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App Development
8 minutes read

Angular Vs. React: What’s The Difference?

by Jose Gomez
App Development
8 minutes read

When it comes to app development, the Angular vs. React debate is an important topic to discuss and understand. However, before we dive into comparing and contrasting these two development technologies, we need to set the record straight. 

AngularJS is used to refer to all versions of Angular prior to version two. Both AngularJS and Angular were developed by the same team. Angular is a complete rewrite of AngularJS, and while they share many similarities, they are also two separate things. In fact, on December 31, 2021, official support for AngularJS will cease. 

Bearing that in mind, this article is going to focus on Angular, not on AngularJS. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion on the Internet, and many websites consistently mix up Angular and AngularJS or use the terms interchangeably. 

Now that we have clearly defined the scope of our Angular vs. React comparison let’s take a closer look at these two development technologies and how they differ from one another. 

What is Angular?

Angular is a front-end JavaScript development framework that was developed and continues to be maintained by a dedicated Angular team at Google. Angular was initially released in 2010 and was known as AngularJS. AngularJS is still available. It is now a completely separate entity from Angular, but AngularJS will no longer receive official support from Google at the end of 2021. 

Angular, which is a complete rewrite of AngularJS, was released in 2016. This framework can be used to develop mobile apps, desktop apps, and web applications. 

What is React?

ReactJS, or simply React, is a front-end JavaScript library that was developed by a Facebook engineer named Jordan Walke and released in 2013. React is still actively maintained and supported by Facebook. 

React is used to create the view layer of applications, which is better known as the User Interface. The React library is full of useful code samples and other tools that make creating immersive User Interface elements easy. 

Comparing and Contrasting React Vs. Angular

Now that we have a little bit of understanding and background on Angular and React, we can go through and compare and contrast these two development technologies. Right off the bat, one major similarity that both of these technologies share is that they were developed and are actively maintained by two of the largest, most important tech companies in the world, Google and Facebook. 

Let’s explore some of the other important aspects of these two development technologies.

Open-Source

This is something that React and Angular have in common. Both of these development technologies are open-source. Open-source technology is an important advantage for a few reasons. First, popular open-source technology enjoys a large community of developers who help maintain the technology alongside Facebook or Google or whoever the original developer was.

Plus, a large community leads to thorough documentation, bug fixes, and a lot of help should a developer run into issues while using an open-source technology like React or Angular. Open-source technology is also free to use and download, so it offers developers high-end tools at no cost. 

Programming Language 

React is an open-source JavaScript library that uses the programming language JavaScript. Angular, on the other hand, is an open-source JavaScript framework that uses the programming language TypeScript. TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript that was specifically designed by Microsoft to be more compact and easier to navigate. 

Developers can choose to use JavaScript or TypeScript when using the Angular framework. Once again, both of these development technologies share a common programming language base even though Angular utilizes the improved TypeScript language. 

Development Projects

The real concern many developers have when weighing Angular vs. React is whether or not the technology they choose will be able to meet their development needs. In the case of Angular and React, both of these development technologies can be used for either mobile or web development

If you choose to use React, you will have to use React Native for mobile User Interface development, but if you understand React, using React Native is really not that different or difficult. 

Both of these technologies are capable of creating cross-platform apps. However, it is important to note that you can only use React to create the view layer of an application. Angular is a framework that can be used to create every aspect of a large application. 

Performance

In terms of performance, React performs better than Angular. There are two main reasons why React is more agile than Angular. The first reason React performs better is because it relies on a virtual DOM. Any time a change is made to the application, only the areas that were changed get updated on the real DOM. 

Angular, on the other hand, only uses a real DOM. When a change is made to a page or section of the Angular app, the entire real DOM is updated. This leads to slower performance times when compared with a virtual DOM.  

The other reason React performs better than Angular is because it uses a unidirectional data structure. Data moves in one direction down the hierarchy of React components. Angular utilizes a two-way data binding structure which allows for changes to be made from the model state or the UI view. 

While two-way data binding sounds easier than a unidirectional data model, it actually requires more work, especially for complex applications. This slows down the performance. 

Dependency Injection

React does not support dependency injection. The concept of dependency injection does not sync with React’s approach of immutable data and functional programming. All components in React have a global state, which means that different stores cannot have differences in the life cycle. 

Angular fully supports dependency injection. In fact, in two-way data binding environments, dependency injection is almost always necessary in order for accurate decoupling in the absence of separate data-layer architecture. 

Learning Curve

When we consider the learning curve of a development technology, we need to consider how difficult it is to code, debug, and test. For new developers, Angular may have a steeper learning curve since important concepts like modules, decorators, etc., must be learned first. However, Angular also provides clear error messages and helps developers pinpoint bugs in the code very quickly. 

React can also be difficult for developers, but since it is basically just JavaScript, it might be easier to pick up if you are already familiar with JavaScript. The important considerations in React are understanding components, internal states, and routing. People often claim that React is easier to learn, but it is less adept at providing clear debugging guidance. 

When Should I Choose React?

If you are looking to create a stunning User Interface, React is the JavaScript library that will best serve your needs. This library is great for creating lightweight applications in a short amount of time. It also has a large library of different tools that can be used to make highly customized pages. 

You might also consider using React if you want to make updates to your existing app. This JavaScript library can help your team extend the functionality of your current digital assets. 

When Should I Choose Angular? 

If you are trying to create a large application that has a ton of high-end features, Angular is an app development framework that is perfect for the job. This framework is highly scalable and is one of the top choices for creating real-time messaging apps

If your development team works well with TypeScript, Angular will likely be even easier to work with than React. Remember, Angular is an MVC framework, but React is only responsible for the view layer of an application. If you’re trying to build more than just a User Interface, you’re likely going to want to choose Angular over React. 

Final Thoughts

The Angular vs. React debate is one that many developers like to discuss, but it is not necessarily fair to make an even comparison of these two app development technologies. While both Angular and React share many things in common, they are also tools built for different purposes. 

If you’re wondering which tool is best suited for your job, speak with an app development partner. Enjoy the technical expertise and industry experience a development partner can offer you, and make sure that your project is heading in the right direction and using the best tools for the job.

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