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Blog / IT Staffing /  Migration from Angular to React: Developers Can Do This Properly

September 14, 2017 - Olena

Migration from Angular to React: Developers Can Do This Properly

When starting a web application project, one of the primary decisions to be made is which JavaScript framework to use. With so many options available, this task may turn out to be extraordinarily difficult.

Two of the most popular JavaScript frameworks that are often the go-to frameworks among developers are AngularJS and React. These two frameworks are both popular for a reason: both frameworks are maintained by tech giants, with AngularJS development led by Google and React development led by Facebook. These frameworks are safe choices for any web development project, and in this article, we compare the two technologies and look at how developers can migrate an application from Angular to React if the need arises.

moving from angular to react

Angular vs React JS: Feature Comparison

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of the different features of Angular vs React to give us a general idea of their main differences.

Opinionation

OpinionationAngularJS is a highly opinionated framework, which means its structure and rules are all tailored to rigidly fit a specific way of programming. As a result, AngularJS will require a developer to strictly follow its rules. In contrast, ReactJS is very weakly opinionated — it leaves a lot of design and architecture decisions to the developer, and does not assume any specific approach to software development. It gives developers a lot of freedom in terms of code architecture.

Learning Curve

Learning CurveSince AngularJS is highly opinionated, it has a lot of rules and complex structures that developers need to learn by heart. This may result in considerably steep learning curves and may take a lot of time before a beginning Angular developer can master the framework. In contrast, React JS is significantly quicker to learn, and there are less complex concepts and structures that developers have to grasp. Since it is weakly opinionated, the learning curve for the framework is a lot more gentle.

Abstraction

AbstractionAngularJS requires developers to have a full comprehension of its internal structure in order to fully utilize all its features. This implies that AngularJS has a low level of abstractionOn the other hand, React essentially hides all the details of the inner workings of its functionalities behind its libraries and APIs, and developers rarely have to delve into its codes. React developers can focus on development instead of the framework’s structure, and this results in quicker development.

DOM Manipulation

DOM ManipulationWhen working with the document object model (DOM), which is what the application changes to synchronize its view and controller layers, AngularJS directly manipulates the JavaScript DOM. On the other hand, React uses a virtual DOM, which is a separate copy of the JavaScript DOM. Changes to the view are done through this virtual DOM, and the application synchronizes the virtual DOM with the regular DOM. This mechanism prevents many errors from occurring, and minimizes unnecessary updates to the DOM.

Mobile Development

Mobile DevelopmentAngularJS, by default, is only used for development of web applications. If developers wish to use it for mobile applications, they will have to use a third-party library, such as Ionic, to allow mobile applications to execute AngularJS codes. React, however, allows React codes to be run on both web browsers and native mobile and desktop applications through React Native, an extension of its web framework. This means that developers can write a single piece of React code and run it on both the web and on mobile devices with minimal code modifications and with the efficiency and optimality of native code.

Popularity

PopularityWeb technology analyzer SimilarTech counts the number of websites using Angular JS at 509,636, while that for React JS is much less at 94,358. Moreover, it reports AngularJS to be the ahead of React JS in popularity in all countries except Japan. However, React JS is more popular on GitHub with 74,784 stars, the highest out of all JavaScript frameworks, while AngularJS has slightly less, with AngularJS 56,955 stars. However, AngularJS has a larger developer community, with 1,602 contributors compared to 1,048 for ReactJS.

AngularJS React
Opinionation Strongly opinionated Weakly opinionated
Learning Curve Steep learning curve Gentle learning curve
Abstraction Weak abstraction Strong abstraction
DOM Manipulation Regular DOM Virtual DOM
Mobile Development Requires third party framework for mobile development Supports native mobile development via React Native
Usage Used by 509,636 websites Used by 94,358 websites
Popularity on GitHub 56,955 GitHub stars 74,784 GitHub stars
Developer Community 1,602 contributors 1,048 contributors

Migrating from Angular to React JS

Angular has just recently released their latest updates, Angular 2 and Angular 4, to which Angular developers can upgrade their applications. Still, there are several reasons why developers choose to migrate from Angular to React instead, such as:

  • Angular is too complex and difficult to learn, while React is much simpler.
  • React’s virtual DOM manipulation is very appealing, as it is less prone to error and it makes debugging easier.
  • Angular is too opinionated and typically does not go well with other frameworks, while React is much more flexible and works well with other JavaScript libraries and frameworks

Whatever the reason is, moving from Angular to React must be done properly.

Migration from Angular to React is no easy feat. Large-scale Angular projects will require a long time to migrate to React, and the key is to take it slow. The migration process is not instant; instead, applications must be converted part by part to minimize issues in migrating from Angular to React. In fact, full migration is not even necessary; it’s possible to migrate from Angular to React partially by simply converting problematic parts to React and leaving the rest as is. For instance, social media automation app  Smartly has been partially migrated from Angular to React, with 41% of its Angular code converted to React as of writing. Let’s take a look at an example of migrating a small piece of code from Angular to React.

Example: Simple Data Binding

Let’s use as an example a simple code from Andrew del Prete’s CodePen which displays a number on the screen and increments this number with the press of a button. Below is the HTML code to display the element using Angular:

<div ng-app="sample-angular">
   <increment-number></increment-number>
   <increment-button></increment-button>
 </div>

While below is the HTML code to display the same element using React:

<div id="sample-react"></div>

Below is the Angular code to manipulate the value of the object and display the changes accordingly:

angular.module('sample-angular', [])
   .service("incrementService", function($rootScope) {
     this.number = 0
     this.increment = function () {
       this.number = this.number + 1
       $rootScope.$broadcast('increment')
     }
   })
   .directive("incrementNumber", function(incrementService) {
     return {
       restrict: 'E',
       template: `<h1>{{ number }}</h1>`,
       controller($scope) {
         $scope.number = incrementService.number
         $scope.$on('increment', function() {
           $scope.number = incrementService.number
         })
       },
     }
   })
   .directive("incrementButton", function(incrementService) {
     return {
       restrict: 'E',
       template: `<button class="button" ng-click="increment()">Increment</button>`,
       link(scope, element, attrs) {
         scope.increment = function () {
           incrementService.increment()
         }
       },
     }
   })

Below is the code for the same functionality using React:

class ReactExample extends React.Component {
   constructor(props) {
     super(props)
     this.state = { number: 0 }
   }
   
   handleClick() {
     this.setState({ number: this.state.number + 1 })  
   }
   
   render() {
     return (
       <div>
         <IncrementNumber number={ this.state.number }></IncrementNumber>
         <IncrementButton onButtonClick={ () => this.handleClick() }></IncrementButton>
       </div>   
     )
   }
 }
 
 const IncrementNumber = ({ number }) => (
   <h1>{ number }</h1>
 )
 
 const IncrementButton = ({ onButtonClick }) => (
   <button onClick={ onButtonClick } className="button">Increment</button>
 )
 
 ReactDOM.render(<ReactExample />, document.getElementById('sample-react'))

The above example shows us how different the Angular and React structures are, even for the simplest of functionalities, and it gives us an idea as to why framework migration is a highly complex task.

Ideal Developer for App Migration

Unfortunately, there’s no automatic Angular to React converter that can do all the work for you, so if you’re planning to convert your application from Angular to React, your best bet would be to hire a skilled developer who can convert from Angular to React.

hire developers to migrate from angular to react

Skills to Look For

Here are some skills that you should look for in a developer who will carry out the framework migration to ensure that he is fully capable of the task at hand:

  • Mastery of Angular and React – This may be obvious, but developers must be an expert in both frameworks to minimize the risk of the migration process. This may mean looking for React JS developers with strong AngularJS skills, or developers of AngularJS with ReactJS mastery.
  • Mastery of Vanilla JavaScript – Mastery of any JavaScript framework should be matched by equal mastery of vanilla JavaScript, because frameworks are inevitably used in conjunction with plain JavaScript features. This is especially true with React for Angular developers, as it is closer to vanilla JavaScript than Angular.
  • Good Grasp of Modular Programming – Both Angular and React feature modular programming that allows for high scalability. A good understanding of this concept will allow a developer to quickly migrate the different components or modules from one framework to another.
  • Experience with Open-Source Projects – Both AngularJS and React are open-source frameworks, and some experience with open-source projects will be useful so that a developer can take advantage of the contributions made by other developers to the framework.

Sample CV

Here’s a sample CV of a developer that’s capable of Angular to React migration to give you an idea of the typical skill set and experience of such developers.

Angular React developer CV

Hire React and Angular Developer Now

Angular and React are two of the biggest JavaScript frameworks available, and some advantages of React over Angular may drive developers and product owners to migrate from AngularJS to React. We’ve taken a look at some useful tips on framework migration, including the skills that are essential for a developer to execute the migration process. If you’re planning to migrate from Angular to React, we’re here to help you out! At Mobilunity, we have highly talented dedicated developers that know exactly how migrating from Angular to React, or even switching from React to Angular, is done. Located in Ukraine, we are one of the most economical options to hire developers from across the entire Europe. Hire talented AngularJS and React developers from us and you’re sure to get the best value for your hard-earned money.

Connect with us and let’s find you the best React JS Angular developer!

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