React or Angular?

React or Angular

The first question that arises in the debate between React and Angular is, how can you compare the library – React with the framework – Angular?

Although React is a library (as noted on React’s website), many developers consider it a framework, because of its functionality. Thus, React can often be found in lists of the best / most popular JavaScript frameworks, or can be compared to another framework, such as Angular.

Both React and Angular are used for Frontend development, but they use different programming paradigms, have different characteristics, functionalities and performance.

React or Angular: Rivalry

There are numerous JavaScript libraries, such as Vue.js and jQuery and frameworks like Ember and Backbone.js, but why do developers rely mainly on React and Angular?

This is due to the fact that, in addition to the functionality they have, they are supported by major IT companies such as Facebook and Google. React and Angular together cover a huge portion of today’s web space.

React

The React library, created by Facebook, came out in 2013 as a technology for building dynamic user interfaces (UIs). In recent years, we have witnessed the continued development of React technology with regular updates. React is based on JavaScript and JSX (PHP extension). JSX is used for the development of reusable HTML and for further implementation in front-end development. React is the most popular among JavaScript libraries and is often referred to as the best Javascript library/framework.

Angular

The Angular framework, developed by Google, was first released in 2010 as JavaScript-based AngularJS, one of the most popular programming languages, which is why it is called the JS suffix. At the time of its release, the distinguishing feature of Angular was the ability to convert HTML documents into dynamic content, paving the way for its continued success and development.

Six years later, in 2016, Angular had a complete makeover. Google has reprinted the complete framework using TypeScript, a relatively new programming language. This completely new version of Angular is called Angular 2.

Universality

React is used in both web development and mobile development. However, mobile development needs to be linked to Cordova. Moreover, there is an additional library for mobile development – React Native.
React can be used to create single-page websites as well as multi-page websites.

Angular is suitable for both web development and mobile development. In mobile development, however, much of the work is done by Ionic. Angular, like React, has an additional mobile development library. React Native’s opponent is NativeScript.
Angular can also be used for web applications with one or more pages.

Autonomy

React is used for UI development, so applications written in React require additional libraries. For example, Redux, React Router, or Helmet optimize state management processes, routing, and API interactions. Features such as data binding, component-based routing, project generation, form validation, or dependency injection require the installation of additional modules or libraries.

Angular is a complete software development framework that does not normally require additional libraries. All of the above functionalities can be implemented with the help of Angular.

Learning

React is minimalist and quite easy to understand if you already know JavaScript. However, it takes time to learn how to set up a project because there is no predefined project structure. You also need to learn the Redux library, which is used in more than half of React’s state management applications. Constant updating of the framework requires additional commitment from developers to keep up to date.

Angular in itself is a huge library and learning all the concepts takes more time than React does. Angular is more complex to understand, there is a lot of unnecessary syntaxes, and component management is quite tricky. Some of the complicated features are built into the kernel of the framework, which means the developer can’t avoid using them. Also, there are many ways to solve one problem. Although TypeScript is very similar to JavaScript, it still takes some time to learn. As with React, Angular also has frequent updates, so it takes extra time to learn.

Community

React is one of the most popular JavaScript libraries/frameworks around the world, and the support and development community is huge.
In working with React you have to learn continuously, with the frequent updates mentioned above. Although the community tries to keep up with the latest documentation, keeping track of all the changes is not so easy. Documentation may sometimes be lacking, but this problem is often resolved with the help of community support in the forums.
React is actively used by companies like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Airbnb, PayPal, The New York Times, Walmart, Uber, Microsoft, Dropbox, etc.

Angular is also a very popular framework, with some skepticism attached to it, because of the first version of Angular, which has not come to life. The developers rejected it because it was too complicated and took a long time to learn. Given that it was developed by Google, this fact greatly benefits its credibility. Google provides long-term support for the framework and is constantly improving it. Due to frequent updates, the documentation may be lagging behind.
Angular is used by companies such as McDonald’s, AT&T, HBO, Apple, Forbes, Adobe, Nike, as well as Microsoft and PayPal.

Structure

React’s structure gives developers the freedom to choose. There is no “only correct structure” for the React application. However, it is necessary to determine the structure at the beginning of the project, which slows down the start of the project.
In addition, React only offers View from the Model-View-Controller architecture, and Model and Controller have been added using other libraries.
The React architecture is component-based. The code is made of React components, which are rendered with the React DOM library and routed in 2 ways: function (function returning JSX) and classes (ES6 classes).

Angular’s structure is predefined (but variable) and complex, suitable for experienced developers. Angular is based on the Model-View-Controller architecture. The object responsible for the Model is run by the Controller and View is displayed.
The code consists of different Angular components, each of which is written in 5 separate files:

  • TypeScript for component implementation
  • HTML to define View
  • CSS for defining the style used in View
  • Special file for testing purposes

Links to these files are written in the application directives, which show the structural logic of the application. Accordingly, components in Angular can be used multiple times.

DOM (The Document Object Model) 

React uses a virtual DOM, which makes it easy to implement minor data changes in a single element without having to update entire structures. It caches in-memory data structures, calculates changes, and effectively updates the DOM in the browser. This way, the entire page seems to be rendered with every change, while in fact the libraries only display the modified components (which makes rendering much faster and does not burden the server as much as having to update the entire structure each time). The team working on React is constantly working to improve Fiber – a mechanism that aims to increase the productivity of showing the change.

Angular uses a real DOM (not a virtual one), which updates the entire structure with every change. A true DOM is considered slower and less effective than a virtual DOM. To make up for this shortcoming, Angular uses change detection to identify the components that need to be modified. In this way, a real DOM is as effective as a virtual DOM.

Conclusion

Comparing both React and Angular, we came to the conclusion that none is better. Both are constantly being updated and improved.
Choosing a React or Angular is a matter of personal choice, skills, and habits. If you are a beginner in programming, React is probably the best choice for you, and if you are an experienced programmer, the advice is to work with someone you are already familiar with.

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