The web is full of articles debating which is better – AngularJS or React (also known as React.js or ReactJS). Both frameworks are very good, but choosing a framework is not always easy, especially when you have so many experts voicing disparate views.
This article explains the shared concepts and differences between AngularJS and React, along with insights based upon our experience.
AngularJS & React Shared Concepts
It is true that you can be successful with AngularJS and/or React and learning one framework makes it easier to learn another. Picking a framework is important for the long term success and scalability of the project, but it is far more important to learn the concepts shared between the two frameworks.
By learning a given framework, you won’t just learn about that particular framework, but you’ll also learn about the following shared concepts:
- Single-Page Applications (SPAs) Architecture – SPA is a web app that loads a single HTML page, and then dynamically updates that page as per the user’s interactions with the web application. It eliminates the traditional request-response model upon which the classic web was built. Instead, it requires only that a single page be retrieved from the server.
- Data Flow through an Application – defines the flow pattern of the data in a Model, View and Controller (MVC) architecture.
- Templating – a process of creating templates. The templates take simple web applications to the next level, keeping your application logic separate from your presentation.
- State Management – state is all the information retained by a program, and state management is the technique to manage the states. States can be a difficult part of web application development, especially when there are multiple user interactions to manage. The inherent ability of DOM to manage states helps, but for a complex application, keeping everything organized can become difficult.
- Design and Development of Components – the concept of components is to make reusable pieces of code, for example Date Pickers, Sliders, etc. Components are important in building larger web applications as they make web application development simple and quick.
- Testing Methodologies – used to test a web application or a webpage.
- Data Binding – a technique of defining communication between a component and the DOM. The technique makes building interactive web applications easier as the developer does not need to worry about pushing and pulling data.
Difference between AngularJS vs. React
AngularJS and React are two titans in a cutthroat industry with significant differences. AngularJS is a full-fledged framework developed and maintained by Google, whereas React is developed by Facebook and a library that deals with views. However, developers can add a few libraries in React and turn it into a complete framework. Then again, the resulting workflow is still very different from AngularJS.
The main difference is state management. AngularJS has two-way data flow, whereas React uses one-way data flow. AngularJS has a built-in data binding, whereas React uses Redux to provide unidirectional data flow. Redux is a state management library based on Flux but has lower complexities. It is often used as a solution in React, however, it is not always required in AngularJS.
Also, AngularJS has less dependency on additional tools, utilities, and libraries in order to build applications, whereas in React, the dependency is high. Another key differentiator between AngularJS and React is the methodologies used to handle debugging. AngularJS uses runtime debugging which tends to provide less information than the information provided by React’s compile time debugging. Here’s a quick side-to-side comparison between AngularJS and React.
Support for Tools
Both, AngularJS and React provide Command Line Interfaces (CLIs), which makes it easier to create new projects, support local deployment, and prepare apps for deployment. They also have great support within code editors like Atom and Visual Studio Code. You will need to install the appropriate editor extensions in order to get the best experience and maximize output.
Performance benchmarking is based on the time needed to complete specific tasks, such as rendering an items list. While performance benchmarks vary in some use cases, both frameworks offer similar performance overall. Therefore, this is not a significant differentiating factor for most developers.
Pros and Cons AngularJS
- It is an all-inclusive framework
- Provides guidance on how to build complete solutions
- Capable CLI
- DOM manipulation
- Popular with organizations
- Provides support for native HTML and CSS
- Has a large API
- Offers limited routing resources
The large AngularJS API and the overall approach to build apps sometimes makes it a bit difficult to learn, but it is still easier to learn than other frameworks. AngularJS code, which consists of static types, decorators, and the use of a configuration-based approach, can feel complex and verbose at times.
React is very popular, evident in the fact that there is a large community of developers supporting the framework. The availability of a wide variety of community-developed, open-source extensions for React gives the developer multiple options for building complete solutions. Outside of the pure React library, there are three distinctive versions of React, namely: React-devtools, React Native and React.Net. With React you can build anything; therefore, in cases where you have to build a custom solution, React will best address your needs. React is good for building computation-less or logic-less applications. This is particularly true if you are building dynamic applications, single page apps, and native mobile apps.
- Easy component creation
- Elegant API
- Popular with startups
- Large support community of developers
- Fast rendering with Virtual-DOM
- Hundreds of open-source extensions
- Transitioning to JSX
- Availability of options can overwhelm
- Code might feel complex
- Building complete solutions requires third party libraries
In React, component templates are written in JSX and not native HTML, so there is a bit of an adjustment period. Because React is generally used to build user interfaces, there is a need to extend React with third party libraries. Luckily, several great options exist for meeting all requirements. However, having too many choices can overwhelm or confuse developers—especially if they are beginners.