Last modified: March 18, 2017
While most developers can agree that the MEAN stack is a great option for modern app development, a large number are starting to advocate the use of React over Angular. Developers are now starting to talk in terms of MEAN vs MERN, the only difference being Angular or React. What's got developers so hung up on these two options? Why one over the other? In this article, we discuss the differences between Angular and React and why you should choose one over the other.
With that said, Angular and React are both used for the same reason, to organize and render the presentation layer of your app. Both options are used with MongoDb, Express, and Node to achieve the same results.
At the end of the day, both are great options. While Angular has the backing of Google, React is a Facebook product. This means both products have great teams backing them and ample amounts of documentation, examples, etc. The decision to use one over the other largely boils down to personal preference, but here are a few reasons why you may choose one over the other.
React is arguably better for performance reasons. Angular 1 uses two way data binding and a digest cycle to constantly keep the view in sync with the underlying data model. This gets expensive when you have hundreds of variables to dynamically check and update. React uses unidirectional data flow to more efficiently check for state change. This plays better with larger data sets, where hundreds of thousands of records need to be rendered and updated. Although Angular 2 has introduced better state control, React is an easier and more intuitive way to handle change events.
This goes back to the whole library vs framework discussion. While React makes UI rendering a breeze, it's just a library. It's up to you as the developer how you organize your code to work with underlying data models, etc. As a framework, Angular enforces an MVC like design, forcing developers to better organized their code. Although React is more flexible, it leaves more up to the developer as to how the app is organized. This can make your code harder to maintain.
React relies heavily on other third party libraries to make things happen. A great example is with http requests. React doesn't have an out of the box solution for making http calls to a backend server. Angular has a built in $http service wrapper that makes http requests a breeze. Although libraries like Axios allow you to easily make requests in React, it requires more configuration.
Angular 2 is still very new but it addresses some of the major pitfalls seen with Angular 1. It makes use of the shadow DOM (like React) to more efficiently control state change. It also allows for server side rendering and competes with React where Angular 1 cannot.
Both the MEAN and MERN stack are equally viable options. It really boils down to personal preference. While React is definitively more performant than Angular 1, Angular 2 accounts for the pitfalls seen with its predecessor. Both options play equally well with other stack components (MongoDb, Express, Node). Deciding which one is best for you comes down to an emphasis on architecture, code maintainability, etc. Just remember that Angular 2 is the only true competitor to React.js when considering things like performance and server side rendering. When choosing between MERN or MEAN, consider Angular 2 vs React, not Angular 1.