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When we design and develop a new web application, one of the most important elements that must be considered is its user interface. The user interface (or UI) is the product that the “end-users” will use to interact with the application. Factors that we need to consider for the UI are: usability, responsive design, colors and the user experience, all important components when designing a new web application. 

There are many technologies available for developing user interfaces for web applications. In this blog, I’ll outline some of the features integrated in two of the main technologies that exist today: React JS and Angular, my experience using them, and how they allow me to provide a functional and intuitive user interface and experience for users.

What is React?

React.js is an open-source “toolbox” created using JavaScript meant for frontend development. Open-source means that anyone can modify it to better meet their needs. This “toolbox” is used for building user interfaces focused on single-page applications. It controls the view layer for mobile devices and the web. This library also allows the creation of reusable UI components. React.js was first created by Jordan Walke, a software engineer working for Facebook. Its main focus is to be scalable, simple, and fast. It can be used with other JavaScript frameworks. 

What is Angular?

Angular, instead of being limited to a library, is a development platform, where you can select from its integrated collection of libraries, built on the typescript, a programming language. This language is designed for developing large applications. Angular, then, is used for building expandable web applications. This platform features a client-server communication, among other things. It has a wide range of tools to develop small scale projects to grand scale ones. An important thing to mention is that it is constantly updated, its latest updates brought by an Angular team at Google. 

While both technologies can be used to improve the user experience when designing web apps, there are key differences:

  • React is a library and Angular is a framework. 
  • React allows you to choose many ways for handling the business logic, while Angular is the all-in-one UI development kit. 
  • If you choose Angular  you will not have as much flexibility. The framework controls how you build the app and supplies all the necessary tools to develop the UI. 
  • On the other hand, React is a lightweight library which allows you to select your libraries and learn them. With Angular they are included in the framework.

So, which should I use? 

The answer is “it depends” (like always in this industry). In terms of popularity, React leads, but Angular also has a great community supporting the framework. In terms of quick start, React has a simpler learning curve, while Angular has a more complete one. If the project is mid-level or a big one, developers prefer Angular because it is easier to maintain over React, and it is easy for testing. For small projects, developers prefer React for light and easy development and great performance.

Both Angular and React are good choices for web application development, and, having worked on several projects using each, you can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose. Yet, careful consideration should be given by your team in the design phase of a web application.

Oh and by the way, I didn’t include “Vue.js” in this post because I do not have much experience using it, but it is definitely worth taking a look at it. Web application development is always a learning experience.

By José Francisco Rodríguez-Zayas

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