Angular vs. React: Key Differences and How to Choose

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Rafael Timbó
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Rafael Timbó
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Gain a deeper understanding of Angular and React for front-end development, including their benefits, limitations, and how to choose between the two.
Published on
December 18, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

Angular and React are widely used to develop dynamic, user-friendly web applications. React, introduced by Facebook in 2013, is a JavaScript library primarily used for constructing interactive user interfaces. Developers who favor React value its simplicity, flexibility, and efficiency. Its component-based architecture makes creating reusable elements for web and mobile applications easy.

Angular is a comprehensive, open-source JavaScript framework developed by Google. Launched in 2010 as AngularJS, it offers a comprehensive toolkit for building complex web applications. With a set of pre-defined standards and patterns, Angular’s design consistency, scalability, and productivity make it a go-to choice for enterprise-level applications. This guide will compare both options so you can determine whether to use Angular or React for your project. 

What Is Angular?

Angular was introduced in 2016 as a complete rewrite of the original AngularJS. Angular is written in TypeScript, a statically typed superset of JavaScript, which adds optional types, classes, and modules to the language, offering more control in large-scale applications.

Angular's architecture centers around components and modules. Components control views — HTML templates — and can communicate with other components to manage the application. Modules are a set of related components grouped together, creating a cohesive block of functionality. Angular uses a design pattern called two-way data binding, so the model and view are always in sync. It also features a powerful template system, comprehensive routing capabilities, dependency injection, and a suite of testing tools, making it a complete, full-featured framework for complex, large-scale applications.

Related: Hire Angular Developers

Benefits of Angular

Angular offers many tools, structures, and patterns out of the box, enabling developers to write clean, maintainable, and efficient code. The key advantages of Angular include: 

  • Comprehensive framework: Angular provides solutions for routing, state management, form handling, and more, eliminating the need for additional libraries.
  • TypeScript-based: TypeScript allows for static typing, auto-completion, advanced refactoring, and easier navigation in the code, leading to fewer runtime errors.
  • Two-way data binding: Angular's two-way data binding ensures the model and the view are always in sync. This allows for an intuitive and seamless user experience.
  • Component-based architecture: Its modular, component-based architecture makes components reusable, maintainable, and testable.
  • Dependency injection: Angular's efficient dependency injection system improves code modularity and reuse, increasing efficiency and reducing development time.
  • Ahead-of-time compilation: Angular's Ahead-of-Time (AoT) compiler converts your TypeScript and HTML into efficient JavaScript code during the build phase before the browser downloads and runs that code for faster browser rendering.

Limitations of Angular

While Angular is a full-fledged and comprehensive framework for building web applications, it’s not ideal for every project. Some of its limitations include:

  • Steep learning curve: Angular’s robustness includes concepts and tools that require time to learn and master, including TypeScript, decorators, modules, components, services, dependency injection, and pipes.
  • Slow performance: Angular applications can be slower than those developed with simpler libraries like React or Vue.js, especially for real-time applications requiring constant updates.
  • Verbose syntax: Compared to other libraries and frameworks, Angular's syntax is verbose and complicated, leading to longer development time.
  • Rigid structure: Angular is opinionated about how your application should be structured, which may not suit every developer's style or every project's needs.

What Is React?

React is much simpler than Angular, which is unsurprising given it was created primarily to develop user interfaces — particularly single-page React apps requiring fast, interactive user experiences. React is a library that relies on components for its lightweight reusability. A component is a reusable piece of the user interface, encapsulating its own logic and style. They’re like building blocks that can be used together to create complex UIs. 

React also introduced the virtual DOM (document object model), a lightweight copy of the actual DOM, to allow for efficient updates and rendering of components. Instead of making costly updates to the actual DOM, changes are made to the virtual DOM and then efficiently batched to the actual DOM. React can also be used for developing mobile applications with React Native.

Related: Hire React Developers

Benefits of React

React allows developers to use a fast, efficient library with the following benefits:

  • Component-based architecture: Components are reusable and self-contained pieces of code that improve readability and maintainability, making development more efficient and structured. It's one of the key features of React.
  • Virtual DOM: The Virtual DOM minimizes updates to the actual DOM, leading to more efficient updates and faster performance, especially for complex applications.
  • Flexibility: React gives more freedom in structuring your application than other frameworks, so React developers can use the tools and architectures that they prefer.
  • One-way data binding: Unidirectional data flow makes reasoning about the application's state and debugging issues easier.
  • Useful developer tools: React provides excellent tools for debugging and inspecting the component hierarchy.
  • Multi-platform: With React Native, you can build native mobile apps, reusing code between web and mobile platforms.

Limitations of React

While React is simple and flexible, it does have limitations that can impact its utility for certain projects, including:

  • Complexity: With React, you have to make choices about state management, routing, and other functionalities, which can be overwhelming, especially for less experienced developers.
  • Not a full framework: React is only a library, so it doesn’t have the full features of a framework like Angular. In the model-view-controller (MVC) architecture, it only handles the view aspect. 
  • Poor documentation: Due to the fast-paced updates and introduction of new tools, the documentation often lags, making it difficult to find the most current information.
  • Performance with large applications: While the virtual DOM improves performance in most cases, React can still struggle with very large and complex applications. Too many updates to the virtual DOM can lead to performance issues.

Key Differences

When you’re trying to decide whether you should use React or Angular, it can help to understand the key differences between their structure and performance. 

Purpose

React was designed to build highly interactive UIs for single-page applications. It was created to render large data lists efficiently and improve user experience by creating fast and interactive UIs. It's often used as the "V" (View) in an MVC (model-view-controller) architecture.

Angular was designed to be a comprehensive framework for building complex, large-scale web applications. It provides out-of-the-box solutions for routing, state management, form handling, and more, making it suitable for full front-end development.

Type

React is a JavaScript library that uses JSX syntax for HTML-like syntax in JavaScript. However, it also supports TypeScript, a statically typed superset of JavaScript, for those who prefer type safety. Angular also uses TypeScript, which brings static type-checking along with other features like decorators, interfaces, and generics. This helps prevent run-time errors and encourages cleaner and more maintainable code, especially for larger applications.

Performance

React uses a virtual DOM to optimize performance and minimize the steps needed to update the real DOM. This ensures high performance even for complex applications. Angular doesn’t use a virtual DOM and can be slower for applications that require constant and vast updates. However, Angular does implement change detection, and developers can optimize rendering with other strategies.

DOM 

As mentioned above, React uses a virtual DOM to update the UI, resulting in significant performance gains. Angular uses a regular DOM. Every time a component changes, Angular re-renders the entire component tree. While this can potentially lead to performance issues, Angular minimizes this through its change detection strategy and hierarchical dependency injection system.

Data Binding

React uses one-way data binding and an application state management library, such as Redux or MobX, to manage changes in an application's state, so it’s easy to trace the impact of changes within the application and facilitate debugging. Angular use two-way data binding, automatically synchronizing the model and the view. While this can make code shorter and easier to write, it can also potentially lead to more side effects, as changes in the child components can affect the parent components.

Dependency Injection

In React, dependency injection is not a built-in feature. Instead, dependencies are typically passed down through components via props. However, external libraries such as InversifyJS can be used to implement dependency injection if needed.

Angular has built-in dependency injection support, making it easier to develop, test, and manage large applications. It allows for reusing and sharing components throughout the application and improves code maintainability and readability. Dependencies can be injected into components, directives, pipes, and services.

Choosing React vs. Angular

Whether you choose Angular or React will depend on your project's specific needs and your development team's preferences. 

When to Choose Angular

You may want to go with Angular for the following: 

  • Large-scale, complex application
  • Projects where TypeScript is preferred 
  • Larger development teams that need to ensure everyone follows the same practices and code standards
  • Minimizing the need for third-party solutions through Angular’s built-in options
  • Using an MVVM (Model-View-View-Model) pattern for a clear separation between the graphical user interface and the business logic
  • Applications that require real-time synchronization between the model and the view, such as real-time form validation and display updates

When to Choose React

You may prefer React for the following: 

  • Fast prototyping with a minimal setup process
  • Component-based, high-performance applications
  • Progressive web apps (PWAs) 
  • Single-page applications
  • Projects where JavaScript is preferred over TypeScript
  • Projects with an existing codebase where you want to migrate a more robust view layer gradually
  • Mobile development

How Revelo Can Help With Front-End Development

Whether you're choosing Angular, React, or any other front-end technology, the success of your project largely depends on the skills and expertise of the developers behind it. Revelo can help you find top developers in any code stack. 

Our end-to-end tech talent platform lets you recruit, hire, and manage highly-skilled developers who have been rigorously vetted for both hard and soft skills as well as English proficiency. We handle administrative tasks like payroll, benefits administration, taxes, and local compliance, allowing you to focus on your core business operations. Contact us today to start building your world-class development team. 

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