Part 1: A brief history
Before we get into the technical details, let’s first talk about the history behind these frameworks – just to better appreciate their philosophy and their evolution over time.
How it all started ?
|Approx. size (KB)||500||100||80|
|Used by||Google, Wix||Facebook, Uber||Alibaba, GitLab|
Before you use an open source framework, make sure you go through its license. Interestingly, all three frameworks use the MIT license, which provides limited restrictions on reuse, even in proprietary software. Make sure you know the implications of the license before using any framework or software.
Here is a quick summary of the MIT license in plain English terms.
As “angular” and “react” are common words, it is difficult to grasp their popularity from Google Trends. Though, a good proxy for their popularity is the number of stars that their GitHub repositories get. A sudden shift in the number of stars of Vue occurred in mid-2016 and, recently, Vue has been up there with React as the most popular frameworks.
Let us check how the job market is for Angular vs Vue vs React, which is also a good measure of popularity:
Job market ????
The best sources of data that indicate the trends on the job market are the various job boards.
(Chart by Visualizer Lite.)
If you are looking strictly from the point of view of the current job market, your best bet is to learn Angular or React. However, given that Vue has gained popularity over the last two years, it may take some time for projects to use Vue, or new projects that adopt Vue to reach a maturity level that commands a higher number of developers.
Part 2: Community and development
Now that you are familiar with the history and trends of each of these frameworks, we will look at the community to assess the development of these frameworks. We have already seen that for all of the frameworks, a major release has been shipped in the last four months, which indicates that development is going on in full swing.
Let us look at Angular vs React vs Vue with respect to statistics on their GitHub repositories:
|# Commits in last month||446||339||81|
Vue has a huge number of watchers, stars and forks. This shows its popularity among users. However, the number of commits and contributors for Vue are lower than Angular and React.
One possible explanation is that Vue is driven entirely by the open source community, whereas Angular and React have a significant share of Google and Facebook employees contributing to the repositories.
From the statistics, all three projects show significant development activity, and this is surely going to continue in the future — just these statistics cannot be the basis of not deciding to use either of them.
Part 3: Migrations
As you’re working with your framework of choice, you don’t want to have to worry about a framework update coming along and messing up your code. Though in most cases you won’t encounter many issues from one version to another, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse because some updates can be more significant and require tweaks to keep things compatible.
Angular plans major updates every six months. There is also a period of another six months before any major APIs are deprecated, which gives you the time of two release cycles (one year) to make necessary changes if any.
Facebook has stated that stability is of utmost importance to them, as huge companies like Twitter and Airbnb use React. Upgrades through versions are generally the easiest in React, with scripts such as react-codemod helping you to migrate.
In the FAQ section for Migration, Vue mentions that 90% of the APIs are same if you are migrating from 1.x to 2. There is a migration helper tool that works on the console to assess the status of your app.
Part 4: Working with the frameworks
There are a handful of important characteristics to look at here, chief of them being overall size and load times, the components available, and learning curve.
Size and load times ??
The sizes of the libraries are as follows:
- Angular: 500+ KB
- React: 100 KB
- Vue: 80 KB
Although there is a significant difference between the sizes of the frameworks, they are still small as compared to the average webpage size (2+ MB in 2018). Additionally, if you use a popular CDN to load these libraries, it is highly probable that a user has the library already loaded in their local system.
Components are integral parts of all three frameworks. A component generally gets an input, and changes behavior based on it. This behavior change generally manifests as a change in the UI of some part of the page. The use of components makes it easy to reuse code. A component may be a cart on an e-commerce site or a login box on a social network.
- React, interestingly, combines the UI and behavior of components. For instance, here is the code to create a hello world component in React. In React, the same part of the code is responsible for creating a UI element and dictating its behavior.
- In Vue, UI and behavior are also a part of components, which makes things more intuitive. However, Vue is highly customizable, which allows you to combine the UI and behavior of components from within a script. Further, you can also use pre-processors in Vue rather than CSS, which is a great functionality. Vue is great when it comes to integration with other libraries, like Bootstrap.
To compare how the same app looks with different libraries, here is a great post on creating the same to do list app on React and Vue and contrasting the differences of the two frameworks.
Learning curve ?
So how difficult is it to learn each of these frameworks?
- Angular has a steep learning curve, considering it is a complete solution, and mastering Angular requires you to learn associated concepts like TypeScript and MVC. Even though it takes time to learn Angular, the investment pays dividends in terms of understanding how the front end works.
- React offers a Getting Started guide that should help one set up React in about an hour. The documentation is thorough and complete, with solutions to common issues already present on StackOverflow. React is not a complete framework and advanced features require the use of third-party libraries. This makes the learning curve of the core framework not so steep but depends on the path you take with additional functionality. However, learning to use React does not necessarily mean that you are using the best practices.
- Vue provides higher customizability and hence is easier to learn than Angular or React. Further, Vue has an overlap with Angular and React with respect to their functionality like the use of components. Hence, the transition to Vue from either of the two is an easy option. However, simplicity and flexibility of Vue is a double-edged sword — it allows poor code, making it difficult to debug and test.
Although Angular, React and Vue have a significant learning curve, their uses upon mastery are limitless. For instance, you can integrate Angular and React with WordPress and WooCommerce to create progressive web apps.
Angular vs Vue vs React: Who wins?
Towards the end of this post, let us recall the characteristic features of each framework to try to answer the question: Angular vs Vue vs React: which one should you choose?
However, the learning curve is steep and concepts of development in Angular may put off new developers.
Angular is a good choice for companies with large teams and developers who already use TypeScript.
However, it remains to be seen how it does in the future and one is justified to be cautious with it. Vue should be your choice if you prefer simplicity, but also like flexibility.
The answer to the debate of Angular vs Vue vs React is that there’s no absolute right choice, which you’ve probably expected.
Each of these libraries has their own benefits and drawbacks. Based on the project you’re working on, and your individual requirements, one of them is going to be more suitable than the others. It’s always key to do your own research before deciding, especially if you’re going to be working on a business venture and not on a personal project.
Which framework do you think is the winner here – Angular vs Vue vs React? Do let us know in the comments below.
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