Differences Between React and Angular

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Differences Between React and Angular

Looking for a new tool to help develop your web applications? Read on for a comparison of two of the most popular, React and Angular.

· Web Dev Zone ·
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Being a web developer, one must evolve with the trends in technology. Sticking to one for too long OR shifting too frequently could do more harm than good.

When you choose something new to start development on, you must know, like really know, why you should choose it, what it can do for you, the limitations, pros and cons, everything.

To this end, I am going to talk about React and Angular. Two very popular front-end development tools.

If you are a front-end developer, then you already know this; if not, let me tell you what the term means.

Front-end development revolves around anything you create that the users of that specific app see. To put it plainly, it is everything to do with the UI of the app.

There are three major elements of concern:

  • HTML: Used to build the structure of your web page.

  • CSS: Used to format the appearance of different structural elements.

  • JavaScript: A programming language used to describe the functionality and handle all the dynamic elements on the web page.

These are the very basic fundamentals of front-end app development.

So how do Angular, a framework, and React, a library, compare with each other?

Let’s break down the terms framework and library first.

What Is a Framework?

A software framework (be it front-end or backend) includes standardized, pre-written code, which makes the development of certain functionalities easier and faster. You have less freedom to code, as you have to code as the framework architecture dictates.

What Is a Library?

A library is a collection of functions and functionalities, which you can use to achieve a certain end. You have more freedom to design and construct the system when using a library, but that adds more responsibility on the coder to be able to use it efficiently and find the right library for the right job, because, for projects which need to grow over time and become more serious, this could become significantly riskier and more difficult to manage.

The most significant difference between a framework and a library is how they interact with your code.

Your code calls the library while the framework calls your code.

This is also known as Inversion of Control. The litmus test for detecting a framework is checking if it has the Inversion of Control.

Now that we're clear on this – let’s get to the point.


Angular is a TypeScript-based, open-source front-end web application platform. It is an MVC framework created by Google. MVC is an architecture type for frameworks that develop user interfaces. It translates to Model View Controller.

Angular is a giant when it comes to creating dynamic web apps. In its release of Angular 5, Google added support for progressive web apps as well.

You must have noticed I did not use the word AngularJS. That is so because, as of September 14, 2016, our Angular pals at Google released Angular 2, which is a complete rewrite of the previous AngularJS versions.

So the versions below Angular 2 are called AngularJS and versions above are called Angular 2, 4, 5 or simply Angular.


React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. Created by Facebook, Instagram, and the community, React is evolving at an impressively increasing rate. Outside of the pure React library itself, there are 3 distinct versions of React: React-devtools, ReactJS.Net, React Native. Other than React itself, React Native is pretty popular as well for creating Native mobile apps. If you are interested, you can check out the pros and cons of React Native.

React does fall a little short, being a JS library, but, when combined with other libraries, you get a powerful solution to any problem. This is also why React has earned its place as one of the main competitors of Angular. 

The Major Differences Between React and Angular

Data Binding

Angular allows two-way data binding while React allows one-way data binding.

Two-way data binding means that any changes you make to the model affect the view, and vice versa.

One-way data binding means any changes you make to the model affect the view, but not the other way around. This way, the data only flows in one direction.

These are also called Bidirectional and Unidirectional data flows, respectively.

DOM Usage

DOM is the Data Object Model of a web app. You can either use a regular DOM or create a virtual DOM.

Angular uses the browser's DOM, while React uses a virtual DOM.

A virtual DOM is a simplified version of the DOM. By using a virtual DOM, you can change any element very quickly and without needing to render the whole DOM. It drastically changes the performance from good to excellent.

Imagine the difference in performance in needing to render all 100 items when just a single item is changed, then just rendering a single changed item and not rendering the rest.

Using the virtual DOM is quite the buzz nowadays because it is faster, and speed is key!


Angularis a JS framework by nature, but is built to use TypeScript. React, on the other hand, is a JavaScript library as well, but recommends using JSX.

The difference lies here: TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript while JSX is Javascript but with extended XML syntax.

If you want the best of Angular or React, you must learn to use TypeScript or JSX, which brings me to my next point.

The creators of JSX claim it's faster, safer, and easier than JS

Learning Curve

This will differ from individual to individual based on skill and experience. On average, TypeScript is considered harder to learn than JSX, in turn increasing the learning curve with Angular as compared to React.

If you already are familiar with JavaScript, then learning to work with React will not be much of a hurdle, but learning Angular, even with some familiarity with JavaScript, will still be a bit of a strain.

Native Application Development Support

As I mentioned earlier, React has a sibling by the name of React Native, which allows you to build a complete mobile app for either Android or iOS. Not a web app that runs on a mobile phone, but a full-fledged mobile app built with JavaScript.

Sure, with Angular you can build hybrid mobile apps, but let's be fair, a native mobile app will always outdo a hybrid mobile app.

Not only do the React Native apps show increased performance, but they feel and work very similarly to the respective native mobile platforms.

App Structure

Angular is a fully-featured MVC framework. React is just more of a 'V' in the MVC.

Angular's MVC structure allows applications to be divided into three interconnected components, thus they are easier to manipulate, once learned.

MVC architectures produce well-structured code which is immensely beneficial for complex projects.

However, React does not enforce an app structure by itself, it depends on the developer. This, for some, could be great or could be their Achilles heel.

There are other differences as well, but I think these are the very basic differences in React and Angular.

Now that you know the major differences in Angular and React, let’s find out what to use and when.

React is pretty much ideal for logicless applications or computation-less apps. In cases where you need a custom solution, React will best suit your needs because, with React, you can build almost anything.

Especially if you are building:

  • Dynamic Applications: React will be a great choice because it uses a virtual DOM. It can quickly incorporate and "react" to the data changes made in the view by the users.

  • Single Page Apps: React will be a great solution because it can display all changes made to the content without reloading the current page.

  • Native Mobile Apps: If you wish to create a native mobile app, there is nothing better than React Native. You will be creating apps written in JavaScript with equal performance and feel of apps created in Java or Objective-C. Angular is ideal if you have a large application and you need strict code structure and base.

Angular is best for creating:

  • Cross-platform Mobile Apps: Angular 2 has great support for mobile apps, as it was created for that very purpose. It addresses limiting factors such as navigation via touch, different screen sizes, and mobile hardware.

  • Enterprise Software: Because Angular uses an MVC architecture, it is great for creating enterprise level apps.

  • Progressive Web Apps and Hybrid Mobile Apps: Angular 2, in combination with Ionic 2, is a perfect tool for building hybrid apps. The same technology stack can be used for progressive web app development. Angular 2 (and up) comes with a mobile toolkit which makes developing mobile apps extremely easy and quick.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about Angular, check out our compendium of tutorials and articles from JS to 8.   

angular ,front-end development ,react.js ,web dev ,web development frameworks

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