If you are comparing ReactJS vs Angular 2+ you are thinking about the future. That’s great! Let’s clear up a few things first. React is a library and Angular is a framework.
If you know what an MVC architecture is, it will be even easier to understand. MVC stands for Model View Controller. So, where Angular has everything built in, React is just a V, the View layer, and you have to hook it up with your models and controllers.
You will first want to understand the fragmentation of Angular before digging into details on the topic. Google refers to Angular 1.x as “Angular JS” and Angular 2 and higher as “Angular”. Where Angular JS was doing all the rendering on the client side, both Angular (Angular 1= Angular JS) and React (React = React JS) handle rendering on the server side.
When it comes to the web, picking either one of the options is a smart choice. There is not much of a difference between how they perform, but there are things that one does better over the other when comparing ReactJS vs Angular.
ReactJS vs Angular: A Comparison
Angular, as a framework, is easier to scale. It has its own boundaries and checks on how things are done. With its clearly-defined boundaries it is easier to understand the right way of doing things. Following the best practices is easier in Angular, compared to React. In React, there are a lot of ways to do things that make it confusing to follow best practices. There are a lot of parts that you need to figure out yourself when using React, parts which are much more clear in Angular.
Compatibility with 3rd Party Libraries
With Angular, if you have an existing code with a lot of 3rd party libraries, you might have to rebuild everything, whereas React is very flexible. React can be used wherever you need it.
React is easier to use than Angular. This makes it easier to contribute to the framework. React is one of the most popular frameworks on the web, and Angular is trying to catch up, but it is easier to find reusable code for React than for Angular.
Beyond the Web
React has React Native and Angular has Ionic for building Native apps for mobile devices. One can argue which is better than the other, but they are relatively similar. React Native is still considered faster and more stable.
Simplicity of Code
Angular goes with the template approach with HTML, which makes the code shorter and easier to understand. React, on the other hand, has the HTML written in JS, which can be confusing at times. Here is an example of how both approach the same problem:
React vs Angular in handling HTML
Loop through an item in React
Loop through an item in Angular
With Angular, there is a lot of boilerplate that goes into every component, which is lesser when using React.
React vs Angular Component
Development time in Angular is relatively fast, mostly because of the way it is structured. There is less confusion about the best approach to do certain things, whereas in React this can be tedious at times. Setting up a new project is faster in Angular with its boilerplate and CLI.
In React you can find many resources and projects that can help you do it faster, but it will still require a lot of experimentation. If you are planning to setup everything from scratch in either of the technologies, you will have to dig into a lot of things and get your hands dirty.
Code Size and Tweaking Performance
The size of React’s core file is smaller than Angular, and Angular (being a framework) contains a lot of code out of the box that you might not even use. React is a library, so optimizing the code is more flexible than Angular.
Debugging the Code
Debugging the code in React is much more effective because it catches errors with line numbers while compilation and Angular only breaks while it runs on the browser, which can be difficult to debug. Angular has two-way data binding, which can be helpful as you can send data from children to its parents, but it can give a lot of headaches while debugging. In React, the data flows just one way, making it easier to catch the break with ease.
Angular 4 is the latest version for Angular. This is a huge step up from Angular 2. Most of the changes are behind the scenes. The update from Angular 2 to Angular 4 did not change how we code. So, what happened to Angular 3? Google internally faced a versioning number mistake in their build so they decided to skip the confusion and jump to version 4.
Facebook is working on React Fiber, which is an update to their core algorithm. This will improve the performance of React, add more support for animation, layout, and gestures by adding a lot of new functionalities for developers.
ReactJS vs Angular: What to Use
Both Angular and React are great with their component structure and the problem they are trying to solve. The choice between both can be based on your existing code, your needs and your developer preference. If you want an all-in-one solution, go with Angular, but if you want to incrementally improve your existing codebase, go with React.
At IT Hands we work with Angular and React. Got a project in either one? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.