Difference Between React and Angular. A Comparison Guide for 2021

Introduction

Hello again, dear friends and accidental bypassers. Today we would like to discuss with you a matter quite extensive – the factual difference between two web-developing mainstays – React and Angular. Bear in mind, we don’t want to put the two up against each other. Our goal is to explore the difference between them to highlight the stronger and weaker sides of both. The reasoning behind such an outlook on our topic is quite simple – both Angular and React are, undoubtedly, exceptionally good and functional. That’s why it would be a disservice to the cause to try to categorically decide which one is better than the other.

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That being said, such a topic would be unable to exist without any comparisons at all. We would collate and find a sort of a champion in some categories. And now, let’s get down to business

Overview of React

When discussing a topic like ours, it is quite mandatory to do it justice. And to do that, we need to discuss our compared participants separately first. So, now would be a perfect time to give you a little overview of what React is and how it functions.

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So, by official documentation, React is “a library for building composable user interfaces. It encourages the creation of reusable UI components, which present data that changes over time”. Quite a definition, although quite easy to understand. But let’s try to explain it even easier. React is a useful tool that one can use to create all kinds of websites and webapps. It was created by Facebook and Jordan Walke in 2013 and since then has been an irreplaceable part of many JavaScript front-end developers’ lives, gathering a huge following of contributors. It is flexible, fast, scalable and powerful, which, no doubt about it, plays a crucial part in being one of the best tools for creating dynamic and interactive web apps with ease.

Furthermore, React’s developing and ever-growing user base allows for quick and efficient issue solving, as there is always a ton of people, able to contribute their knowledge and advice in the time of need. It is also pretty simple to work with, making it a good choice for those, who only start their work with JavaScript frameworks. But wait, even that’s not all. Since 2015 there is also a little useful addition to the whole matter called React Native, which is used for creation of native mobile apps. But we are not getting in its depth today, leaving this topic for another time.

Now, let’s take a little peak at what features does React possess:

JSX. Not necessary to use, but quite convenient nonetheless, JSX is JavaScript’s legacy in React. Put simply, it is a syntax tool that helps React to understand how the UI should look. In a way, JSX creates React’s elements. Rather than artificially separating technologies by putting markup and logic in separate files, React separates responsibility through loosely coupled units called “components” that contain both markup and logic with JSX’s help.

Components. As we’ve already mentioned, components are the loosely coupled units, containing both markup and logic. Or, to paraphrase, components are independent and reusable bits of code. They serve the same purpose as JavaScript functions, but work in isolation. And, frankly speaking, React is based on these things. And they are quite helpful to say the least, as they allow for easier code maintenance and higher readability while working on large-scale projects.

Unidirectional data flow and Flux. Flux is a pattern, implemented in React, that helps to keep your whole data flow one-directional. That, in turn, complement’s React’s composable view components.

Virtual Document Object Model Usage. Being a JavaScript library, React utilizes virtual Document Object Model, which, when compared to regular DOM, provides higher app performance.

There are also some pros and cons worth mentioning, when talking about React:

React.js Pros:

React is, as we’ve already mentioned, is pretty easy to learn, making it a good choice for novice front-end developers;
React’s syntax is HTML-like, which allows for highly detailed documentation and templating;
React support such a useful feature, as server-side rendering;
Also, there are a number of versions of React, the transition between them is seamless;
There is no frame-specific code when it comes to React, which allows the convenient usage of Javascript.

React.js Cons:

React’s documentation might appear lacking and poor, when compared to other frameworks and libraries;
The full view of Model-View-Controller is unavailable, supporting only part-of-MVC view;
Also, easy to learn the React itself, JSC might be a concerning barrier for new developers.

All that being said, React also has other limitations, such as being a front-end library, which means covering only the view layer of the app, thus creating a need to use other technologies to complete the full developer tooling set, and a slight increase in the learning curve for new developers due to the usage of inline templating and JSX. But, nonetheless, when it comes to creating multiple events apps, as well as creating sharable components for the app, React has few competitors. And that’s not taking into consideration the exceptional convenience in the situations, when your app needs personalized solutions.

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And now we would like to debunk a couple of misconceptions about React, the first being the mistaken belief that React is, in fact, a framework. It is simply not, as React, as we have already mentioned, is a library. And because of that React mostly focuses on the view layer of the app, helping to make handling it gradually easier, as well as easing its integration into a project much smoother.

Misbelief number two can be summarized as “JSX is mandatory when using React”. It is most certainly not. It is not even a hard requirement, but simply put, there is an ability to use JSX when using React. And we see few reasons not to use it.

The final misconception about React we want to mention is the belief that React needs Redux for its ecosystem. We won’t try to argue with the fact that Redux is indeed commonly used with React. And it proves to be quite a useful tool, as modern developers quite frequently need to juggle many states between various components and handling complex apps might become somewhat problematic. That’s where Redux comes into play, because it is an open-source JavaScript library and it was created to help in solving such problems. And while being exceptionally handy when used in combination with React, Redux is not the only solution for this kind of problem. There are plenty of state management tools on the market today to help you manage your React’s state management.

Summarizing, it is ought to be said that React is one of the best open-source front-end JavaScript libraries for user interface development on the market today and, presumably, would hold this position for many years to come.

Overview of Angular

Now, let’s have a closer look at the other today’s web-development mainstay – Angular. And, first and foremost, let’s get to know what it is and what it is used for. Angular is a TypeScript-based open-source web application framework. It was created in 2016 by Google and not so long ago, in May of 2021, Angular has got a stable release. This framework is mainly used for client applications creation and is widely used as one of the best tools for single page applications front-end. It is also one of the oldest (but not worth from it) frameworks on the market today, and, due to terrific support and backing of a humongous number of contributors, Angular is extremely convenient for the knowledgeable, but has a pretty steep learning curve for the new users.

Angular is perfect for any development team that looks ready-to-use full stack solutions, scalable feature-rich apps or for creating performance-oriented web solutions.

Important thing to keep in mind is that Angular and AngularJS, also related, are not the same. The key differences are as follows:

Angular uses hierarchy of components as its primary architectural characteristic. AngularJS, on the other hand, uses the concept of “scope” as such;
Angular and AngularJS’ expression syntax are different, as Angular uses “ [ ] ” for property binding and “ ( ) ” for event binding;
Angular possesses the ability of dynamic loading, while AngularJS lacks that;
Angular also possesses the support for Angular Universal, giving it the ability to run apps on servers;
Due to the recommended use of Microsoft’s TypeScript language, Angular has Static typing (Generics included) and Annotations;
Much of Angular’s core functionality has moved to modules;
Angular is able to support asynchronous template compilations.

Now, just as well as with React, let’s take a look at Angular’s pros and cons:

Angular Pros:

Angular follows clean code development;
It has an interface that reminisces material design;
With the help of Angular CLI, the process of updating becomes seamless;
Angular is, after all being said, just an exceptional high performing full-stack framework.

Angular Cons:

Learning curve might be steep;
There is a need of knowing TypeScript and other components that are specific to Angular;
Angular’s documentation is not all-inclusive;
Despite being a full-stack solution, there still can be situations that will require third party integrations. And these integrations might be complicated;
Switching between versions can be challenging.

Overall, Angular uses TypeScript and HTML to build apps, as well as being written on TypeScript itself. It also comes with such features as Directives, Forms, Pipes, HTTP Services, Dependency Injection and many-many more, making it a terrific framework for building sophisticated complex web and mobile applications, adapted for every device imaginable.

There are also some misconceptions concerning Agular that we would like to touch upon for some clarification. First of them is the belief that Angular is exclusively a JavaScript Library. This one is not true, as Angular is a framework, rather than a library and it has quite a lot of design patterns, application-like modules and templates. It also has very responsive support and many more single-page web app designing oriented elements.

The second misconception about Angular is the belief that apps created with Angular are slower than the ones made on different frameworks. This misconception is mostly perpetrated due to poor execution of the apps, created on Angular, as well as some bad design elements in the core framework. But don’t think that Angular itself has no sins in that regard, as previous versions used to be requested from the server, and modules used to be compiled using JIT, resulting in slower app response times. Now it should also be mentioned that the latest version of Angular has a feature, called AOT (Ahead of Time compilation), which improves app performance in a significant way.

Now let’s get to the third misconception – “Using TypeScript is mandatory with Angular”. This is one of the biggest Angular misconceptions, as TypeScript is not a necessity, but one of Angular’s biggest advantages. And it can be easily replaced with ES5 – JavaScript for app developing.

The fourth and the last misconception about Angular we would like to discuss here is the belief that Angular lacks State Management and, thus, is not compatible with Redux and Flux. Let us put it this way: as web apps become more and more complicated each and every day state management becomes more and more vital accordingly. And while AngularJS wasn’t very fitting in that regard, the latest Angular framework is, as it is designed to provide devs with options upon how to use their libraries more efficiently. And that includes state management libraries, such as Redux and Flux, which are based on unidirectional data flow.

So, all that being said, we hope you are now persuaded that rivalry-based comparison is not possible in this particular pairing, as, also mostly serving the same purpose, both React and Angular are unique in their own ways and are both useful in different situations. Thus, in the following parts of the article, we are going to describe the particular differences between the two and suggest the situations in which each is more fitting.

React’s Unique Features That Angular Lacks

Now we are going to discuss the most interesting part of this whole article – the actual comparison of the two titans.

And first of all, let’s do a quick run through some things React and Angular do have in common:

One-Way Data Binding. As you might know, data binding is the effort of synchronizing data between UI and logic. One-way data binding in this case refers to the process of binding data from the components to DOM or the other way around, meaning that it is strictly unidirectional. And both Angular and React use one-way data binding (but carry with us, there is going to be a little twist later);

Component-Based Architecture. Both React and Angular approach building their architectures based on replaceable, independent, substitutable and modular components in order to increase the code’s reusability and simplify the whole process. But there is a difference in the libraries they choose to use, as React is, after all, not a framework, but a library, and, thus, uses such supporting tools as Redux, WebPack, Babel, etc. Angular, on the other hand, is a framework and a full-stack one at that. This means that it has many out-of-the-box possibilities, such as RxJS, Angular CLI, Angular Universal, etc.

Summing this point up, it should be said that while both React and Angular have unique ecosystems, React’s one is easier to understand and much more flexible, but depends on external integrations much more than Angular. The latter, on the other hand, can provide a decent comprehensive solution without the need for any external integrations, but due to its independence from them it is much less flexible.

Community Support. Both React and Angular have huge numbers of people using them, creating and sharing templates on them. This can make the actual process of working on your own project much easier, because in case of running into a dead end it is always possible to turn to the community for their help and advice.

Now let’s talk about features that are unique to React and are not possessed by Angular. First of them is the upper-mentioned extreme flexibility. In actuality, the thing that could have been React’s greatest weakness – dependency on third party extensions – proves to be one of its biggest strengths. By using all sorts of tools with various libraries and architecture for developers to choose from, React can provide you with a possibility to create an impressively customizable app. Angular is lacking in that regard, as it only allows its components to be used with other frameworks. And that’s not mentioning the fact that the code needs to be embedded with an HTML application, making delivering real-time updates harder.

The second feature that React has is a very open and welcoming app structure. Angular’s app structure is complicated and fixed, which can be good for experienced devs in its own right. But React’s app structure welcomes all and any, as it gives developers the freedom of choice by following a component-based architecture.

Expanding UI toolset is the third unique feature of React. This feature is the outcome of React’s flexibility, but it should be mentioned nonetheless. Thanks to the community it has, React’s UI toolset expands exponentially, as new tools are developed and tested. Angular’s set of tools for material design components is, on the other hand, fixed and built-in. And as it may make the user interface configuration much faster and easier, it might also restrict the creative flow as you can only work with what you have from the very beginning.

And the fourth React’s unique feature is its superior state management. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t say that Angular’s state management is bad in any way. But thanks to external state management libraries, such as Redux or MobX, for example, React, which is built in a way that every component has its state, allows for swift and convenient state management of every single component, as well as groups of components.

Angular’s Unique Features That React Lacks

Now let’s talk about the features that Angular possesses and React lacks. First of all, as it was promised, we take a look at a little twist we were talking about when discussing data binding. Both React and Angular, as we’ve already said, are implementing one-way data binding, but Angular is also capable of two-way data binding. It means that Angular is able to share data between a component class and its template and if data is changed in one place, it will automatically reflate at the other end. For example, if the value of the input box is changed, then it will also update the value of the attached property in a component class.

Second feature that Angular has is the ease and simplicity of updating. As Angular is independent from any third-party components, the updating process is seamless and, in fact, fully automated from the developer’s end of the ordeal. React, on the other hand, has a harder process in that regard, as the third-party components need to be checked upon for updates.

And the third and final feature can be somewhat controversial, as we suggest that Angular’s higher learning curve can be somewhat of a positive feature in itself. Yes, it is harder to understand for an up-and-coming developer, but once mastered it allows for terrific and ever-reliable results.

Conclusions to have

As we’ve already established in the opening, both React and Angular are true mastodons of the front-end open-source development and, most certainly, will hold on to their high rankings for years to come. But, as with everything in life, they are not ideal and both have a plenty of unique features, drawbacks, mixed bags and blessings in disguise. And it’s up to you to decide whether the higher creative freedom that React provides are your cup of tea more or if it is strict and reliable ways that Angular provides. Or, maybe, it is the combination of two that you are able to master. And, as always, have a nice day and feel free to read up on more of our articles.

The post Difference Between React and Angular. A Comparison Guide for 2021 appeared first on Flatlogic Blog.

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