Angular vs React: A Detailed Comparison

Aleksandra Velickovic

May 22, 2024

Which JavaScript framework do you prefer as a web developer – Angular or React? Both certainly have their pros and cons when it comes to building dynamic web apps. Capaciteam compares Angular vs React side-by-side, looking at performance, learning curves, project size suitability, and more. We also discuss key differences in architecture and approach.

Read on to discover whether Angular or React is best for your needs. This comprehensive comparison will teach you how to pick the framework that aligns with your goals and skills.

Introduction to Angular and React

Angular and React are two of the most popular front-end frameworks. Angular is a framework created by Google, while React is a library created by Meta. Both aim to update and render components in web applications efficiently.

What is Angular?

Angular is a JavaScript framework developed by Google to build web applications. Released in 2016, Angular (also called Angular 2+) aims to simplify web development and make building interactive web apps easy.

Main features:

  • Component-based. Angular apps are built using components – each component has its own logic and view.
  • Dependency injection. Angular has a built-in dependency injection system, making it easy to use and share components across an application.
  • Templates. Angular uses HTML templates with extensions to clearly define component views.
  • Change detection. Angular’s change detection checks for component modifications and only updates what’s necessary. This makes Angular very performant.
  • Modular. Angular apps are modular and easy to scale.

Many large tech companies use Angular for front-end development, including Google, Wix, and UpWork.

Angular uses templates, dependency injection, and reactive programming. It has its own templating language and syntax. An Angular app contains components that have an HTML template and TypeScript code. For example:

<h1>Hello {{name}}!</h1>
@Component({
  selector: 'hello',
  template: '<h1>Hello {{name}}!</h1>' 
})
export class HelloComponent {
  name = 'John';
}

Angular development uses services and dependency injection to separate business logic from components. It has a steeper learning curve but leads to structured testable apps.

What is React?

React is another popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces. Created by a Meta software engineer and released in 2013, React makes it easy to build interactive UIs and render changes efficiently.

Main features:

  • Components: React apps are made of independent, reusable components that encapsulate their state and logic.
  • JSX: React uses JSX, a syntax that embeds JavaScript expressions within HTML-like text to define components.
  • Virtual DOM: React keeps a lightweight representation of the actual DOM in memory and only updates specific parts of the real DOM when needed. This makes React fast and efficient.
  • Unidirectional data flow: The state in React flows in one direction down from parent to child components. This makes the logic easier to follow and debug.

React is used by companies like Meta, Netflix, and PayPal for their front-end development.

As React uses components and a virtual DOM, it focuses on the view layer and uses JSX, a syntax extension to JavaScript. For example:

const Hello = () => <h1>Hello {name}!</h1> 
const name = 'John';
<Hello /> // Renders <h1>Hello John!</h1>

React development has a shallow learning curve and is flexible and modular. However, you have to choose your own architecture and tools. React is also well-suited for developing interactive UIs.

Architecture: How Angular and React Work

Angular and React are both front-end JavaScript frameworks for building web applications. However, their architectures differ significantly.

Angular is a full-fledged framework with built-in features like routing, form validation and dependency injection. It has a steeper learning curve but provides more out-of-the-box functionality.

Angular uses TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript that compiles to regular JavaScript. Components, the building blocks of Angular apps, contain templates, logic and styles. The framework handles a lot of the wiring between components for you.

<app-root>
  <app-header></app-header>
</app-root>

React is more of a library than a complete framework. It focuses solely on the view layer and leaves features like routing and form validation to third-party libraries. This makes it more flexible but requires more manual setup.

React uses regular JavaScript and JSX, an HTML-like syntax. Components are created using JSX and contain JavaScript logic and styles. React provides more flexibility in wiring components together.

const App = () => {
  return <Header /> 
}

Component-based architecture

Angular and React are component-based frameworks that allow you to build encapsulated, reusable UI elements. In Angular, components are called directives while they’re called components in React. Either way, they serve the same purpose – allowing you to split the UI into independent, isolated pieces and compose them together.

Declarative style

Angular and React both use a declarative, component-based style. Instead of manipulating the DOM directly, you define components in a declarative way and the frameworks take care of rendering them efficiently. This results in simpler, more maintainable code.

Data binding

Data binding refers to the automatic data synchronisation between the UI and the component logic. In Angular, two-way data binding is used, so if you update the data in the component, the view updates automatically and vice versa. React uses one-way data binding, where the component state flows down to the child components.

Virtual DOM

Angular vs React – both use a virtual DOM that represents the real DOM. This allows you to sync your UI with the component data efficiently. When the data changes, the entire UI is not re-rendered. Instead, the virtual DOM calculates the difference and updates only what has changed.

Performance: Speed and Optimization

Performance-wise, both Angular and React are fast, but in different ways.

Rendering

Angular uses a template-driven approach for rendering UI. The templates are parsed and rendered on the server, and the initial HTML is sent to the browser. This makes the initial load faster. React, on the other hand, renders UI on the client side. It has to build the virtual DOM from scratch, which makes the initial load a bit slower.

However, React’s virtual DOM algorithm is very optimised. It only updates components that changed, skipping the unmodified ones. This makes updating the UI extremely fast. Angular also has a few optimisation techniques like change detection to make updates efficient, but they are not as advanced as React’s algorithm.

Bundle size

Angular applications tend to have a larger bundle size because the framework has many built-in features.

React is more lightweight since it focuses on rendering UI and leaves other features up to the developer. This results in smaller bundle sizes and faster load times.

Rendering large lists and tables

Both frameworks handle rendering large datasets well, but React has a slight advantage here due to its virtual DOM implementation. When a list changes, React will re-render only the items that were added/removed, leaving the rest as is.

On the other hand, Angular will re-render the entire list/table, which can impact performance for large datasets. There are a few optimisation techniques you can use, but out of the box, React handles this use case better.

In summary, while both Angular and React are fast and optimized, React has a slight performance advantage for most use cases due to its lightweight nature and advanced rendering algorithm. However, Angular may load faster initially due to server-side rendering. Since the performance differences would be minor for most applications, our suggestion would be to choose a framework based on other factors like features, syntax, and ecosystem.

Learning Curve: Angular vs React for Beginners

Angular

Angular has a steeper learning curve for beginners. It has a more complex setup, with concepts like modules, components, services, dependency injection, and pipes. The Angular CLI makes it easier to get started, but there are still many concepts to understand.

For example, here’s a simple Hello World component in Angular:

import { Component } from '@angular/core';

@Component({
  selector: 'hello-world',
  template: '<h1>Hello {{name}}!</h1>'
})
export class HelloWorldComponent {
  name = 'World';
}

You need to understand decorators, imports, and Angular’s syntax.

Angular uses TypeScript, which adds another layer of complexity. TypeScript is a typed superset of JavaScript, so you should learn its type system and syntax.

Overall, expect a steep learning curve with Angular, but it can be quite rewarding once you master it.

React

React has a gentler learning curve that is more beginner-friendly. The main concepts are state, props, components, and JSX.

Here’s a simple Hello World component in React:

const HelloWorld = () => {
  const name = 'World';
  return <h1>Hello {name}!</h1>  
}

The syntax is quite simple and similar to HTML. You don’t need to worry about modules, services or dependency injection.

React also uses JavaScript, so the barrier to entry is lower if you already know JS. The JSX syntax is easy to pick up and feels natural for HTML devs.

Overall, React has a shallow learning curve that lets you start building UIs quickly. You can then gradually learn more advanced concepts.

Getting started

With React, you can simply include a few script tags in your HTML and start writing components using JSX. Angular requires you to set up an entire project using the Angular CLI, which has a few more steps to get up and running.

React probably has an overall advantage if you want to build an app quickly. However, Angular’s steeper learning curve means that once you become proficient, you can access more advanced features and best practices for building large-scale applications.

As a developer, choose the framework that aligns with your needs, experience, and tech stack. While the learning curve is steeper for one, the long-term benefits may be greater for complex projects. If in doubt, you can’t go wrong learning both!

Community and Resources: Support Available

When choosing a framework, the community and available resources are critical factors. There are plenty of resources and a large community behind Angular since it is backed by Google. The Angular team regularly releases updates, hosts live streams, and publishes helpful content on their blog and docs site. There are also many video tutorials and code samples to help you learn.

If you get stuck, search Stack Overflow or post a question on the Angular subreddit. Chances are, other developers have run into similar issues. The Angular CLI simplifies generating components, services, pipes and more. There are also third-party libraries to simplify common tasks.

ng generate component my-component

React also has an extremely active community and ecosystem. The React docs are comprehensive and up-to-date. If you have a question, you can search the React subreddit or Stack Overflow, where React questions are very common. Conferences like React Conf highlight the latest tools and techniques.

React’s popularity has led to thousands of open-source React libraries and tools. Need form validation? Use Formik. Need state management? Use Redux. The options are nearly endless.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with either Angular or React in terms of community and resources. As front-end frameworks, they both have:

  • Huge ecosystems of open-source libraries
  • Active communities for asking questions
  • Great documentation and learning resources
  • Backing from major tech companies (Google/Facebook)

Popularity and Job Market: Which Is More in Demand?

When it comes to front-end frameworks, React and Angular are undoubtedly two of the most popular. But which offers more jobs and opportunities?

React’s popularity

React is currently the most popular frontend framework, used by over 14 million websites. React’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with stacks like MERN (Mongo, Express, React, Node) gaining traction.

React’s simplicity, flexibility, and steep learning curve have fueled its popularity. There are over 16,000 React jobs on Indeed and growing.

Angular’s steadiness

While not as popular as React, Angular is used by over 900,000 websites, including Google, Wix, and Forbes. Angular has been around longer, releasing version 1 in 2010 and the latest version, Angular 17, earlier this year.

Due to its robustness, Angular tends to be the choice for larger, enterprise applications. There are over 15,000 Angular jobs on Indeed, though growth is slower than React’s.

Salaries are very competitive

Salaries for Angular and React developers are very competitive. According to Glassdoor, the average pay for an Angular developer in the U.S. is over $110,000 per year. React developer salaries are similar, at around $118,000 on average.

Both skills provide job stability

Having skills in either framework provides good job stability as a developer due to their popularity and demand. As technology is constantly changing, developers need to keep their skills up-to-date with the latest version releases, best practices, and tools.

While React may have more popularity and jobs, Angular is still actively used and continues to release updates. Job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor show tens of thousands of openings for Angular and React developers worldwide.

Also read: Highest Paying Tech Jobs in 2023

Code Examples and Syntax: React vs Angular

Angular and React have very different syntaxes. Angular uses TypeScript, an object-oriented language, while React uses JSX, an extension of ECMAScript 6 JavaScript.

Components

In Angular, you define components using @Component decorator:

@Component({
  selector: 'app-root',
  template: '<h1>{{title}}</h1>'
})
export class AppComponent {
  title = 'Hello World!'; 
}

In React, you define components using a function or class:

function Hello() {
  return <h1>Hello world!</h1>; 
}

Data binding

In Angular, you use double curly braces {{ }} for interpolation:

<h1>{{title}}</h1> 

In React, you use JSX for interpolation:

<h1>{this.props.title}</h1>

Directives

Angular has built-in directives like *ngFor for looping:

<li *ngFor="let item of items">{{item}}</li>

React uses JSX for looping:

{items.map(item => <li>{item}</li>)}

Services

In Angular, you define services to encapsulate business logic:

@Injectable({
  providedIn: 'root'
})
export class DataService {
  constructor() { }
}

While in React, you write helper functions to encapsulate logic.

Angular and React are both excellent for building web apps but each has different syntaxes and styles. Choose the one that matches your preferences and skills!

Angular vs React = Dependency Injection vs. Context API

Both Angular and React offer mechanisms for managing dependencies within components, but they approach it differently:

1. Dependency Injection (Angular):

  • Concept: Injects dependencies into components and services. This separates concerns and promotes loose coupling, making code more maintainable and testable.
  • Mechanism:
    • Dependencies are defined as providers in modules.
    • The @Injectable decorator marks a service as injectable.
    • Components inject dependencies through their constructor arguments.
  • Example:

TypeScript

@Component({
  selector: 'app-user-profile',
  templateUrl: './user-profile.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./user-profile.component.css']
})
export class UserProfileComponent {
  constructor(private userService: UserService) {}

  ngOnInit() {
    this.userService.getUser().subscribe(user => {
      this.user = user;
    });
  }
}

@Injectable({
  providedIn: 'root'
})
export class UserService {
  getUser() {
    // Simulates fetching user data
    return of({ name: 'John Doe', email: 'john.doe@example.com' });
  }
}

2. Context API (React):

  • Concept: Provides a way to share data across components without explicitly passing props through every level of the component hierarchy.
  • Mechanism:
    • Create a context using React.createContext.
    • Wrap your application or a specific part in the context provider, defining the value to be shared.
    • Consumer components can access the context value using the useContext hook.
  • Example:

JavaScript

const ThemeContext = React.createContext('light');

function App() {
  const [theme, setTheme] = useState('light');

  const toggleTheme = () => setTheme(theme === 'light' ? 'dark' : 'light');

  return (
    <ThemeContext.Provider value={{ theme, toggleTheme }}>
      <Content />
    </ThemeContext.Provider>
  );
}

function Content() {
  const { theme, toggleTheme } = useContext(ThemeContext);
  return (
    <div style={{ backgroundColor: theme === 'light' ? 'white' : 'black' }}>
      <button onClick={toggleTheme}>Toggle Theme</button>
    </div>
  );
}

Key differences between Angular and React

  • Scope. Angular’s dependency injection is primarily used for component dependencies and service interactions. React’s context API can be used for sharing data across any level of the component tree.
  • Control. Angular provides more control over dependency providers (singleton, per component, etc.). React’s context relies on the context provider’s location for accessibility.
  • Complexity. Angular’s approach might have a steeper learning curve due to its decorators and providers. React’s context API is simpler to understand.

Placement: Angular vs React

  • Angular: Dependencies are typically injected in the component constructor or lifecycle hooks (e.g., ngOnInit). Providers are defined in modules.
  • React: The context provider component should wrap the part of the application where child components need to access the context value. Ideally, place it at a high level in the component hierarchy to maximize accessibility.

Which Is Better for Web Apps: Angular vs React

Both are great for building web applications, but each has strengths and weaknesses. Let’s compare them to see the better option for your next web development project.

React may be a good choice if you want a lightweight, flexible library focused on the view layer. It has a small API surface area and a shallow learning curve, allowing you to get up and running quickly. React also excels at handling complex UIs and building reusable components. However, it only handles the view layer, so you’ll need to choose other libraries for state management, routing, etc.

On the other hand, Angular is a full-featured framework with batteries included. It provides opinions on architecture and comes with routing, forms, testing, and state management built-in. This can help you build robust, enterprise-level apps efficiently. However, Angular has a steeper learning curve and larger file sizes. It may feel too prescriptive or “magical” for some developers.

Other factors to weigh:

Do you prefer TypeScript (Angular) or JavaScript (React)?Both support TypeScript, but Angular fully embraces it.
How experienced is your team with either framework?Choose what will allow your team to be the most productive.
Do you need server-side rendering?Both frameworks support it, but React may have an edge here.
What existing code do you have?If you have a large AngularJS codebase, Angular is probably your best choice for migration. If you have React code, stick with React.
How complex is your app?React can work well for both simple and sophisticated apps, while Angular shines for enterprise-level apps.
How much control do you want over architecture?React is less opinionated, giving you more flexibility, and more responsibility. Angular provides more guidance.

FAQs: Angular vs React

As a developer, you likely have a few leftover burning questions about Angular and React. Let’s dig into some of the most frequently asked ones.

What language is Angular written in?

Angular is written in TypeScript, which is a superset of JavaScript. TypeScript adds static typing and class-based object-oriented programming to standard JS.

What language is React written in?

React is written in JavaScript, specifically ES6. React embraces the fact that JavaScript is evolving, and builds on the latest JS features.

Is Angular or React better for mobile apps?

Both Angular and React work well for mobile app development. However, React may have a slight edge here as it renders UI very efficiently and is often used with React Native to build native iOS and Android apps.

Which has a steeper learning curve?

React vs Angular: Angular generally has a steeper learning curve. It has a more robust set of built-in features, like routing, so there’s more to learn upfront. React, on the other hand, has a very shallow learning curve to get started since it only focuses on UI.

Can I use Angular and React together?

Yes, you absolutely can! A popular combination is using Angular as the main framework, and embedding React components where extremely fast UI rendering is needed. You can also use React for building mobile apps, and Angular for the web front-end.

Conclusion

There’s no clear winner at the end of this “Angular vs React” battle. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Angular offers more out-of-the-box functionality, while React is more flexible. Ultimately, it depends on your specific needs.

Consider the learning curve, features, community support and future trends. Do some prototyping in both and see which one clicks better with your development style. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong mastering either of these robust frameworks. And if you can’t be bothered with learning, there are IT consulting companies that can take care of it for you.