Gather a group of frontend developers together to talk shop, and there’s a good chance that a debate will break out between those who prefer Angular as their frontend stack of choice and those who choose React. This holds true when comparing any two technologies. There’s always a preference. At Giant Machines, we regularly navigate this divide with clients, as client teams are frequently trained on different tech stacks.
In our view, the focus on what tech stack to use isn’t the only thing to focus on. The who is just as, if not more, important. The people who will be maintaining this tech stack in the long run is what we like to focus on, particularly for newer companies that don’t have a tech team yet. Both Angular and React (or insert any technology in their places) are perfectly adequate for building modern frontend applications in their own way.
We believe that creating the best web apps hinges more on who is building them and how these products are built. Plainly put: Tech decisions should be made not with just technology in mind but with the people in consideration. Things we like to consider include hiring needs as well as how future colleagues would feel working on either stack, with human-centric design at the core of whichever path is chosen.
Angular vs. React: Interest, Usage, and Retention
Giant Machines has undertaken extensive analysis to gauge community sentiment around Angular and React, with data gathered from Stack Overflow, State of JS, JetBrains, and NPM Trends. Stack Overflow, State of JS, and JetBrains have all surveyed tens of thousands of developers around their tech stack usage and satisfaction levels in annual surveys dating back to 2020, although there may be some overlap among their various respondents. NPM Trends has tracked weekly downloads of each library as a proxy for usage over time. Taken together, these resources illustrate notable differences in interest, usage, and retention between Angular and React.
The Stack Overflow and the State of JS studies assessed developers’ interest in Angular and React, with interest defined by not working with / learning a language or technology previously but wishing to do so in the future. In both surveys, interest in React significantly exceeded interest in Angular, a pattern that has held steady over time.
Among Stack Overflow’s roughly 70,000 average annual survey respondents, interest in React has stayed between 22% to 25%, compared to declining interest in Angular from 10.6% in 2020 to 7.2% in 2022.
For State of JS’ survey participants (a population that grew from under 24,000 in 2020 to nearly 40,000 in 2022), there was total awareness about both Angular and React, indicating that everyone surveyed knows about the array of tech stacks available. However, more than twice as many respondents (47% vs. 20%) in 2022 expressed interest in wanting to learn React compared to interest in learning Angular.
While interest offers an abstract view of community attitudes around each tech stack, usage provides an example of community adoption for Angular, React (and even other frameworks). The data from NPM Trends, State of JS and JetBrains all showed React getting used more widely than Angular. For example, NPM Trends’ tracking of weekly downloads found that React was cumulatively downloaded more than 20 million times through February 2023, compared to just over 3 million downloads for Angular.
This should all be taken into consideration when choosing, though. While some of these surveys have very high community sentiment, usage might be low and the technology might be too new. A lot of hype about a technology doesn’t necessarily mean you want to build your next product on top of it.
Retention provides a view to the future: are developers sticking with a particular tech stack, or are they looking elsewhere to find the frontend tools they need? According to the data from Stack Overflow and State of JS, React is the stickier stack. Although more than half of Stack Overflow respondents say they “love” Angular and wish to continue developing with it, that figure jumps to nearly 70% among React developers. The differences are starker among State of JS respondents: the proportion of Angular developers who say they are satisfied with the stack and would use it again (~43%) is barely half that of React developers (~85%).
Developer sentiment appears to prefer React as the tech stack of choice overall, and by extension would provide access to a broader talent pool due to its familiarity and popularity. Although the who may favor React on aggregate, individual choices between Angular and React must always come back to individual circumstances, particularly around one key question: how can these tools be used to put humans at the center of everything we create?