Turbo Hotwire vs. Traditional JavaScript Frameworks: A Rails 7 Performance Comparison

A quick overview of the main differences between Turbo Hotwire vs. Traditional JavaScript Frameworks
Asad Ahmed
Asad Ahmed
April 10, 2023

As web development evolves, the demand for fast, responsive, and interactive applications continues to grow. The release of Rails 7 introduces Turbo Hotwire, a powerful technology that simplifies building modern web applications. With Turbo Hotwire, Rails 7 aims to challenge the dominance of traditional JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js. In this blog post, we will compare the performance and efficiency of Turbo Hotwire in Rails 7 applications against these popular JavaScript frameworks, exploring the advantages and trade-offs of each approach.

Turbo Hotwire: A Brief Overview

Turbo Hotwire is a set of technologies that enhances Rails 7 applications by minimizing full-page reloads, optimizing DOM updates, and enabling real-time interactivity. It consists of two key components: Turbo Frames, which handle partial page updates, and Turbo Streams, which facilitate real-time updates via WebSocket connections. By leveraging server-rendered HTML and a minimal amount of client-side JavaScript, Turbo Hotwire aims to simplify development and improve performance.

Traditional JavaScript Frameworks: A Brief Overview

JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js have gained popularity for their ability to build highly interactive and dynamic single-page applications (SPAs). These frameworks typically rely on client-side rendering, where the application's logic and DOM updates are executed in the user's browser. This approach allows for rich user experiences but can also lead to increased complexity and performance challenges due to the heavy reliance on JavaScript.

Performance Comparison: Turbo Hotwire vs. Traditional JavaScript Frameworks

Initial Load Time

Turbo Hotwire: With server-side rendering, Rails 7 applications using Turbo Hotwire can deliver HTML content to the user's browser quickly, resulting in a faster initial load time. Additionally, Turbo Hotwire requires less JavaScript than traditional frameworks, reducing the amount of data that needs to be downloaded and parsed.

Traditional JavaScript Frameworks: SPAs often rely on client-side rendering, which can lead to slower initial load times. The user's browser must download, parse, and execute a significant amount of JavaScript code before displaying the content.

Winner: Turbo Hotwire – Faster initial load times due to server-side rendering and reduced reliance on JavaScript.

DOM Updates

Turbo Hotwire: Turbo Frames and Turbo Streams allow for efficient and targeted DOM updates. By updating only the necessary portions of the page, Turbo Hotwire minimizes the time and resources needed to refresh content.

Traditional JavaScript Frameworks: JavaScript frameworks typically use a virtual DOM to optimize updates, but this approach can still be resource-intensive, especially for complex applications with frequent updates. Additionally, managing state and coordinating updates can become challenging as an application grows in complexity.

Winner: Turbo Hotwire – More efficient DOM updates and simpler state management.

Real-Time Interactivity

Turbo Hotwire: Turbo Streams leverages Rails' built-in WebSocket framework, ActionCable, to enable real-time updates with server-rendered HTML. This approach is efficient and scalable, but may not provide the same level of flexibility as client-side rendering for some use cases.

Traditional JavaScript Frameworks: JavaScript frameworks excel at building highly interactive applications, with client-side rendering offering greater flexibility for complex interactions and animations. However, managing real-time updates can become complex and require additional libraries or tools.

Winner: Draw – Turbo Hotwire provides efficient real-time updates for most use cases, but traditional JavaScript frameworks may offer greater flexibility for complex interactions.

Learning Curve and Complexity

Turbo Hotwire: Rails developers can quickly adopt Turbo Hotwire, as it builds on familiar Rails concepts like server-side rendering and ActionCable. By minimizing the need for client-side JavaScript, Turbo Hotwire simplifies development and reduces the potential for errors.

Traditional JavaScript Frameworks: The learning curve for JavaScript frameworks can be steep, especially for developers new to client-side rendering or the specific framework in question. Furthermore, managing complex applications with extensive client-side logic can become challenging and prone to errors.

Winner: Turbo Hotwire – Easier to learn and adopt for Rails developers, with a lower complexity in managing application logic.

Ecosystem and Community

Turbo Hotwire: As a relatively new technology, Turbo Hotwire's ecosystem is still growing. However, the Rails community is known for its strong support and extensive library of resources, which can be leveraged by Turbo Hotwire users.

Traditional JavaScript Frameworks: React, Angular, and Vue.js have well-established ecosystems and communities, with a wealth of resources, libraries, and plugins available to developers. This mature ecosystem can be advantageous when building complex applications or integrating with third-party services.

Winner: Traditional JavaScript Frameworks – More mature ecosystems and larger communities, offering greater resources and support for developers.


Turbo Hotwire in Rails 7 offers a compelling alternative to traditional JavaScript frameworks, boasting faster initial load times, more efficient DOM updates, and a lower learning curve for Rails developers. For many applications, Turbo Hotwire can provide a simpler, more efficient development experience without sacrificing performance or interactivity.

However, traditional JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js still hold an edge in certain areas, such as complex interactions and ecosystem maturity. Ultimately, the choice between Turbo Hotwire and traditional JavaScript frameworks will depend on the specific requirements of your project and your familiarity with the technologies involved.

As the Turbo Hotwire ecosystem continues to grow and mature, it will be interesting to see how it influences the web development landscape and competes with established JavaScript frameworks. By considering the performance advantages and trade-offs of Turbo Hotwire and traditional JavaScript frameworks, developers can make informed decisions about which approach best suits their needs, ultimately leading to more efficient, responsive, and engaging web applications.

At Harled, we embrace the power of Turbo Hotwire and Rails 7 to build interactive and scalable applications for our clients. Our development approach capitalizes on the performance benefits and streamlined development process that Turbo Hotwire offers, enabling us to deliver efficient, responsive, and engaging web applications

If you found this content interesting and want to join a team that's at the forefront of web development, we encourage you to check out our careers page and explore the open positions!. We're always looking for talented individuals who are passionate about building innovative applications and creating engaging user experiences.

About the author

Asad Ahmed

Asad is a Full Stack Developer based out of Kitchener, ON.