React vs Angular – A Quick Comparison (2020 Update)

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Introduction

The possibilities are limitless, and so is the number of choices we need to make every day. And making the right choice is challenging – especially in the IT industry. In Pagepro, we want to help you make informed decisions every single time. And it’s one of the reasons our blog exists.

Today’s dilemma is choosing React vs Angular to build a web application. Let’s go through it, step-by-step.

What is React?

React.js is an open-source JavaScript library for building performant and visually attractive user interfaces. It combines development simplicity (thanks to small pieces of code called “components”) and a strong focus on user experience. React is the View layer of the MVC model, which gives you almost total freedom of choosing Model and Controller libraries.

Pros and cons of React

Now, let’s take a look at some advantages of React from a business perspective and its cons.

ProsCons
Cost-effectivenessIncompleteness
Great UXLack of proper documentation
PopularityThe high pace of development
Performance
SEO-friendliness
Shortened time to market


IF you want to find out more, we prepared a detailed summary of React JS pros and cons, which you can read here.

Companies using React

Facebook isn’t the only company taking advantage of React and its possibilities. There are a few more well-known brands, such as:

  • Airbnb
  • Instagram
  • Netflix
  • Pinterest
  • Slack
  • Udemy

However, it doesn’t mean that React is the right choice only for big brands – it’s on the contrary. You can use as little (or as much) of React as you need at the moment. For example, adding React to your website is literally a matter of one minute.

What is Angular?

Angular is an open-source framework created by Google for building web applications. While React is based on JavaScript, Angular is based on TypeScript. And unlike React, Angular is a full-fledged MVC framework so once you learn it well, you won’t need other solutions.

Angular is a result of rewriting AngularJS, which was the first version of Angular.

Important note: Google won’t support AngularJS after June 30, 2021.

Pros and cons of Angular

You already have learned about React.js pros and cons, so it’s time to find out why it’s a great idea to choose Angular (or not).

ProsCons
Better error handlingHuge size
Cleaner code than in vanilla JSLimited SEO options
Custom directivesPerformance
Higher performanceSteep learning curve
Material Design-like interface
Seamless updates thanks to Angular CLI

Companies using Angular

  • Forbes
  • General Motors
  • Nike
  • Paypal
  • Telegram
  • Upwork

React vs Angular: Head-to-head

ReactAngular
Developed byFacebookMicrosoft
Programming languageJavaScriptTypeScript
CompatibilityFull backward compatibilityUpdates needed
Data bindingOne-way bindingTwo-way binding
DOMVirtual DOMReal DOM
Min. bundle size80kb500kb

React vs Angular: Comparison

Building mobile apps: React Native vs Ionic

Choosing React allows you to use React Native to build truly native and cross-platform mobile applications. While RN uses a bit different syntax than React does, it’s relatively easy to learn it if you are already familiar with React. With React Native, you can create components and bind them in Objective-C, Java or Swift code.

Angular, on the other hand, uses Ionic, which is a hybrid mobile framework. Instead of building native mobile apps, you need to develop a web application inside a Cordova container.

When it comes to the performance of both applications, if they are well-written, the difference will be hard to notice.

Data binding

Angular is using two-way data binding. Whenever you change any element of the interface, your model state changes automatically too.

It sounds simple, but if you work on a large project and want to have a good data overview and debug easier, it is better to use React with one-way data binding. It renders the change in the interface element, only after the model state is updated first. And whenever you change the UI element, the model state stays the same with no changes.

Learning curve

Since React is a lightweight UI library, it’s much easier to learn than Angular. A list of things you have to absorb is quite short: JSX, a router library and state management library. Also, it’s necessary to have knowledge of writing components, managing internal state and using props.

Angular is not a library – it’s a fully-fledged MVC framework. Because of that, a list of things to learn is much longer than in the case of React.js:

  • TypeScript
  • Components
  • Decorators
  • Dependency Injection
  • Modules
  • Pipes
  • Services
  • Templates

And that’s just a start.

Popularity

The popularity of any particular programming language or web technology can be a great source of information – especially if such popularity is measured objectively and over time. Looking at these stats will help you with gathering answers to questions like:

  • Is there (and will be) demand for this technology?
  • Will it be easy to find and hire developers?
  • Is it something worth checking or just a waste of time?

To determine the popularity of React and Angular, I checked Github, Google Trends, and Stack Overflow Annual Survey.

Most Loved Web Frameworks according to Stack Overflow 2020 Survey

Since 2019, React.js lost its first place to ASP.NET Core, but it’s still at the top. Angular, on the other hand, stayed in the middle.

Most Wanted Web Frameworks according to Stack Overflow 2020 Survey

React on GitHubAngular on GitHub

Google Trends: Comparison between React vs Angular in the last 12 months
Google Trends: Comparison between React vs Angular in the last five years

Speed

DOM

React is using a virtual DOM, which means it doesn’t have to update all the HTML. He is just looking for the differences between the current and the old HTML and updating it accordingly.

Angular is using real DOM, which means it is going through the entire structure of HTML to find what there is to be changed and “mutate” the tree to apply changes.

React Fiber

A while ago (with v16 version) React changed its engine elevating the speed from “just fast” to “blazingly fast”.

More than that, React Fiber enables the priority-based update system, so you can fine-tune your renderings to make sure the most critical updates are done first. Also, you can pause and start your work at will.

Templates

HTML

Angular is using templates based on an extended version of HTML with Angular directives. You will also have to learn a specific syntax.

JSX

With React, on the other hand, all you need is JavaScript knowledge. A JSX is a genius component made from markup and JavaScript logic in the same file. Thanks to the use of XML-like language, you can write your markup in your JavaScript code, so everything is one place, and the code completion works better.

Testing

React uses Jest (sometimes together with Enzyme – JavaScript testing utility). Jest has a powerful mocking library, doesn’t require any configuration and is included in every React project.

Angular uses Jasmine, which outcome is considered by many as one of the hardest to read and too complicated.

What’s next?

If you are still not sure about choosing between React and Angular

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