Angular vs Vue vs React: Which Framework to Choose in 2019

Just about a year ago, developers were mainly debating on whether they should be using Angular or React for their projects. But over the course of 2018, we saw a growth of interest in a third player called Vue.js. Looking forward into 2019, this post is a comprehensive guide on which is perhaps the right solution for you: Angular vs Vue vs React.

Just about a year ago, developers were mainly debating on whether they should be using Angular or React for their projects. But over the course of 2018, we saw a growth of interest in a third player called Vue.js. Looking forward into 2019, this post is a comprehensive guide on which is perhaps the right solution for you: Angular vs Vue vs React.

If you are a developer starting out on a project and cannot decide on which JavaScript framework to use, this guide should help you make a decision.

We cover various aspects of Angular, React and Vue.js to see how they suit your needs. This post is not just a guide on Angular vs React vs Vue but aims to provide a structure to help judge front-end JavaScript frameworks in general. In case a new framework arrives next year, you will know exactly what parameters to look at!

* In this post, we assume that you have basic knowledge of JavaScript and have used JavaScript frameworks as well.

Let’s get started:

Table of contents

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 ?

Angular, developed by Google, was first released in 2010, making it the oldest of the lot. It is a TypeScript based JavaScript framework. A substantial shift occurred in 2016 on the release of Angular 2 (and the dropping of the “JS” from the original name – AngularJS). Angular 2+ is known as just Angular. Although AngularJS (version 1) still gets updates, we will focus the discussion on Angular. The latest stable version is Angular 7, which was released in October 2018.
Vue, also known as Vue.js, is the youngest member of the group. It was developed by ex-Google employee Evan You in 2014. Over the last two years, Vue has seen a substantial shift in popularity, even though it doesn’t have the backing of a large company. The current stable version is 2.17, released in August 2018. Vue’s contributors are supported by Patreon. Vue 3, currently in the prototyping phase is planning to move to TypeScript.
React, developed by Facebook, was initially released in 2013. Facebook uses React extensively in their products (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp). The current stable version in 16.X, released in November 2018.
Here’s a short summary of Angular vs Vue vs React, in terms of their status and history:

The history of Angular vs Vue vs React
Angular React Vue
Initial release 2010 2013 2014
Official site angular.io reactjs.org vuejs.org
Approx. size (KB) 500 100 80
Current version 7 16.6.3 2.17
Used by Google, Wix Facebook, Uber Alibaba, GitLab

License ????

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.

Popularity ?

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.)

As seen from the trends of late 2018, the number of jobs that require a skill set of Angular or React is roughly the same, whereas that of Vue’s is still only a fraction of this number (about 20%). This list is definitely not exhaustive but gives a good picture of the overall tech industry.

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:

Angular React Vue
# Watchers 3.3k 3.7k 5.7k
# Stars 43k 71k 122k
# Forks 11k 16k 17k
# Commits in last month 446 339 81
# Contributors 798 1.8k 240

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 ??

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.

In Angular, components are referred to as directives. Directives are just markers on DOM elements, which Angular can track and attach specific behavior too. Therefore, Angular separates the UI part of components as attributes of HTML tags, and their behaviors in the form of JavaScript code.
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?

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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