Any good front-end developer should be familiar with Angular and React. These development tools both have an excellent set of features that helps create highly user-friendly interfaces. However, your choice between Angular and React will depend on the type of application that you plan to develop. In this article, we review the differences between Angular and React and the most distinctive features of each.
A framework vs a library
First things first - we need to define both Angular and React as they are not the same thing at all.
Angular is a TypeScript based MVC framework. Angular offers rich functionality a ready structure for the intended app. That means developers do not get much flexibility with Angular even though it’s packed with powerful features. Some of them are:
- XSS protection
- Dependency injection
- XSS protection
- Utilities for the unit testing components
Both Angular and React provide great functionality for front-end development but it’s important to understand their core features and differences in order to choose the best solution for a specific application.
DOM stands for the Data Object Model of an app and can be either regular or virtual. A virtual DOM can be called a simplified and much faster version of a regular DOM. This is because a virtual DOM allows you to change any element incredibly quickly without rendering the whole DOM. Just compare the two options: rendering 100 items upon changing a single item vs rendering only the changed item. The difference in performance will be quite obvious.
Angular uses a regular (or browser’s) DOM while React uses a virtual DOM. This is what makes React so fast and adds to its popularity among developers.
Angular deploys two-way data binding which means that the changes made to the model will affect the view and the other way round. For example, the change of a UI element will lead to changes in the corresponding model status.
As for React, it uses one-way data binding. That means that the changes made to the model will affect the view but the changes made to the view will not affect the model. So when you change a UI element, you will have to figure out the model state by yourself.
Even though two-way data binding is easier for understanding, one-way data binding can be a better option as the project grows. So if you choose between the two, consider the impact of a specific data binding method on your framework.
As discussed above, the use of a virtual DOM by React guarantees smooth and fast performance.
Angular, in turn, can speed up the loading process with its MVVM. But Angular apps, overall, are quite complex so they will perform slower if compared to React applications.
Angular uses TypeScript which is a statically typed language. That means that a developer has to define most of the variables (array, string, etc.). TypeScript offers a good level of consistency in examples that are found online and is known as a superset of Java.
Therefore, a developer will need to learn either TypeScript or JSX when choosing either Angular or React. This leads us to the learning curve comparison.
Before choosing a suitable tool, developers need to clearly understand the learning curve and estimate whether they can afford to invest enough time and effort into learning.
Angular offers quite a lot of topics to learn, including the basic ones:
- Dependency injection
Once you master these, you will move on to the advanced ones like:
- AoT compilation
- Rx.js subscription management
- Change detection
Overall, Angular might seem quite confusing due to many new concepts and various aspects to always keep in mind.
React, in turn, is considered to be much easier if compared to Angular. The main thing to learn in React is JSX. As well, you will need to become familiar with internal state management, components writing, and use of props for configuration. The good news is that you won’t need to learn new logical structures or loops.
After you feel confident about these basics, you will learn:
- A routing library of choice
- State management (either with Redux or MobX)
And that’s pretty much it when it comes to React!
In the recap, we will summarize the comparison of Angular and React and describe the best use cases for each.
Angular is a framework that uses a regular DOM, deploys the two-way data binding method, uses Jasmine and Mocha for testing, has high scalability and a relatively high learning curve.
Angular is great for developing:
- Cross-platform mobile applications: Angular 2 has really good support for mobile apps and resolves a number of issues such as various screen sizes or navigation through touch.
- Enterprise software: the MVC architecture of Angular allows building high-performing enterprise-level applications.
- PWAs and hybrid apps: the combination of Angular 2 and Ionic 2 enables developers to build user-friendly and performing hybrid and progressive web applications.
Angular is a good choice if you need to quickly get started with a robust and holistic framework. Angular is also suitable for projects of any range and size.
React is a library that uses a virtual DOM, deploys the one-way data binding method, uses Jest and Enzyme for testing, and has a quite low learning curve.
React is highly suitable for developing:
- Dynamic apps: due to the use of a virtual DOM, it gains the necessary speed that is needed for dynamic apps creation.
- Single-page apps: due to the ability of React to display the applied changes without reloading the page.
Due to its speed and flexibility, React is incredibly popular with developers and delivers really good performance and layout.
Both Angular and React have their pros and cons which have to be considered when choosing the right tool. Therefore, we highly recommend studying Angular and React in more detail and see how each of them impacts the development process and which one will bring the desired result in a faster and more efficient manner.