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When is AngularJS Superior to jQuery?

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One of the most common questions asked by neophyte web developers is “Which framework should I use?” While there is no one ‘right’ answer to this question, a common subject of discussion is the differences between AngularJS and jQuery. While in some respects comparing the two is akin to comparing apples and oranges, there are undoubtedly reasons to choose one web framework over the other as the primary implementation target for a web application’s front-end. Below we will look at a few scenarios where AngularJS is a superior choice to jQuery.

When DOM Manipulation Isn’t a Priority

jQuery is highly focused on DOM scanning and manipulation for achieving its goals. A common practice is adding and modifying DOM elements based upon user interactions, such as presenting the results of a query retrieved over AJAX by simply placing pre-rendered HTML into an existing DIV. With AngularJS, the focus of development is on the data presentation itself. Through use of two-way data binding, these kinds of updates can be achieved automatically without destroying and rebuilding the DOM. It may not be entirely possible to avoid DOM manipulation, but on average you will be doing less of it with AngularJS than you would with a pure jQuery implementation.

When Focused on Productivity

AngularJS, despite having a steep learning curve, has a high focus on the productivity of its developers. Many of the features of AngularJS are focused on increasing developer throughput. One example is extensive support for unit testing built-in to the framework. This focus on testing allows developers to focus on processes that produce more robust and dependable code by easing the development of unit tests. Additionally, by decoupling the DOM manipulation from the logic of the application, developers can focus on the “why” rather than the “how”. On average, this results in a smaller code base with improved stability and easier debugging.

When Taking Advantage of a Declarative Interface

One of the common issues with jQuery is that it takes an imperative approach to programming. In essence, it is telling the computer how to achieve a certain goal, and what you want is the result of that process. Declarative programming, on the other hand, switches the focus – it tells the machine what you want, and lets it figure out how to make that happen. JavaScript in general is designed with an imperative approach in mind, while HTML – and the directives that AngularJS add to it – is designed to be declarative. By working in AngularJS, you end up using a declarative approach that more closely matches the original intention of HTML – telling the computer what you want the presentation to look like, and then letting the computer handle the details. With this approach, the lines of code required to accomplish a specific task are often greatly reduced, resulting in more readable and maintainable code.


As mentioned above, comparing AngularJS and jQuery is in many ways comparing apples and oranges. The two frameworks were created with different goals in mind, and solve separate problems. That being said, there are many gains to be made in terms of programmer throughput for a certain subset of applications that focus on data presentation and manipulation as opposed to data analysis, and in that realm AngularJS has a large advantage over jQuery. Ultimately choosing a framework comes down to a number of factors related to your organizational strengths and the core competencies of the tool itself, but in many ways AngularJS is an excellent choice for enhancing developer throughput and reducing maintenance costs for your web application.

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Published at DZone with permission of Itay Herskovits, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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