In this first chapter we will go through what makes Ember.js great and why you would want to use it for your next big web project.
What is Ember.js?
Ember.js is a framework for front-end development, which means that it helps you create the design and logic that the website user interacts with.
To understand what problems Ember solves and how it makes web development easier and much more enjoyable, let's first go through some basic web history.
The changing nature of the web
In the early 90's, designing a website was very straightforward and uncomplicated. This was back when the web only consisted of text documents. To create these documents, the only thing you needed was a markup language called HTML, and some CSS that you could sprinkle on to make it look nicer.
All the interactions on a site back then consisted of linking from one HTML page to another. Every time you clicked a button or a link, the website made a request to the server and your computer then proceeded to download en entirely new HTML document in order to show the new page. This might sound inefficient, but since everything consisted of only text and images back then, it worked just fine. However, this was soon about to change.
This is where Ember comes in. The founders of Ember realized early on how the web was changing and understood the need for a front-end framework that would enforce some best practices that were commonly agreed on.
Today, Ember has established itself as being a great framework for developers who want to build "ambitious applications", and some big companies have taken the leap to use it in their stack.
If you want to know more about the motivations for a pure front-end framework, Tom Dale gave an excellent talk at Cascadia.js in 2013:
Why Ember instead of XX?
If you're an experienced web developer, you probably know that there are tons of other frameworks to choose between already, notably Backbone.js, Angular.js and React.js. Why would you want to choose Ember instead of these?
You should use Ember.js if...
- You want to get started quickly and get a product out fast without writing lots of boilerplate code (it's the optimal front-end framework for startups!)
- You're planning on building an ambitious and complex application with a lot of logic on the front-end side.
- You care about having good URLs when the user navigates through your app.
- You don't want to spend time arguing about what the file structure of your project should be or what build tool to use. You'd prefer to just have it set up beforehand and start getting productive.
You should NOT use Ember.js if...
- You're just building a very simple static site, without much interaction or state. In this case, Ember will probably just feel bloated.
- Your website requires that the initial page load is blazing fast. As your Ember apps get bigger, you will have to sacrifice some initial loading time in order to have a faster and more interactive experience once everything is loaded. (There are ongoing efforts to fix this with FastBoot)
- You hate using the terminal. ? Don't worry though if you're in this camp, we'll learn how to do it in the upcoming chapters!
What is Ember.js?