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Angular vs. React. If you’re still hesitating on which to choose to develop your app, you’ve landed on the article. I’ve tried building apps with both, and I’ll share my unbiased opinion with you.
But first, let's take a look at what Angular and React are.
What Is React
Components are core to how React works. Each component is encapsulated, and they can be easily put together to create a complex frontend. The components are rendered based on the data passed through to them. By adopting a declarative view, debugging React components is much easier.
Perhaps one of the most significant properties of React is the use of virtual DOM instead of the real one. By using Virtual DOM, the webpage does not need to render every single component once a change occurs. It only needs to update certain components that are affected by the change. This gives React impressive performance, particularly on complex UI.
What Is Angular
Angular is a front-end development framework that was written by Google. It was initially launched in 2010 as AngularJS but has since been revamped as Angular 2. Angular 2 is rewritten from scratch to address many of the shortcomings discovered in previous versions of Angular.
In this article, we’ll refer to Angular 2 as Angular. Angular is written using Typescript, and its architecture is built around components. With angular, each component consists of a template and a class. The template is where the business logic is included, and the class determines the view layer of the object.
Angular also has a revised dependency injection system that’s inherited from its predecessor. It allows components to work with dependencies without the need of hardcoding them. Inter-component communication is also easy by providing value to the input or output property of the components.
As a complete framework, Angular offers a rich design ecosystem and various tools to work with. It is one of the most popular UI development frameworks and is supported by a vibrant community.
From the adaptation of both different technologies, you can have a good idea of how Angular vs React’s battle is turning out. In February 2021, React enjoyed more than 10 million downloads in the past 6 months. Meanwhile, Angular is downloaded over 2.1 million times during the same period.
The vast disparity between both frontend development technology is an indication of how React is way more popular than Angular. Does this mean you should automatically choose React over Angular in UI development?
It depends, and you’ll have a better idea after comparing the key areas between both technologies.
Angular vs. React.js: Technical comparison
Both Angular and React are meant to make frontend developer life easier. However, they took different approaches towards the same goal. Here’s a deeper look into the differences and similarities between two of the most popular UI development technologies.
React’s philosophy is to break down UI design into simple, manageable components. Each of the components is rendered according to their current states. Angular 2 takes a similar approach with a component-based architecture.
However, the difference lies in how developers build and implement the components on Angular and React. Angular is a complete development framework. This means that you’ll have all the necessary tools like Angular CLI, RxJS, and Angular Universal within the framework.
One of the key differences between Angular and React is how they approach data binding. Angular supports unidirectional and bidirectional data binding. With bidirectional data binding, any changes in the model data will affect the view and vice versa.
React works with one-way data binding. Data always flows from parent to child. It’s a common practice to derive components from higher-tiered parents.
One-way binding offers simplicity, particularly when managing and debugging apps built with React. Bidirectional binding offers flexibility when working with Angular.
React has a marginal edge over Angular in terms of performance. React is able to render complex UI components without any issues as it operates on a virtual DOM. Instead of updating all the viewable components, a React-based app only needs to render those affected by data changes.
Angular uses the real DOM, which can affect performance when there are many components involved. In 2019, it introduced incremental DOM that works on change-detection. The incremental DOM approach does give Angular a boost in performance, but it trails React by a slight margin.
When building a website, the bundle size matters if you care about how high it ranks on search engines. Bundle size affects loading speed, which is a ranking factor in Google.
Angular tries to decrease the bundle size to its minimum. It removes non-essential modules and development utilities when building the app. Meanwhile, Reach breaks codes into smaller segments, removes unused modules, and performs dynamic import during the build process.
So, which approach results in the smaller bundle size? React wins the battle hands down, as it’s known to produce a much smaller webpack file than Angular.
You’ll want to keep in mind that the web or app that you’re working on may expand in the future. Both Angular and React handle that in their respective way.
Being the complete framework as it is, Angular provides the necessary features and tools as you seek to expand the app.
If you’re using React, it’s still possible to develop an app with scalability in mind. You’ll have a wide range of 3rd-party tools that integrate with React.
Which Is Better?
There isn’t an ‘ultimate winner’ for Angular vs. React. Both are great web development tools for building single-page applications. However, they are different characteristics that either one a better fit in some circumstances.
When to use React
When you’re building a web application that is heavy on user interaction, you’ll want to use React. React’s virtual DOM will come in handy for apps that feature many UI components. Apps built with React render smoothly even when users are actively engaging it.
React’s use of declarative components is also a strength when you’re building a large and complex project. Internet giants like Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, and Uber have used React to scale their apps effortlessly.
When to use Angular
Angular isn’t ideal for small, lightweight applications. Instead, you’ll want to use Angular for large, complex applications like Enterprise Web Apps. Angular is based on Typescript, which offers features like advanced refactoring, auto-completion, and navigation. These features are handy to develop complex Enterprise Web Apps.
If you plan to build progressive web apps or PWA, you’ll want to choose Angular. Both are developed by Google and the search giant has built in features that enable building PWA with Angulary easily.
Angular is also a good fit for apps with dynamic content. With the dependency injection, various elements could change automatically according to the trigger. YouTubeTV, Google Cloud, and Blispay are some popular apps that are built with Angular.
Why Do We Use React?
At Uptech, we favor React for development. That’s because we help clients to develop applications of varying complexities. React allows us to quickly build an MVP and scale it upward when necessary. We often do cross-platform development, and it helps that we could share the same codebase for React and React Native.
Our team found the large number of tools and libraries that work with React useful as they significantly reduce development time. We’re not fond of re-inventing the wheel, and React’s reusability means we can make use of existing components in projects. Ant.design and material-ui.com are our favorite React tools to build beautiful, responsible applications.
One of the worries for app development agencies like us is the worry of support and continuance of the tools. React is the most popular UI development tool and has a great community. This means that our worries are unfounded as we could always reach out to peers for discussions.
Also, it’s easier to recruit new team members who are familiar with React than any other tool. After all, there are more developers using React than Angular or Vue.
It’s interesting to learn how the competition of Angular vs. React folds out above. As it turns out, both are great UI development tools with their respective strengths. React’s popularity is probably due to its suitability for dynamic apps, while Angular is a better fit for PWA and enterprise web apps.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide if Angular or React is the better option for your project. Or, you can reach out to our team for a detailed discussion.