About the Author
Burke Holland is the Director of Developer Relations at Progress.
An Angular 2 release candidate was announced last May at ng-conf, but there ended up being five release candidates total, and each was a large breaking change from the previous. This drove the instability of Angular through to September, when Angular 2 Final was released — now known as just Angular. In addition to the core framework, the Angular team also released a command line interface tool to help with controlling the complexity of an Angular applications and scaffolding out commonly used boilerplate.
Given the amount of developer interest in Angular (despite its rough road to its final release and bevy of breaking changes), it enjoys a level of trust and adoption that virtually guarantee that Angular will be the dominate framework in 2017. And, the end of 2017 will see two major version releases of Angular. However, versioning for Angular is now semantic, so the major version changes will likely be taken in stride. Each major version will be an opportunity for the team to introduce necessary breaking changes, but we will not see the API change drastically as it did between versions 1 and 2.
React was somewhat of an anomaly in 2015, and that continued with force in 2016. React is only a portion of the full front-end framework solution that most developers are looking for, which is the major difference between it and the other frameworks included in this discussion. This makes it very hard to draw a direct comparison. React's popularity continued to grow in 2016, especially with consumer facing applications. While the enterprise has been slower to adopt React overall, public-facing applications are lining up with big names such as Airbnb, Dropbox, eBay, Expedia and even Internet behemoths such as Netflix.
Considering that React does the few things that it does so well, it's not likely that there will be a new or different version of React in 2017. As Facebook weighed in on the React Starter Kit landscape by releasing the "Create React App" package, may see them release other official React components. It's easy to speculate that the React Router project may be merged into the official React repo at some point, and that React will release its own UI component framework in 2017. This is because Facebook itself has a lot of standard UI and CSS components.
Due to the intentional simplicity of Vue, its grassroots success and the constant draw of Web developers back to the core concepts of the browser, Vue may very well unseat React in 2017 as the lightweight front-end framework of choice for consumer-facing applications. That may seem like a bold statement, and is admittedly the wildest prediction here, but Vue contains all the elements of projects past that have taken the Web by storm (think Bootstrap and jQuery). Additionally, unlike React and Angular, it is not built by a for-profit corporation, which is more true to the basic tenants of the open web. However, enterprises will continue to favor Angular due to its strong corporate backing element.