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Nov 29,2021

This article discusses the essential features and differences between React and Angular, the popular tools for developing web applications.

Angular and React are both used for developing web applications. They are equally popular on Google Trends. While Angular has already established itself as a leading web framework, React has grown exponentially since 2018. Angular is a fully-fledged framework that follows the MVC architecture. React has some excellent features that make it easy to use for lightweight applications.

Let’s understand the two a bit before getting into the main differences.

What is Angular?

Angular is a web framework that provides a structure that developers can work with. It is used to create dynamic web applications. Angular is open-source and written in Typescript. The latest version of Angular is 12.1.4, released in July 2021. Angular eliminates the difficulties that developers face when using JavaScript as their primary client-side scripting language.

Think of Angular as an extension to HTML with some cool, easy-to-use new attributes. Let’s write a simple code to better understand:

<script src=”https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/angularjs/1.6.9/angular.min.js”></script>
<body>
<style>
form.ng-dirty {
color:orange;
}
form.ng-pristine {
color:blue;
}
</style>
<form ng-app=””>
<p><b>What’s your name?</b> <input type=”text” ng-model=”user_name”></p>
<h1>Hi {{user_name}}! You look great today!</h1>
</form>
</body>

In the code above, the user types a name in the text box. As soon as they start typing, the colour of the text changes. The name is displayed with a greeting message.

  • We’re using an angular shape here and don’t require any other CSS elements.
  • Shape elements such as ng-dirty and ng-pristine support colour changes.
  • ng-app is the name of the Angular app.
  • The ng-model attribute is similar to the name attribute in HTML.
  • We display the text value using double flower braces.

To use all Angular features like controller, components, modules, etc., we need to install the npm package (with node.js ), which is beyond the scope of this article.

What is React?

React is a free and open-source library maintained by Facebook. It is faster than UI frameworks and also offers the flexibility to integrate with other frameworks.

We can create reusable UI components using React’s declarative coding approach. This approach significantly reduces user interface development effort. For example, a simple reaction application can be divided into several reusable components as follows:

To use all of React’s features, such as components and modules, you need to install node.js for an actual application. To understand React’s functionality, let’s rewrite the example above:

 

 Angular React
Provides a comprehensive framework for building large enterprise, progressive, single-page applications Used as a JavaScript library to display individual UI components
Provides advanced features like dependency injection, differential loading, lazy loading Only support lazy loading
Angular is based on TypeScript React is based on JavaScript
Follows MVC architecture Based on virtual DOM
It can be seen as an extension of HTML attributes Developers can write HTML code in a script that React renders as a component
Provides debugging and testing functionality as a tool React doesn’t provide any built-in tools, so we have to use various tools for different kinds of testing
Longer learning curve but relatively easy to configure The easier learning curve, however, takes time to set up
Two-way binding in which the state of the model changes as the data changes One-way data binding, in which UI elements can only be changed when the state of the model changes
We cannot add a JavaScript library to the source code Allows you to add a JavaScript library to the source code
Angular CLI provides a wealth of tools for seamless development and updates Since React is for UI only, it doesn’t have a CLI

We are using Babel compiler here to make the code easy to compile on any browser. Otherwise, we might not be able to use some of the React code.

The above code may seem too long to display only this field. However, a real-world will have many such components that we can reuse, which is well worth it.

Did you notice that we are using HTML code in the script component? How? ‘Or’ What? Look for the answer in the section: Features of React.

Features of Angular

Let’s understand the characteristics of Angular:

  • Developers can quickly build progressive apps without a cumbersome installation process.
  • Suitable for creating desktop and mobile applications.
  • Cross-platform support.
  • Provides structure to the application (MVC architecture).
  • Speeds up development because minimal coding is required.
  • Good performance.
  • Powerful template syntax for quickly creating user interface views.
  • The code can be developed in a simple text editor or IDE.

Features of React

Some typical React features are:

  • ReactJS uses an HTML-like syntax known as JSX (JavaScript XML) so that JavaScript and HTML code can be written in a single file.
  • ReactJS apps have individual reusable components with their control and logic.
  • The components are immutable, providing unidirectional binding and reasonable control throughout the application.
  • The unidirectional linkage makes applications more flexible and efficient.
  • Supports virtual DOM representation. The actual DOM only changes if there are changes in the representations of the DOM. It saves memory.
  • High performance and multiplatform support.

Applications of Angular

We can use Angular for large-scale enterprise, single-page, and progressive web apps (PWAs).

Many famous companies use Angular. For example, Gmail and YouTube TV are both built on Angular. These apps are available on various platforms like Android, Apple, etc.

YouTube TV is accessible on FireTV, Chromecast, and many other platforms.

Some other Angular applications include the Udacity e-learning platform, banking applications like Santander and PayPal, the Wix web application portal, and Microsoft Office Web.

Applications of React

React is widely used to create the user interface of Single Page Applications (SPA). It works seamlessly for mobile and desktop applications. Facebook, Bloomberg, Airbnb, Instagram, and Skype are examples of web apps that use React Native, based on React JS.

React is community-driven, making it a popular choice for building UI apps quickly.

Advantages of Angular

Let’s reiterate some crucial advantages of Angular:

  • Efficient cross-platform user interface solution using TypeScript features such as dependency injection, routing
  • Fast application loading and improved application performance
  • More rapid development with features like Angular CLI, excellent community support, two-way data binding, and differential loading
  • Modules and components make code readable and easy to debug and test
  • Powerful design patterns like dependency injection and Angular services

Advantages of React

React has a few compelling features that set it apart from Angular:

  • Follows a declarative approach – this means that with any change in app state, React updates required components and renders them when data changes
  • React can be used as a client-side library or on the server using React Native and Node.
  • An easy learning curve, good documentation, great community support, and learning resources. Anyone familiar with JavaScript can write React code.
  • Uses JSX to quickly render specific components.
  • Rather than developers writing DOM code, React converts virtual components to DOM, resulting in faster performance.

Disadvantages of Angular

Angular provides a lot of advanced features like components, dependency injection, etc. However, this makes it not so easy for beginners to learn. It takes time to learn and implement the concepts of a project.

Disadvantages of React

JSX helps developers render HTML in JS. But if the component is too large, like form validation, the code can become complex and difficult to debug, especially for beginners. Additionally, React only covers the user interface and does not provide an end-to-end workflow.

Should you choose Angular or React?

Before answering this question, let’s recap the main differences between Angular and React:

 Angular React
Provides a comprehensive framework for building large enterprise, progressive, single-page applications Used as a JavaScript library to display individual UI components
Provides advanced features like dependency injection, differential loading, lazy loading Only support lazy loading
Angular is based on TypeScript React is based on JavaScript
Follows MVC architecture Based on virtual DOM
It can be seen as an extension of HTML attributes Developers can write HTML code in a script that React renders as a component
Provides debugging and testing functionality as a tool React doesn’t provide any built-in tools, so we have to use various tools for different kinds of testing
Longer learning curve but relatively easy to configure The easier learning curve, however, takes time to set up
Two-way binding in which the state of the model changes as the data changes One-way data binding, in which UI elements can only be changed when the state of the model changes
We cannot add a JavaScript library to the source code Allows you to add a JavaScript library to the source code
Angular CLI provides a wealth of tools for seamless development and updates Since React is for UI only, it doesn’t have a CLI

We agree that Angular and React are good choices for single-page apps with the above differences in mind. However, if your application is extensive and requires a lot of validations, routing, and dependencies, Angular is fine as you can quickly test the code.

Angular can be overkill with its features if your application requirements are simple and based on small components. Additionally, React has an easier learning curve.

Make your choice based on project requirements, cost, and usability.

Conclusion

This article showed small code snippets to compare how Angular and React work, then figured out the main differences between the two.

While Angular is a full-fledged framework for development and testing, React only allows developers to create UI components for their applications. On the other hand, React is fast, efficient, and growing in popularity because it is lightweight and suitable for native mobile and single-page applications. Angular is already an established framework suitable for SPAs and large applications.

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