React vs Angular – Which One Is Better For Your Front-end?
May 128 min read
Marketing Automation Specialist at Ideamotive
We prepared this short guide on React.JS vs Angular to help you find answers to those questions. As a group of experts who do both React web development as well as Angular on a daily basis, we know exactly the main pros and cons one might need to consider when choosing the perfect front-end solution.
The Basic Differences
(If you already have some knowledge about libraries and frameworks you can skip this section.)
Let us start with the basics. As previously mentioned, React.JS is a library, while Angular is a framework.
What is the difference?
How about the framework? Think of the frame itself first. What is it in real life? It can be, for example, something of a case in which you can put your family photos or a nice painting to hang on a wall. If you have a specific frame and your photo is too big for it, the only thing you can really do quickly is cutting the image — making it small enough to fit the frame.
Framework in the software development world, then, is providing you with a specific standard for your website or application. In other words, it sets up the architecture of your project that you cannot simply change. Just like you cut the photo to fit the frame, you need to make sure you are coding in a way that your framework dictates.
So what does all of it mean to you? That React.JS gives you some more freedom. You can add a function from a React.JS library to your already existing app or website. If you want to use Angular, on the other hand, your product should basically be created with this framework in mind from the beginning.
Nevertheless, one of the most important things for both React.JS and Angular are the components. What are those? Sets of pre-written code that allow developers to add new functions to the project much faster than if they would try to write all the code by themselves.
What can a component do? For example, it can provide you with an ABC survey system for your blog or a buying system for your new shopping platform.
There are, however, some clear differences we should consider in the React.JS vs Angular battle. We divide these differences into a few different categories below. Before we proceed with this, though, let’s have a look at a table summarizing the basics of both React.JS and Angular.
Type of solution
Programming language used
1. Angular vs React performance
One of the key things to consider before starting web development is, of course, the performance of the technology we plan to use in our project. In regards to this, it’s important to note that React.JS - unlike Angular - uses virtual DOM, instead of the regular one. What is the DOM (Document Object Model) itself? An abstract API (application programming interface) presenting parts of the HTML document in the form of a tree. Each of these parts of a document (e.g. a website’s header) has its dedicated node and object. It’s incredibly important because it allows programs to quickly access all the information they need from a document in order to run the app.
Virtual DOM makes the whole process even faster. Unlike the regular DOM, it only updates the parts of the document’s tree where the changes have happened recently. The regular DOM, on the other hand, updates the whole tree every time. This difference makes React.JS in some cases faster than Angular.
2. Speed of coding in Angular and React
3. Scalability of Angular and React
When it comes to scalability, both solutions have something that makes them stand out and be used by multiple rapidly growing companies. In the case of React, it’s once again a must to mention the virtual DOM. It makes updates to be incorporated faster which is especially crucial in projects that are expected to grow fast.
With Angular, thanks to the clear structure of TypeScript, it’s easier to have new developers join the team on a regular basis. However, you must remember that you need true experts that won’t get confused by the complexity of TypeScript during the development process.
4. Setting up a new project with Angular and React
Starting a new project with all the basics already set up is incredibly simple in both Angular and React. Both have their own Command Line Interface (CLI) — in Angular, the thing you will be looking for on GitHub is called simply Angular CLI, while its React alternative has been named Create React App.
Are there any significant differences between the two? As some developers claim, Angular CLI can usually set up a project with more basic functionalities already included than its the case of Create React App. At the same time, however, it’s worth mentioning that the documentation of CRA is much more insightful than the one of Angular CLI. CRA has also recently been hugely updated with new features, including support for templates, TypeScript, and Redux Toolkit.
5. Taking your project mobile with React Native and NativeScript
According to reports, over 50% of online traffic already comes from mobiles — and everything suggests that this number will only rise. Because of this, it’s crucial for your project’s success that the website or app you are building will look great not only on computers but also on phones and tablets of your customers.
Both React and Angular have solutions that allow building a mobile version of your product based on the code of the standard, desktop version of it. In the best possible case, your developers might be able to use up to 90% of the already existing code!
In this specific battle, React is the clear winner, partly because of the popularity of React Native and a huge community of developers favoring it over other, similar solutions. What’s more, NativeScript is not only less popular, but the builts created in it feel less mobile than when using React Native. This is mostly due to the fact that NativeScript doesn’t incorporate mobile-specific UI for apps and sites, instead of focusing on delivering an experience as similar as possible to the original, desktop version.
(Interestingly, NativeScript works great also with another React and Angular alternative, Vue. You can read our comparison between React and Vue here.)
6. The community behind React and Angular
No framework and no library will be successful without the support of a steadily growing community. At first glance, the battle of React vs Angular seems to be relatively close-fought in this case. But is it really?
Let’s look at some numbers.
Firstly, Google Trends data.
The blue one is for React, the red is for Angular. As you can see, for some time the Google’s framework was doing better than Facebook’s library. However, in early 2018 this happened to change and now React is being searched more in Google.
Let’s also look at some even more important data - the list of the most popular repositories on GitHub. There, React ranks on the 4th place, overshadowing Angular. The latter has also fewer contributors. On the other hand, Angular has way more commits and releases. This may suggest, however, that the Angular releases are less stable than React ones.
For a broader and more insightful look at the situation on GitHub, have a look at our table below.
2016 (its predecessor, Angular.JS, has been released in 2009)
Finally, it may be also useful to have a look at the yearly Stack Overflow survey. According to its 2019 edition, React is currently more often used by developers than Angular (31.3% vs 30.7%). Additionally, React is more loved (74.5% vs 57.6%) as well as more wanted (21.5% vs 12.2%) technology among the developers. Finally, what may be interesting especially for Google, is the fact that Angular is one of the most dreaded technologies on the market (42.6% vs 25.5%). This can be an effect of a few things, including the fact that Angular is more complicated than React (especially for newcomers) due to its use of TypeScript.
It’s also worth noting that React ended up with better results in the 2019 survey than in the 2018 one. Back then, Angular was slightly more popular among developers (36,9% vs React’s 27,8%), and React became even more loved and wanted throughout these past 12 months.
7. Angular vs React market share
Obviously, Facebook and Google have not developed React and Angular only to kindly support the developers around the world. They have also done it to run their own apps and websites on those two systems. Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook itself are powered by React, while tons of Google services are handled using Angular.
But how about everything outside of the world of IT giants? What are some other companies that have signed themselves up for the React.JS vs Angular battle?
There are really tons of them. For example, among React.JS companies, one can find Netflix or the New York Times. Interestingly, codeacademy.com, a popular website dedicated to teaching others to code, is also using React to power their web app.
Angular, on the other hand, is used for example by Microsoft. That should not be that surprising as TypeScript itself has been developed by the creators of Windows. Microsoft uses Angular to power its Office’s and Xbox’s websites. Among other Angular companies, one can find Delta Airlines, Santander Bank, and Forbes.
Angular vs React pros and cons — final comparison
We have covered a lot of information on the React.JS vs Angular, but one question still happened not to be answered: which of these solutions better answers your needs? Which one is a better choice for your project and your company altogether? Should you join the React.JS companies or the Angular ones?
The answer may not be that easy, but we will try to put it as simply as possible. Check the table below that summarizes all the most important concepts we have reviewed in this piece.
Making the Choice
If you are still unsure about the React.JS vs Angular choice, feel free to get in touch with us and discuss your project. Our tech experts are able to help you make the best choice based on your requirements, as well as find the best people for your team. Whether you need web developers (including full-stack developers), project managers, product owners, or other types of IT experts, we can provide you a list of top professionals with experience in your industry and the solutions you have in mind.