ReactJS vs. AngularJS: A Comparison of JavaScript Giants

Initially released in 2009 by Google, Angular was one of the pioneers of the JavaScript frameworks movement. Thanks to the lack of real competitors and new innovative solutions Angular became the go-to option for all developers. In 2013, Facebook developed and released React, which took most of the attention in 2015 as the most popular framework for front-end application development. With the launch of AngularJS 2.0 this year, Google is trying to beat the trending React.js and take back it’s championship belt. Clearly both React and Angular have their pros and cons. These web applications are simple to use and offer big potential for building amazing mobile and web applications. Of course, they have their differences as well. So here comes the main question for this article is simply “which one is better?”

Before proceeding to the comparison let’s take a quick look at the features of each of frameworks.

Now let’s take a look at the insides, features, advantages and drawbacks of both JavaScript giants, and understand which framework you should use as a developer and as a businessman.
Google Presents: AngularJS.
AngularJS is a complete JavaScript framework that has everything for setting up the client-side of a website. Like all other frameworks, it gives developers a standardized programming pattern that helps to facilitate the web development process.
Angular became popular and revolutionized the market thanks to its ability to solve many problems associated  with building single page applications.
Take a look at some of the advantages of AngularJS:

  • Angular directives 
  • On-board form validation
  • Dependency injection
  • A solid templating engine
  • Two-way data binding
By extending HTML with directives AngularJS can manipulate the Document Object Model (DOM), and because of two-way data binding, all changes to the front-side are also reflected in the back-end and vice versa. Thanks to these, a majority of the programming overhead is reduced and the development time can be significantly reduced. In the current market, Angular is the best solution for handling data binding.
However, one of the cons of two-data binding and AngularJS is difficulties while working with large data like blocks of images or searching a heavy content. This is where React comes ahead.
AngularJS 2 has brought many new features and advantages to the framework. Continue reading to see the benefits of AngularJS.

  1. Decision Making - Despite having a harder learning curve, AngularJS provides a lot of new functionality and does not burden you with making decisions.
  2. Component structure - AngularJS 2 looks more like a platform now than a framework, and developers can easily use its components with implementing other frameworks.
  3. Developing environment - AngularJS development services can be done in any environment. Choose whatever you like!
  4. Testing in AngularJS vs. ReactJS - AngularJS was created to make testing easy, and has a major  advantage in this sphere. 
ReactJS, presented by Facebook.
ReactJS is an open-source JavaScript library for rendering views. In comparison to AngularJS, which is a full framework that provides the model, view and controller; React is a library. It uses one-way data binding and only caters only to the view, but with special interactions it can have an enormous advantage over competitors in terms of performance.
Now let’s take a look at the key differences of React.js that help define and differentiate the framework  among competitors.

The Virtual DOM
While Angular was manipulating the DOM directly, React has a completely different approach to this question; it stores 2 copies a Virtual DOM. The first copy is the original; the second one is the updated version, which reflects the changes done from the client side. Both of these versions are run through a function called React  that singles out all the differences between two versions and completes several DOM operations to modify only the fragments of the view that actually altered. This is how the magic of React is done, thus saving lots of time and resources.

JSX Files
JSX is syntax close to HTML, which compiles JavaScript. Having HTML and JavaScript codes separate is a rule of thumb for most modern developers, but JSX files go against this tendency. This means that, in contrast to AngularJS, you get a helping hand while typing your code.
Nevertheless  it’s optional, and developers can choose their own style of coding. If you prefer traditional programming paradigms, let it be so!

Server-Side Rendering

Another feature of ReactJS that goes against newest trends in development is Server-side. While web developers prefer to leave  the rendering jobs to the browser, React can be rendered both on the client and on the server, providing more flexibility in coding. Server-Side Rendering was mostly created to support the Virtual DOM and speed up all of the processes in it.

React Native
Generally, when building applications for mobile devices using JavaScript, developers have to rely on cross-platform frameworks like Cordova or Ionic. Of course, these frameworks speed up the development time, but they can never work as well as a native app. ReactJS comes with a native framework that enables one to create components for native widgets. No single JavaScript application can be as fast as a native application, but React Native can deliver the smoothest non-native experience yet.

Moreover, ReactJS Native is much more focused on user interface and provides users with a highly responsive interface.

Size Matters
Another big difference between Angular2 and React is their size. As mentioned previously, Angular is easier to start and comes with many different implemented libraries. React needs to be filled with several add-ons before you can start working with it, anyway, even with all of the suggested libraries, React is much smaller, than AngularJS. 

According to Restuta Angular’s minified version is 566K, while React with libraries is 144K.

SEO friendliness
SEO specialists were in tears when JavaScript frameworks came into play. Through the years Google became much better at crawling JavaScript content, but there is still a lot to wish for. There are many options for making AngularJS applications SEO friendly, but ReactJS still comes ahead. ReactJS can be run on the server, and the virtual DOM will be in a browser just as a regular web page and doesn’t need any other tricks!

Conclusion for the battle between AngularJS & ReactJS
When Should You Use React?
React wins when you have a lot of dynamic content and a lot of changes are to be done on the front-end. Unlike most client-side frameworks on the Internet that that struggle with rendering large data, ReactJS is at its best. This is why many dynamic websites like Facebook and Instagram choose ReactJS (Not forgetting the fact that Facebook owns Instagram and React, though).

Thanks to the amazing community of React.js developers, each day more and more add-ons and libraries are created to empower the development process. React can also be used as a library for AngularJS.
Why You Should Use Angular JS.
Lowering development time is a major struggle for both developers and businesses. It can decrease costs and help a company to  grow faster. If this is what matters to you most, Angular JS is all you need.  
With the release of Angular 2.0 on May 2, 2016, fans of AngularJS received another reason to love their framework even more. AngularJS 2.0 had a huge performance boost compared to its predecessor. It includes server-side rendering and now has the option to use one-way data binding as React. Now AngularJS can also manipulate only the exact parts of the DOM that need to be changed. This way Google has eliminated one of the main disadvantages of their framework. Angular 2 was more of a rework than an update. So if you are thinking of installing  the 2nd generation of this framework, you will still have to learn how the new version works.

Now you surely have a much better understanding of how frameworks work and which are their pros and cons. So, here is what I would recommend about the both frameworks.

Chose ReactJS when
  • You are developing a mobile application
  • Your web app has lots of data
  • SEO is a priority
Choose Angular as it is;
  • Faster in development
  • Easier to start
  • Has more reliable testing
Last but not the least; let’s take a look at some of the websites that use our frameworks:

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