Opinions & Insights
Framework popularity on Netlify
We run an annual survey of web developers and have shared that data with the community in 2020, 2021 and 2022. While that data is about web developers as a whole, we often get questions about what framework usage looks like on Netlify specifically. So we dug into our data and here's what we found.
Netlify is a pioneer of the composable web, sometimes called the Jamstack: this architectural approach focuses on robust, performant pre-built sites served from a global CDN and enhanced with dynamic data from API calls and edge computing rather than centralized servers building pages on demand. There are dozens of popular web frameworks that cater to this approach, and Netlify has a unique insight into how those frameworks are used on our platform.
Lots of frameworks, clear top choices
You can build any type of site on Netlify, with or without a framework, but most developers choose a framework to accelerate their development process. In our data we track more than 50 different frameworks of varying popularity. What we've found is that just a handful of frameworks dominate the landscape.
On Netlify overall, the top 4 frameworks accounted for 40%+ of all users. People often use more than one framework at a time, but 27% of Netlify users (where we can identify what framework they're using) are using create-react-app, sometimes in addition to other frameworks. Next.js accounts for another 10% of users, and Gatsby an additional 8% of users, with Hugo bringing in 6% more. Combined, those 4 frameworks alone account for 42% of users (the number is lower than the percentages added together, because people use more than one at a time). None of the other frameworks we track are used by more than 5%, and most are less than 1%.
What's interesting here is that 3 of these top 4 frameworks have something in common: they are all React-based. In our survey, we found 71% of developers saying they use React, so the dominance of React-based frameworks in our data is not a surprise.
Another interesting finding is that the breakdown between React frameworks shifts if we look at customers who pay to use Netlify. Create-react-app is used by only 23% of paying users, while Next and Gatsby maintain their relative popularity with Next.js at 21%, and Gatsby with 19% of users.
This trend away from Create-React-App continues into Enterprise. Among Enterprise users Next is the clear favorite at 24% of users, with Gatsby at 19%.
The conclusion we can reach here is that Create-React-App is not, as they say, "Enterprise ready". The more serious about your website you become (as measured by how much money you invest in it), the more likely you are to use some other framework.
The other frameworks
Even with 40% of users choosing one of four frameworks, that still leaves plenty of room for diversity, including non-React options.
Nuxt, based on Vue, makes a strong showing among free, paid and Enterprise users, coming in ahead of Hugo in the latter two categories, and Vue itself also makes an appearance. Nuxt is a head-to-head competitor with Next (hence the name) and Vue competes with React at the component level.
On the free tier, the older Angular framework, focused on single page applications, makes an appearance but it does not break into the top in the paid or Enterprise tiers. Also in the free tier we see Jekyll, another older framework, this one specializing in static sites.
Another static site generator, this time the up-and-coming Eleventy, makes a strong showing among paid users but has not yet broken into the Enterprise.
Instead, at the Enterprise level we find a surprise: the highly specialized framework Docusaurus, which as the name suggests is specifically for generating documentation sites (not necessarily about dinosaurs).
Is Create-React-App on the way out?
Recently React launched a new documentation site. These docs notably recommend using a framework to get started with React and list a number of production-ready frameworks, including Next, Remix, and Gatsby, but Create-React-App is excluded:
So, has the React team deprecated Create-React-App? That clickbaity question will have to wait to be answered in time. This was a relatively recent change, and so far we haven't seen a big shift in the percentage of users building with Create-React-App.
Netlify users' favorite frameworks are clear
What this data does make clear is that Next and Gatsby are the clear favorite frameworks among Netlify users, more popular together than all the other frameworks combined, with the exception of the huge presence of Create-React-App.
At Netlify we don't play favorites with frameworks, but it can be helpful for devs to know what their peers are doing, and we share this data in that spirit. In an upcoming post we'll take a similar deep dive into Content Management Systems (CMSs).