Angular vs. React: Which Is a Better Choice in 2021?

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angular vs react

Have you noticed how much time modern people spend on their smartphone? Its alarm clock wakes them up in the morning, access to social media allows them to learn the latest news at breakfast, and Viber group updates inform what to expect at work or in the university. On your way there, you also use your gadget for shopping, playing games or booking tickets for the evening showing at your favorite movie theater.

Due to such an extensive (and ever-growing) reliance of people on mobile phones and tablets, individual entrepreneurs and large companies have come to realize that they just can’t miss this fantastic opportunity to reach out to and engage consumers. And the shortest way to winning clients and carving a significant chunk of market share is to have an app.

Application Types: Native versus Progressive Web

At the dawn of the digital era all applications were native. It means that they were built using a special programming language and were compatible with some specific operating system, the choice of which lay between Android and iOS. The benefits of native applications (security, energy-efficiency, compliance with similar apps, and foolproof publishability) provided easier purchasing and subscription for customers. However, in the world where universality and flexibility call the shots native apps fall short of their purpose.

The response to high-adaptation demand was furnished by Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Their advantage is stipulated by their nature: being essentially a website (and consequently having a lesser weight) they don’t require installation, thus guaranteeing a stable access even when network connection is poor, providing unified experience with the same user interface (UI) for the app and the browser, and sporting exceptional SEO-friendliness. These boons are leveraged to the maximum by many blue-chip tech titans, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, with a plethora of smaller fish following in their wake.

To build an app of either kind, developers use various frameworks. Among a wide range of such tools two deserve a special consideration, effectively narrowing the choice to the alternative between Angular or React. 

Angular and React Frameworks: A Succinct Profile

First issued in 2010 by Google, Angular (back then AngularJS) is a TypeScript-based JavaScript framework employed for web and mobile app development. In September 2016, it underwent a substantial changeover, dropping the original “JS” and being known as Angular 2.0 henceforth. The latest version of the tool (Angular 9) was released this February, although the initial AngularJS is still supported by issuing updates. 

React is a younger tool dating back to 2013. Being developed by Facebook (and used on a large scale in its products such as Instagram and Whatsapp) it is managed both by it and an open-source community. The latest stable version released in November 2018 is called 16.X. It receives regular updates, the latest of which was released in August 2019. In essence, React is a JavaScript library meant for creating interactive and reusable UI with high performance. Its remarkably stable web application is ensured by employing the basics of Document Object Model (DOM).

Guidelines to Compare React and Angular

Juxtaposing ReactJS vs AngularJS is expedient by going through some key parameters.

1.Popularity

Which is more popular – Angular or React? To answer this question, one must refer to some statistics. In Stack Overflow survey, React earned the title of the most loved framework with astounding 74.5% of developers, having left Angular far behind (57.6%). 

Another figure that may give a clue as to the popularity of either tool is furnished by Google trends and represents the annual search history for the app building frameworks. This index is somewhat more favorable with React as well, with its mean figure of 84 searches per month against 68 of Angular.

However important the number of searches may seem, actual downloads are a more telling indicator. According to it, NPM trends show seven-fold dominance of React over Angular.

As all the three criteria manifest, React tops Angular in terms of popularity.

2. Performance

This parameter is to a great degree determined by the type of DOM each framework uses. Angular utilizes real DOM, which significantly slows its operation due to the bidirectional data binding it employs. So this tool is definitely meant for single-page apps, while for complex and dynamic web apps, React with its virtual DOM is the framework to choose. However, Angular’s recent update addressed this problem, so its performance is essentially enhanced. 

3. Community Support and Companies Using

Given the wider popularity of React, it is natural that its community is much more numerous. Moreover, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Microsoft, Uber, Yahoo, PayPal, and other big-time companies use it, which redounds to its fame. The size of the community is another benefit for a framework whose updates are released pretty often (which is the case with React). When there is a lack of documentation on the latest updates, the community support on specialized forums can fill the breach. 

Angular’s community is far smaller, which is explained by the original skepticism of developers who found it too complicated for learning and exploiting. Yet the credibility of the framework is bolstered by Google’s support and the names of businesses that use it, among which there are McDonald’s, HBO, Apple, Forbes, Adobe, Nike, and (guess what?) Microsoft again.

4. Size

Here both the application and the framework size are discussed. While React weighs only 116 KB, the Angular library is hard to gauge since it depends on the bundle size produced, but it generally fluctuates about 500 KB. Besides, React is preferable if the app you wish to create is likely to be expanded in the future. All odds here seem to be in React’s favor. Is there any reason why use Angular over React? Of course there is. In case it is a single-page app that you have in mind, Angular is a better choice for building a compact application.

5. Learning curve

The choice for adoption of any framework is determined by the time you need to learn how to write codes in them. Mastering Angular will take you longer since you will have to learn related concepts like TypeScript and MVC as well. With React, no preliminary proficiency in them is required. Besides, it contains no classic templates or complex features. That and the tutorial provided by React make the learning curve for it not too steep. 

 

6. Migrations

When an update is released you will have to adjust your code. So the developers want to be kept in the know if any updates are about to be issued so that they could prepare to migrate to a newer version with as little hassle as possible. React makes such migrations comfortable, offering special scripts to assist customers. Angular’s upgrades are scheduled to come out twice a year so the tweaks you introduce will last you another six months. 

7. Components

The frameworks have the opposite approach to component development. Angular offers a built-in toolset containing a whole gamut of design components including layouts, pop-up windows, buttons, indicators, etc. Such approach guarantees a simple and fast UI configuration. React tools (both free and paid) are developed by the community and available on their portal. Making use of them mandates preliminary installation of an additional library so that UI configuration with React is more intricate.

8. Development speed

The speed is conditioned by the quantity of libraries available to the developer. And in this respect each tool has its own fortes. On the one hand, the architecture of React has simpler scalability. On the other hand, web app development in Angular is faster. So it is up to you to choose what appeals to you more. 

9. Versatility

Both frameworks can be instrumental in creating single- and multiple-page apps. Moreover, mobile development in both is reinforced with additional tools – React Native and NativeScript. Yet both frameworks rely heavily on other platforms for mobile app creation (Cordova for React and Ionic for Angular). 

10. Self-sufficiency 

With respect to this parameter, Angular has a significant edge since it is a comprehensive framework with its own libraries, and the tool package it offers renders other building components redundant. React is primarily honed for UI development, so installation of additional libraries to work with it is a sine qua non.

11. Language: Syntax and Directives

Both tools can use JavaScript, but React employs its ES6+ version in combination with JFX syntax extension while Angular may also use TypeScript. The latter possesses an easier-to-navigate code, which simplifies and speeds up code refactoring. However, Angular directives have complex syntax, so working with it requires preliminary experience. Conversely, React’s templates and the logic of usage are explained at the end of the component, which enables the developer to get the idea of the code even if the syntax remains obscure.

12. Dependency Injection Treatment

Having a global state for its components, React doesn’t react (the pun is intentional) to dependency injections in a positive way. It doesn’t totally comply with functional programming and data immutability concepts. So here, Angular has an upper hand through supporting dependency injections, thus allowing different stores to have varied lifecycles. 

A Recap: Which Framework Is Better Angular or React?

As you might have expected, there is no unequivocal answer to this question. The React and Angular comparison shows that each has its advantages and shortcomings. While React is chiefly designed to be instrumental in UI development and has to be supplemented with additional libraries to exploit its potential to the maximum, Angular is a full-fledged multi-purpose tool that can be employed for both web and mobile app creation. 

Its prospective narrower sphere of usage conditions React’s simplicity, which is, however, offset by the necessity to learn how to work with supplementary tools and frameworks. On the contrary, Angular takes more time to learn the ropes, but once it is achieved you can make the most of it. 

Making choice in favor of any framework it is important to realize that learning to use React and Angular together with programming languages and peculiarities of coding inherent to either is a no-nonsense task for any layman. It is likely to take you quite some time, and even then you will have to go a long way of experimenting to finally claim the complete mastery of them. Are you sure your app development can be relegated indefinitely until you can get at it hammer and tongs?

To decide which framework suits the kind of app you have in mind and then to implement the idea perfectly, it is wise to hire a team of seasoned software development  professionals. By doing this, you will be sure that you will receive a high-quality product on short notice and at a reasonable price.

Conclusion

There are numerous factors that influence the choice of the framework to implement the particular app project, since both Angular and React have their benefits and limitations. To opt for either, you should have a clear idea as to what final destination you are heading to. By delegating your app development to an experienced outsourcer you will spare yourself the selection trouble as well as all complications and difficulties related to accomplishing the task.

TechnologiesMay 29, 2020
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