Being a product engineering firm, we start a new project every other week. Most projects involve one Web interface or the other. With the ever changing landscape of Web development tools and trends, it becomes a daunting task to determine the stack we could use for Web Development. However, at least for the past few years, two competing Web development tools from two real world competitors are sharing the limelight to become numero uno. The first one is the Google-backed Angular and the second one is the Facebook-backed ReactJS.
Yes, there are other players who are trying to be in the limelight as well. But, we shall limit the scope of this discussion to the top two.
To start with, comparing Angular and ReactJS is an apples to oranges comparison since the former is an end-to-end framework and the latter is just a view library. But over the years, each one of them have been able to command an active ecosystem around them. So, comparing them is not about the individual parts but the ecosystem on the whole.
– Full fledged E2E framework. Opinionated code structuring (MVVM) makes it easy to maintain large codebases.
– Out of the box Server Side rendering.
– Shadow DOM implementation provides better component encapsulation and reuse.
– Typescript is the lingua franca of Angular, bringing with it all the benefits of an compiled language like type safety and compile (transpilation in this case) time error detection.
– Decent documentation.
– Even after massive performance improvements, it still struggles to render complex pages. Especially, if server side rendering has not been used.
– Seemingly quicker version upgrade cycles leading to lesser and lesser community support.
– The virtual DOM implementation can handle complex pages with elan even if the server side rendering is not used.
– Unopinionated and is flexible enough to be plugged wherever required.
– Excellent community support.
– A relatively huger list of off-the-shelf components and libraries (UI Frameworks, State management frameworks, Middlewares, etc) to make development faster.
– Granular lifecycle methods which can ease the development in complex scenarios.
– React Components clearly separates static parameters (props) and states which makes maintenance and readability easier in the long run.
– Being a view-only framework, it needs the support of other frameworks like Redux for large applications.
– Poor official documentation.
The preceding view points are based on the numerous projects where we had the opportunity to implement either Angular or ReactJS based Web Applications. Let’s go back to the first question on choice of Web Development tool. Considering the current state of Angular and ReactJS, the ecosystem of choice would definitely be ReactJS because it has all the bells and whistles as Angular. ReactJS also comes with the flexibility to satisfy most of the demands of an application.
However, it has to be noted that the numero uno position is temporary. Both of them are evolving and inspiring each other at a rate greater than a typical project lifecycle. Until something revolutionary comes in, ReactJS is the clear choice for development.