The Frontend Battle: React vs Angular

The title of this post might have provoked a few thoughts in your mind. Some of you may have already declared React as the winner and many might be expressing your love for the Angular. Well, for some of you, the topic may seem totally illogical as you think these two Javascript approaches are way too different to be compared. It’s like comparing apes with apples.

Sigh! Yeah! AngularJS is a framework while React is a library. But, let me tell you, the comparison between the two is not irrelevant at all. Being the two most popular and the most used Javascript approaches, the debate over React vs Angular has created quite a buzz.

There’s no denying that this is an exciting time for Frontend Engineers. Almost every business (big, small or micro) has its presence on the web and choosing a JavaScript framework is inevitable for web development.

There are several client-side frameworks and libraries that have been around for some time (of course AngularJS and ReactJS are the biggest players among them). Therefore, it is a mammoth task to choose from such a great variety.

Should I use AngularJS or React?” “Which one is better – React vs Angular?” These are questions that bother both novices and veterans alike. There are a lot of articles out on the web debating about React vs Angular, and a many of them tend to take a side favouring one or the other.

The JavaScript scenario is changing rapidly. A new technology is emerging with every passing day. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the nuances of the features, advantages and disadvantages, and of course the differences in the functioning of both Angular and ReactJS before crowning the victor in the React vs Angular battle.

In this article, we will discuss each of the platforms, i.e. AngularJS and ReactJS separately and will try to understand what makes each of them different from the other.

What is AngularJS?

Initially released in 2009, AngularJS is a comprehensive JavaScript framework loaded with almost everything needed to set up the client-side of a website. It is actively supported by Google after one of its developers, Misko Hevery, became a Google employee.

AngularJS provides developers with a structure (Model View Controller or MVC) that helps standardize and streamline the web development workflow.

What is ReactJS?

ReactJS (often referred to as React or React.js) is an open-source JavaScript library. It is used for rendering views. In comparison to a full framework like AngularJS, which provides the entire MVC architecture, React caters only to the view. Released in May 2013, React was created by Jordan Walke, a Facebook engineer. The library is actively supported by Facebook and Instagram. ReactJS leverages and implements the idea of web components that extend an HTML document.

Features: React vs Angular

While comparing AngularJS vs React, it is obvious that both have their pros and cons (and every web developer has their own preferences as well). However, to throw a little more light on the React vs Angular debate, we will examine the most popular features and functions of the both.

Some of the key features of AngularJS are:

  • Angular Directives – This enables AngularJS to manipulate the Document Object Model (DOM) by extending HTML with directives.
  • Two-way data binding capability – This helps to reflect any changes made to the view within the data and vice versa. This capability speeds up the development time by reducing much of the programming overhead involved with syncing up the view with the model.
  • Dependency injection – A pattern of software designing which enables injecting one or more services (known as dependencies) in the component. It helps to make code more maintainable, testable and usable.
  • Ability to write custom directives – A custom directive in AngularJS is used to extend the functionality of HTML. An AngularJS application, during bootstrap, traverses the DOM to find the matching elements against the DOM directives and do a one-time activity using its compile() method of the custom directive then process the element using link() method of the custom directive based on the scope of the directive.
  • Onboard form validation –  Angular’s AJAX forms and built-in validation makes using forms easier. This facility helps to deal with displaying error messages from form validation.
  • Virtual DOM – This feature allows React to store the original as well as an updated version that reflects changes fetched in from the view. The two versions are run through a React function, which picks the differences and outputs a stream of DOM operations that only amend the parts of the view that actually changed.

The major features of ReactJS are as follows:

  • JSX files – This is an optional feature that goes against the notion of keeping HTML and JavaScript code separate. JSX files, used to write views, tell exactly how the code will render in the view.
  • Server-side rendering – This allows rendering React on both the client and server, providing greater coding flexibility.
  • React Native – A framework that enables developers to build components for native UI widgets in a way similar to building them for HTML. This defies the idea of building an app for mobile devices using JavaScript, which necessitates relying on a cross-platform framework like Cordova or Ionic.

Disadvantages: React vs Angular

AngularJS

Despite offering the above-listed features, AngularJS has a few disadvantages. Sometimes, it can complicate the functioning of search engine crawlers.

The two-way data binding feature is advantageous for many applications. However, when it comes to manipulating or rendering large blocks of data-heavy content, such as a photo gallery or highly populated lists, it starts to lag.

The framework requires the libraries to be AngularJS specific. It does not work well with tools and libraries that are not specific to AngularJS. Many developers feel that AngularJS increases the test time considerably thereby affecting the build time.

ReactJS

Apart from its advantages, ReactJS can also cause some difficulties. React lack enough documentation, which makes it difficult for developers to master the technology.

React is not a full framework rather it is only a view layer. Therefore, it still requires you to plug your code for Ajax requests, events and so on.

ReactJS also requires some configuration (i.e. substituting erb with React) to integrate React.js into a traditional MVC framework like rails.

React does not have a router or built-in model management libraries. It requires developers to have the experience to be able to choose and implement third-party libraries.

Difference: React vs Angular

Both React and Angular are extremely popular among frontend developers. Both are currently used by many businesses including news, healthcare, banking, food and travel companies across the globe.

Some of the most interesting differences between AngularJS and ReactJS are the DOM, size, debugging, componentization, community, data binding, performance, directives, dependency resolution, and templating.

The following table, comparing Angular vs ReactJS (includes Angular2), will give you some clarity on the differences between the two Javascript approaches so that you can choose your winner in this React vs Angular battle. (Source:Pluralsight)

Attribute

AngularJS

Angular 2

React

Author Google Google Facebook
Language JavaScript/HTML TypeScript JSX
Size 143k 764k 151k
DOM Regular DOM Regular DOM Virtual DOM
Code Design JS into HTML JS into HTML JavaScript Centric
Binding 2 Way 2 Way 1 Way
Tooling Low High High
Component Model Weak Strong Medium
Templating HTML TypeScript Files JSX Files
MVC Yes Yes View Layer Only
Abstraction Weak Strong Strong
Mobile App Building Ionic Framework Ionic Framework React Native
Churn Reduced Reduced High
Rendering Client Side Server Side Server Side
Debugging General Good HTML / Bad JS Good JS / Good HTML Good JS / Bad HTML
JavaScript “Fatigue” Less Less More
Fails at Runtime Runtime Compile-Time
Github Contributors 1386 189 604

So, Which One is Better?

As you have known by now, both of these frameworks have their own pros and cons. While AngularJS does some things better, React wins at some other things. Both the technologies provide a sturdy set of tools for scalable, reactive and quality web applications.

React is the apt choice when you have lots of dynamic content changing within the view while Angular shines when you need a full, comprehensive framework to get you running quickly out of the box.

Websites, like Instagram or Facebook, with a lot of dynamic data-intensive content that is constantly changing perform better with React. However, AngularJS, with its recently released version Angular2, caters to the developers who want a more mature and complete solution.

As the React vs Angular debate continues to bother us, the creators keep on updating and releasing new technologies to win a competitive edge over each other.

The newly released Angular 2, launched in May 2016, is a huge improvement over version 1 and is very competitive with React. The new component model of Angular 2 is comparatively simple to grasp than Angular 1 directives. It uses a virtual DOM, like React, offering almost 10 times improvement in its performance. The new version also supports isomorphic or universal rendering.

Therefore, choose your frontend technology wisely as I rest my fingers with a hope to have helped you in your decision to choose the apt framework.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CAPTCHA

*

About SpringPeople

Founded in 2009, SpringPeople is a global corporate training provider for high-end and emerging technologies, methodologies and products. As master partner for Pivotal / SpringSource, Elasticsearch, Typesafe, EMC, VMware, MuleSoft and Hortonworks, SpringPeople brings authentic, Certified training, designed and developed by the people who created the technology, to Corporates and Development/IT Professionals community in India. This makes SpringPeople an exclusive master certified training delivery wing, and one of the hand-picked few global partners, of these organizations - delivering their immensely popular, high-quality Certified training courses in India – for a fraction of what it costs globally.

Posts by SpringPeople