React vs Angular 2021- The Ultimate Comparison

By Saurabh Barot   |   5 March, 2021
React vs Angular 2021- The Ultimate Comparison

There are various front-end web development libraries and frameworks available in the market. This has naturally made the competition intense. A constant battle of these web app frameworks to be better than the other has left developers, clients, and students who want to pursue web app development – confused. Out of all the available JavaScript frameworks & libraries, the two most debated and popular ones are – React Vs Angular.

Top JavaScript Frameworks Comparison- Angular and React

For any developer starting on a new project which is stuck on which JavaScript framework to use, with this guide, we aim to give you a structured and detailed comparison between the two popular platforms, so you’re able to see how they suit your needs. Angular and React are the finest front-end JavaScript-based frameworks with many similarities and even more differences. Before we dwell on their differences and similarities, we should understand the platforms individually to our best ability.

Here is a Google Trends Graph that derives the popularity comparison between Angular & React.

Let’s Start with Angular First.

Angular

Angular is a framework and a platform used for building SPA – Single Page Applications. It uses TypeScript and HTML. Angular is one of the most mature frameworks with good support and backing of an efficient and big team of contributors. It can be considered a full-stack package solution. But with full-stack-solutions comes full-stack learning, and that can be a little overwhelming at times. The learning curve with Angular can be steep that might put new developers off.

Journey of Angular

AngularJS was launched as an open-source project by Misko Hevery and others at Google in 2010. AngularJS enjoyed its popularity till 2014-15. However, it started failing to meet the demands of the time by then. In response to this Google scratched out AngularJS entirely and launched Angular 2 which is also known as Angular now. This decision met with a few consequences during 2016 as many developers started shifting to other frameworks like React because of the sudden change announced by Angular. By 2017-18 Angular regained their market share and came back stronger than before.

Here are the last 5 years NPM trends for Angular.
Angular NPM Trends

Some Technical Statistics of Angular

License – MIT
Version – 11.2.0
Used By – 1.7 M
Stars – 70.7k
Forks – 18.6k
Contributors – 1350

Prerequisites for using Angular

  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • TypeScript

Angular Framework Terminologies to get familiar with

  1. Components – These are the very basic UI building block on Angular applications. Each component in Angular consists of –
    1. An HTML template for declaring what renders on the page
    2. A TypeScript class for defining behavior
    3. A CSS sector to define how the component is going to be used in a template
  2. Services- A service is an object or a function available for and exclusive to an AngularJS application.
  3. Modules – Modules are a mechanism that helps group the related components, pipes, directives, and services to be combined with other modules to create an app. Modules can be considered as puzzle pieces of an Angular app.

Pros & Cons of Angular

Pros

  1. Follows clean code development.
  2. Has a material-design like interface.
  3. Updates can be seamless using Angular CLI.
  4. It is a high performing full-stack framework.

Cons

  1. Angular features can be confusing for beginners.
  2. Lacks all-inclusive documentation.
  3. Need to learn Typescript and other framework specific components.
  4. Though it is a full stack solution, third party integrations can be complicated.
  5. Switching between versions can be troublesome.

Where to Use Angular

  1. You want ready-to-use full stack solution.
  2. You want a scalable feature-rich application.
  3. When you are looking for performance oriented web solutions.

Misconceptions about Angular Framework

Angular is only a JavaScript Library.

Web developers often use JQuery to make their websites. Hence they mistake Angular to be one of these many libraries available to create a website. However, Angular is a framework and NOT a library. It has design patterns and the best application-like modules, templates, responsive support, and other elements for designing a single-page web application.

Angular apps are slower than apps made on other frameworks.

There is a widespread misconception that Angular apps are significantly slower than Ember or React apps. This misconception makes developers discard Angular before even realizing its potential. The problem with most Angular apps are not their capability to perform but poor execution by developers and possibly some bad design elements in the core framework. Angular also has a new special feature of AOT- Ahead of Time compilation that significantly improves app performance. The previous versions of Angular templates used to be requested from the server, and modules used to be compiled using JIT, resulting in slower app response times. However, their new AOT Compilation and change detection backed by universal server-side rendering makes Angular frameworks at par in performance with VueJS and React.

Cost effective Angular App

Angular makes using TypeScript mandatory.

This is one of the biggest myths about Angular that repels many aspiring and new developers from using the Angular framework. They think for using Angular, they need to adjust to and learn TypeScript. TypeScript is one of the biggest advantages of Angular. Still, if you feel jittery about it, you can very well use Angular without TypeScript. In its place, you can stick with ES5 – JavaScript for developing apps using the latest Angular frameworks.

Angular lacks State Management and is not compatible with Redux and Flux.

Web applications are getting more and more complicated by the day, and developers constantly need to be on their toes for iterating and releasing new features on the apps without compromising the app’s performance and quality. Hence, for any complex front-end app development project – state management becomes vital. Many states need to be managed like local UI state, server response data, application state, and more. AngularJS wasn’t the best with external state management libraries. But the new Angular framework is designed to provide developers the ease and option of using these libraries efficiently. State management libraries like Redux are based on uni-directional data flow, which didn’t fit well with AngularJS 2-way data binding. The new Angular framework uses the same uni-directional data flow design pattern at the core, making it easy to use any popular state management libraries like Flux, Redux, or any other.

Popular Web App based on Angular framework

  • Forbes
  • Google Voice
  • Google Messages
  • Samsung Forward
  • Google Play Books
  • Microsoft Office Home

React

React, in terms of the time it has been on the market, is right when it can be considered mature. It has gathered an impressive number of contributors from its community too. React has gained immense and widespread acceptance. It is an ideal choice for someone who is just getting started with JavaScript frameworks, start-ups, and developers who like flexibility. React provides immense support and flexibility to seamlessly integrate with other frameworks, so there are many options to mix and match for creating a customized full-stack solution.

Journey of React

In 2011, Jordan Walke added a search element on Facebook and called in FaxJS. FaxJS turned out to be an early protocol for React. During 2012, Facebook was having difficulties managing its Ads interface. Jordan Walke worked on his FaxJS prototype to solve this issue and came up with React. They made it open-source on April 9 after acquiring Instagram. By 2013 React became available on all major platforms like JSFiddle.

Here are the last 5 years NPM trends for React.
React NPM Trends

Some Technical Statistics of React

License – MIT
Version – 17.0.0
Used By – 5.9 M
Stars – 165K
Forks – 33.1
Contributors – 1537

Prerequisites of React

  • Core Knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Basic understanding of ES6 features
  • Knowledge of how to use NPM

Pros and Cons of React

Pros

  1. Easy to learn
  2. HTML-like syntax allows templating and highly detailed documentation
  3. Supports server-side rendering
  4. Easy migrating between different versions of React
  5. Uses JavaScript rather than framework-specific code

Cons

  1. Poor documentation
  2. Limited to only view part of MVC
  3. New developers might see JSC as a barrier

Where to Use React

  1. For apps that have multiple events
  2. When your app development team excels in CSS, JavaScript an HTML
  3. You want to create sharable components on your app
  4. When you need a personalized app solution

Misconceptions about React

React is a framework

Many developers and aspiring students misinterpret React to be a fully-functional framework. It is because we often compare React with major frameworks such as Angular and Ember. This comparison is not to compare the best frameworks but to focus on the differences and similarities of React and Angular’s approach that makes their offerings worth studying. Angular works on the MVC model to support the Model, View, and Controller layers of an app. React focuses only on the ‘V,’ which is the view layer of an application and how to make handling it easier to integrate smoothly into a project.

React makes using JSX mandatory.

JSX is JavaScript Syntax Extension. This got popular with React using it as a way of defining the UI of an application. It looks like HTML and has the power and capabilities of JavaScript, making specific component rendering easier. Some developers don’t like this idea as they feel including an HTML-like syntax in JavaScript code goes against the separation of concerns principle. However, this is a misguided argument as JSX is not HTML and is compiled down to any regular JavaScript code using transpilers. Moreover, JSX is not a hard requirement to use React. Though we don’t see a reason, why would you not want to?

React’s Virtual DOM is faster than DOM.

React uses a Virtual DOM, which is essentially a tree of JavaScript objects representing the actual browser DOM. The advantage of using this for the developers is that they don’t manipulate the DOM directly as developers do with jQuery when they write React apps. Instead, they would tell React how they want the DOM to make changes to the state object and allow React to make the necessary updates to the browser DOM. This helps create a comprehensive development model for developers as they don’t need to track all DOM changes. They can modify the state object, and React would use its algorithms to understand what part of UI changed compared to the previous DOM. Using this information updates the actual browser DOM. Virtual DOM provides an excellent API for creating UI and minimizes the update count to be made on the browser DOM.

However, it is not faster than the actual DOM. You just read that it needs to pull extra strings to figure out what part of UI needs to be updated before actually performing those updates. Hence, Virtual DOM is beneficial for many things, but it isn’t faster than DOM.

React needs Redux for its ecosystem.

State Management is an essential factor and a significant consideration for developers wanting to create SPA – Single Page Applications. A developer might need to juggle many states between various components. It can get difficult to handle for complex applications. Redux is an open-source JavaScript library that was created to solve this problem. It uses a centralized approach with a single state of truth instead of needing all components to manage their state. Most developers pair Redux with React together in a way that one cannot be used without the other. However, this is not the case. Redux is most commonly used in React’s ecosystem. However, it can be used with any other view library. The same goes for React, and you can use various state management tools other than Redux to manage your React’s state management.

Popular Web App based on React

  • Instagram
  • Netflix
  • Asana
  • Yahoo Mail
  • New York Times
  • DropBox

React Vs Angular – The Full Comparison in 2021

Now that we have thoroughly understood the skeletons and the history of both these popular frameworks/libraries, we can start looking at their differences and how they fare against each other in various critical development-related sectors.

Here is a quick comparison to overview the differences between React & Angular. The differences have been further elaborated in detail under the table.

Point Angular React
Github Stars 70.7k 5.3k
Forks 18.6K 4.9k
Release Year 2016 2013
Type Framework Library
Programing Language TypeScript JavaScript
Supporting Company Google Facebook
License MIT MIT
Data Binding Two-way/One-Way One-Way
Component Architecture Component-based Component-based
Backward Compatibility Restricted/ Can’t switch to Angular JS Fully compatible between all versions
Learning Curve Not a beginner-friendly framework Easier to grasp as it requires basic knowledge of CSS, HTML and JavaScript.
Community Support Dependable community support Not as good as Angular
Testing and Debugging Possible with a single tool Requires a set of tools for performing various types of testing
Updates and Migration Too frequent updates which takes time for developers to get used to Easier as scripts help in updates
Use Developing SPA and mobile applications Developing Native, Hybrid and Web apps.

The Detailed Comparison – React Vs Angular

1. Data Binding in React Vs Angular

Data binding refers to the effort of synchronizing data between UI and logic. Here Angular has better flexibility and scope as it uses both – one-way data binding and two-way data binding. React, on the other hand, only uses the one-way binding. One-way binding helps make the code more stable, and it also makes the debugging process much more manageable. So while React isn’t wrong or ineffective for sticking with one-way binding, Angular takes this round for providing more flexibility in its offerings.

2. Component Architecture of React VS Angular

Component Architecture is an approach to building an architecture based on replaceable components described in the concept: component. They are based on independent, substitutable, and modular components. This helps to manage complexity and encourages code re-use.

React Approach to Component Architecture –

React approaches UI with the philosophy of breaking it down into components. The components then manage their state and structure them together to create more complex UI solutions. However, since React is a library and not a framework, you will need other integrations and supporting tools. Some of the most prominent ones are –

  • Redux
  • WebPack
  • Babel

Angular Approach to Component Architecture –

Angular is a full-stack framework that has many out-of-the-box possibilities and offerings like –

  • RxJS
  • Angular CLI
  • Angular Universal

Both React and Angular have unique ecosystems. React is easier to understand but has more dependencies on external integrations to reach its full potential. Angular can provide a decent comprehensive solution without the need for any external integrations. However, since React needs external dependencies, it also makes it flexible to be used in any project, even if the project is written in Angular.

3. Bundle Size of React And Angular

When developers look for frameworks or libraries to base their app on, they consider this one of the most important factors. Why does the bundle size matter? Well, the smaller the size, the faster it would load. A faster loading helps increase the ranking on search engines, which ultimately leads to better conversion chances.

React’s approach to Bundle Size –

React reduces bundle size by using various features and tools such as –

  • Webpack – Webpack is a module bundler used for bundling JavaScript files used in a browser. It can transform front-end assets like CSS, HTML, and images if the respective leaders are in place.
  • Tree-Shaking – It is a front-end development concept that focuses on removing dead or unused codes. Using tree-shaking concepts when writing codes, developers can significantly scale down bundle size by eliminating unused JavaScript.
  • Dynamic Imports – When a webpack reaches a syntax, it bundles all the files together. Here, they are statically included and packed. Next, instead of using static imports that are synchronous, React uses dynamic imports to import their modules on demand.

Angular’s approach to Bundle Size –

Angular has a different approach to this challenge. They opt not to include the entire bundle of their framework in the user’s app. In the user’s app variant, they get rid of –

  • Unused modules
  • Development Utilities

4. Testings the Scalability of React Vs Angular

Before you decide on the tool for your app development project, it is important first to consider the project’s future scope. Here Angular does make the job easier as it comes bundled with all the core features that developers require for scaling any existing app by adding new functionalities. React is still heavily dependent on third-party tools, so if you need to scale your app, using React could come with a fair share of challenges. However, since it has a clean and maintainable architecture with server-side rendering, you can still make decent websites and web apps with React. Popular platforms discussed before, like Instagram, Netflix, and more, are based on React.

5. Ease of Update – React Or Angular

Updates are an important aspect of any apps or website. You can create the absolute best solution or project and launch it in the market. Even if it gains a lot of traction and appreciation from the market, people will think it has gone obsolete, or the platform has shut down if you don’t update it frequently. This is because that’s the standard for apps in today’s competitive world. Every platform tries pushing for more and more services, constantly bettering UI/UX, features, and other aspects to stay ahead of the curve. Hence the tools you use for pushing updates to your app should be efficient and rapid enough to do so whenever needed.

Angular’s Ease of Update –

Angular improvised their CLI, which has commands like ng update, which helps any Angular-based app easily upgrade to the latest version of the Angular version. This reduces any stress and efforts on the developer’s end since the update process is automated. Angular is ahead of React in this regard.

React’s Ease of Update –

React also understands the need for making seamless transitions between two app versions. Their front-end development library is heavily dependent on external libraries, which makes updating and migrating the third-party components possible. The React developers also need to constantly check if all the third-party libraries are compatible with the latest versions of the JavaScript framework. This can be cumbersome.

6. Flexibility and Performance of React Vs Angular

Any front-end development framework/library should be tested for its flexibility and performance metrics. And in this aspect, there is a remarkable difference between our two top players – Angular and React.

React performance and flexibility –

React offers many tools to developers with various libraries and architecture to choose from. If you have a skilled React team, they can choose any tools they need at the beginning and deliver an impressive customizable app.

Angular performance and flexibility –

Angular doesn’t provide the flexibility that React has to offer. It components can only be used with other frameworks, and the code needs to be embedded with an HTML application. This is a very rigid format that could delay the real-time updates needed by apps to be visible.

7. Backward Compatibility – How React And Angular Differ?

Backward compatibility is a characteristic of any system/product/technology that allows computability with older equipment or previous software versions.

React Backward Compatibility –

React’s 17.0.1 (the latest version at the time of writing) is also fully compatible with previous versions and supports asynchronous rendering. As we previously discussed, React is also open-source and licensed under MIT, Jest, and GraphQL.

Angular Backward Compatibility –

If we consider Angular a different framework than AngularJS, then yes, Angular has support for backward compatibility. However, in this comparison, since it is possible for React to back to its first built version, we need to consider AngularJS too for a fair comparison. Angular is backwards compatible with Angular 2, but not AngularJS.

8. Dealing with Directives – How it works?

Directive are essentially JavaScript functions that manipulate and add behaviours to the HTML DOM elements.

Directives in React –

When it comes to React, the logic and the templates are explained at each component’s end. This helps the reader to comprehend what the code means without needing to know its syntax.

Directives in Angular –

Angular returns the templates with attributes. The syntax of Angular’s directives is complex and sophisticated. This can make it incomprehensible for most developers.

9. Dependency Injection in Angular VS React

Dependency Injections are tools that help solve a common development problem – hardcoded dependencies. When object A depends on object B and creates a third object, the dependency cannot be changed. For instance, System class creates its logger service, then it would only be Syslogger and cannot be anything else. However, developers might want to use the logger service with other classes such as Calculator or sending logs to a SaaS service. However, since logger is a hard dependency, this is not possible. The dependency injection solves this problem by creating a caller for object A that creates object B. Dependency injection increases a code’s modularity.

Keeping track of such object instances can be difficult, which is why you need a dependency injection container for injecting dependency injection patterns. Data injection containers are libraries that keep dependencies stored in a registry, using them on demand and making them configurable easy.

React’s Dependency Injection

React doesn’t use dependency injection. It has a dependency injection system built-in JSX. This enables React to offer a dependency injection without needing to have a dependency injection container.  With React, you can add more than one dependency to an element. One element can have more than one child.  JSX offers all functions of a primary dependency injection container – transitive dependencies and configurability.

Angular’s Dependency Injection

A dependency in Angular can be a class, service, or even an object. Angular’s dependency injection is based on injectors, providers, and tokens. All Angular modules come with an injector associated with them. Then dependencies are added to these injectors by leveraging the provider’s property of the module’s metadata. Each dependency can be understood as a key-value pair. The key is the token, and the value is the object of the dependence. Angular creates tokens for services itself; for objects, developers need to create tokens.

10. State Management for Angular and React

State Management is essentially what the name suggests. It is the management of one or more UI controls such as OK buttons, radio buttons, and text fields in a graphical user interface.  They help the data flow from app to state and state to the app. Developers know precisely where their data is, and this helps increase the development speed.

React’s State Management –

React is built in a way that every component has its state. Any React developer can create special components for keeping the entire application’s state or a specific part of it. One of React’s State Management’s drawbacks is that the global state needs to be stored in various parts of the app with data moving around different component tree levels. However, there are external state management libraries that have a solution to this. For instance, Redux represents the global state as a single stateful object altered in various parts of the app with the help of reducers. Another solution is to use the MobX library that has a different approach to the problem. It only stores the minimal required state, and the rest can be derived.

Angular’s State Management –

Angular stores component data in component properties. Parent components pass the information through children. Some part state changes can be identified and recalculated; however, in a big app, it causes multi-directional tree series of updates, which can be daunting to track. Their features can be improvised using state management libraries such as RxJS or NgRx, making the data flow uni-directional.

11. Angular Vs ReactJS UI Components

React UI components –

The React Community develops and tests various UI tools. Some of them are free, and others are paid. They can all be found on the React portal. For using Material design in React, you would need to install an additional library – Material-UI Library & Dependencies.

Angular UI Components –

Again, being a complete framework, Angular comes with a built-in Material toolset and has various pre-built material design components. They have multiple buttons, indicators, layouts, form controls, and pop-ups. This makes the UI configuration faster and simpler.

12. App Architecture of ReactJS and Angular

An app structure or app architecture mentions the techniques and patterns used for designing and building an application.  Front-end development focuses primarily on the user experience of the app. Back-end development focuses on providing services, data, and other systems needed to make the app work.

React App Structure –

React has a very open and welcoming structure that gives developers the freedom of choice. They don’t have a fixed proper structure for creating a React app. But the same advantage can be looked at as a drawback, too as it forces the developer to design the app structure at the beginning of every project. This makes the entire process complicated and time-consuming.

And React only offers the View layer where the Model and Controller can be added using external libraries. React follows a component-based architecture.

Angular App Structure –

Angular has a fixed and complicated app structure that is more suitable for experienced developers. It is a full-stack solution that provides all three layers MVC – Model, View, Controller. It has many different Angular components, the CSS file for stylistic features, HTML   to define a view, and more.

13. Change Rendering in Angular Vs ReactJS

JavaScript uses the DOM – Document Object Model for manipulating the DOM elements. The process of rendering refers to showing the final outcome on the browser. DOM is used to establish parent-child relationships and also adjacent sibling relationships, and other various elements in the HTML file.

React Change Rendering –

React uses Virtual DOM that makes implementing minor data changes in one element easy without updating the structure of the entire tree. Such a framework creates an in-memory cache of data structure, computes the changes, and updates the DOM displayed on the browser. This enables the libraries to render change specific components of the pages that need to be updated, keeping the other components as they are.

Angular Change Rendering –

Angular approaches change rendering by using Real DOM that updates the entire tree structure even if the change is to be made in a single element. It makes use of change detection to identify all the components that need altering.

14. Learning Curve of ReactJS Vs Angular

From the developer’s point of view – the learning curve is one of the most important factors deciding which front-end Java-Script to go with. Learning curve is basically a term used to determine how difficult and time consuming it can be to learn and use a front-end development framework/library. Angular is undoubtedly more complicated and has a steep learning curve compared to React. Though Angular solves many complex problems, it requires a complex management system to do so. Also, it demands developers to get familiar with new Angular-exclusive concepts and languages like dependency injection, pipes, templates, TypeScript, and RxJs. Angular also is very regular with its updates, which, though, is a good thing. It keeps the developers on their toes at times. They need to constantly upgrade their skills as per the new changes in the Angular ecosystem.

In contrast, React framework is more friendly with its ecosystem and letting a developer make an app. If you are good with JavaScript, you are good with React. There are many resources with React that the newcomers can learn and look forward to creating an app. And React is decent with updates too, so they are also actively improving but at a more comfortable pace than Angular.

15. Popularity and Market Share of React VS Angular in 2021

According to Statista Report, React and Angular are the most commonly used web frameworks among developers worldwide, as of early 2020 after Jquery with the marketshare of 35.9% and 25.1% respectively.

Statista popular web frameworks 2020

If we talk from the developers perspective in terms of satisfaction, usage, and awareness, ratio rankings then React again take over the seats. According to State of JS React is posses strong hold over developers mind.
front_end_frameworks_experience_ranking

16. Job Opportunities for React Developers vs Angular Developers

Last but not least, we need to discuss job opportunities when comparing React Vs Angular to decide the best JS framework. Hntrends came up with this line chart that shows 2020 highlights for percentage of job posts related to Angular and React.

Hntrends

The Aglowid ScoreBoard – React Vs Angular

We have reached the end of this blog, but we have one more offering for you to give you a summarized overview of this hot topic – React Vs Angular. Here is a scoreboard comparing all the determining factors that you might want to consider before choosing your ideal front-end development library/framework.

Score Board React Vs Angular –

Factor Angular React
Data Binding ✔️
Component Architecture ✔️
Bundle Size ✔️
Scalability ✔️
Ease of Update ✔️
Performance and Flexibility ✔️
Backward Compatibility ✔️
Directives ✔️
Dependency Injection/ Self-Sufficiency
State Management ✔️
UI Components ✔️
App Structure
Change Rendering ✔️
Learning Curve ✔️
Total 5 7
Saurabh Barot

Saurabh Barot is co-founder and Experienced Chief Technology Officer at Aglowid IT Solutions. His deep industry experience in Angular, React, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Mean Stack and just to name few, has helped the company reach to a new level. He believes that technology is all about exploring new possibilities. Whatever a mind can think (exception can't be ruled out), technology brings it into reality.

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