layouts across routes, page files dictate the content of each page, and special files like loading, error, and not-found handle UI states during loading, error occurrences, and unlocated routes respectively.

Moreover, the route file introduces a new pattern for defining API routes, now termed Route Handlers. Data fetching has also evolved, with the app directory supporting two types of components: server and client. This dual support simplifies data fetching and enhances performance through request memoization.

Data Fetching Enhancements

Support for React Server Components (RSC): The App Directory adds support for RSC, introducing two types of components: server and client. This addition diversifies the data fetching capabilities within Next.js.

Direct Data Fetching from Components: Server components can use async/await to fetch data directly, offering an efficient approach to data fetching.

Server-Side Data Fetching Recommendation: Next.js recommends fetching all data on the server via an RSC or a route handler. This approach enhances security by allowing direct database calls without exposing credentials to the client, thereby reducing the need for intermediary API routes.

Request Memoization: In an app directory project, data reuse across multiple components is more efficient due to request memoization, eliminating the need for global data fetches or prop drilling. This feature ensures that all fetch requests are automatically memoized, enhancing performance.

Further reading: Understanding the Next.js App Directory


Vue.js and its framework sibling Nuxt.js saw enhancements that made developers' lives easier. Improved development tools and a richer component library not only streamlined the development process but also offered more creative flexibility. This is a testament to how frameworks can evolve to become more developer-friendly, ultimately leading to more robust and creative web applications.

Vue.js and Nuxt.js: Embracing Vue 3 and TypeScript

Vue.js officially made Vue 3 the default version, marking the end of Vue 2's era. This shift necessitates most existing Vue projects to upgrade, facilitated by the compatibility of popular packages with Vue 3. The Composition API has become more prevalent, with script setup making its usage feasible and delightful.

TypeScript's use is rising, with official scaffolding providing easy setup. Publishing quality plugins in TypeScript is now more desirable due to improved interaction with the code. Pinia replaces Vuex as the official state management solution, offering an intuitive and TypeScript-friendly approach.

Growing Use of TypeScript: TypeScript's adoption for building Vue apps, both large and small, increased. Vue 3's build with TypeScript and its default support in Nuxt 3 lowered entry barriers, encouraging more developers to use TypeScript. This transition also made publishing quality plugins in TypeScript more appealing due to improved code interaction like autocompletion and error detection.

Vite's impact on Vue development is noteworthy, offering fast dev server start times and improved developer experience (DX). Migrating to Vite from Vue-CLI/webpack is becoming a common trend Nuxt 3's stable release brings hybrid rendering, Vue 3 support, and server API routes, enhancing server-side rendering capabilities and overall DX.

Impact of Vite on Vue Development: Vite stood out as a major technological influencer in Vue development, providing lightning-fast development server start times and Hot Module Replacement (HMR). The migration from Vue-CLI/webpack to Vite was expected to be a focus for many teams, motivated by the promise of faster feedback loops, improved developer experience, and increased productivity. Vite also introduced complimentary solutions like Vitest (zero-config testing) and Vite PWA.

In 2023, Vue.js and Nuxt.js presented substantial advancements, focusing on improving the overall developer experience. The shift to Vue 3, enhanced state management with Pinia, integration of TypeScript, and the adoption of Vite and Nuxt 3's advanced features, all contribute to a more efficient, intuitive, and productive environment for Vue developers.

Further reading: What is changing for Vuejs developers in 2023


Svelte's introduction of runes in its fifth version sparked a debate. Its resemblance to React's features raised questions about uniqueness and innovation in framework development. In an industry where differentiation is key, Svelte's move was both bold and risky. It highlights the fine line between drawing inspiration and losing individuality.

The Introduction of 'Runes' in Version 5: A New Approach to Reactivity

In September 2023, the Svelte team introduced a significant update in version 5, termed 'runes'. This innovation marked a rethinking of Svelte's approach to reactivity.

Runes are symbols that influence the Svelte compiler to achieve reactivity and other functionalities. They use function syntax as opposed to the conventional let, =, export, and $: labels. For instance, the $state rune is used to declare reactive state, addressing the complexities that arise in larger applications where determining which values are reactive can become challenging​​.

Extending Reactivity Beyond Components: Reactivity with runes extends beyond .svelte files, allowing for more versatile code reuse between components. This simplifies the creation of custom stores and other shared functionalitie

Runtime Reactivity and Simplification of Code: Svelte 5 shifts from compile-time to runtime reactivity, addressing issues in refactoring and complexity in dependency tracking. The introduction of $derived and $effect runes enhances this approach, determining dependencies of expressions when they are evaluated, thereby making code easier to refactor and understand.

Signal-Driven Reactivity: Runes in Svelte 5 are powered by signals, an implementation detail rather than a direct API interaction. This approach avoids type narrowing issues and is highly efficient, especially in server-side rendering contexts. Signals enable fine-grained reactivity, making Svelte 5 significantly faster.

Impact on Existing Concepts

Runes render several existing Svelte concepts obsolete, such as the difference between let at different levels, export let, $:, and the store API. This change aims to simplify Svelte development, making it more intuitive and maintainable.

As of late 2023, Svelte 5 with runes is not yet ready for production use. However, a preview site with detailed explanations and an interactive playground is available for developers to experiment with and provide feedback on the new features.

The introduction of runes in Svelte 5 represents a significant evolution in the framework, offering more intuitive, efficient, and flexible ways to manage reactivity and state. This update underscores Svelte's commitment to innovating web development practices, emphasizing simplicity and performance.


Angular's new template syntax, adoption of signals, and lazy loading features marked a significant shift towards modernity. These updates not only enhanced performance but also made the framework more intuitive and user-friendly. Angular's evolution reflects an understanding that frameworks must not only be powerful but also accessible.

Advancements in Angular 17

Angular 17 brought several features enhancing the Angular development experience.

Notable updates include:

  • Server-Side Rendering (SSR) improvements
  • The introduction of the View Transitions API for creating animated transitions
  • Support for TypeScript 5.2

Further reading: What's new in Angular 17?

A new declarative control flow template syntax using the @ symbol was introduced, providing more efficient and intuitive conditional rendering. Deferrable views in Angular 17 optimize performance by loading and rendering elements only when necessary.

The introduction of Signals in Angular 17 transformed state management and change detection, offering a granular approach and eliminating the need for Zone.js. This system includes mutable Signal primitives, read-only Computed primitives, and Effect functions for managing side effects.

Additionally, CSS associated with destroyed components is now automatically removed from the DOM, enhancing performance and cleanliness. ProvideRouter and RouterModule facilitate easier route setup for testing, with several properties moved to these modules.

Angular 17 requires Node.js version 18.13.0 and includes several TypeScript 5.2 features like faster recursive type checking, improved memory leak handling, and support for copying array functions.

Wrapping up

The evolution of these frameworks in 2023 underscores a critical aspect of web development: continual adaptation. As technologies advance, so must we, adapting our skills and understanding to leverage these changes. The updates in these frameworks are not just technical shifts; they are signals of the ever-changing landscape of web development, demanding flexibility and a keen eye for the future.