React vs AngularJS – Selecting the Best Framework for Your Project

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Choosing a front-end framework can be confusing. You’ve heard of some, but you don’t have time to learn them all. So how do you choose?

The choice of a front-end framework often comes down to a battle between Google’s AngularJS and Facebook’s ReactJS. Since React emerged, the two have more or less been matching each other step for step. Angular is by far the bigger player by virtue of having been around for longer and having a wide developer community, but React brings much to the table in the way of performance and rapid development. With today’s technology landscape getting fueled by mobile and web apps, both these frameworks are getting increasingly adopted. The rising popularity of ReactJS and its ease of adoption has resulted in a significant rise in its adoption. However, AngularJS continues to be one of the top JavaScript frameworks while ReactJS is yet to take the test of the time to handle complex and scalable websites. 

Angular

AngularJS was first introduced in 2009 by Google with the tagline – ‘The superheroic javascript framework’, which is true as it can do almost anything which the others at that time couldn’t do. The idea was to combine components, designs, patterns and development practices into one framework to solve some of the bigger challenges of creating a single page application. 

It offers much more in the box compared to React and other competitors and has a lot of guidance on complete solutions. It comes with much more complete documentation and allows effective communication between different developers working on the same application using the same set of data. The typescript offers a friendly transition to client-side development and it has a real focus on app development which makes it highly popular with enterprises.

Angular uses two-way data binding which allows singular behavior for the app and minimizes errors. You won’t need to write as much boilerplate code to deliver interactions between app components. However, although two-way data binding can be great, it does have an impact on performance. It creates a watcher for each binding and can reach a point where there are too many watchers for bound elements.

Angular can be complex. It has a large API which requires a steep learning curve. Code can feel verbose and cumbersome compared to React. The first version had a complicated syntax although Angular 5 has adopted TypeScript 2.4 which is somewhat easier to learn. Moving from older to newer versions may also create migration issues.  

React

Developed by the people at Facebook, React is an open source software solution offering high rendering performance. Many frameworks have a hard time rendering large amounts of data like lists, for example. This difficulty arises from the fact that the majority of frameworks render everything, but, React does not do this. React only renders that which is changed. So, if you have 1000 item renders on React and someone changes 40, React will only render those 40 making everything much quicker.

A key benefit is React’s open source nature which has attracted a large, enthusiastic and very active community. The great thing about this is that it has led to a large JavaScript library of reusable components. React offers easy component creation, functional stateless components, and an API which encourages you to embrace composition using its components. It also uses a virtual DOM (Document Object Model) for increased performance by comparing a virtual render between what’s actually on the DOM and creating a patch.

Code should be written using JSX – a JavaScript extension which presents components as HTML elements. This can be complex and sometimes needs a bit of an adjustment curve. JSX will need to be compiled in JS in order to work with browsers. Where Angular uses two-way data binding React goes for one-way binding. This, it says, is faster and less complex. You can see clearly where data was changed and makes it easier to debug self-contained components.

The verdict

So, which is better? Both are great frameworks providing several opportunities and features in application development. React offers slightly faster performance and is great for enterprises which value easy access to open source solutions. Angular, meanwhile, provides real value for developers and, although it may take some getting used to, delivers more in the box. 

In short, we can summarize the differences in the following ways.

In the end, though, you really shouldn’t over complicate your choice. Both are complex and both will take a lot of time to learn, so you may not have the time to become fully proficient in both before you get started. The good news is that you don’t need to. Both are extremely good at what they do and, while they each have their own strengths and weaknesses, they will both deliver strong and reliable performance. Learning about one framework will also help you to learn about the other by familiarizing yourself with shared terms and applications such as architecting single page apps, designing components, data flow through an app, understanding state, language abstractions and applying testing or leveraging front-end builds.

The decision, then, may often come down to your own personal preference or the path of least resistance. So, if you have people in your team who are proficient in one, but less experienced in another, choose the one where you have the proficiency. The more you understand about one, the easier it will be to deal with the other. At the risk of sitting on the fence, there’s no silver bullet, you need to select the best-fit framework that suit your business challenges, application use cases and long-term strategy.

By,

Market Research Team, RapidValue

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