React vs Angular: Which JavaScript Tool Will Complete Your Tech Stack?

Build impressive user interfaces (UI) without reinventing the wheel. See what Angular and React.js can do for you and choose one to develop your application’s front-end.

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by Esteban Agustin D'Amico


If you’re deciding your next project’s tech stack and are yet to define the front-end tools, consider React or Angular. Both tools are primed to help you build strong web application user interfaces (UI).

React.js and Angular can give you similar results, but there are good reasons to choose one over the other. For example, if you need to have more control during development, you’ll be inclined to choose React.js. Whereas, if you want to follow a structured flow, Angular will suit you best.

Keep reading to find out what React vs Angular can do for you, when to use them, and what their pros and cons are. We’ve also included examples of when we’ve chosen a library like React over a fully-fledged framework such as Angular. 

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you

What is React?

React.js is a JavaScript front-end library for building interactive user interfaces. It’s open-source and offers one-way data binding. React was developed by Meta and it allows developers to access reusable components and create lightweight applications. 

React comes with a virtual document object model (DOM) that allows for fast rendering to improve the app’s speed. It also comes with a JavaScript syntax extension called JSX, a template language type, that allows developers to code following a UI event logic.

Reasons to choose React

As a software development company, we prefer to have full control over which libraries and tools we use. So, for us,  the main reason to choose React is that it gives you reusable code components that you can adjust as you please. React also allows us to edit the routing, rendering, and state management configuration, so we can adapt to the needs of each project with a custom approach.

Here are a few more characteristics of React that we value: 

  • Flexibility. Since React is a library, rather than a fully-fledged framework, it lets developers use features, tools, and components as needed without a prescriptive structure. 

  • Delivers high-performing apps. React’s virtual DOM avoids re-rendering so React apps usually load extremely fast and perform highly.

  • Cross-platform compatibility. React enables you to build web apps and, if using React Native, translate code to build native mobile apps for iOS and Android—so you don’t have to worry about maintaining three different applications.

  • Large community support. When you use React, you get access to a community of over hundreds of thousands of React developers who can help you sort things out—e.g. they can guide you on how to load npm modules with React. 

Pro tip: An alternative high-quality JavaScript state management solution is Redux.

Examples of React software

You can find examples of React software everywhere online. Popular apps like Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram all use React components on their front end.

  • Facebook. React.js was created by Facebook. Its mobile application is built on React Native—a React.js framework.

  • Netflix. This platform benefits from React’s virtual DOM as it allows for content streaming at a fast speed.

  • Instagram. It uses React.js to build APIs, for geolocation purposes, and to develop an accurate search engine. 

You’ll also be interacting with React.js most times you use a web app with a WordPress headless CMS. At NaNLABS, we’ve used React.js on many different projects, these are two examples:

  • CyberCube. This San Francisco-based cybersecurity company needed us to work on the re-architecture of its mono-lith Java app and reduce the amount of legacy code. We achieved this using multiple technologies, including migrating the front end from Angular.js to React.js.

  • This client needed to automate a personalized GIF generator prototype. At first, the owner was manually handling every animated graphic request. We used React.js to design the front end of this MVP and simplify user requests. 

“React is our go-to technology for building single-page applications (SPAs). The good thing about using React is that we get to use the same programming language in the whole project: Javascript.”

Julian Alessandroco-founder and Head of Web solutions at NaNLABS

What is Angular?

Angular is an open-source TypeScript (JavaScript superset) platform that gives you access to a component-based framework. It also comes with a large suite of integrated libraries and a developing hub to write, test, and update your code. Angular is highly scalable and lets you develop robust applications from the ground up.

This tool offers two-way data binding and is the evolution of Angular.js, one of the first front-end frameworks. It was built by Google and now offers cross-platform development and a faster loading time.

Note: Angular has multiple versions: Angular.js, Angular 2, Angular 4, and so on. This article refers to the latest version of Angular—unless we explicitly make a distinction.

Reasons to choose Angular

At NaNLABS, we usually choose React over Angular, but we have used Angular for very large projects. Given that Angular provides pre-configured tooling and predefined best practices, it makes it easier to ramp up a big team.

Here are a few more key reasons to choose Angular as your front-end development framework:

  • Supports TypeScript. Angular was built as a framework for TypeScript, making it more structured and scalable.

  • It’s opinionated. As this is a dedicated framework, Angular gives you a structure to design apps. You could say that the predetermined path it makes you follow is a formed opinion.

  • Designs enterprise-ready tools. Angular is great for building scalable applications thanks to its command line interface (CLI) and its ability to create modular code. The Angular CLI lets you build, set up, and maintain applications directly from it.

  • Allows for fast development. This framework comes with a large suite of integrated tools and out-of-the-box components that let you build, test, and update software fast—once you already know how to use it.

Examples of Angular software

You probably also use apps built with Angular on a daily basis. Here are a few you might have heard of:

  • Gmail. Google built Angular, so it’s only natural that it’s used on its products. Gmail uses Angular on the front end because it’s a single-page application (SPA) that retrieves system data and makes it accessible offline after loading.

  • Upwork. You can spot Angular’s influence on this freelance hiring board as it has an intuitive design. It’s also fast to load and has great filtering capabilities.

  • PayPal. This tool uses both React.js and Angular on the front end. You’ve experienced Angular if you’ve ever completed the simple double-click for authorization or used PayPal to checkout without switching web pages. 

We’ve also built tools using an older version of Angular. Once we worked with a Berlin-based digital marketing client that helps clients manage their public information on online directories. It needed to centralize client information to easily identify what was updated and what wasn’t. We achieved this by redesigning the website with Angular.js, building a new scanner, and redesigning the submission module. 

React and Angular can both help you build fast loading applications across platforms, but have these have key differentiators.

Which is better, Angular or React?

While these two are both powerful solutions that will simplify your development process, there are occasions when you’ll benefit from using one over the other. 

Key differentiators- JavaScript library- TypeScript framework
PopularityReact is more popular than Angular in terms of Google search volume, GitHub stars, and Stack Overflow’s community answers.
Use cases- Complex UIs- Scalable web apps
Limitations- Steep learning curve- Two-way binding malfunctions on large apps

Popularity growth

React and Angular both seem to have a steady growth in popularity over the past five years. However, users tend to prefer React over Angular. You can see that developers also prefer React over Angular based on GitHub stars and Stack Overflow answers. 

  • React: 206k GitHub stars. 453,238 questions answered on Stack Overflow. 

  • Angular: 87.7k GitHub stars. 294,773 questions answered on Stack Overflow.

React is more widely searched on Google than Angular. This indicates React is preferred by programmers.

Use cases 

React and Angular can essentially achieve the same objective: building intuitive UIs. You can’t use them interchangeably, but you can use React components in an Angular app or vice versa. But, we wouldn’t recommend doing this as a default solution as it can overcomplicate application development.

When to use React

You should consider using React.js for web development if you need to:

  • Build a complex UI. This library gives you the flexibility to develop feature-rich and fast-loading web applications. Plus, it simplifies state management which lets you race app information and automate updates on your UI. 

  • Create a highly interactive app. React.js allows you to use reusable React UI components for building clickable and interactive interfaces. The interactivity that comes with React tools is what makes this library one of the preferred solutions for building social media apps. 

  • Develop SEO-friendly platforms. React.js supports the use of semantic HTML, which makes it easy for web spiders to crawl your progressive web apps (PWAs). So, using React.js with a strong SEO strategy can mean ranking higher on search engines.

When to use Angular

You should go for Angular if you need to: 

  • Build a scalable and robust solution. Angular and React both help you build enterprise-ready applications. However, since Angular is more structured, it’s a better option for apps that’ll be maintained and further developed by a large team. Also, Angular developers can use it to build feature-rich platforms.

  • Come up with a fast-loading and easy-to-update app. Angular uses two-way data binding, which means that changes in the HTML automatically update the TypeScript code or vice versa. Making it faster for users to access different data during the same session. 

  • Develop applications following a structured path. This framework provides a strict structure for code organization which makes it a good solution for big projects or teams with high rotation. 


React and Angular will simplify your front-end development but aren’t necessarily perfect. Here are the downsides to each development tool.  

React cons

  • React has a steep learning curve as it comes with a lot of boilerplate JavaScript code, frameworks, and tools. It can be overwhelming to know how to begin. 

  • This library has limited functionality, so you need to use other tools and frameworks to do routing, asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) calls, and form validation.

Angular cons

  • Angular’s two-way data binding can lead to performance issues on large apps. The feature triggers a set of events, and when handling a big load of information, it can lead to errors.

  • Structure is a double-edged sword for Angular. While it makes it a good solution for large projects, it also makes the framework restrictive as it limits flexibility.

Ultimate decision: React or Angular?

At NaNLABS, we’ll choose React over Angular most days because it gives us more control over the development (we even offer dedicated React.js development services). Plus, with our always-updated React boilerplate repository, we can improve our productivity without reducing the quality of our deliverables. 

However, if you want to build robust and scalable applications following a structured path, Angular is your best choice. And, if all of these seem great but you don’t know where to start or don’t have the capacity, consider a software development company like NaNLABS. We’ll adjust our service and communication methods to fit your needs—whether you need us to develop an MVP, lead consultancy calls, or augment your team with our experienced developers.

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you

Frequently asked questions about Angular vs. React

  • Is Angular easier than React?

    Angular is easier than React. While both tools have a learning curve, React is more complicated to set up from scratch. Instead, Angular is more structured, which makes it almost a plug-and-play solution that’s easy to learn and use.

  • Should I learn Angular or React first?

    The decision to learn Angular or React first is completely personal. However, we recommend starting with React. Not only because it’s easier to learn, but because it has a larger community of experienced developers that can help you throughout your app development process.

  • What are the key differences between React and Angular?

    The key differences between React and Angular are that:

    • React is a library that’s built on top of JavaScript, while Angular is a TypeScript framework.

    • React is a highly flexible development tool, whereas Angular is much more structured. 

    • React uses virtual DOM; Angular, real DOM.

    • React allows for server-side and client-side rendering while Angular does client-side rendering.

  • What is the best JavaScript framework to learn?

    The best JavaScript framework to learn is a highly subjective decision. However, these are the ones we use and recommend the most at NaNLABS:

    • Next.js

    • Gatsby

    • React Native

    • Jest 

    • Vue.js

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