On the other side of the spectrum, Frameworks like SproutCore and Cappucinno offer extremely robust application tools like controllers, models, key value observing and more. However these frameworks also include a large UI library, and a very steep learning curve.
37Signals has taken the route of creating their own framework, and there is a possibility it may be released as an open source project, much like Ruby on Rails. My favorite framework that I have had the chance to use recently is Backbone.js.
Backbone.js is a very lightweight toolkit that provides things like models, controllers, and views. The models allow you to keep track of the data in your application, as well as organize your app’s business logic.
The models can also very easily interact with a RESTful API provided by your web application, making much easier to synchronize data between your frontend and backend applications.
The views offer the ability to easily update your page elements when the data in the model is updated. The controllers offer utilities for managing changes in your application state by utilizing the fragment, the part of the URL after the #.
Backbone.js provides the tools, but does not impose too much structure on your application. I have found this to be a very good balance. I am able to integrate it fairly easily into my existing applications, with great benefits.
The downside the this is that it does take a little bit of reading and experimenting to see exactly all of the pieces of Backbone.js fit together. I suggest taking a look at not only the documentation, but also the Todo List application, and its annotated source.
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