Angular vs React: highlights
The highlight of the ReactJS is working with a virtual DOM instead of a regular one. DOM stands for the document object model, a programming interface. It should not be confused with web components like a Shadow DOM. Virtual DOM is completely is different, it helps achieve quicker rendering. Since ReactJS is working with the virtual DOM, it updates a regular interface only when the data has actually been changed. AngularJS uses a real DOM.
Reviewing the Angular vs React topic we should say we have more experience with Angular (1.x) compared to React. Yet, we know that React is preferable for projects with big amounts of data. To be reasonable, we’ll conduct a comparative analysis and present detailed results. Buckle up 🙂
Video with JS tools basics
So far, the top version that is Angular JS2 has been left without attention. But let’s leave it for another time, and focus on Angular vs React issue. Before turning to specific numbers, consider what constitutes the AngularJS. Check a small overview of Angular technology in video here:
Now, let’s make ourselves familiar with basics of React JS:
Those elements constitute the MVC design pattern. But Angular developers say it is actually more of MVVM in nature. Although Views in AngularJS are very compact (in terms of data), in our view, it loses to ReactJS in Angular vs React fight.
Read more on MVC & MVVM patterns compared.
As we know, learning any programming language starts from “Hello world” lines. In regard to our Angular vs React topic here, let us do it as well. First, ReactJS:
And now, AngularJS:
Let’s also write this in our libraries to demonstrate more sides to Angular vs React issue. We have mentioned the possibility of developing individual components for subsequent reuse in our code. Let’s consider the following example, which displays the list of products in the page. For example, we have 10 products initially.
First, HTML in React JS:
And same with Angular JS. Here is HTML:
And in this chart, the vertical axis shows time in mile-seconds and horizontal axis shows the number of rendered elements (in our case it was HTML list).
Let’s talk about some attributes of each libraries to get more insights of Angular vs React.
This issue, though, fades in comparison with the cost of further support and maintenance. As for ReactJS, it is now more stable in this regard. Reacts JS developers know that this ecosystem has reduced the churn, especially around the huge list of Redux/Flux flavors and routing. So anything you build with React could be out of date or require serious amendments.
In contrast to ReactJS, Angular is a comprehensive, methodical and mature framework. It is less likely to churn in painful ways after release. With AngularJS as framework, you can make proper decisions for future. With ReactJS you are free to choose any libraries. Often you have to see whether they work properly with each other first. And frankly, all of them are somewhat an unfinished job.
Since AngularJS contains numerous concepts inside, the learning curve is quite high. Meaning, that training could be long and tough. Many will disagree, but this comes purely from our personal experiences. At first, everything seems straightforward, but later you face directives, services, etc.
With ReactJS, it is possible to study it for 1 week and then just enhance the skill using a particular design pattern (Redux, Flux). Although as mentioned earlier, you’d have to monitor different kinds of libraries. Yet, the learning curve for React is less steep compared to Angular. So, in the Angular vs React challenge in relation to learning curve React holds a higher ground.
By packaging we mean managing your application: downloading and concentrating the code in one file. To improve the response system, it is advisable to download just the minimum required to run your app at first. Download the other stuff when necessary – we know it as a “lazy load”.
By ‘abstraction’ we mean the ability to organize blocks of code in separate units, and use it for another tasks later on. A good abstraction is extremely important. If we take into account our Angular vs React, we can say that:
- AngularJS has leaky abstraction. To use AngularJS in a nontrivial project, you have to get deep into. You have to understand models, scopes and how they work within the framework of the prototype inheritance. We talk about digest loop; $watch, $watchCollection, and $apply; and lots of other pieces. And directives, of course!
- The surprise in your application may come from a virtual DOM. This is a key piece in ReactJS, but it can come with leaky abstraction too. As soon as you see a new or advanced feature in DOM, you risk to run into trouble with ReactJS. For example, CSS animation has been problematic, and focus control is still hard. Though, it seems that ReactJS team is fixing all issues well.
Each of us in the development faces a situation when something doesn’t work. And we begin a long and sometimes bumpy ride of debugging and fixing. The issue may be in the main logic or HTML code. As AngularJS belongs to the event driven frameworks, it is easier to develop but harder to monitor errors. However, AngularJS perfectly organizes multiple structures (services, controllers) and if used properly, it is easy to test individual modules in it.
But if the problem lies in the directive, it can be better to rewrite it. With AngularJS, what is happening in directives is sometimes hard to explain. Another option is to debug a code. When you make mistakes in JSX, it will not compile – which is great. In fact, JSX compiler will indicate the line number where a mistake is. This clearly increases the speed of development.
When we talk about HTML generated by ReactJS, and debugging in it, it’s the opposite story. It is quite tough to compare a code with the resulting HTML. Even using JSX. Sorry, React 🙁
The aim of AngularJS is to reinforce the HTML. Therefore, you have to use a special syntax for AngularJS tasks, like loops or conditionals. For example, AngularJS offers different syntaxes for one-way and two-way data binding. In Angular, you can only bind to scope and you’ll have to deal with AngularJS $digest.
Unlike AngularJS, ReactJS has a syntactic sugar syntax, called ValueLink. It is a single attribute for both “value” and “onChange” properties. In the React, binding does not change the syntax. The syntax is processed in a different place, purposefully.
As we mentioned earlier, AngularJS conducts data binding using HTML elements. This makes the process fairly short and not overloaded with code templates. AngularJS uses all DOM capabilities, allowing to create well-structured templates, and reducing the code required to build the final page.
Lets look at the simple ReactJS component written with JSX.
Whereas in Angular it would look like:
We have tried to analyze some of the attributes of our frameworks. Though it is not the whole list. Below you can find the table of consolidated attributes.
|AngularJS|| Perfect documentation;
2-Way data binding, which simplify some processes;
Good HTML debugging;
Quick scaffold and develop small and middle projects
| 2-Way data binding may reduce application productivity (performance);
|ReactJS|| Comfortable support isolated components;
Easy to develop;
Handy architecture (Redux, Flux)
| Having trouble manipulating DOM using third-party libraries;
Large data set and frequent re-render should slow down the application as a whole
Let’s get into more specific details:
|Version (latest stable)||1.5.9||15.4.1|
|DOM||Regular DOM||Virtual DOM|
|Debugging||Good HTML / Bad JS||Good JS / Bad HTML|
|Fails When?||Run time||Compile-Time|
|Binding||2 Way||1 Way|
|Templating||In HTML||In JSX Files|
|Design Pattern||MV*||V (View Only)|
First point, although Angular vs React differences, with both you can build a client interface. For web development geeks what is most interesting is AngularJS approach to HTML. With large community and Google behind it, it works well for prototyping and middle production.
Second point, Angular JS is really a framework, while ReactJS is a library. Though React JS offers better performance due to the virtual DOM. In our opinion, you should use Angular when:
- you plan to carry out lots unit tests during development
- you want a comprehensive solution for your application
Thirdly, 2-way data binding is mostly seen as the higher hand of AngularJS. Adding too much complexity for certain functions may lead to deterioration in performance of your applications. Thus, ReactJS is good for applications with high traffic, that are long-term projects.
And finally, the more complex an application is, the more third-party plugins you’d have to use. In this regard, applications written in a ReactJS are more scalable. This, of course, can be achieved using both frameworks. Though with Angular JS just it takes more effort. Each approach to building the application architecture has its own pros and cons. The choice is yours.