With so many JavaScript frameworks available for server-side and client-side rendering, choosing the right framework for a new project is a difficult task be it a JavaScript system, application or website. Picking a wrong framework affects project’s resilience and ability to meet deadlines.

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Moreover, JavaScript developers always had a hard time when it comes to choosing between React and Angular. If you’re also one of those developers then don’t worry, you’re not alone. In this article, we are going to compare the two in great detail so that you can make the right decision. We’ll have a look at its popularity, technical components, advantages, disadvantages, and many more. But first let’s see what Angular and React actually are.

What is Angular?

First of all, it’s important to understand that when I say Angular, I do not mean AngularJS. Currently, Angular is used as an umbrella term for all the versions of Angular released after AngularJS. These versions are 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

If we talk about Angular 2, then it’s an open-source framework which is generally used for creating web apps, hybrid apps, and single-page web apps. Angular is developed and maintained by Google.

Angular is a complete toolkit which every developer needs to develop large-scale apps. Probably this is the reason why leading names like BMW, Xbox, Forbes, and many more have chosen Angular for their front-end development

The latest version of Angular 10 was released on June 24 2020. The major highlights of Angular 10 are TypeScript v3.9 support, Angular package format changes,depreciations, and removals.

What is React?

React is a front-end JavaScript library which is used for building UI. Developed by Facebook, React utilizes a declarative style of programming for describing the UI state. React enables the developers to have a preview of their app as to how it will look and interact with the users. Furthermore, native-rendered apps, web apps, and even mobile applications are developed with React.

Moreover, it also comes with two critical features which JavaScript developers absolutely love. These features are JSX and virtual DOM.

Apart from Facebook, many other big names like Netflix, Airbnb, Dropbox, and Uber have used React for years.

Like Angular, React is also an open-sourced project. It means that anyone can simply download it and modify it from the source for free. React libraries consist of a wide array of collections from complete ReactJS templates to individual UI templates which helps in building UI.

JavaScript power contest: bare figures

The number of JavaScript tools is gradually on a rise, turning the choice of fitting technology into a contest. The problem is Angular and React are both quite capable, modern, and extensively used JavaScript Frameworks. According to the State of JavaScript, a web portal that surveys developers; In 2017 they surveyed 20, 000 developers, while React and Angular’s popularity among developers as JavaScript frameworks was equal, React was leading when it came to the developers’ adoption of the framework.

Developers’ adoption and acceptance

Out of 20, 000 developers surveyed, 14, 000 developers while only 4, 700 developers said they use and will continue to use, React and Angular respectively, in the future. 7, 600 developers said they are uninterested in Angular despite of being aware of its popularity while none of the developers said they are uninterested in React.

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Image source : www.stateofjs.com

Moreover, all developers were either interested or were using React. The rest of them were either learning or willing to. Unlike Angular, nobody showed their reluctance towards React.

Which is more popular?

Since both ‘React’ and ‘Angular’ are common words, it becomes difficult to grasp their popularity from Google trends alone. So, we will analyse their popularity through a different parameter. We will consider the number of stars that they receive on their GitHub repositories as the benchmark of popularity.

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The above chart clearly shows that React is far ahead of Angular if we consider GitHub repository stars. But we won’t jump to the conclusion with just one parameter. The job market is another good indicator of popularity.

The below charts show how React and Angular are neck to neck when it comes to job demands on various job portal websites.

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If you want to see some recent analysis, then have a look at the Google trends analysis below. It shows the search trends of the past 12 months.

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Angular vs React: The ultimate comparison

Before I go any further, let me clear a few things. Although both maintained by Google, Angular project from AngularJS or Angular 1 and each has different repository and account on GitHub. Angulais separate project from AngularJS or Angular 1 and each has different repository and account on GitHub. Angular uses TypeScript and renders Client-side while Angular 1 uses JavaScript and is server-side.

React, on the other hand, is maintained by Google’s biggest competitor, Facebook. React lacks a native architecture unlike Angular’s MVC and resorts to one-way data binding.

Technology React Angular
Purpose Setting up adequate processes, introducing the standards of quality to prevent the errors and flaws in an application Detecting and fixing bugs and errors.
Author Facebook Google
Type Open source JS Library JavaScript framework
Toolchain High High
Language JSX TypeScript
Learning Curve Low Medium
Packaging Strong Medium
App Architecture None Component based
Data Binding Uni-directional Bi-directional
DOM Virtual DOM DOM, Regular

Data Binding

Angular

Data binding is a crucial factor which greatly influences the decision to select the right framework between Angular and React. Data binding is all about synchronizing data between UI and business logic.

The main difference here between React and Angular is that Angular uses and two-way data binding. This means that it keeps the two layers updated with the same data. It means that it updates the model layer with any change in the input. Moreover, it also binds the model variable with the HTML element to the model variable where it not only displays it but also changes it in the backend.

Two-way data binding is also considered as an efficient technique for fetching data from huge ERP based software such as accounting, medical software, and other software which needs complex requirements. Furthermore, the bidirectional nature of Angular eases the building of enterprise resource planning software.

React

On the other hand, React uses one-way binding with two-way data binding helpers for managing both extensive manipulation of data and heavy parsing work.

One-way binding not only makes the code more stable but also makes debugging of an application built with React much easier as compared to that of an Angular app. Since React is a library framework, it doesn’t follow an automatic approach to data binding. It saves developers from the nitty-gritty of complex handling of objects.

Performance & DOM

Angular

Angular uses real DOM which greatly affects its performance. Let’s understand this with an example. For example, you just want to update the last name in a user’s profile. So, the Real DOM instead of changing just the last name will update the whole tree structure of the HTML tables. This makes the process slow and less efficient.

Not only Real DOM, but bidirectional data-binding also affects the overall performance of Angular apps. For each binding, there’s a new watcher assigned which tracks the changes. The loop is continued until all the watchers are checked. More bindings create more watches, thus the process becomes more cumbersome. Although, the recent update of Angular has improved performance of Angular significantly.

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React

Unlike Angular, React uses virtual DOM (Document Object Model) which enables access and change of document layout, contents, and structure. Continuing with the example of the user profile that we mentioned above. The virtual DOM will simply update the last name without rewriting the whole doc thus rendering the updates very quickly. Furthermore, in React, the data-binding process is unidirectional in which the bindings are not assigned to the watchers thus no extra workload is created.

Learning curve

Angular

Angular is a dynamic and vast library. This is what makes it difficult for the developers to learn all the concepts and languages associated with it like pipes dependency injection, TypeScript, RxJS, templates, etc. Learning all these concepts takes a longer time for a developer as compared to that of React thus making Angular’s learning curve steeper.

Furthermore, Angular consists of a lot more unnecessary component management and syntax which are intricate. The framework is also continuously developing, which means that the developer must know and learn what is new in the Angular ecosystem to upgrade his skills. There are also many complicated and embedded features in the framework core which the developer cannot avoid using and learning them.

React

Contrary to Angular, React is minimalistic as it has no classic templates, no dependency injection, and no overly complicated features. Developers will find its framework easy to understand if they already know JavaScript well. Although, the developer may take some time to get used to the setup of the project since there’s no predefined project structure.

Developers also need to learn Redux library which is used for state management in more than half of the React applications. The most basic thing to learn in ReactJS is to manage internal states, components, and usage of props for configuration.

Languages

Angular

When it comes to languages, Angular uses TypeScript or JavaScript which also happens to be a superset of JS that is developed mainly for the bigger projects. In TypeScript, the typos are easy to spot and the code is easier to navigate. Furthermore, the code refactoring process als becomes faster and simpler. This is what makes TypeScript more compact than the JavaScript.

React

If we talk about React, then it is based on JavaScript ES6+ which is combined with JSX script. JSX is nothing but an extension for syntax that makes the JavaScript code to resemble with the one which is written in HTML. This makes codes easy and understandable. Moreover, the typos are also easier to spot. React is also augmented with Babel which is a code translation tool for compiling JSX codes in the browser.

Ease of update

Angular

Angular comes with improved CLI which consists of commands such as ng update which makes the upgradation of the app to the latest Angular version easier and faster. Due to this, the Angular development is less painful. Also, it’s important to note that most of the updating process is automated which makes it further simpler.

React

React also offers developers to make smooth transitions from one version to the other. However, front-end development libraries heavily depend on the external libraries that make it possible for the updating and migration to the third-party components. Additionally, developers also have to check if the third-party libraries which they have used are compatible with newer versions of JavaScript framework or not.

Tools

Angular

Angular is supported by several code editing tools. For example, it works with code editors like Visual Studio, Sublime Text, and Aptana. Angular CLI can be used to set up a project. Similarly, Angular Universal can be used for server-side rendering. Platforms like Karma, Jasmine, and Protractor can also be used for end-to-end testing in Angular.

React

Like Angular, React is also supported by several code editors like Atom, Sublime Text, and Visual Studio. Developers can also use Create React APP (CLI) tool to bootstrap a project. Next.js framework is used to complete server-side rendering. For testing the entire app, you would require multiple tools like Jest which is used for JS code, Enzyme for component testing, and React-unit for unit testing. There’s also a tool known as React 360 which is a library that creates VR and AR applications.

App structure

Angular

The structure of Angular is complex and fixed which makes it suitable for the experienced developers. There are mainly three layers in Angular which are Model, Controller, and View. An object which is responsible for Model is initialized by the second layer Controller and is displayed on the third layer View.

If we talk about the application code, then it consists of different Angular components. All these components are separately written in the four files. TypScript is used to implement the component, HTML file is used for defining the view, CSS file is for defining the stylistic features, and a special file is for testing purposes.


    import { Component } from '@angular/core';
    @Component({
        selector: 'my-app',
        templateUrl: './app.component.html',
        styleUrls: ['./app.component.css']
    })
    export class AppComponent { }

React

The React’s structure offers developers with the freedom to make their choices. There’s no one right structure for the React app. React only offers View layer as the other two layers Model and Controller are added with the usage of other libraries.

It’s important to note that the architecture of the React app is component-based. The code is also made of React components which are then rendered with the help of React DOM library in two ways which are:

Functional (with the function that returns JSX)


    function Hello(props){
        return <div>Hello {props.name}</div>
    }
    Class-based (with ES6 classes)
    class Hello extends React.Component {
        render() {
        return <h1>Hello, {this.props.name}</h1>;
    }

Community

Angular

Developers are quite a sceptic when it comes to Angular as compared to the React. It’s mainly because of Angular’s unpopularity due to Angular 1.0, where developers had dismissed the framework as too complicated since it required a lot of time for learning. Although, Angular is developed by Google which provides constant improvements and long-term support for the framework. Angular is used names Nike, HBO, Forbes, Apple, AT&T, Microsoft, and many more.

React

React has a wider community as compared to Angular on both GitLab and GitHub. However, as per the StackOverflow Developer Survery of 2018, there were more number of developers working with Angular as compared to the React. Working with React demands a developer to continuously learn as the framework gets updated quite often.

Although the community does it best to move forward with the latest documentation, it’s not always that easy to keep up with the frequent changes. Due to this, the problem of lack of documentation arises quite frequently. React is used by big players like PayPal, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Netflix, etc.

When should you go for Angular?

You should select the Angular framework if:

  • Your team high expertise in C#, Java, and previous versions of Angular.
  • The complexity of the app lies from low to medium level.
  • Need higher productivity and are fine to adopt ready-to-use solutions.
  • You’re ready to accept Bundle Budgets in CLI option that alerts developers when the size of the app bundle exceeds the pre-decided value. In simple words, you must go with Angular if you’re looking to regulate the app size.
  • You want a wide-scale feature-rich application.

When should you choose React?

You should choose React for your application project if:

  • Your team is an expert in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.
  • You have to develop a highly customized application solution.
  • The development process involves a large number of components with variable states that like – buttons enabled/disabled, dynamic inputs, active/inactive navigation items, access permission, and user login.
  • You want to spend more time on the pre-development preparation.

Advantages of Angular

If we consider the community support as one of the factors, no other JavaScript Framework can beat it. Developers and designers continually work together and back to the community, growing reliability and consistency of the framework.

It is a complete framework that runs in any browser environment regardless of the platform. Besides, it is reliable, includes off-the-rack tools, ng components are robust and quite evolved in juxtapose with React.

Bi-directional data binding is perhaps the key feature, as it disperses the influence after each set of data change and does away with the necessity for additional effort with data sync in model and view.

Advantages of ReactJS

JSX is a JavaScript syntax that permits HTML codes and practice of HTML tag syntax for the rendering of subcomponents. It endorses development of machine-readable programs and delivers ability to compound components in a single compile-time tested file.

Prompt rendering is one of the the top features of React that gives it a substantial edge over Angular. The technology includes shrewd approaches to lessen the sum of DOM operations, enhance and hasten the process of updates. Virtual DOM (Document Object Model) is of use while managing massive databases.

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The fundamental difference between ReactJS and AngularJS is this that React is JavaScript-based while ng2 is superset of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). JavaScript is a superior programming language to HTML, which makes React a priority when it comes simple, intensive and dependable programming.

Disadvantages of Angular

Notwithstanding to an all-inclusive, clear manual and extensive documentation, steep learning curve and complication are called amongst the key limitations of Angular. As with another client-side rendering tech in JavaScript framework evaluation list, computer programmers should give distinct importance on safekeeping of apps. The current state of CLI documentation is another concern as you won’t find any substantial documentation on GitHub.

Disadvantages of ReactJS

When we put react vs angular in juxtapose in terms of performance of the web application running on them, before anything it’s worth citing that ReactJS is more of an evolved JavaScript library that can act as a framework, not a complete framework like Angular and, thus, combination of the UI library into a joint MVC framework involves deeper development skills. Angular is still evolving, young and immature considering tutorial dimensions and an incomplete ecosystem.

Apart from challenges and limitations of ReactJS, it is worth mentioning Flux which is regularly applied for adding a structure and architecture to the web apps. Using either of the technologies is still a contest for inexperienced developers because of its lack of a proper structured and complete documentation.

Conclusion

React and Angular provides entirely varied methods to web application development for startups, SMBs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Both technologies are prevailing and adaptable, while neither of them is good or bad, popular or not. At the end of the day, it depends upon custom app objectives and specific system limitations, programmers can run from ng2 to React, and back.

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