React vs Vue vs Angular: What’s the best framework for UI development In 2021?

This article offers a broad overview of React, Vue.js, and Angular: which is perhaps the best option for you?

Developers worldwide debated Angular vs React mainly a couple of years ago. However, we've seen a surge in interest in a third option called Vue.js over the last couple of years. The following guide should help you make a decision about which JavaScript framework to use if you are an aspiring JavaScript developer.


In this section, we'll explore the various features and explore their applications 

We hope this post serves not just as a comparison between Angular, React, and Vue but also as a guide to help you judge front-end JavaScript frameworks more broadly so if a new framework comes out next year you’ll know exactly what to look out for! Throughout this post we assume that you are familiar with the basics of JavaScript and have experience using JavaScript frameworks.

Let’s get to it.

As a Developer/Software Engineer working on a project, lots of bugs may arise naturally when writing and shipping code but the least problem you would want to be bothered about would be an update to the framework of your choice messing up your codebase. Most of the time, you won't experience many problems migrating from one version to the next, but it is important to stay on top of new updates because some changes are more significant and may require tweaks to keep your software operational.


Part 1: Migrations 

Every six months, Angular deploys major updates. Another six months will pass before any major APIs are deprecated, giving you two release cycles (one year) to make any necessary changes to your codebase.


With regards to Angular vs React, Facebook emphasizes stability as one of their top priorities, as huge companies such as Twitter and Airbnb rely heavily on React. In React, upgrading through versions is generally the easiest way to maintain your code, with scripts like react-codemod helping you migrate.


According to Vue 3's migration section of its documentation, Vue 2 and Vue 3 are quite similar, as well as more than 90% of the API if you are migrating from 1.x to 2. To determine the status of your application, there is a Vue 2 to Vue 1 migration helper tool on the console.


Part 2: Working with Vue, Angular, and React

It is important to consider the key characteristics  of these various frameworks such as the overall size, load times, the components available, and the learning curve for each individual framework.

  • Learning curve 

In what ways are these frameworks challenging to learn?

1. Angular 


Mastering Angular requires learning associated concepts such as TypeScript and the MVC architecture. Angular also has a steep learning curve, thereby requiring lots of time and effort, but it pays dividends in terms of understanding how the front end works.


2. React


You can set up your React environment in about an hour using React's Getting Started guide. Stack Overflow already includes solutions to the most common issues in the documentation. Several advanced features of React require the use of third-party libraries, therefore, learning the core framework is not so steep, but it depends on the additional functionality you add. Learning React does not necessarily imply that you are following the best practices.


3. Vue

The customizability of Vue makes it easier to learn than Angular or React. In addition, Vue is similar to Angular and React in terms of their functionality, such as the use of components, therefore making Vue an easier transition from either of the two. Despite its simplicity and flexibility, Vue permits poor code, making it hard to test and debug.


Even though Angular, React, and Vue have a steep learning curve, their potential is limitless once they are mastered. With Angular and React, you can create progressive web apps using WordPress and WooCommerce.

  • Size and load times

Since caching and minification are pretty standard nowadays, library sizes won't be as much of a concern. The sizes of the various frameworks vary significantly (Angular is the largest), but they are still quite small, given the size of the average webpage (about 2MB according to the most recent statistics). Furthermore, you can use a CDN to load these libraries as it is highly likely that the user has already installed the library locally.


  • Components

There are components in all three frameworks, regardless of whether we are discussing Vue, React, or Angular. Each component receives an input and responds to it. The UI of the page generally changes as a result of this behavior change. Components allow for reusable code in our applications, i.e., in an e-commerce site, a component might be a cart, and in a social network, it might be a login box.


4. React

An interesting fact about React is that it combines the UI and behavior of components. Here's the code for creating a hello world component in React. In React, the same code block is responsible for creating UI elements and controlling their behavior.


5. Vue

The main difference between Vue and React is that UI and behavior are also elements of components in Vue, which makes the process more intuitive. In addition, Vue provides great flexibility, allowing you to combine the appearance and functionality of components from within a script. Vue can also be pre-processed instead of using CSS, which is an excellent feature. The functionality of Vue can be seamlessly integrated with other libraries, such as Bootstrap.


Here is an excellent reference that compares how the same to-do list app looks on React and Vue and contrasts the differences between the two frameworks.


6. Angular

The components of Angular are called directives. Angular can track and attach specific behavior to directives by tracking them on DOM elements. Angular divides UI components (in the form of HTML attributes) from their behaviors (in the form of JavaScript code). In comparing Angular to React, this is what sets Angular apart.


Part 3: A brief history of Vue vs React vs Angular

To fully appreciate their philosophy and evolution over time, let's first talk about the history behind these frameworks.

How it all started

As of 2010, Angular was released by Google, making it the oldest. It typically uses TypeScript to execute JavaScript. Angular 2 came out in 2016 (and AngularJS dropped the "JS" from its former name). Angular 2+ is also known as Angular. Despite AngularJS (version 1) still getting updates, the focus will be Angular. As of November 2020, Angular 11 is the latest stable version.


Facebook released its first version of React in 2013. It’s no surprise then that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp use React extensively. As of October 2020, the stable version is 17.x (with smaller incremental updates since then).


In the group, Vue, also known as Vue.js, is the youngest member. Evan You, a former Google employee, developed it in 2014. Even without the backing of a large company, Vue has seen a significant shift in popularity over the past three years. In September 2020, version 3.0 was released (with some smaller incremental updates since). The Vue project is funded by Patreon. Currently, Vue 3 has its own GitHub repo and is written using TypeScript.


Check out this Vue.js Tutorial for Beginners.


Here's an overview of Angular vs React vs Vue, based on their status and history:


The history of Angular vs React vs Vue


  • License

It’s always advisable to check the license of an open-source framework before using it. The MIT license is used by all three frameworks, which provides limited restrictions on re-using even in proprietary software. Before using any framework or software, make sure you understand the license terms.

Here is a summary of the MIT license in plain English.

  • Popularity

Due to their popularity, "Angular" and "React" are difficult to gauge from Google Trends. However, the number of stars that their GitHub repositories receive is a good proxy for their popularity. Vue's stardom unexpectedly shifted in mid-2016, and recently, Vue joined React as one of the most popular frameworks.


                              Star rating for Angular, React, and Vue projects on GitHub


In addition to the job market, popularity can also be measured by what the job market is like for Angular vs React vs Vue: 

The job market for Angular vs React vs Vue 

Job boards are the best sources of information about job market trends.


In late 2018, the number of jobs requiring an Angular or React skill set was roughly the same, whereas Vue played a far lesser role (about 20%).

Google Trends provides a relatively up-to-date analysis of the search trends during the last 12 months for jobs related to React, Angular, and Vue. See the graph below:

If you'd like to look up job search trends in your area, Google Trends breaks your search down by geographic location.


According to the current job market, learning Angular or React is your best bet. Due to Vue's popularity over the last three years, it may take some time for projects to implement Vue, or for new projects to adopt Vue before they attain a maturity level that commands a greater number of developers.

Part 4: Community and development


After familiarizing yourself with each framework's history and recent trends, we will evaluate their development by examining the community. Since the beginning of the year, all of the frameworks have been shipping incremental releases regularly, which indicates that continuous development is in full swing.


In the following table, Angular, React, and Vue is compared according to GitHub statistics (and Vue numbers also include the separate Vue 3.0 repository):


Vue has a massive number of watchers, stars, and forks when compared to React. These figures demonstrate Vue's popularity among users and its value in comparison with React. In contrast, Vue has fewer contributors than Angular and React.


According to one theory, Vue is entirely driven by the open-source community, whereas Angular and React are heavily influenced by Google and Facebook employees.

Statistically, all three projects indicate significant development activity, and this will presumably continue. Based on just these statistics, it cannot be decided not to use either one of these frameworks.


You might also want to consider GitHub's "Used By" badge, which needs to be enabled by the repository owner. It shows how many other GitHub repositories are dependent on it. The GitHub repo for Angular currently shows 1.7 million users, React shows almost 5.7 million, and Vue shows over 167,000 for both repositories together. Although Vue is the newest framework, it does not capture the full picture of demand on an overall basis, so there is quite a difference among the three frameworks.


In this battle between Angular, React, and Vue, who is victorious?

Let's summarize the characteristics of each framework at the end of this article to try to answer the question: Which framework is right for you?

The React community has contributed a great deal to React, which is just old enough to be mature. It is widely accepted globally and has a great job market to show for this acceptance. For developers who want some flexibility, startups, and those just getting started with front-end JavaScript frameworks, React is a very good choice of tool to execute amazing front-end software and web applications.


React’s easy integration with other frameworks also provides a great deal of flexibility to Software Engineers.


Vue is the newest player in the market without the backing of a major technology company. In the last few years, it has taken off as a serious competitor for Angular and React, and this is especially true since Vue 3.0 was released. Perhaps, this is why Chinese giants like Alibaba and Baidu choose Vue for their front-end JavaScript frameworks. If you’re a huge fan of simplicity, choose Vue.

You might find these Bootstrap Vue admin templates interesting. 


The Angular framework is however more mature, has a greater number of contributors, and is a complete package i.e. you don’t have to install external libraries to get Angular running as it comes with a lot of in-built functionality. The learning curve is steep and the concepts of development in Angular may be intimidating to new developers.

TypeScript developers and companies with large teams may find Angular to be a good choice. You might find these Angular admin dashboard templates useful.


There are both benefits and drawbacks to each of these libraries. You may find that one of these is more suitable depending on the type of project you’re working on and your specific requirements. However, before deciding on which framework to use, ensure to carry out your research, especially when working on a business venture and not a personal project.


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