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10 Differences Between Angular2 and React

September 10, 2018

Angular2 and React are the 2 primary open-source development technologies and differ according to developer preferences and functionalities they allow. 

Angular2, a framework for creating web and mobile applications, and React, a library for building user interfaces, compete for primacy as JavaScript-based open-source technologies.

The choice of which best suits your company depends on the tasks and issues of your project.

To decide which works best for your particular use case, compare the characteristics of Angular’s and React from different perspectives, such as their learning curve and ecosystem of related tools.

Based on our development experience, we provide the following 10 criteria to clarify which JavaScript technology is the best for meeting your project challenges.

1. Owner and Release Date

The owner and release dates determine the size of the community and support of the technology in the future.

Usually, newer platforms grow faster.

Angular2 is an open-source framework for applications maintained by Google. Its release was in 2016. License: MIT-style.

React is an open-source library under the MIT license, and it is maintained by Facebook Inc. Its release was in 2013.

2. Utilization 

Angular2 is designed to build complex web applications or mobile apps. Examples of apps that were built using Angular are Code.gov, Winc, and Google Adsense. Reusable components can be built using Angular as well.

React is used for building user interfaces, specifically for single-page applications. For example, Instagram and Facebook were built using React. The library allows creating reusable UI components.

3. Size and Languages Adopted

Angular2 is about 566k. The language used is TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript. It extends JavaScript capabilities by adding optional type checking, static analysis, and interfaces to the JavaScript language.

React is a library of 109k, so it is much smaller than Angular. This doesn't affect the usage of React, because its library structure allows to utilize it in a more flexible fashion.

JSX, or a JavaScript syntax extension, is advised to use with React to show what the UI should look like. It is used to simplify creating React components.

4. Community and Popularity

Both Angular and React have active communities, meaning that both technologies are highly demanded and appeal to their users.

Since Angular2 is a much newer player in the arena, its rating on GitHub amounts to 28K+ stars, which speaks to its rapidly growing popularity. The community of its contributors involves more than 500 members.

React's star rating is almost 80K today, which proves it’s among the most popular projects on GitHub. In addition, it has an ‘army’ of contributors that numbers over 1,000 members, according to GitHub.

The more people are in the community, the more viewpoints and examples of usage are available, which allows creating quality products.

5. Learning Curve

Providing previous experience is identical and developers are new to both technologies, Angular presents a more complicated topic to learn.

Besides getting to know the aforementioned TypeScript, the framework itself involves an abundance of concepts to examine, including:

  • Dependency injection: used to dock one entity onto another. This requires a deep understanding of development processes.
  • AoT compilation: Ahead-of-time (AoT) compilation is a mechanism used to build an application prior to user interaction. It requires an understanding of how to compile and send packages. 
  • Rx.js: This is a library for reactive programming. It is a very complex system that mixes development patterns like observer and iterator. Understanding this mixed structure takes a lot of time for developers.

For long-term applications, Angular2 permits less freedom of design and architectural choice. Being a corporate framework, it implies specific code structure and a definite way of managing files and directories.

React is bound with JSX, which demands experience with special syntax of JSX.

React’s nature is the library’s advantage, as it allows specialists with limited front-end experience to quickly get a sense of the topic and avoid a steep learning curve. A developer knowledgeable in javascript can pick up React and start working with almost instantly. There’s no weight of dependent superstructures, such as in Angular2 (Rx.js, TypeScript).

That is why in many instances, React is far easier to understand than Angular2 and works well as a quick start for a developer.

6. Out-of-the-Box Features

Angular2 provides many features without any fancy installation, specifically directives (custom HTML elements) and dependency injection. The aim of dependency injection is to ease dependency management in software components and contribute to making the framework simpler to use.

React has fewer features available out-of-the-box and allows more freedom to choose additional libraries. This helps to create a prototype (MVP) in the shortest term without knowing the specifics of the final version, a common situation startups face.

7. Debugging

Angular2 is an event-driven system which is hard to debug because stack traces commonly used for debugging differ from what you expect them to be.

A stack trace monitors a call stack to debug an application and ensure its correct operation. Pieces of code in Angular are executed within isolated contexts. That is why, instead of an alert that points to a specific line in a code, an extensive list of the contexts attached will be displayed. This makes debugging a very long and tedious process.

React has fewer bugs because of its one-way rendering flow. This hierarchy gives a developer much more control over the code, therefore it allows for more control over the code. Stack traces have a clear distinction between the library and your own code so you know exactly where a mistake in the code was made.

8. Binding

To understand binding, one must distinguish between a Model part and a View part of the web application. Model describes the data of the application and View is the part of the application that the user is able to interact with.

Angular2 is one-way binding by default, meaning that data from Model will be transferred to View without any data being transferred back.

In the case there are any changes in View, it won’t affect data in Model. In any case, if there is an opportunity to use directives that support two-way data binding (e.g., ngModel), when any data updates in Model lead to relevant alterations in View, or create custom two-way data bindings by yourself.

React uses one-way data binding and the Flux application architecture that implies a unified data repository and strictly monitors the data flow through a control point called the "dispatcher." It also provides valueLink, a syntactic sugar for binding, which can contribute to the binding needs of your project.

9. Ecosystem of Related Tools

The tools within the Angular ecosystem are:

  • Angular CLI, or command line interface, which makes it easier to create an app that works right out of the box.
  • Angular Universal assists developers in server-side rendering (or pre-rendering) for Angular apps. Server-side rendering involves building all elements as HTML that is given to a user or web crawler and fully corresponds to the final page view.
  • Ionic 2 is an advanced version of cross-platform mobile development technology for hybrid mobile applications.

Angular2’s material design component library is a bunch of User Interface components for mobile, web, and desktop.

React-related utilities include:

  • Create React app automates app building and contributes to a quick setup of new projects.
  • Next.js simplifies the process of creating universal apps as it allows monitoring the server-side rendering process.
  • MobX and Redux are data repositories that store and manage the server on which you can maintain the state of your application. 
  • Material UI is a library that provides a set of user interface components.

10. Mobile Wrapper

Angular2 doesn’t enable the creation of mobile applications but focuses on mobile development through the bunch of additions available. To develop native apps, you can use NativeScript, a mobile development framework. For cross-platform mobile apps, the Ionic 2 Framework is the right solution.

The React library has been turned to mobile with the help of React Native, a UI focused framework for building Android and iOS apps. React Native facilitates your faster building of an app because no recompilation is needed.

New Features and Use Cases 

React: The latest version of React, React 16, features a new approach to Document Object Model (DOM) components.

The way of using DOM components in React didn’t change, but some capabilities were added, namely, an opportunity to pass custom attributes to HTML and SVG elements in order not to include a constantly increasing attribute whitelist in the production version.

Angular2 is updated every 6 months. The updates often include increasing of the speed and optimization of the platform. It also frequently introduces new and improved components that increase its functionality.

Use Cases: Piano Play (Angular2) and Cboard (React)

PianoPlay, made with Angular2, is an easy-to-use application designed to make learning musical notations fun and captivating for amateurs.

PianoPlay
 

Cboard, an open-source React web application, helps people with speaking difficulties communicate by symbols and text-to-speech.

CBoard Web App

Users can choose between various options to communicate actions and intentions. 

Choosing The Right Technology For Your Project

For complex applications, Angular2 is preferred, because there is an opportunity to use ready-made architectural solutions that require a consistent approach from the development team. Besides, such solutions have already been tested, which makes them trustworthy.

It’s possible to utilize React either separately to or integrated with Angular as a View component in case of visual and logical presentation of a part of a user interface

UI can also be implemented using React and integrated into the logic of the Angular2 application. With regards to the methodology uind on React versus Angular projects, the Agile methodology is the right choice.

The info provided can’t give an answer on which option to use since needs are different for every development project.

Use the data above, in the context of your project targeted platforms, business logic complexity, and team dynamics to determine the best choice for your project.


About the Author

Victoria Borodich HeadshotVictoria Borodich works as a technical copywriter at SCAND, a software consulting and development company that provides IT outsourcing services.