Both React and Angular are often are viable considerations when it comes to application and web development. But which one is the best choice for your next project’s tech stack? Angular and React are each formidable frameworks and are the basis for some of the most popular and expansive applications currently in use around the world.
This may lead to a casual approach to selecting the right JS framework. However, this may not be enough to meet project-specific needs. While both frameworks are powerful, each one is geared towards different development styles and preferences.
To help you decide whether to use the Angular or React framework for your project, we have compiled this handy guide to the differences and similarities between each option.
What is React Designed For?
React is designed primarily for crafting application processes and functionality that put the power into your users' hands. With React, developers can maintain a high standard of quality when designing apps and can adopt a systematic approach to error prevention.
Who Uses React?
The framework is used by some of the biggest names in the tech industry as they develop intuitive and highly effective applications for their users. As it was the Facebook team that first designed and launched React, it makes sense that the social media platform and its applications are React apps. However, this is not the limit of React’s potential.
Ride-hailing service Uber also uses the framework, as does streaming provider Netflix. Instagram and WhatsApp — also Facebook properties — are similarly based upon the React framework. Other examples include Airbnb, Khan Academy, and Dropbox.
What is Angular?
Angular is provided as a direct competitor to React and was launched by Facebook’s rival in the digital landscape — Google. Google released the framework back in 2016 and has been regularly updating the offering ever since. The aim is to provide users with a flexible framework, supporting one-way data binding directly from the view to the app’s Angular component or two-way data binding that automatically reflects component changes in the view and vice-versa. This makes data flow more reflexive with this framework.
What is Angular Designed For?
The framework is intended to support developers who already have a strong background in coding competency. As such, it offers a relatively steep learning curve that may prove difficult for users without the necessary proficiency levels. However, the framework is backed up with app development support services offered by the Angular team itself and community support offered by other users.
Who Uses Angular?
Any framework designed and launched by Google is likely to be embraced by the wider developer community. This is certainly the case with Angular. Google, of course, uses the framework, as do high-ranking digital players such as Nike, Forbes, and Upwork. General Motors also uses Angular to build apps, as does payment provider PayPal.
Getting Started: React vs. Angular
Getting Started with React
React offers a relatively easy learning curve compared to that of the Angular framework. With React, there is no dependency injection — the design pattern that governs the relationships between components and their dependencies. This lack of a dependency injection makes it easier to get started using React, while the more intuitive and user-friendly setup helps developers to quickly get to grips with the framework.
Getting Started with Angular
Technical Comparison: React vs. Angular
Let’s dive deeper into the technical differences of React vs. Angular.
Document Object Model (DOM)
It is the DOM, or document object model, that is used to access code documents within the development structure. This can be used to examine and assess the document, but it is most commonly utilized for making changes to the document that are then reflected in the structure and functionality of the software.
One of the crucial differences between React and Angular relates to the type of DOM the frameworks deploy. React deploys a virtual DOM, while Angular uses a real DOM.
While both types of DOM can be used to achieve the same ends, there is a performance disparity between the two. React’s virtual DOM enables the identification and isolation of specific parts of the document tree, which can then be amended independently. Once changes are made, updates are rendered almost immediately.
Angular works a little differently. The framework’s real DOM does not allow users to implement changes to specific areas of the HTML document independently. Instead, it will work with the HTML tree structure, updating the entire document along with the amended section. This reduces the rendering speed compared to that of React.
In many cases, the difference in rendering speeds will be negligible. For smaller HTML structures — such as those used for apps with limited functionality — Angular’s DOM will be able to swiftly carry out updates and render any required changes. However, for larger-scale apps, the accelerated rendering speed of React may give it the edge for businesses that crave this higher level of performance.
Data binding refers to the connection between coded data and the functionality that is provided to the user via the UI. This is a critical part of the app-building process, as well as the app’s ongoing maintenance, and it is this function that translates the nuts and bolts of code into a full-fledged user experience. When data binding is set up correctly, changes to specific code components result in direct changes in the UI.
Angular and React support different approaches to data binding. Angular supports both one-way data binding and two-way data binding via the model view controller. React, on the other hand, utilizes only one-way data binding. What does this mean for app developers? Let’s look at React first.
Data Binding in React
At first glance, React’s one-way data binding may seem more rigid, and this is true. However, this can be beneficial. All changes have to be made via the app’s data itself, and changes cannot be made via the React app’s UI view. Instead, the UI view is reserved only for examining and testing changes to code functionality. This results in more stable code, as disruptive changes cannot be made from the UI view.
Data Binding in Angular
With Angular, changes can be made within the app’s data that are reflected in the app’s UI view, just like with React. With the framework’s two-way data binding, however, changes can also be made within the UI view itself, which are then reflected in the app’s code. This may lead to instability, as it may be difficult to keep track of changes made in the UI view and the resulting changes to code.
There are positive aspects to Angular’s two-way data binding. This approach makes the framework easier to use, as developers can make changes based on their intuitive experience of the UI itself without needing to delve into its data. Some developers may find this more flexible setup preferable to the rigidity of React.
State Management in React
State Management in Angular
In Angular, state management is a little more fluid, thanks to the two-way data binding. This means teams must be very careful not to make undocumented changes that are then reflected in the code. Developers may need to adopt access restrictions to prevent unauthorized access to the UI view, as code instability may result if changes are made.
App Interface Building
User experience is a critical concern in functional programming, so the app’s user interface needs to be a constant consideration when adding functionality and evolving the design. The way in which developers build the app’s UI components is another point of difference between React and Angular.
App Interface Building with React
UI building in React is a component-based process. React components are developed to reflect specific requirements and pieces of functionality, and then they are deployed together as a whole. It is the interactions between these components that create the overall UI.
App Interface Building with Angular
This perhaps does not compare favorably vs. Angular. Angular, on the other hand, is designed to be a more complete framework. It does not utilize the same modular structure as React, and developers will be able to design a more complete UI based on Angular’s built-in tools. This may offer developers more flexibility, although it will require a more comprehensive grasp of coding techniques to get right.
This is not the only difference between React and Angular with regard to app interface building.
React’s Additional Integrations
While React is generally simpler to use, and React components can be built and deployed with relative ease, developers might need additional material design component integrations and tools to achieve effective server-side rendering from the framework. For example, developers may find that they need additional tools to convert JSX extensions into a language that is compatible with the user’s web browser, such as React Router — a community-developed integration. Teams may also find that the modular approach is slow and cumbersome when developing larger-scale apps and may require state container tools to accelerate the process.
React does have built-in capabilities, however. For instance, developers will be able to set user form validation from within the framework without needing to access third-party integrations.
Angular’s More Comprehensive Framework
As mentioned above, Angular includes built-in material design components, such as tools and features that are intended to provide development teams with everything that they need. This includes features such as Angular CLI and Universal. Angular CLI translates textual changes into operating system functions, while Angular Universal translates HTML script into a full-formed user interface.
A Choice Based on Personal Preference
With the right integrations, React achieves the functionality that developers need to craft stunning user interfaces or UI components, although teams may prefer the „ready for deployment” completeness of the Angular framework.
If a web application is slow to load, this has serious implications for the business that deploys it. The user experience suffers, which makes it hard to achieve long-lasting positive relationships with customers. Meanwhile, according to current Google trends and SEO best practices, the site’s search engine ranking may take a hit if web pages are not performing at a sufficiently high level.
This is something to bear in mind when selecting an application development framework. The framework must be able to support high performance levels without any compromise on app functionality or complexity.
Front-End Development and Performance with React
React relies on Webpack to achieve streamlined and swift performance at the front end. This divides the code so that the browser only needs to load what is required for the user to complete their chosen action. Additional integrations may be required to accomplish this using the React framework.
Dynamic imports support this too. The framework recognizes which parts of the code are required for the initial loading at the front end and delivers this accordingly. Further code is delivered on demand as the framework responds to user requests, reducing the initial bundle size.
When using React, performance is also boosted by the process of dead-code elimination. This means that any unused modules are not included in the code bundle. As this process involves removing unnecessary parts from the tree structure, this is also known as tree shaking.
Front-End Development and Performance with Angular
The Angular framework is also geared towards providing a positive user experience with great front-end performance. This is achieved by eliminating unnecessary elements from the code bundle in the same way that React uses dead-code elimination. This means that any unused modules and coding elements used exclusively by developers are not delivered to the app’s front-end.
The code is also minified and compressed after these additional elements are removed. The aim is to achieve reliable front-end development and provide fully optimized code that is ready to perform well.
Growth Flexibility and Compatibility
It is important to remember that your web application is not designed to be static. Instead, it should be built in a way that helps it to grow and scale along with customer demand.
Both Angular and React are capable of accomplishing this scalability. Each framework allows for additional functionality to be added, and for the app capacity to grow alongside the scope and vision of your business. However, this is achieved in different ways.
React Growth Flexibility and Compatibility
We’ve already discussed the need for additional integrations and tools to get the best out of React. This also holds true here, and app scaling will depend on the implementation of these add-ons. One such add-on is the Redux state container, which makes working on larger-scale apps more efficient and effective.
Provided these integrations are put in place, React is highly effective in scaling applications and future-proofing your digital offerings. Some of the biggest players on the global digital scene utilize React to craft their apps, which is a testament to the potential of this framework.
Angular Growth Flexibility and Compatibility
Using Angular, the situation is a little different. Again, as discussed above in the Front-end Performance section, Angular is designed to be a comprehensive framework. As such, all of the features and tools required for effective app component scaling are included within the framework itself. This means developers won’t have to look elsewhere for the tools they need to add features and functions to existing apps and to grow app capacity.
Just like React, Angular is also utilized by some of the world’s leading businesses to craft expansive and highly effective apps at scale. In this sense, both frameworks offer a reliable solution for growing application capability on demand.
React and Backward Compatibility
Angular and Backward Compatibility
Developing for Mobile Applications
While many teams utilize these frameworks for developing components for browser-based web apps, mobile applications still make up a large part of the digital landscape. As a result, developers need to work with frameworks that meet both use cases, displaying a degree of flexibility and universality.
Developing Mobile Apps with React
Anyone who has used a Facebook or WhatsApp application on their smartphone knows that React is great for developing highly effective mobile apps. However, third-party integrations are required to achieve this. For example, React needs the Cordova integration to provide containerization for web applications and to connect the app’s digital structure to the features and capabilities of the smartphone hardware. Reach Native may also be required to develop mobile apps.
Developing Mobile Apps with Angular
It may not be surprising that Angular provides the necessary integrations right out of the box. When you use Angular to create mobile applications, you will have everything you need within the framework. Angular also provides something similar to React Native — Angular NativeScript. This makes the creation of Angular components relatively straightforward because you have everything you need at all times.
Both options are great for developing mobile applications as well as web applications across single and multiple-page formats. Some may prefer the comprehensive nature of the Angular framework, while others may not be put off by React’s need for Cordova integration.
React vs. Angular: Frequently Asked Questions
Is Angular better than React?
It’s difficult to provide a brief answer when considering if Angular is better than React. Different developers have different styles, and therefore, they might not agree on which one is the better option for their project.
For example, some developers may be put off by React’s reliance on additional tools and features. They may instead lean towards a more comprehensive option such as Angular, which provides all the features needed for scaling and growth within a single framework.
It’s worth noting that both frameworks are used by some of the world’s leading developers and form the basis for many of the apps we use on a daily basis. Many of these apps perform well on a vast scale
proving that both frameworks provide viable options for developers. Assessing the differences between each framework in detail and then making a choice based on your personal preference is the best course of action.
How is React different from Angular?
Choosing the Angular or React framework for your project means understanding the differences between each option. React is different from Angular in several key aspects.
React uses one-way data binding, compared to Angular’s two-way data binding.
React requires additional tools and integrations to achieve full-fledged framework functionality and effective server-side rendering. Angular is designed as a comprehensive framework and can achieve deployment straight out of the box.
React uses a virtual DOM, while Angular utilizes a real DOM.
These are just a few of the differences between React and Angular, and we have only touched upon them briefly. This will give you a sense of the key points of difference between the two frameworks, but it is advised that you look at the rest of the points in this article to gain a more complete picture.
Is Angular easier to use than React?
In most cases, no. Angular is not easier to use than React. Many of React’s features and attributes are geared towards ease of use and more intuitive development of app components and full-fledged applications. This intuitive focus may make it easier to craft apps from the user’s point of view, although not all developers will agree with this.
React’s two-way binding means that changes can be made in the app interface and reflected in its data, as well as vice versa. Not all developers will be comfortable with this approach to front-end development, however, as code integrity may be compromised.
React’s virtual DOM allows alterations to be made and then rendered in specific areas of the code tree structure. This is similar to Angular but different in key ways. For example, the framework will not need to work through the entire tree or code bundle to render alterations, and performance may be enhanced as a result. This makes it easier to make changes even at higher bundle sizes.
Despite these aspects, there are other ways in which Angular may prove to be the easier option. For example, Angular’s one-way data binding may be a more rigid approach to web development, but it makes the processes of documentation, code stability, and state management easier to achieve.
Why is React JS better than Angular?
React uses a virtual DOM, which represents a major advantage over Angular’s real DOM for many people, and React’s component-based structure and library compatibility will also suit certain development styles. The two-way data binding may also prove tempting, as it adds extra flexibility and capability during web development.
However, deciding whether to add Angular or React to your project tech stack really comes down to a personal choice. Both frameworks are extremely capable, but different development styles and competency levels will be better suited to different options. Take your time to get to know the different attributes of each framework model, and make your choice based on these details.