If you’ve always been curious about React vs Angular then you will want to read this article because I am going to explain the similarities, differences, pros and cons about React and Angular.
I am also going to touch on its architecture, popularity in the coding community, companies that use React and Angular before finishing up on telling you which one is better.
React vs Angular Comparison Chart
|DOM||Virtual DOM||Regular DOM|
|Learning Curve||Low to Medium||Steep|
Architecture of React vs Angular
There are a lot of similarities and differences between React and Angular. For instance, both are purely client-side (or front end) libraries. Both are web frameworks and both are maintained by industry icons. React is maintained by Facebook and Angular is maintained by Google. As long as the popularity of these companies grows, we can expect to see the longevity of React and Angular for a very long time.
One difference is that Angular is a MVC (Model-View-Controller) framework whereas React is just the view. Angular is a complete and more comprehensive framework than React. From the get-go, Angular dictates how an application should be structured. It has all the right stuff needed to architect a MVC project.
DOM: React vs Angular
One of the “killer features” that make React lightning fast is the use of a virtual DOM. The virtual DOM is like the actual DOM, a node tree that lists elements, attributes and content as objects and properties. React actually keeps the virtual DOM from the last time a component was updated or rendered in memory. Instead of recreating or re-building the entire DOM from scratch, React only updates the nodes in the real DOM that had changed. This makes all the difference in performance and is a cost-saving measure because frequent DOM manipulations are expensive.
Angular does not use a virtual DOM. Instead it has its own mechanism to detect changes and helps boost performance. Instead of using virtual DOM’s, Angular relies on an updateRenderer function that compares the current value to the previous value when the last change was detected. A view holds old values in the oldValues property. If the value changed, Angular will compose a string to update the DOM.
JSX vs HTML Templates
When it comes to laying out a web page, React uses JSX while Angular uses HTML templates.
With Angular HTML templates, template directives provide program logic while binding markup connects application data to the DOM. Before a view is displayed, Angular evaluates the directives and resolves the binding syntax to modify the HTML elements.
Databinding: React vs Angular
Data binding is the process that establishes a connection between the application UI and the data source. React implements SSOT (single source of truth) and offers one-way data binding. Angular ties the model and the view and offers two-way data binding meaning that if the model changes, the view is updated and vice versa.
From an architectural design perspective, Angular focuses on change detection in the model whereas React focuses on change detection in the view. This may be an advantage to React because the UI is the most visible object to the user. Any change in data or state is quickly reflected in the UI.
Mobile Portability: React vs Angular
Many companies including Facebook, Skype and SoundCloud has rewritten their web applications with React Native to take advantage of the native components that comes with the framework.
The difference between React Native and NativeScript-Angular is that the latter is designed to be a write-once-run-anywhere. React Native requires platform specific code to work with different devices.
Technical Debt: React vs Angular
React is only the View part of a MVC design pattern which means coders have to code their own Model and Controller parts. If coders fail or code it incorrectly, a project can easily incur technical debt.
React is a great choice for medium-sized applications but not for applications on either side of the spectrum. It is almost overkill for small applications and complexity becomes exponential for larger applications. In general, all React applications have a large footprint because of the libraries that get included.
React’s one-way binding can be accentuated with third-party libraries to simulate two-way binding like with Angular. If and when Facebook adds two-way binding to React, applications using these third-party libraries may begin to behave differently. It may incur some technical costs to upgrade these applications.
Two-way binding in Angular may sound like the perfect feature but it is harder to debug and code in a large application. Also larger Angular applications are more sluggish because of the extra wiring inside the framework that updates both ways.
Reusable Components: React vs Angular
The good news is that the web is moving towards component based and both React and Angular are already there. Components allow us to encapsulate logic and promotes reuse so that we can code-once and use it over and over again in different situations.
In React, a component can either be a function or a class. Function components are easier to use and can accept props (which acts like arguments) but are stateless. If state management is required then a class component is used instead. Class components must have a render function that returns HTML.
In Angular, a component is a subset of directives. Unlike a directive, a component always has a template.
Test: React vs Angular
At a minimum, unit testing should be performed on each component to test it out and when proven to be error-free, an end-to-end test should follow. Manual testing is usually carried out but when the codebase grows exponentially, manual testing becomes overwhelming. Luckily there are automated testing tools available.
At the time of writing, there are five testing libraries for React.
And four testing tools/ frameworks for Angular:
Popularity: React vs Angular
Angular has always been in the lead when it comes to popularity but React is slowly rising and soon will take over. Coders believe that Angular is dying out and React is growing stronger but there are a lot of companies switching to Angular. As you will see in the next section, there is a strong following for React and for Angular.
From a hiring standpoint, React coders seems to be in high demand and slowly edging out Angular coders.
Companies using React and Angular
Other than Facebook and WhatsApp, React is widely used by companies such as Uber, DropBox, Yahoo! Mail, New York Times, Instagram, PayPal, Netflix to update dynamic web applications in real time.
Angular is used by an impressive list of companies that include Google, Microsoft, AutoDesk, McDonald’s, AT&T, Apple, Adobe, GoPro, YouTube, UpWork, Freelancer, Udemy, Crunchbase, Nike, UPS, ProtonMail and many more.
Which is Better: Angular or React?
The biggest difference between React and Angular is the one-way vs two-way. Angular uses two-way binding to update between the model and the view. React only has one-way binding, updating the view whenever changes occur. However as the project progresses and becomes larger, React’s one-way binding results in a better data overview (making debugging easier). Both concepts have pros and cons.
Angular is a full-fledged MVC framework that has everything that a web developer needs to build a fully custom application with but it is geared for experienced developers with a good grasp of typescript. Most developers will agree that Angular is amazing but the learning curve is too steep for most. React is easy. Depending on your background and coding experience, learning React can be as fast as one day or as long as twelve months.
Both React and Angular have their own pros and cons. React is used to create blazing fast single page applications (SPA) and used by many well respected companies in the industry. Companies that use React like the lightweightness of the library, allowing their coders to explore third-party libraries to mix and match components. With Angular, companies who have invested in using it prefer to have a fixed structure and the foundation of a MVC architecture in place.
There are certainly differences between the two such as the way data binding is implemented. React uses one-way vs Angular using two-way. It is up to the technical architects to decide which one to choose to limit the amount of technical debt when there are new releases and upgrades.
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