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Thread: Is ExtJS dying

  1. #1
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    Default Is ExtJS dying

    Hi all,
    I wanted to have some relevant discussion with the Sencha community.
    Is ExtJS dying or just fading into oblivion. A framework not relevant anymore with the advent of newer technologies.

    Lets see some facts. Upwork the no. 1 remote freelance work site lists following number of jobs of two competing frameworks.
    ExtJS - https://www.upwork.com/o/jobs/browse/?q=extjs 20+
    AngularJS - https://www.upwork.com/o/jobs/browse/?q=angularjs 550+
    There is no competition here, angular wins hands down.

    I first started working with ExtJS 2.x way back in 2006 and continued working on ExtJS 4.x all the way till 2014. I had executed say 6 complex projects and had become a sort of expert on ExtJS internals. I just realized that by 2014 there was no new ExtJS work coming my way and had to switch to AngularJS.
    The above links is a proof that ExtJS is loosing out a big way to competing frameworks like AngularJS.

    What could be the reasons -
    1. The commercial license is a deterrent. Well to be fair these license do not cost much and for a mid size projects where there will be no more that 5 - 10 developers a one time fee of $10,000 or less is not much comparing you end up paying $500K+ for developers over say 2 year of project work.
    However it could be deterrent for one man project for a startup. Unless ExtJS strategy is to only cater to enterprise, I feel a less restrictive (free) license for 1 - 2 developers will go way further in enhancing the popularity of ExtJS.
    Note much more innovation comes from a open community collectively contributing towards code development.

    2. Its way too dom heavy as compared to other frameworks like AngularJS. I have worked on angular and it has its own set of problems with watches. However I feel you have much more control over the dom, and you can really style your content the way you want by using css frameworks like bootstrap. Also being completely open and free, you get much better community support with respect to added features and components built on top of the framework.
    Perhaps solution here again is by making ExtJS open we can have much better contribution towards improving some of the core areas.

    3. Layouts are still done in Javascript than CSS??
    I am not sure how much is this true in 6.x, but until 4.x this was biggest drawback of the framework. A CSS only layouts will make the framework take a giant leap in its capabilities. Keep the javascripts layouts but introduce some (not all), which we can to be done in CSS. This was perhaps the only reason, why in my last project the (enterprise) customer did not wanted to develop anything further in ExtJS.


    I would like to have a fair and healthy discussion on this subject. How can we improve the popularity of ExtJS. Because a popular framework is beneficial to the company as well as independent developers like me, and last but not least to say the customers using it.


    Thanks
    Sachin

  2. #2
    Sencha - Sr Software Engineer mitchellsimoens's Avatar
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    I think it's important to note that comparing AngularJS to Ext JS isn't a fair comparison on both sides. There are pros and cons for each and you have to decide which tool is right for the job at hand. Also, Google's a bit larger of a company so of course the framework from them will have higher reach than Sencha, that doesn't mean it's any better. In my eyes, and trying to be unbiased, it's not a simple black and white answer.

    2) Does AngularJS has a bunch of widgets like Ext JS now?
    3) Does AngularJS support browsers like IE6 and IE8 (as Ext JS 4 and Ext JS5+ does, respectively)? The modern toolkit in Ext JS 6 does use CSS for the primary work of the layouts where the classic toolkit still uses JavaScript for the primary work. There are pros and cons for either but relying on CSS to do more of the work is a goal of ours. Just that goal cannot currently be answered by dumping JavaScript as the browsers we support would simply loose functionality.
    Mitchell Simoens @LikelyMitch
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjmittal View Post
    There is no competition here, angular wins hands down.
    Are you serious or just trolling? Clearly, you don't understand either library.

    Comparing Ext JS AngularJS is like comparing a bike to an 18-wheeler because they both are used for transportation.

    Ext JS is a full-blown component framework vs AngularJS which is just a micro library. If you wanted to have a feature parity between these two frameworks, you'd need to amass a megaton of other libraries and addons to work together with AngularJS. I much prefer to work with a solution from a single vendor.

    Why do you think AngularJS is totally and completely rewritten for the next release in a way that breaks all backward compatibility? Well, I'll tell you... if this library was any good it would not be completely redone and Google would not be stranding its customer base.

    I recommend that you read the linked documents to get more information.

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    Well not really comparing the two frameworks features wise. I just pointed areas where ExtJS might focus to improve its reach.

    AngularJS does not provide widget library, however being open developers don't seem to have a problem with it. Say with bootstrap pulgin they can use bootstrap UI well with angularJS. There are other such UI plugins used with angularJS. Yes none of it is as extensive as ExtJS, but developers don't seem to mind it.

    I also know the advantages of ExtJS, I suppose many in the development community will know them too, but then why it is not transferring into popularity, rather on other hand its popularity is decreasing release after release.

    My focus is the work being done with these frameworks. Couple of years back ExtJS easily had 100+ jobs on such freelancing sites. Today it is in 20s. Soon it may be in low single digit like YUI is today.

    On the side note releases of ExtJS have also not been that smooth. I started with my client recommending ExtJS 3.x. They bought license and work went well for year. Then we ran into obvious problems (performance related for large screens). ExtJS had come up with 4.x and then I persuaded them to use that as it mentioned performance improvements and other widgets and charting. For migrating to 4.x we had again redo the code as just changing the lib references would not help. The project went for a year more, then performance went worse than before. The reason was the in 4.x dom was lot heavier. Like to render a simple input field they used much more dom than they used in 3.x. By now ExtJS was in process of releasing 5.x, I wanted to recommend that to them, as 5.x again had more on performance side. But by now my client had had it! He now did not want to do any new development on ExtJS.

    So yes ExtJS gives lot under a roof, but how much of this is used by the community, for charting today d3 with angular is a very popular choice.

    So we are adding features, but somehow popularity is declining atleast what I see in freelancing community. Maybe there is a reason for it, and that's something we need to look into. ExtJS success if my success too as I will get more work.

    Again this is not a fight between ExtJS and AngularJS and please don't take it in that direction.
    Comparison was only for reference.

  5. #5
    Sencha - Sr Software Engineer mitchellsimoens's Avatar
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    I don't think comparing number of freelance jobs is appropriate though. When I was in the professional services team in Sencha and prior to being hired at Sencha, the projects I was working on with Ext JS I can't even say what companies my clients were. For me, the reason is that the type of projects Ext JS is best for are those that aren't simple 2 month projects that you can pick up a freelancer for. For example, a financial company uses Ext JS for their internal and B2B work but for their customers logging into online banking they don't use it. Could be argued that they very well could but this was just an example.

    I have a friend in the business that does do projects with Ext JS/Sencha Touch and with libraries like Angular and this friend has said that their Ext JS projects are far more involved but also make them more.

    Like AjaxSolutions said, he likes using something from a single vendor and that's a very valid point. Look at Apple, I used to be able to replace RAM in a MacBook Pro but now it's soldered in. Same thing with an iPhone, it's not designed to have a replaceable battery. Why do they do this? To make the best experience by controlling the hardware in the device. When you start mixing things then you have to handle the code to bind the two and maintain what versions work with what. This is a huge reason why I hate using NPM. NPM is great but there are tons of packages there that aren't maintained and/or are crap. So if I used a package that was perfect but now Node was updated and I need to use that update (maybe for security reasons or for a new feature or whatever) and now I have to evaluate if the package will still work. If not, then I have to update the package. If the author isn't maintaining it then now I have to dive into their code to update it myself. Not ideal at all but on the surface mixing things that work well right now is a good idea.

    I'm not going to tip toe around Ext JS 4.0.0, it wasn't a good release and wasn't till 4.1.3 till I started to feel good about it. Ext JS 5 was very backwards compatible except some APIs were changed to get more inline with Sencha Touch, which we tried very hard to document here here here and even have diffs. When I updated an app from 4.2.2 to 5.0.0, there was very little to do. Going from 5.1.1 to 6.0.0 only took an hour, there was pretty much nothing to do. (going from 5.1.1 to a 6.0.0 universal app is more work but that's mainly just moving files to the appropriate locations) But 4.0.0 really hurt Sencha's credibility but the management over Ext JS has completely changed since 4.0 and as a result the releases have been much better.
    Mitchell Simoens @LikelyMitch
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    Oh, also... we're hiring in many departments! If you're interested reach out to me!
    Mitchell Simoens @LikelyMitch
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    Yes I agree with you the events surrounding 4.x did cost Sencha and developer community a bit. Some projects did not get renewed licenses and they may have also stopped further development. I understand since then upgrade of release has been much smoother, but its hard to convince once bitten client. They just could not agree to me that upgrading to 5.x would be in their best interest.

    Yes ExtJS is more suited to a B2B kind of work, and perhaps comparing jobs on freelancing is not the whole picture. After all JQuery has over 1200 jobs listed on same site.

    What my concern is that with time, work being done by larger community is reduced, by simply seeing number of jobs posted on same framework now vs couple of years back. It may be due to 4.x release issues, but we need to get the framework back in popularity.

    Yes we need B2B enterprise customers, but at the same time we need larger developer community too building on top of the framework.

    Something should be done in this area.

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    And I'm sure you can understand that I cannot comment on internal sales and customer figures. All I can say is we're hiring if that's any indication
    Mitchell Simoens @LikelyMitch
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    Personally I cant say if Ext JS/Sencha Touch is dying or not.

    We use Sencha tools because we are building a quit complex web platform and we believe Ext JS/Sencha Touch are the only JS framework out there that could provide what we needed (even though we are not using JavaScript)


    But I have the feeling that there is some lost magic in this community.
    I used to come here and see lots of awesome stuff coming from community members. Sencha was even helping promoting those.

    Things have just changed so drastically and I m not sure it's for the good.

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    I think you are perhaps right.
    I was just looking at ExtJS discussions and Q&A per version and this is what I notice:
    5.x has 3.5K threads and was released 1 year before.
    4.x has 28.5+K threads and was released 5 years before.
    3.x has 31+K threads and was released 6 years before.

    Even a simple linear extrapolation shows that after 4.x release not much discussion is happening in the new release. Maybe that minimum 5 license restriction has made lot of users working on one off small project look at other framework. Or perhaps with issues faced with 4.x upgrades they are reluctant to buy new version.

    ExtJS is great for building a good B2B application with all under one roof. However these are dedicated projects with dedicated teams. For open community to interact with the framework and get some traction back so more freelance programmers are involved we need to make some changes to the project at both functional and technical level.

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