Will AngularJS Survive the Rise of ReactJS?

Since the AngularJS framework was released a few years back, it has been one of the most popular environments for developing web applications. There was no contest between it and older competitors like EmberJS and BackboneJS. And for a while, it seemed like AngularJS development would be on the top of the heap forever. Then ReactJS came along. Developers began looking at ReactJS as possibly being better before some actually decided that it is. Now the question is whether AngularJS can survive the rise of ReactJS or not.

AngularJS is clearly a Google product that enjoys all of the muscle its creator puts behind it – in both name and service. For this reason alone, it was always assumed that the framework would remain the dominant player as web developers bend over backwards to keep Google happy.

ReactJS is a product of Facebook. It is easily argued that Facebook has just as much clout as Google, even though it is not a search engine. Companies of all sizes are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon for marketing and SEO purposes, and it is as easy to search the site for specific information as it is to use Google. But is that enough?

Backward Compatibility Issues Are Serious

ReactJS owes its emergence, in part, to the backward compatibility issues that plague AngularJS. As any AngularJS developer can tell you, every new implementation of the framework has the potential of breaking applications developed under previous iterations. If there is one chief complaint that goes hand-in-hand with AngularJS development, it is the fact that rewrites are required every few years to address backward compatibility issues.

Some would argue that this is not a bad thing. Their reasoning is based on the supposition that the fast pace at which the internet moves demands constant development in order to keep up with all of the innovation. They have a point to some degree. But at the same time, having to do rewrites every couple of years because a new version of AngularJS has broken a ton of things seems to be self-defeating. Constantly rewriting requires time and resources that could be better spent on innovation. In that sense, backward compatibility is almost a necessity.

The strength of ReactJS is that any backward compatibility issues are minimal. Disciples of ReactJS say developers should get at least ten years out of a development cycle before a new version of the framework requires rewrites. No one knows if that is true due to the young age of ReactJS, but there is no reason to believe it’s not based on what we know about the framework and its underlying architecture.

Learning Curves Are Another Issue

The fact that AngularJS is still the dominant player despite its backward compatibility problems says something. It says that AngularJS development must have some sort of advantage that makes dealing with compatibility worth it. That advantage does exist in the framework’s rather minor learning curve.

In other words, AngularJS is a very simple framework that can be learned easily. In its simplicity is also the ability to use it in conjunction with other frameworks without a lot of complex coding necessary. The same cannot be said about ReactJS. The two products have distinctly different learning curves that make AngularJS the clear winner for new developers.

Both AngularJS and ReactJS have their strong points and weaknesses. For now, AngularJS is still the clear leader for JavaScript web applications in the mobile market. ReactJS is catching up, but will it ever be strong enough to seriously undermine the dominance of AngularJS? Only time will tell.

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