Angular vs. React  – which one is best for your project?

Angular vs. React – which one is best for your project?.

Posted by Piotr Majcher on August 13, 2019

JavaScript is one of the most popular web development technologies today. Development teams and businesses choose JavaScript for many reasons, but its most significant advantage is the rich ecosystem of tools, libraries, and frameworks that support any web development project.

In this article, we're going to take a closer look at two of such tools: Angular and React. Read on to find out what they are, how they differ from one another, what benefits they bring to the development process, and what their essential pros and cons are.

Ready to learn which of these technologies is a better pick for your project? Let's dive in!

What is React?

React is a JavaScript library which was developed and is still maintained by the Facebook team. The library was released in March 2013, and it primarily solves the problem of building user interfaces. By using React, developers can easily create interactive UIs to serve as the basis of their web applications. React also comes in handy for building single-page and mobile applications. Supported by a real tech giant, React has gained a lot of traction in the tech community and experts agree that the technology is here to stay.

Who uses React? Apart from Facebook, the technology has been used by Netflix, Asana, Slack, Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

What is Angular?

Angular is a JavaScript framework written in TypeScript. The creator behind this handy tool is the tech giant Google, which still maintains the framework. Angular describes itself as a "Superheroic JavaScript MVW Framework." Initially released in September 2016, Angular is a complete rewrite of AngularJS which was released six years before. Google has been betting on Angular for a long time now, and its critical project, Google AdWords, uses the technology too. That's why it's unlikely that Angular disappears from the tech scene anytime soon.

Note that both of these web frameworks are open-source and available under the MIT license.

Who uses Angular? Among the most significant users of the framework, we find brands like the already mentioned Google, Upwork, Paypal, Crunchbase, AWS, Nike, Forbes, General Motors, and HBO.

Angular app development company

How popular are React and Angular?

When choosing the technology stack for your project, you should consider the popularity of the framework or library you're going to pick. The reason is job prospects. The more popular a technology is, the more experts you'll be able to find. Popular programming languages and tools are surrounded by active communities that help to solve problems and continuously work on perfecting these technologies.

In general, React is growing faster than Angular. Have a look at npmtrends.com, a service that compares package download counts over time. You'll see that the download numbers of both Angular and React are rather steady, but React has many more downloads. The scale is also reflected on GitHub, where React has amassed over 133k stars, while Angular got only 59600.

React vs. Angular: Comparison

Now that you know what these two JavaScript tools are all about and how they're perceived by the developer community, it's time to take a closer look at their unique features, pros, and cons.

Features: Framework vs. library

While Angular and React share many things, one cardinal difference is that the former is a full-fledged MVC framework, while the latter is merely a JavaScript Library.

Angular is a framework because it suggests how applications should be structured and offers plenty of functionalities out-of-the-box. Developers don't need to decide which libraries to use; they can just start coding. But with that comes less flexibility

Here's what Angular provides out of the box:

  • Templates (based on an extended version of HTML)
  • Dependency injection
  • Routing
  • Component CSS encapsulation
  • XSS protection
  • Ajax requests
  • Utilities for unit-testing components
  • Form building

React is a library and so it gives developers more freedom in structuring their applications. It provides the view in MVC, leaving the M and C to be solved by development teams. If you choose React, your team will be able to pick their preferred libraries – but note that you'll also be responsible for managing updates and migrations. Expect to make some decisions regarding folder hierarchy and architecture as well – and they sometimes present a risk to application development.

Here's what React provides out of the box:

  • JSX instead of classic templates
  • XSS protection
  • Fetch for Ajax requests
  • No dependency injection
  • Utilities for unit-testing components
  • You can easily add functionalities like state management, routing, and testing utilities using
  • libraries.

Learning curve

Another area worth considering is the learning curve involved in mastering a given technology. It determines the availability of experts in the field.

According to Stack Overflow's 2018 Developer Survey, React is the 2nd most loved technology and Angular managed to score only the 9th place.

Now let's take a look at another side of that survey – the most dreaded technologies. While Angular scored relatively high, at the 4th position, React is located lower, at 11th. Developers may find Angular challenging to work with. And when we turn to the last section showing the technologies developers want to learn the most, we see that React occupies the 1st position. Still, Angular managed to score the 4th place, which isn't that bad.

Angular is characterized by a steep learning curve. Its documentation is extensive to the point of making things look more complicated than they are in reality. A deep understanding of JavaScript it's not enough to get a firm grasp of what happens under the hood. At the same time, Angular offers many included packages and code. But that means less flexibility and the need to learn that complex ecosystem.

React is more flexible, but it imposes a lot of decision-making on the team. For example, developers can choose from 16 different packages for state management alone. But that means debugging is easier because developers don't need to look at the entire code, just their own. Many React developers never read the library source code – simply because they can get away with that and still build a well-functioning app. The same is not true for Angular, where developers often have to debug the framework internally to understand the underlying model properly.

Angular pros

  • The idea behind Angular's creation is that it would be used alongside Typescript – and that's why the framework offers outstanding support for it.
  • Developers can take advantage of the Angular-language-service, allowing intelligence and autocomplete inside component-external HTML template files.
  • Angular is continually developed and offers a host of new features – for example, one of the recently added features was the possibility to generate and develop WebComponents based on Angular.
  • The framework offers detailed documentation to help developers get the hang of its many features. However, the extensive nature of Angular documentation also results in a steeper learning curve. Education and training are often time-consuming.
  • Angular offers one-way data-binding that allows for singular behaviour for the app. That minimizes the risk of developers making errors and keeps the development process smooth.
  • The MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel) allows individual developers to work separately on the same app section, using the same dataset.
  • Angular offers a structure and architecture that favour project scalability.

Angular cons

  • Angular offers a great variety of structures (for example, Injectables, Components, and Pipes). That makes it harder to learn for developers – especially in comparison with React that has only Components.
  • Potentially slower performance. Angular developers usually deal with that by taking advantage of the ChangeDetectionStrategy that allows manual control of the rendering process.
ReactJS development company

React pros

  • React has a gentle learning curve thanks to its detailed documentation, simple design, and the use of JSX (which has an HTML-like syntax).
  • React developers don't need to worry about using framework-specific code too much. In fact, they get to spend more time coding modern JavaScript, which makes the development process faster.
  • React also accelerates the development process thanks to its Virtual DOM implementation and different rendering optimizations.
  • The library offers outstanding support for server-side rendering. That way, React can be treated as a powerful tool for content-focused applications.
  • React also supports Progressive Web App (PWA) development. It offers the `create-react-app` application generator that helps developers create such apps in no time.
  • Developers who are skilled in React can apply their knowledge to mobile development (React Native).

React cons

  • It leaves developers to make many choices which require strong project leadership.
  • Some developers find mixing templates with JSX logic confusing.

Conclusion

Angular and React have gained a strong following because they offer excellent performance and top development speed. We hope that this comparison helps you make the best technology choice for your application.

Do you need more advice? Get in touch with us. We help our clients pick the technologies that ensure the success of their projects.

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