Should I learn React or AngularJS

Angular vs React 2020 comparison

Table of Contents

  1. introduction
  2. Angular
  3. React
  4. comparison
  5. Conclusion

The number of frameworks for the rapid development of websites and web applications is constantly growing and time and again, developers are spoiled for choice as to which technology is best suited for the implementation of a new project.

In this article, the two currently very popular JavaScript technologies Angular and React are compared, their advantages and disadvantages are shown, as well as their differences in terms of components, templates, data binding, performance, features and ecosystem.

1 Introduction

Angular and React are used for developing single-page applications (SPA). SPAs are web-based applications that only load an HTML document from the server and dynamically reload content without server-side page navigation. Websites can react to interactions and events and load content without a page reload. This makes the website appear more dynamic for the user. In addition, server costs for the operator and the traffic consumption for the user can be reduced, since in the case of server inquiries not entire pages, but only the required data are delivered. Disadvantages (depending on the project) are higher development costs and high demands on developers.

Since the requirements for developers with SPAs are much higher, it is highly recommended to use a framework. Frameworks are scaffolds for software development that developers can use according to their own needs.

Advantages of using a framework are, among other things, that everything takes place in a tried and tested framework and that there are usually communities and documentation behind it. In addition, the programming effort is enormously facilitated by frameworks, since many useful functions or structures are already made available to the developer. With clear structures, frameworks also make it easier for the developer to write clean code that is strictly separated according to patterns (e.g. MVC) and thus also eliminate common sources of error. It is also worth mentioning that most frameworks are freely available and there are no additional costs for developers. Both Angular and React are subject to the widely used MIT license. This permissive license contains hardly any restrictions or obligations, allows commercial use and also reuse in closed-source projects.

2. Angular

Angular is an open source framework developed by Google and was developed on the basis of JavaScript. It was rewritten from scratch as the successor to AngularJS, which is why Angular and AngularJS differ in a few points. The central architecture concept is a hierarchy of components. Components are Javascript classes in the MVC principle which replace template markers with the provided HTML when loading and can react to events etc. through a special attribute syntax

Angular is based on the Model-View-View Model (MVVM), so logic and presentation are well separated. Well-known companies that use Angular to develop their websites include Youtube and PayPal.

advantages

  • Since Angular is written in TypeScript, it is advisable to use TypeSript for development as well. However, depending on the developer, this can also be seen as a disadvantage.
  • Web applications built with Angular have very good performance (assuming good client performance).
  • With the introduction of tools such as the command line tool Angular-CLI, projects can be created, expanded and put into production more quickly.
  • Angular provides a basic framework for creating web applications and does not require any additional libraries, but it can be used.
  • Unit and end-to-end testing is made much easier.

disadvantage

  • Angular is relatively rigid and inflexible due to the given framework.
  • In order to be able to work with Angular, a certain training period is required.
  • If a user has deactivated JavaScript in the browser, the use of a JavaScript-based SPA is not possible. In addition, old or unknown browsers are sometimes not supported.

3. React

Actually, React is a JavaScript library that was developed by Facebook and has been available as an open source solution since 2013. Among other things, web applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Netflix or Airbnb were developed on the basis of React.

In contrast to other MVC frameworks, React only consists of the view component. This is broken down into individual functions or components, which contain the UI part and the logic of the application, i.e. HTML and JavaScript. To make the code easier to read, React provides an optional JavaScript syntax extension in the form of JSX. JSX is a technology that is independent of React and does not necessarily have to be used. It is a statically typed, object-oriented programming language that is compiled into stand-alone JavaScript.

advantages

  • React enables data and presentation to be separated.
  • Compared to Angular, getting started is easy and doesn't require a lot of preparatory work.
  • Because React is just a library and doesn't have that many presets, it's easier for developers to learn.
  • React works with a virtual DOM, with which the effort of changing the actual DOM is kept extremely low. This ensures that the application always behaves very smoothly, even if the underlying operations or database queries are quite complex.

disadvantage

  • React alone is often not enough to create a web application, which is why the use of additional libraries is recommended in most cases.
  • It is only worth using if web applications are designed to be very interactive.
  • The recommended development language JSX usually still has to be learned. However, this shouldn't be a major problem for developers.

4. Comparison

Angular and React differ in a few ways. To enable an accurate comparison, both libraries are also compared with regard to components, templates, data binding, performance, features and ecosystem.

Components

Angular and React are component-based. The great advantage of components is that they are easy to reuse, assemble and test individually. They offer the possibility of breaking down a web application into small parts and writing it with a consistent API. A component usually receives an input via parameters and is adapted and rendered accordingly. Components usually consist of a view that receives data dynamically and processed and then displays it using the HTML structure of the view.

Templates

In React, templates are written with JSX. JSX is a syntax similar to HTML, which is extended with inline JavaScript. While this has the advantage that everything is in one place and code completion and compilation checks work better, it breaks proven best practices that separate template and logic.

Angular templates are HTML structures that can be expanded with directives. Thus, the templates are flexible and can react differently to different content. While React requires knowledge of JavaScript, Angular requires learning the Angular-specific syntax of the directives. This shouldn't be a big problem, however, as these directives are easy to learn and not very complex

Data binding

Angular uses the double bind feature, which means that elements from the view and model are assigned to one another and an exchange in both directions is possible without any problems. So if a change happens on one side, it is transferred directly to the other side without having to write special functions. React, on the other hand, uses one-way data binding, i.e. data can only be passed on and processed in one direction. This makes it easier to understand how the data is distributed and processed within the application. It makes the application more efficient and, above all, makes debugging easier.

performance

To capture all changes to the DOM, Angular creates a watcher for each binding. Every time the view is updated, the new values ​​are compared with the old values. This can result in poorer performance in larger applications. Since React works with a virtual DOM, if the view is changed, the new DOM is compared with the virtual DOM and updated accordingly.

Features

As already mentioned, Angular has more features than React. This can be seen as either an advantage or a disadvantage. Angular offers many features that are required for a modern web application. These include, for example, dependency injection, templates, routing, Ajax requests or unit tests. With Angular, all these features are available from the start, with React, however, features first have to be installed via packages, since React itself is rather minimalist.

Ecosystem

The great thing about open source frameworks is that often a lot of additional tools or libraries are made available. Thanks to the active community and developers, there are a large number of extensions for both Angular and React that can be used for a wide variety of cases. Especially for easier bootstrapping of a project (Angular CLI, Create React App), for the development of apps (Ionic 2 for Angular, React App), for design matters (Material Design, Material UI) or for the administration of States (@ngrx / store for Angular and Redux for React).

5. Conclusion

For projects whose result is very interactive, React is recommended. React is also suitable if you are dependent on other libraries or if the developers already have experience with JSX. Since there are no clear structures, close cooperation between the development team is necessary. Also, React has better support for server-side rendering, which makes the library SEO-friendly.

Unlike React very clear structures and many features. This means that development teams with an affinity for Angular can proceed quickly to implementation without, for example, defining structures in advance or looking for additional libraries. However, since Angular is so extensive, it is often too cluttered for small projects and brings with it unnecessary ballast.

However, as is so often the case, no general recommendation can be made, as the choice of the right framework depends heavily on the requirements of the project and the development team. Therefore, it is advisable to ask yourself the following questions before making a decision and based on them to decide which framework is best suited for the team as well as for the project.

Did you know?

We develop according to strict quality guidelines and use the Airbnb Style Guide when developing our React applications.

How big is the project?

Angular already has everything you need to set up a web application, so getting started is easier because no additional tools are required. If the project is smaller, however, this can be seen as unnecessary ballast and it is better to use React.

Is the entire functionality clearly defined or is flexibility expected?

Angular already has many functions, with React often additional libraries have to be used.

Which functions are required?

React is particularly suitable for very interactive projects in which other libraries are used anyway and JSX is not a foreign word for anyone on the team.

Do you need server-side rendering?

React supports server-side rendering better than Angular, making the web application more SEO-friendly.

How experienced is the development team?

Depending on which frameworks the team has already worked with and how satisfied they were with them, they can either fall back on what they already know, as implementation is easier, or a new framework is tried out in order to expand the skills in the team.