What is Vanilla JavaScript?

When websites first came into existence, they were static, and that was fine at the time. And with the introduction of Vanilla Javascript, it changed the way the websites began to look and feel. Websites became revolutionary, interactive and dynamic. 

Vanilla JS is just plain JS, so it is a text based programming language both on server-side and client side. The framework was created in 2012 by Eric Wastl, and though it was not he who coined the term, his website popularised it. So in short, Vanilla Js is simply Javascript without any additional framework or libraries. 

Then jQuery, a library of tools made with Javascript, came into existence. jQuery was lightweight and very easy to use as it helped create complex functionalities with minimal coding.

You can find Vanilla JS in Facebook, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Windows Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, Microsoft, Apple, Pinterest, PayPal, Reddit, Netflix, Stack Overflow and a number of other popular websites and platforms. 

Thus, all the Javascript frameworks and libraries are based on its Vanilla core. All the different frameworks are often based on one set of Javascript principle or the other. Often developers use plain Javascript without using additional JS frameworks or libraries.

Interestingly, Vanilla JS framework almost reminds us of vanilla ice cream, because the framework is unmodified, and you are using the basic product as it is, without adding anything to it. 

All you are doing is, you are using the framework with the most basic API functions of the JS interpreter. Naturally, any website that doesn’t use a framework will have to automatically use VanillaJs, and even if they do not use a framework, they do use certain features and algorithms of VanillaJS. The framework also allows you the full freedom of implementing whatever architecture you want to. You can also integrate this with your business logic, DOM manipulation logic, any other tools you want to connect. 

Every developer should have full knowledge of pure Javascript and any developer you hire should have knowledge of Vanilla JS, especially if he is working mainly in the Javascript ecosystem.

Picture: Compare

Here’s looking at Vanilla JS with a couple of other languages 

Vanilla JS Vs React: when you can use what

Vanilla JS does help you build powerful cross-platform applications and so on React, it is one of the most popular JS libraries, thanks to its flexibility and performance quality. React can break down the UI into smaller, reusable components that can be moved against each other. And it is this feature that acts as a winning edge over VanillaJS. For JS, it becomes very difficult to maintain the code if the application is large. In such cases, the UI will have to be updated regularly. 

And that’s not all. To change the UI element, you will have to first find the element in DOM, and only then update it. This can be tedious when you have to change only a single element. React has a virtual DOM, and helps in bypassing the manual task. So in short, with Vanilla JS, keeping the UI in sync can be tough and painstaking. 

Vanilla JS Vs jQuery

As explained earlier, with the coming of Vanilla JS, developers were able to create dynamic websites. When jQuery came in, a number of tools also came in, using Javascript. jQuery is lightweight and with its easy to use JS library it is easy to create complex functionalities with few lines of coding. It simplifies a lot of things for the developer like handling JSON data from the server, adding animation effects like hide, show etc, helps in CSS manipulation, making AJAX requests and more. 

With jQuery, a lot of things can be easier for the novice developer, but there is no rule as such that says where to use Vanilla JS and where to use jQuery. However, iQuery is a huge time saver because it comes with several pre-written functions for which only necessary modifications have to be made.

And jQuery requires just less coding, but for Javascript, a long line of coding is required, maybe even spaghetti codes. For JS no additional plugins are needed, but they do not need to add any additional plugins as well. For jQuery, the library script link has to be included inside the head tag of the webpage.  

If you are looking at multi-browser compatibility , then browser related errors are likely to happen with JS. But with jQuery, this is not an issue, because it works with all kinds of browsers; there will be no compatibility issues. 

Actually, there is no particular rule in using Javascript and jQuery. But developers say that jQuery is better for DOM manipulation, when compared to Javascript. However, the plus point with Vanilla JS is much faster than jQuery. Even so, novice developers might find it difficult to write complex functionalities with Vanilla JS. 

For JS, all the coding will have to be done from scratch, and novice developers might find that difficult and time-consuming. jQuery on the other hand, has several pre-written functions, and when necessary modifications are to be done, it could be definitely time-saving.  

When you compare the two, Vanilla JS is way faster than jQuery, and depending on the operation, can even be 10 to 25 times faster. 

Vanilla JS Vs Angular JS

Angular JS is a tool in the Javascript MVC, while Vanilla comes under Javascript UI Libraries.  Some developers say that Vanilla JS is superior when you consider the initial load and performance, so if you are looking to develop an app with the performance factor as priority then you can choose Vanilla JS. 


Vanilla JS is great, and even lets you create dynamic web pages. But when you are looking for a huge and complicated application with complex functionalities, and has thousands of pages, it is better to go for modern Javascript frameworks. 

So once again, the choice you make will be dependent on the requirement. If you intend to become a front end or a full stack web developer, then it is important that you know about Vanilla JS. The base of all frameworks will always be JS, libraries and frameworks will come and go, but JS is here to stay. 

Proficiency with Vanilla JS will always make it easier to switch to jQuery, though the switch may not be very smooth. 

Interesting Links:

More information about Vanilla JS

Why Vanilla JS?

Pictures: Canva

The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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