When it comes to choosing a tech stack for your website, you face a daunting task. The first steps you should do are to consider your project objectives, budget, time, app size, and resources. 

Today this choice for many software development firms is connected with the comparison of two powerful frameworks: Angular and React. These two frameworks confidently take the leading places in the lists of top JS frameworks. That is why our post is concentrated on them both.

Is Angular better than React? Is it harder than React? Why many developers use React JS instead of Angular? Take 10-15 minutes to explore what separates Angular and React from each other, and why brands focus their energy on Angular or React app development.

React JS and Angular

What Is Angular?

Angular is an open-source framework that is broadly utilized for creating web applications, single-page web apps, and hybrid options. The framework is built on TypeScript, developed, and maintained by Google.

It is important not to confuse and mix up Angular 2 and AngularJS that is an older framework. In modern sources, Angular 2 is mainly used as an umbrella term for all the Angular released after AngularJS. (They are Angular 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. The last one was released in 2020).

The full-fledged Angular provides everything development teams need to build large-scale apps. Its unprecedented popularity is confirmed by such giant businesses as BMW, Xbox, Samsung Forward, Forbes, and many more companies that choose Angular over React for front-end development.

What Is React?

React is a brainchild of Facebook that was developed as a front-end Javascript library for building user interfaces (UI). It is also known as React.js or ReactJS. The library uses a declarative style of programming to describe the UI state.

With its help, programmers can figure out how their app is going to look for users and how they would interact with it. They also use React for building web applications, native-rendered apps, and even mobile apps.

React is famous for the reusable library code and two key features JavaScript devs love – virtual DOM and JSX. It was used by Facebook and Instagram production for years. However, it works for small projects as well (for example, BMI Calculator, Radix Converter, Unit Converter, and others).

React is also an open-source project, meaning that anyone can download and modify its source for free.

Choosing Angular or React

Is Angular or React better in 2021? Before exploring them both in detail, let’s get some historical facts.

Brief excursion into the history of both frameworks

What are the historical roots of Angular and React?

  • AngularJS was developed in 2009 by Miško Hevery from Brat Tech LLC. Its first open-source release was in 2010. The framework is now maintained by Google and the community of developers.Initially, the AngularJS rewrite was called Angular 2. It led to confusion and developers tried to figure this out. They announced that separate terms should be used for each framework with AngularJS referring to the 1.X versions and Angular without the JS referring to versions 2 and up.
  • React was created by Jordan Walke from Facebook, however, at that time, it was known as FaxJS. Facebook represented it in its newsfeed in 2011, Instagram made the same in 2012. In 2013, the first open-source release of React happened. The dev community along with Facebook maintained it. Two years later, the social network released open-source React Native for native development on Android and iOS.
Facts Angular  React
Release 2010 2013
Official website https://angular.io/  https://reactjs.org/ 
Programming language Typescript Javascript
Current version  11 17.0
Size (approximately) KB 500 100
Known projects Google, Nike, Wix, Forbes, PayPal, Telegram, Sony Uber, Facebook, Airbnb, Netflix, Dropbox, Instagram, Whatsapp, 

React vs Angular: the aspect of popularity

Different researches show that React.js is the most preferable web framework by developers. Angular has a lower rate.

GitHub also gives priority to this framework; however, it would not be fair to let GitHub be the only source to keep in mind. The popular Stack Overflow survey also gives a little more preferencу to React.js.

According to their Stack survey, more developers said they choose React over Angular:

  • React – 31.3%
  • Angular – 30.7% 

According to the JetBrains survey:

  • 54% of responders choose React
  • 23% use Angular 2

All these let us conclude that React looks more popular and highly demanded. Each year developers div their preference to React than Angular.

Tech Side of Comparing Angular vs React

Tech aspects of Angular and React

Componentization

AngularJS is famous for its complex and fixed structure – it is based on Model, View, and Controller layers. Angular helps developers to break down the app’s code into various files allowing them to reuse templates or the component in different parts. 

React provides another architecture offering a simple way of developing component trees. It comes with functional programming in which the component definitions are declarative. Codes look logically structured and readable. 

State management

Every component has its own state in React. Developers can create special components for holding the state of the entire app or a particular part of it. However, the global state needs to be stored in multiple parts of the application with data being manually passed around various component tree levels. A special state management library, Redux solves this problem.

In Angular, component data is stored in component properties. Data is passed from parent components to children ones. State changes in some parts may be recalculated. However, in large apps, it may cause a multi-directional tree series of updates (that is difficult to track). State management libraries (NgRx or RxJS) help to improve the features.

UI Components

React UI tools are developed by its community. The React portal offers many paid and free UI components. Angular has a built-in material tech stack and comes with a set of pre-built components of material design.

Architecture

React and Angular both have component-based architecture, meaning that they have cohesive, reusable, and modular components. The only difference relates to the tech stack. The architecture of React uses JavaScript while Angular architecture goes with Typescript for web development – it is more compact and error-free.

Self-sufficiency

React-written apps require additional library inclusion. Redux or Helmet are used for optimizing the process of routing, state management, and interacting with the API. The latter is a full-fledged development framework that does not need the inclusion of any library. Every feature is implemented with the help of the Angular package.

Directives

In React, templates and logic are explained at the end of every component that allows readers to understand what the code means even without knowing its syntax. The templates in Angular are returned with attributes. The syntax of directives is rather complex which makes it incomprehensible for beginners.

Flexibility

Dor app development, React provides the freedom to choose the tools, libraries, and architecture. You may build highly-customized apps with only the features and tech stack you require (but in case, you have hired a skilled development team).

Angular gives you a limited amount of flexibility. For example, Angular 7 allows only using Angular components inside other frameworks and embed codes in an HTML-based app.

Learning curve

In comparison with React, Angular provides a steep learning curve. The framework proposes multiple ways to solve problems. It has a complex component management system, it requires knowledge of different concepts and languages. lt is developing constantly, so developers need to look into what’s new in the Angular ecosystem and constantly upgrade their skills.

This is actually not true for React. With the help of Reactjs, you can easily learn and make an application if you are good with JavaScript. ReactJS gives many useful resources for beginners to understand the framework and develop apps (even after frequent updates). 

Productivity issues and development speed

Angular outshines React in terms of productivity and development speed. The framework offers an advanced development experience that allows creating a workspace and design functioning apps swiftly.

In the case of React, productivity and the development speed get affected due to the involvement of 3rd-party libraries. React developers must initially define the right architecture with the tools.

Document Object Model

Document Object Model (DOM) is what Angular uses, where the whole tree data structure is updated (even when a single section of it is changed). ReactJS applies the virtual DOM that enables app development companies to track and update the changes without affecting the other parts of the tree. Virtual DOM is faster than real DOM.

Data binding

React uses one-way data binding, so the UI elements can be changed only after changing the model state. There is no way to alter UI elements without updating the corresponding model state.

Angular is about the two-way binding approach. This approach ensures that model state changes automatically when any change in the UI element is made (and vice-versa). React offers a more streamlined approch.

App performance

As we have mentioned above, React uses Virtual DOM and Fiber for building apps that make it lead to AngularJS. Newer Angular versions propose features and elements like ShadowAPI. It has made the competition between the frameworks even more intense. data overview in the case of larger app projects although Angular’s way seems easier.

Documentation

Because of the ongoing development process, documentation in Angular looks slower. Moreover, most of the documentation is still AngularJS, which is outdated for the developers now.

React also has regular updates, but all the insights from the earlier versions are still valuable.

Angular vs React: How to Make the Final Decision?

As you see, each framework has its own set of capabilities, both with their advantages and drawbacks. However, there is no ideal or only one answer on which framework should you choose. 

How to choose the only one framework?

In order to make a decision, you will need to review both from the perspective of your project. This is what you’d better do on your own.

To get started, answer the following questions about your project and when you do, match the answers against what you’ve learned:

  • How big and complex is your project?
  • How big is your team?
  • How experienced are your developers?
  • Are all of the features clearly defined?
  • If all the features are defined, what capabilities do you need?
  • How long is your project going to be maintained?
  • Is the business logic complex?
  • Are you targeting web, mobile, or desktop platforms?
  • Do you require server-side rendering? 
  • Is SEO important for your project?
  • Are there any ready-made component libraries?

After answering these questions and diving into the comparison React vs Angular, try to compile everything into the virtual table of benefits of both frameworks. Here’s how your table may look like:

What are the benefits of React and Angular?

React Benefits Angular Benefits
Handy User Experience. React utilizes the abstract form of Real DOM – the Virtual DOM that makes it easier for developers to update changes performed by users in the app without affecting the other parts of the interface. This results in creating a highly dynamic UI with a better user experience. Great performance. Angular can be proud of its hierarchical dependency injection (that is better than that of AngularJS), where classes are not dependent on each other. They better turn towards the external sources. It provides higher performance to the Angular mobile apps.
Quick development. The library allows developers to reuse the existing code and apply hot reloading into the process. It boosts app performance and development speed. Cleaner Code. TypeScript language used by Angular eases the process of finding and eliminating the common issues while typing the code. It helps developers in writing cleaner code and ensures high code quality.
Quick testing. Thanks to Redux, React simplifies the hassle of storing the component states in large-sized and complex apps with enormous dynamic elements. This allows adding application state in a single object and empowering each component of the app to access the application state without involving child components or using callback. It simplifies testing. Material design-like interface. The framework proposes pre-built material design components across navigation, form controls, layouts, pop-ups, and tables. It assists developers in overcoming Google Material Design’s impact on mobile app design.
Time-saving. App developers may reuse the code components at distinct levels at any point of time. Managing the updates looks better as the components are isolated to each other, and changes in one do not affect the other. This makes the React app development time-saving and more effective. Seamless updates. The Command Line Interface (CLI)of Angular is easy to install and use. It proposes innovative testing tools and simpler commands. It is supported by different platforms that make it possible to update even those components having a 3rd-party dependency.
One-directional data binding. The library allows performing directly with the components and employing downward data binding to ensure that the parent entities do not get affected by the changes of child entities. Upgraded error handling. Latest versions of Angular offer an upgraded error handling process for @Output in the scenarios where a property is not initialized.

If you are going to start a big project and want to minimize the risk of making a bad choice, create a proof-of-concept product first. 

Try one of the frameworks, picking some of the core features of the project, and implement them in a simplistic manner. It will give you some valuable personal experience of working with the framework and will let you validate the key technical requirements.

 

*all the pictures used are from Unsplash.com and Pexels.com (R. Ruggiero, C. Camille Rubin, J.Tyson, D. Giannatti)