A Project Manager’s Guide to Angular vs React

By George Fironov ·Subscribe

If you’re not a developer, but you’re interested in technology, you might be wondering what’s the difference between Angular and React. This article compares Angular vs React from the perspective of a project manager.

What is Angular, and what is React?

It’s a tough comparison, but one that is made often, even though Angular and React are not really the same thing. But let’s start with the similarities:

  • Both Angular and React are open source
  • Both are popular frameworks based on the Javascript programming language
  • Both have a pretty easy learning curve for developer who know Javascript

Angular is a framework for building complete web and mobile application interfaces. It contains ready-made tools for creating the interface without having to design everything from the ground up.

It is based on Javascript, but uses a special version of it, called TypeScript. Without getting too deep into the specifics, TypeScript enables developers to do more with less code, which combines well with the fact that Angular is a framework, as frameworks have the same purpose.

Once developers master Angular, they don’t have to rethink the wheel when it comes to the fundamentals of their app. They can set them up, and focus on customizing the app or building key, unique features.

Angular is a front-end framework, and the application back-end doesn’t have to be based on Javascript.

Caution: don’t confuse Angular with AngularJS. Those are two different things, even though Angular is kind of the newer version of AngularJS.

React is a library of ready-made elements for building web application interfaces. To build mobile interfaces you need React Native, which is a framework that ‘translates’ the code of a React interface to native Android or iOS code.

React needs to be combined with other technology to create a fully functional app. The cool thing is that the backbone of your application can be written in many different programming languages, and you can ‘plug’ React into it to make it look good.

However, React is just one part of the application’s front-end. It is often used as the ‘view’ in Model-View-Controller.

Model-View-Controller, or MVC, is a design pattern that divides your program into three elements. The first one, the Model, contains algorithms that control how the application works and what it does with data.

The third one, the Controller, is essentially the way that users can interact with the interface. As in, when you input data, click on something, or just scroll. 

The second one, the View, is where React comes in. It is the visual representation of data in the application.

Comparing Angular vs React based on first-hand opinions

To compare Angular and React is kind of like comparing two different hammers, except one of them is much smaller. 

However, since this is an article for people who aren’t developers, I think it’s best to rely on people and companies who have tried these technologies.

Let’s see what the internet has to say about Angular.

Opinions from G2Crowd Angular reviews:

  • Angular is the most complete front-end framework available. The fact that it’s modular has several advantages, and it can be upgraded with custom modules and libraries.
  • Even though it’s a great framework, it does take a bit long to configure everything up when you’re building a new app. But when it comes to performance, it is extremely fast.
  • With Angular, you can’t just pick any other technology and expect it to work smoothly. You need to know what you’re doing to make the right decision.
  • Angular enforces a solid application architecture that’s based on many Google products, which are famously unbreakable.
  • With Angular you might not even have to hire a UX designer, because principles of good design are inherent in the framework.
  • Angular is based on components, once you build a component you can reuse it in other Angular projects. You can build a whole library of your own components to get started faster with new projects.
  • For some developers, it requires too sophisticated coding practices, and can sometimes be hard to debug.
  • It enables easier and more flexible component management, as well as state management, compared to React.
  • Because it uses TypeScript, developers can detect errors early.
  • It’s a great framework for enterprise-level web-based applications.
  • It has an official style guide to help developers write cleaner code.
  • Angular forces developers to use Object-Oriented Programming.

Let’s take a moment to explain Object-Oriented Programming (OOP).

In order to build software, you need to make certain assumptions. OOP is a way of programming that assumes everything is an “object”. These objects can contain data and code.

When you do OOP, you build a program out of objects that interact with each other in different ways.

There are other ways to design software, it doesn’t have to be based on objects. In most major programming languages, you can use multiple different philosophies of building programs. 

When it comes to Javascript, the father-language of Angular, there is a little controversy regarding whether it’s an OOP language or not. Nonetheless, bare Javascript supports other ways of building software.

However, Angular doesn’t. As we mentioned, it’s based on TypeScript, which is a kind of Javascript-on-steroids, but it’s designed with OOP in mind.

Back to the topic at hand.

What does the internet say about React?

Opinions from FreeCodeCamp forum:

  • It is based around the idea of small, composable components inside JavaScript, which for some developers is a great way to do things
  • It’s not good for creating a simple static page with no interactivity, using React in that case would be overkill
  • React makes it a lot easier to create dynamic apps compared to using a traditional tool like jQuery
  • There is a bit of extra work that comes from managing state between multiple components, but there are ways to limit that work with smart design patterns.
  • While it may be confusing at first, once you get familiar with React you forget that you used to build interfaces any other way.
  • React makes it easy to display information that comes straight from the server.
  • There is a large ecosystem surrounding React, so it’s easy to find solutions.
  • It comes with a lot of setup, but offers valuable ways to simplify code.

Opinions from TrustRadius:

  • It’s easy to see why it’s used by a lot of Fortune500 companies, it simplifies front-end coding immensely.
  • React enables developers to create fast and efficient web pages easily.
  • It’s a free, lightweight tool that can be tested separately from other parts of your code.
  • React is great for projects similar to Facebook (after all it was built by Facebook engineers), where the user doesn’t want to reload the page every time they load new content.
  • It enables developers to create reusable components, or exclusive components that contain unique custom logic.
  • A front-end built in react is built to scale quickly.
  • For writing a site with several pages and interactive features, React is always a great option, but it’s not going to be good if you want to write a simple, static one-page website.
  • There are a lot of libraries and tools that are compatible with React.
  • React makes it easy to compose large pages from small components.
  • It is fantastic for interactive experiences, it offers immediate interaction.
  • When your team uses React as the main tool for building front-end, it provides an easy onboarding path for new front-end devs to jump onto the project quickly.
  • It’s not a good idea to put too much application logic into React components—after all, React is only meant for the View in Model-View-Controller.

When does it make sense to compare technology like Angular and React?

Both Angular and React are different tools that can be used to solve a certain set of basic front-end development problems. However, they were built with different goals in mind.

When you boil it down to the essentials, Angular seems to be the tool of choice for Javascript developers who need to build a complex interface, in which they can even insert chunks of the back-end application logic.

React is a much smaller tool, and the goal of React is to make it easy to build sites out of components. If you follow the React way from the beginning, scaling React interfaces is very easy. However, it is purely for displaying content, you shouldn’t define any back-end application logic in React components.

Ultimately, to make a good decision, you need to be well-informed. Never make important long-term technological decisions on a whim. Take your time to get as much information as possible, and get it right the first time.