These tools are all designed for problem-solving, but there are important differences that should not be ignored. In this article, we will cover the advantages/disadvantages of using React.js and Angular to help you make an informed and competent decision.
React vs. Angular – Key Considerations
Some people believe React and Angular cannot be compared because Angular is a full-stack MVC framework and React is merely a view library. Quite the opposite – both apps are ready to deliver, highly-performing technologies capable of supporting the most ambitious objectives.
Even though the line between the two is really thin, there are pros and cons of both technologies you should consider before making a choice. A study by StackOverflow indicates that React is a bit more popular than Angular - 60% vs. 40%, respectively. But does it mean that you should opt for React?
To make this decision easier for you, we have prepared a comparison list to expand your understanding of the differences between these two frameworks. The arguments listed in this article are based on our real-life experience with both frameworks.
History and Context
It’s been an open-source project since 2013, and a considerable number of top global companies have been using it, including Yahoo, Dropbox, Airbnb, Pinterest, Slack, Udemy, and Netflix. Unique to React is the combination of development simplicity and a strong commitment to creating a great user experience. You’re almost totally free to choose Model and Controller libraries given that React is the View layer of the MVC model.
React.js is considered one of the best open-source projects of Facebook and Instagram. It allows you to use components you already have. And it also requires significantly less code. Ultimately, it means faster and more streamlined development. And fewer mistakes you can easily find and correct.
Unlike React, Angular is a complete MVC framework. It means once you get a grip on it, you won’t need other solutions. Angular has been used in some of Google’s major projects, such as AdWords.
Companies using Angular include General Motors, Nike, Forbes, Telegram, PayPal, and Upwork. The latest update - Version 9 – was introduced to the market in February 2020. It came with many improvements, the main of which is a full switch to Ivy renderer as a default compiler for all Angular applications.
What makes React and Angular different?
On the other hand, if you are looking for a developed, refined solution, Angular may be just the right choice.
Compatibility with New Versions
If you opt for ReactJS, you’ll find that it is fully compatible with its older versions. Different releases of the libraries can be easily added to your web app and the old ones can be easily updated with the property inheritance.
The situation is a bit complicated when it comes to Angular. This is because AngularJS has been completely rewritten into Angular 2. As a result, the second release of the framework marked the end of the compatibility with newer and older versions. It also means you need to install all the updates from the newer version to be able to add a component from Angular 2 to Angular 3. This may complicate the process and negatively affect your project.
Given its wide application, Angular has stronger support than React. Accordingly, you can find loads of documents and guides without having to reach out to the community. Given that a considerable number of programmers use Angular, there is a variety of online resources you can use to seek answers and solutions to specific problems.
When it comes to React, the “rules of the game” seem to be slightly different. There is a stable and huge community, but the tech support is slightly more complex than what you’d expect. It means finding the documentation with the right information about the implementation may be a bit of a challenge. React is an open-source code with new libraries popping up every day, which may result in a lack of information.
UX and rendering
Since ReactJS uses virtual DOM, it is best used for dynamic and single-page applications and enables quick reactions to data changes. Angular (which uses the browser’s DOM), on the other hand, is a more adequate solution for creating cross-platform mobile apps, as well as progressive enterprise-scale web applications and software.
One-way vs two-way data binding. Both frameworks are utilizing one-way and two-way data bindings.
With Angular’s two-way data binding, any model changes can (and would) affect the view and vice versa. However, with ReactJS one-way data binding, the view can be affected by any model changes, but not vice-versa. Without any doubt, one-way data binding is a preferred option.
Both frameworks come with a specific way of DOM processing. This is affecting the rendering of the end page displayed on the user’s side. For React, it means cloning the DOM, processing the copy, and comparing the results with the source. React then replaces the parts in the original doc that are different from the processed version.
This is doing miracles for loading time and rendering of the page and considerably reduces the amount of traffic used. Mobile users love this!
Things are a bit different with Angular which splits the DM in two threads, where the browser (on the user’s side) handles the DOM rendering. At the same time, the main thread (on the server-side) and loads the code and the services.
Nevertheless, you should not think that the rendering is done on the user’s side as the servers still carry out the visualization is. This is of huge importance for the SEO aspect as Google bots will get the correct page while indexing it.
To sum up – if we compare the rendering methodology and capabilities of React and Angular, React is unquestionably the right choice.
Pros and Cons of React and Angular
Pros and Cons of React
If used by an experienced programmer, React becomes a powerful tool to create reliable and scalable products. It is cost-effective, SEO-friendly, and popular for shortened time to market. As far as developers are concerned, React is a perfect solution because of its component-based approach and shortened development time.
- Full backward compatibility
- Component reuse
- Virtual DOM
- Thriving community
- Easy to learn and use
- Performance/speed enhancement
- Handy tools
- Easy to test/debug
- Great user experience
- Shortened time to market
- The high pace of development
- Lack of conventions/documentation
- Steep learning curve/high pace of development
- Complexity of JSX
- SEO hassle
Pros and cons of Angular
We have already explained the pros and cons of React, and now it’s time to find out why Angular is a good option (or not).
- Component-based architecture = higher code quality
- Custom directives
- Seamless updates thanks to Angular CLI
- Two-way data binding
- Dependency injection
- Huge community
- Reusability, readability & maintainability
- Unit-test friendly.
- Complex and “bulky”
- Limited SEO options
- Steep learning curve
- Material Design-like interface
- Divided and divergent community
- Time-consuming migration of legacy systems
- Compatibility issues – updates needed
Given that Angular’s MVC framework doesn’t require any additional libraries to be complete, it may seem that this framework is the right choice for you. React also requires other libraries, but it depends on your project objectives. As an independent view library, React is extremely versatile in helping you build the user experience. Moreover, it is very flexible in terms of which libraries you want to work with.
Angular is using real DOM, which is why it needs to go through the entire structure of HTML to find what needs to be changed and “mutate” the tree to apply changes. React, on the other hand, is using a virtual DOM, which means it is just tracking down the differences between the current and the old HTML and updating it correspondingly.
If you opt for React, React Native will help you build truly native and cross-platform mobile applications, but also create components and bind them in, Java, Swift, or Objective-C code. Although it has a slightly different syntax than React, you’ll find it easy to learn. With Angular’s NativeScript, used for building native iOS and Android apps, the difference will be negligible.
Given that React is a lightweight UI library, the learning curve is less steep than Angular. It means all you have to “digest” is JSX, a router library, and a state management library. Sure, you’ll need to have knowledge of writing components, using props, and managing the internal state.
Knowing that Angular is a fully-fledged MVC framework, there’s a whole list of things to learn, including components, TypeScript, modules, decorators, pipes, templates, dependency injection. And that’s only for starters.
Angular comes with a bunch of great ready-to-use tools and functionalities out of the box. This is why it is very easy to start. React, on the other hand, is a bit deficient when it comes to ready-to-use options, but it also comes with rich and precise documentation and a devoted community that will help you build the project from the scratch.
While it may be rather difficult to provide a definite answer to which framework is better, it would be fair to say you can use both of them to build great apps.
Although the advantages of using React may not appear quite obvious, we choose it because we usually deal with projects with performance challenges. Moreover, we do love the possibility to have total frontend freedom. As much as possible.