React vs Angular – What Is The Difference?

React and Angular are both two of the premier web development tools for anyone working within the JavaScript ecosystem. These are very different in how they work but can be used to do similar things (although React is more focused on UI design). With either of these, you can create everything from a landing page for your local business to enterprise-grade websites for international firms.

So, React vs Angular- what is the difference? React is a JavaScript library initially developed by Facebook, and it uses a component-based architecture for ease of maintenance. Angular is a full-fledged web development framework developed by Google, an evolution of AngularJS with features such as dependency injection and two-way data binding.

React has unidirectional data binding for easier maintenance and debugging as your code scales up. It’s certainly better suited to handling interactive pages that update frequently due to its virtual DOM design which updates parts of the DOM rather than refreshing it entirely. Angular is a framework so it comes with ready-to-use solutions, and is ideal for single-page applications.

Here’s a table comparing the major differences between React and Angular

What It IsJavaScript library for UI development on the frontend, optimized for reusability and ease of maintenanceA component-based web development framework that uses TypeScript
Made ByJordan Walke, an engineer at Facebook (now Meta) in 2011The Angular Team at Google, who built upon the work of Misko Hevery (creator of AngularJS)
UsageCreating highly customizable UI for any web app or page whose data is frequently updatedNormally employed for enterprise-scale single page applications where the frontend doesn’t update too frequently
PerformanceExcellent, thanks to the use of a Virtual DOMPretty good, but slower than Angular because its larger and uses a real DOM
Data BindingOne-way data binding with direct linking of states to the UITwo-way data binding at object or property level
Ease Of LearningSimpler, since most people familiar with declarative programming concepts and JavaScript can start using it right awaySlightly harder since you need experience with components, props, internal states, configuration, etc.
FlexibilityIts design as a library lets you use React in combination with other libraries like Redux or Flux to create highly customizable appsNot as flexible, since components are tied to frameworks and code is embedded within HTML
Community SupportReact is far more popular on Github and has a higher number of packages available for it via NPMLess popular with developers, and has fewer external packages but you’ll still find plenty of guides and documentation

History of React

React was originally created in 2011 by Jordan Walke, an engineer at Facebook. He took inspiration from XHP, which is a PHP extension that lets it understand XML document fragments. The desire for a new UI library came when Facebook Ads gained a ton of users and the code became incrementally harder to maintain with each update.

Because of its component-based design and unidirectional data flow, React is easy to maintain. And you can scale your project with fewer debugging issues down the line. Plus, you can use React in combination with external libraries such as Material UI, Ant Design, React Router, etc. which add features and prebuilt components to speed up your design.

Facebook (now Meta) released React into the public domain in 2013. Over time, ReactJS formed the basis for a framework known as React Native (which went open source in 2015). It allows developers to create apps for Android and iOS that perform close to native level but using good old JavaScript. 

History of Angular

Angular is an evolution of “AngularJS” which was initially developed between 2009 and 2010 by Misko Hevery,  a Google engineer. He began working on AngularJS as a side project, intending to create a tool that would make it easier for him to develop web applications. Angular gets its name from the angled brackets that we often use in HTML, which is also indicative of its relation with markup.

The project went open source in 2010 and was used to build many interesting applications. Over time, big tech firms around the world started to get their hands on Angular at which point Google decided to take the next step. Around 2014, the entire AngularJS framework was rewritten from scratch to use new features of JavaScript and allow for the development of large-scale websites.

This is how we got Angular as it is known today. To clarify things, version 2 and beyond of AngularJS is simply known as Angular (or AngularJS version 2+). This giant shift came at a time when several companies were already tied to version 1 of Angular and found it difficult to upgrade their code.

Compounded with the lack of support from Google for an official migration plan and deprecation of 3rd party support, many developers were left hanging in the void. This is one of the reasons React gained popularity over Angular during the 2015/ 2016 time frame. Nevertheless, newer versions of Angular have been released since then and it’s a lot more stable/ user-friendly now.

Comparing Their Usage

If you’re working with progressive/ native single-page applications, Angular might be the better choice. Although, React can also handle single-page application UI really well. Angular and React are both quite good in the performance department, with differing approaches to DOM (one uses a virtual DOM while the other uses a shadow DOM).

Angular can be used to create everything from web to desktop apps while React is primarily a UI library. However, there is React Native (a framework based on React) if you wish to develop native apps for mobile platforms. 

Comparing How They Work

React is a library and doesn’t contain all of the additional functionality that Angular brings. It is not self-contained and requires you to work with several 3rd party packages. For instance, Angular handles routing which makes it easier to switch between views.

With React, you need the React Router library (you can also use hooks). Angular’s CLI lets you develop and maintain your project with a simple command shell. React is less opinionated, so it doesn’t force you to manage files and structures in a predefined way.

Angular concerns itself with all aspects of the MVC (and MVVM) architecture, while React is mostly concerned with the view layer. React also uses a virtual DOM (reconciliation) while Angular uses a traditional DOM design. 

Comparing Their Features

Angular is a proper framework, developed and maintained by a dedicated team at Google. As such, it gives you access to several prebuilt modules and features that ease the process of code maintenance/ updates. Angular lets you create app-like experiences on your web pages.

And it can even be used to build native mobile apps in a similar fashion to frameworks such as Cordova or Ionic. The cross-platform nature of Angular doesn’t stop there, you can even use it for desktop apps that rely on the web. Angular will optimize your JavaScript code for the best performance with modern runtime environments, significantly speeding up development pipelines.

The component router within Angular facilitates code-splitting which modifies the view loaded onto a user’s screen based on what they request. Angular’s support for a wide range of powerful IDEs and its intuitive CLI speeds up the process of code building and testing. It also contains templates for a variety of UI designs.

React is a library rather than a framework. So it doesn’t come with the set of templates, testing and debugging tools, etc. that Angular has. However, you can easily add your own JavaScript libraries to the source code.

With its virtual DOM, React generally updates parts of the page faster compared to Angular. So it makes sense to use React if your web app/ site frequently updates its view. Something like a chat or social media site would be faster with React.

React code is also easier to debug as you scale up your project, thanks to its unidirectional data binding. React includes support for server-side rendering (Angular can also do it with Angular Universal). 

Comparing Their Performance

React and Angular are both really fast, especially when you compare them to traditional JS libraries such as jQuery. Both have optimized DOM systems to render pages faster, although React takes the edge with its virtual DOM system. React is thus better suited to websites that update the user side more frequently.

Which Is Easier To Learn?

The lack of dependency injection, templates, and other complex systems makes the process of learning React simpler when compared to Angular. However, actually setting up your project in React will take longer since it’s a library rather than a framework. A project structure has to be created, and you’ll have to do state management with something like Redux.

Component management and syntax are more complex in Angular, although the process of getting started on a project takes less time. You’ll also have to become familiar with TypeScript, which will take additional time.


React and Angular are two very different tools with unique advantages as well as disadvantages. You’ll have to decide which is better for your particular web app/ project. React uses a combination of JavaScript and JSX while Angular can use both JavaScript and TypeScript.

You get a lot more flexibility with your project structure in React, but it also takes longer to get your project configured. Angular takes care of the Model and Controller aspects of MVC, while React is only concerned with the View layer (you can handle other aspects with libraries).

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