Sometimes, there is overwhelming evidence in favor of one over the other thanks to its exceptional benefits. At other times, however, the choice is not so clear-cut.
React vs. Angular decidedly falls under the second category.
First of all, Angular is a fully fledged framework and React is a library. Secondly, both tools can be used to create highly functional and aesthetically compelling products to the same standard.
When faced with any choice of two or more tools, the key to choosing the right one is not looking at how impressive or popular the technology is or what the biggest tech companies are using. Instead, you should consider how well it will answer the specific needs of your own project and whether your developers have the necessary skill set to apply it successfully.
In this article, we won’t set out to pick a winner; our goal is to introduce the main benefits and uses of both React and Angular so that you can make an informed decision about which one is more suitable for your project.
Table of contents
III. Where is React used?
IV. What is Angular?
Two of React’s most useful features are:
- use of the Virtual DOM (Document Object Model), which facilitates the creation of fast and responsive UIs while maintaining high app performance;
- component-based architecture, which is easier to maintain than other architectures.
Since it was launched, React has influenced other frameworks, including Angular, and took inspiration from others, particularly within the JS ecosystem.
Why should you use React? Let’s take a quick look at some of its key benefits.
React is very simple to learn and apply thanks to its:
- ease of mixing with HTML,
- component-based architecture.
3. Fast rendering
React’s Virtual DOM helps achieve high app performance and satisfying user experience while making your developers’ work faster.
4. Community support
There’s a wealth of resources and tutorials for React available online, as well as an active community ready to help you out.
React has been used to create core features of some of the most popular apps on the market since day one. As the top tech companies rushed to snap up the benefits of React, they spread awareness of the library and helped it gain momentum.
Some of the apps that incorporated React in their tech stack include:
- Yahoo! Mail,
Angular is a TypeScript-based, open-source frontend framework, primarily used to build Single-Page Applications (SPAs).
Released in 2010, it’s powered by Google, and used across about 3,000 of its own projects.
The framework’s most recent stable version is Angular 8.
Angular has been used by companies such as Autodesk, Apple, and Microsoft. The framework ranked second in the 2018 Stack Overflow survey of the most popular frameworks, libraries, and tools.
1. Clear and concise code
Angular’s simple component architecture eliminates the need for unnecessary code and makes development smooth.
Being built with TypeScript means that the framework helps developers find and eliminate errors early on in the development process.
Independent logical and functional components are the building blocks of Angular. They are reusable, cohesive LEGO-like blocks of code that can be used to quickly scale new and existing apps.
Moreover, the independence of each component makes it easy for developers to test an app for errors.
3. Documentation and community support
On the official Angular website, there is plenty of documentation that developers can rely on as they get familiar with the framework or encounter problems while coding. The website is also a good place to stay up to date on any news or updates.
Angular, just like React, also enjoys active community support, including discussion boards on platforms such as Gitter, Stack Overflow, Facebook, and Reddit.
4. Easy testing
Angular uses Jasmine with the Karma test runner and offers a testing library (TestBed) that allows developers to easily unit test their components.
Additionally, it comes with Protractor configured for easy e2e testing.
Angular’s readable, easy-to-maintain code has been adopted by a number of companies, including:
- The Guardian,
- General Motors,
1. Library vs. framework
Let's get the easiest distinction out of the way first: React is a library, while Angular is a framework.
But what does that mean, exactly, and what implications does it have for your team?
A framework is a software environment that facilitates the development of complex applications for mobile and web platforms. It’s the foundation that provides a standard way to build and deploy apps, and it can combine libraries that enhance its functionalities.
A library, on the other hand, is a collection of pre-written code that can be called upon to build a product.
In practice, this means that Angular comes with pre-installed libraries, while in React you get to pick and choose them as you create something akin to your own framework.
2. Entry point
In Angular, every bit of code is a like a LEGO brick—created to fulfill its particular purpose and work in harmony with others. The framework is a self-sufficient, “batteries-included” system that gives developers what they need to get going, with the option to add additional capabilities as they see fit.
However, this means that developers who want to work with Angular need to get familiar with the whole framework before they can start coding.
In React, conversely, these building blocks are independent entities that developers can mix and match depending on the desired outcome.
React can be described as an ecosystem; it’s composed of a collection of different elements that come together to create an architecture. As a result, React is easier for developers to get started with as it doesn’t require them to learn anything more than what they need to complete the task at hand.
3. Area of focus
In Angular, the team builds the project around the best concepts and practices found in other languages (such as MV, dependency injection, type system, or separation of concerns).
In React, the team focuses on the visual side of the web while using solutions and features developed by others, like state management or forms.
Regardless of these differences, bear in mind that you can achieve pretty much the same results using either tool.
There is no easy answer to this question, and the choice will depend heavily on the size, skills, and preferences of your developers, as well as the scope of your project.
If your developers have no previous knowledge of React or Angular, there is a chance they might find it easier and quicker to start with React due to its simple, component-based architecture. This is especially true if your goal is to create an MVP in the shortest possible period of time.
However, those starting to work with Angular will benefit from the knowledge of design and architectural patterns, as well as a preference for strong typing. Due to its well-defined and standardized design, you might especially want to consider using Angular if you:
- work at a large, enterprise-level company;
- aim to develop and maintain a product over a longer period of time;
- have the resources to invest in development from the very beginning.
Ultimately, you should think of the choice between React and Angular as two different routes that will take you to, essentially, the same destination. Both tools have grown immensely and influenced each other since they were launched and, as things stand, they can be used to produce very similar results.Neither of them is going anywhere, and even in the face of fierce competition from ever new frameworks, both React and Angular have become well established among developers worldwide.
Whichever one you decide to go with, remember that you won’t be able to change your mind later without having to start coding from scratch again.
Now that you know the pros and cons of both React and Angular, the differences between them, and where they have been used, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that both are very popular among developers and their adoption rates are high.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Here are some of the figures that back this conclusion up.
According to nmp, React not only continues to dominate the web scene, but it’s also way ahead of Angular in terms of download figures. While Angular has maintained a stable download rate over the past two years, React has enjoyed a generally upward trend.
However, it should be noted that npm figures have often been criticized by the Angular community for not reflecting the actual popularity of the framework.
Since Angular is often chosen by enterprises, a lot of its downloads happen through an internal npm proxy technique; meaning, they don’t come up in npm’s official statistics.
Another way to measure a tool’s popularity is by looking at the number of “stars” they have accumulated on GitHub, the leading software development platform. They denote how many people “like” a platform.
However, this metric should be taken with a pinch of salt, as it doesn’t necessarily correspond with a tool’s sustained popularity and use.
At the time of writing this article, React has over 132,000 “stars,” while Angular has 49,400.
Stack Overflow Survey
The Stack Overflow Survey is the most comprehensive poll of developers around the world.
Of the 63,500+ people who took the survey in 2019, 31.3% said they used React in their work, compared with the 30.7% who said they used Angular.
In terms of the personal perception of the tools, React was voted both the Most Loved and Most Wanted Framework, while Angular fared much worse.
Angular and React are both growing and being adopted by the big players on the tech scene. One is a stable, well-defined, and standardized framework that’s great for long-term projects, while the other is a library that can be used to assemble a prototype with reusable components in a matter of days.
Passing an arbitrary judgment on which one is “better” without getting to know React and Angular’s unique strengths and weaknesses would be unhelpful and misleading. Your decision on which one to go with should ultimately depend on:
- the specifics of your project,
- the current skill set of your developers,
- your budget.
We hope that this article has helped clarify some of the confusion surrounding the two technologies. We also understand that there is so much more to them, and a single blog post might not have addressed all your questions and doubts.