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11 JavaScript Libraries for Your Development Toolbox

If you are in web development or web design, you can never have too many fonts, images, or JavaScript libraries. No matter how many you have, you are constantly searching for fresh stuff.

Fortunately, the choice is really overwhelming but this makes it harder to pick the ones you really need without cluttering your design/development toolbox with stuff you rarely, if ever, use.

While I can’t say the JavaScript libraries included on this list are absolutely the best for everybody, I can say that they are all really useful ones. Some of these libraries are must-haves (and you probably already have them), like Angular, and some are less popular but useful libraries.

Most of the libraries are general purpose – the list would be quite different, if we were focused on a particular task, such as game development, or data handling only.

1. AngularJS

AngularJS is a very popular library which makes use of HTML as the template language but allows to extend the functionality of HTML to create the components of the application. AngularJS uses 2-way data binding which means it automatically synchronizes UI data with the JavaScript objects (model) that power it.

01 - AngularJS

Another nice feature of AngularJS is that it facilitates server-side communication. Unlike many other JavaScript frameworks it uses plain JavaScript objects which makes it easy to read and maintain the code.

2. Epoch

If you are looking for a general purpose library for charts and visualizations, you should start your search with Epoch. According to its developer, Epoch “focuses on two different aspects of visualization programming: basic charts for creating historical reports, and real-time charts for displaying frequently updating timeseries data.”

02 - Epoch

3. Lazy.js

Underscore and Lo-Dash are great but if you are looking for something better than them, you might want to try Lazy.js. Its name comes from lazy evaluation (also known as deferred execution) the main benefit of which is that the execution is faster, especially with large arrays and/or “chaining” together multiple methods.

For smaller arrays the performance of Lazy.js is similar to that of Underscore or Lo-Dash.

03 - LazyJS

One of the nice things about Lazy.js is that it has no external dependencies. Another nice feature is that you can use it to generate indefinite sequences, which isn’t possible with Underscore.

4. Ionic

There might be a myriad of frameworks for mobile application development but the competition certainly doesn’t bother Ionic because this HTML5 mobile app framework is light years ahead of its competitors.

04 - Ionic

Ionic is built with Sass and it works together with AngularJS. It’s a library of mobile-optimized HTML, CSS and JS components, gestures, and tools for building highly interactive apps.

In addition to ease of building, another notable advantage of Ionic is that it’s very fast, which provides for great performance of the created applications.

5. React

One of the best ways to build user interfaces is with the help of the React library. It’s a very powerful library with lots of functionality, so if you are new to either JavaScript, or user interfaces, at first it might look hard to use but as you master it bit by bit, you will see it’s not that difficult to use and it can do really a lot.

05 - React

In addition to rich functionality, React is pretty fast, too because it uses virtual DOM diff implementation. What’s more, it can also render on the server using Node.js, thus eliminating the need for heavy browser DOM.

6. DropzoneJS

DropzoneJS is one more essential library for your development toolbox. It’s an open source library for drag’n’drop file uploads with image previews. Its main advantages are that it’s lightweight, has no dependencies on any other library and offers lots of customization options.

You can customize the appearance of the drag’n’drop module in any imaginable way.

06 - DropzoneJS

7. Mousetrap

Mousetrap is a small and lightweigth but very useful JavaScript library for handling keyboard shortcuts. It has no external dependencies and it works in practically all popular browsers, including the older versions of most of them.

It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux, taking into account the specific keys for each OS. Mousetrap can handle single keys, keyboard combinations, or sequence of keys.

07 - Mousetrap

8. AniJS

Animations contribute to a more dynamic user experience and it’s always nice to have a reliable, easy to use tool at your disposal. If you are looking for a JavaScript library to handle CSS animations, then you will certainly love AniJS.

It’s a small standalone library that allows to define what action to be taken when some event (hovirng, mouse clicking, scrolling, etc.) occurs. It uses simple conditional logic (On, Before, After, and Helper) that allows to perform quite complex sequences of events.

08 - AniJS

9. jQuery UI

There is one JavaScript library that’s especially useful for creating user interfaces. Since it’s a popular one, you might have already heard about it, or even use it on a daily basis. This library is called jQuery UI and it’s really a must have for every JavaScript developer.

As you can guess by its name, it’s part of the jQuery family. jQuery is probably the most popular JavaScript library, so if you by accident don’t have it already, which I simply can’t believe could happen, get jQuery because jQuery UI needs it, as well as jQuery Mobile.

09 - jQuiry UI

jQuery UI includes user interface interactions, effects, widgets, and themes. New interactions, effects, widgets, and themes are constantly added but there are plenty currently.

10. Skel

Since responsive design is mandatory these days, you can hardly do without a responsive JavaScript library. It’s true you have many other options to make your designs responsive but anyway, you might want to try Skel.

Skel is a responsive framework with a great breakpoint management and a sophisticated CSS grid system. It’s pretty lightweight and it runs of multiple platforms.

10 - Skel

In addition to Skel itself, you might want to try its plugins. The first of them, Layers, makes off-canvas navigation and toolbars easier to handle, while the second, Baseline, is a simple Skel-powered boilerplate for new projects. In addition to Skel and Layers, Baseline uses Sass as well.

11. JayData

You can hardly do without a good data handling library. If you haven’t found it so far, JayData really rocks. You can use it for all sorts of data handling from online and offline sources. You can use it for OData, HTML5, NodeJS, JavaScript, or mobile development.

JayData runs on multiple platforms and in all modern browsers, desktop and mobile. It’s available as a free open source tool and as a closed source commercial license with more features.

11 - JayData

There are many more good JavaScript libraries worth having but if I am to include them all, the list will become endless. However, I bet that for almost any JavaScript developer, the libraries on this list will be of great use for almost any project. If you don’t have any of them, get them now and see for yourself just how helpful they are.

About the author

Ada Ivanova is a fulltime freelancer. She finally managed to find the perfect job that allows her to combine writing, design, (some) coding, and entrepreneurship skills under one umbrella.

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