When we talk about software development, one of the most critical things to consider is a front-end framework. Today, there is a vast range of different technologies for the customer side of web solutions. At the same time, some market leaders are preferred by most developers and companies. Angular is among the best possible technologies applied for high-traffic websites since it occupies a top-three position in this niche.
This article outlines the key Angular pros and cons compared to other front-end frameworks. However, before diving into a detailed description, let’s analyze several basics and define what Angular is.
What is Angular?
Angular is an open-source framework made and maintained by Google for building highly dynamic web app interfaces. Although this framework was introduced on the market in September 2016, it has an older version, also known as AngularJS. Of course, AngularJS was a predecessor of a new version, but the particular technologies are incredibly different.
Thus, Angular should not be regarded as a modern update of AngularJS since its authors rewrote it completely. In this case, the Angular pros and cons we will analyze in this blog post later cannot automatically correspond to AngularJS. So let’s dive deeper into both technologies.
Angular & AngularJS
In the beginning, the key advantage of AngularJS was the opportunity to transform HTML-based documents into relevant dynamic content. For instance, before AngularJS, HTML as a web markup language was usually static, which means that users could not have the active interaction with interfaces on the HTML pages.
Although several approaches to building dynamic, single-page apps existed, they were incredibly complicated for convenient engineering. The appearance of AngularJS architecture helped reduce the development effort necessary to create dynamic content, and the users got web pages that provided dynamic forms and components.
In 2016, Google released Angular 2. This framework served as a complete rewrite of AngularJS by the same team, which matched the increasingly up-to-date modern web requirements.
It was a radical difference between the old AngularJS and the new version because it was impossible to update from one to another. The app migration to Angular 2 required numerous modifications due to different syntax. Thus, in all further updates, the Angular team provided specific migration techniques and tools that made the transition process from the old version less painful.
The topic of Angular advantages and disadvantages has always caused hot discussions among front-end programmers. We’ll try to put our personal preferences aside and describe the main benefits of using Angular based on the plain facts.
Component-based architecture is one of the most important pros of Angular if compared to its successor. In layman’s terms, it means that each piece of the app’s UI along with an underlying feature forms a separate component. For instance, Facebook’s user interface includes such components as a newsfeed, friendliest, chat, stories, and so on. All of them are self-sufficient, even though they belong to the same web solution. Their methods, APIs, and structures may vary, but they can easily ‘communicate’ with each other.
For programmers, component-based architecture is a real help. It allows them to update the independent parts of the app’s functionality without the fear that other features will crush due to the changes. In addition, components are reusable. A development team can write a component once and then use it in numerous similar elements across an application. Finally, this form of architecture improves the code readability, making it much easier to understand for new developers.
A mobile-first approach is another crucial benefit of Angular. Modern people use their smartphones a lot. Statistics show that we open our mobile devices from 30 to 58 times a day. And the general amount of time an average person spends on his or her cell phone daily exceeds three hours. It means that websites must be optimized for mobile usage; otherwise, they risk losing a significant portion of the traffic.
With Angular, programmers can create lightweight web solutions that load fast, which is ideal for smartphones. A special technique called lazy loading improves the performance of a web application by loading components in a browser only when the relevant route is hit. As a result, users don’t have to wait for ages even when they open a feature-rich web app on a cell phone.
Two-way data binding
The main advantages of using Angular include two-way data binding syntax. It means that the data is connected to the view, so any data-related changes in a model are immediately reflected in a view and vise versa. For instance, when a user interacts with the app’s UI (the view), the underlying model is updated automatically. It allows programmers to work faster since synchronization doesn’t require additional coding. Besides reduced web development time, two-way data binding results in cleaner code and better app performance.
Asynchronous programming is crucial for modern web applications because it improves the speed of operations and prevents the system from getting stuck. This model enables the execution of multiple commands at the same time. So when a user calls a function, the app keeps running and can perform other actions. To compare, the synchronous programming model lets apps execute commands only line by line. If a system utilizes this approach, it can start the next action only after the previous one is finished. To implement asynchronous programming, Angular uses the RxJS library.
Using Angular isn’t just about using the platform itself. This framework is supplemented with a long list of resources for Angular developers: tools, add-ons, plugins, etc. They help developers to build complex web solutions in a shorter period, resolve the issues more effectively, automatically generate documentation, and perform many other tasks.
There is also the Angular Material that aims to streamline the designing process. It’s a UI library that provides a variety of prebuilt elements that can be easily integrated into a web app. As a result, a web development team spends less time on building a product which can save a lot of money for a client.
Single-page apps serve as dynamic apps. Thus, when a user navigates the Angular application, no page reloading comes in place. If you use Angular, the information is received and sent back like in every typical system. However, the Angular mobile apps do not need to load new pages from a relevant server every time a user performs any action on the page. That is one of the most critical advantages of Angular.
In addition, among the helpful features of the Ivy renderer is tree-shaking. This feature refers to the component tree on the rendering phase, which means removing unused chunks of code and making the apps smaller and faster for loading. Such an approach allows optimizing the size of large apps and improving their performance.
As one of the most important benefits of Angular, differential loading is also used as an optimization technique needed for loading content and optimizing bundle size. It allows creating two different bundles for both browsers – legacy and new ones. Angular applies recent syntax and polyfills for new browsers and creates a separate bundle with stable syntax for the legacy ones. Thus, differential loading helps reduce bundle size and load speed for relevant browsers and enhances the overall performance.
Code reusability is among the top reasons to use Angular. With the Angular framework, you can divide the UI components of your app into multiple separate elements. In turn, all the UI elements are encapsulated with their functionalities and are independent. Therefore, when your Angular team wants to scale the application or create a new one with similar elements, they can reuse the chunks of code applied for building the elements.
Apart from that, thanks to Angular’s component-based architecture, unit testing also becomes easier. Since you can decouple one element from another easily, various testers can work on providing the high quality of different parts of the application.
Dependency injection is considered among the most controversial benefits of Angular. Although the Angular team may love the particular feature, developers also find it time-consuming to integrate dependency injection in their Angular web app.
Dependency injection serves as a design pattern that allows improving the app’s modularity and efficiency. That is the way to create objects that rely on other objects. With this feature in place, Angular also allows delegating several server-side services to the relevant part on the client’s side. Ultimately, dependency injection helps resolve different productivity problems and increases the speed of the development process.
Angular Material serves as a collection containing ready-to-use, well-tested UI elements and modules that correspond to Google’S Material Design principles. For example, Angular Material includes different UI components like navigation patterns, form controls, buttons, or indicators. These components are well-documented, written depending on the newest guidelines, and adapted to fit different browsers.
With these modules, you can simplify the design workflow for teams. That allows adding new components and developing apps rapidly with minimal influence on performance.
The Angular CLI (command-line interface) makes the development team’s job easier since it provides a suite of helpful tools needed for coding. Besides, thanks to its powerful built-in features, you can extend the Angular CLI with third-party libraries. That allows solving unusual and complicated software problems. After all, the command-line interface also helps with creating projects, adding files, performing updates, debugging testing, and deployment.
Now, it’s time to cover the key drawbacks of Angular. Since it’s a state-of-the-art technology that is regularly updated, there are only a few disadvantages that we want to pay your attention to. However, neither of them can significantly affect the software development process or the app’s performance.
Migration from AngularJS
As mentioned, Angular and AngularJS have a lot of differences. A web solution that is based on AngularJS cannot be simply updated to Angular, so migration is the only path possible. The good news is that Angular offers detailed Upgrading Recommendations and provides many migration tools. So, the process shouldn’t be too painful. Still, it will take some time and resources.
But, note, this disadvantage is only relevant if you have a legacy system that needs to be updated. In case you want to build a new web app, it’ll have no impact on the project.
Steep learning curve
Frequent version releases
The Google team tries to keep the Angular framework relevant, so it releases new versions two times a year. Unfortunately, the benefit of having up-to-date technology goes hand in hand with the necessity to update Angular-based solutions very often. In most cases, it causes no problem, but sometimes the abundance of Angular versions can become a real pain in the neck for DevOps engineers.
Limited SEO capabilities
Angular is efficient for creating powerful single-page web applications. At the same time, with such web apps, the disadvantage of limited SEO capabilities appears. In most cases, single-page Angular apps are rendered on the client’s side. It means that web crawlers of search engines such as Google or Bing cannot see the full structures and content of relevant web pages. Due to this limitation, it is impossible to list a website appropriately in search engine results.
But there can be some techniques and packages to address this issue, although they may require extra effort from the development standpoint. For example, an Angular universal is an approach to rendering the Angular app of the server itself. This technology is incredibly effective since it provides server-side rendering for Angular applications.
A lot of boilerplate code
If you are creating a simple application, there is a lot of boilerplate code the app needs. Although, with specific tools such as StackBlitz, it is becoming much easier to try code ideas or experiment with no need to install anything on your hardware. But, at the same time, if you want to start building an Angular app on your system, you have to install multiple things, and even the simplest “Hello World” app will contain a lot of unnecessary code.
When to use Angular?
So when can you use Angular for your project? Let’s analyze some best use cases for this framework below.
Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
The idea of Progressive Web Apps appeared in 2015 after Google had introduced the particular term and became incredibly popular within the software industry. Many big players, including Twitter and Alibaba, switched to the particular all-encompassing form quickly and obtained significant benefits. Therefore, Google decided to provide all the next versions of Angular (post-2015) with in-built support to create a PWA. After all, Angular is an efficient tool for building dynamic PWAs for companies across various industries.
Enterprise web apps
Large enterprises and institutions require large-scale software to provide the ongoing maintenance of their databases and other comprehensive functionalities. That makes Angular the best possible tool for enterprise web apps since it brings unique benefits. With Angular, your app will be scalable, maintainable, and have solid security protocols.
Dynamic web apps
Many web apps like Forbes, Xbox, or YouTubeTV are thriving thanks to their dynamic content. Their users engage with the websites depending on how quickly the updates appear in response to users’ requests. Angular allows building highly compelling dynamic single-page apps. That makes it a great option for dynamic web apps.
Web and mobile apps
In addition, combining Angular and NativeScript allows creating both web and mobile apps by reusing main chunks of code. Another effective option is to apply Ionic instead of NativeScript and create hybrid mobile applications that will have a native look and feel.
Types of applications for which Angular is the best fit
Angular is a versatile platform that can be used for all web applications. But while some types of solutions can also be built with other frameworks like React or Vue.js, there are projects for which Angular is just indispensable. They include:
- Enterprise-scale applications
- Complex web solutions with rich functionality
- Long-term projects with numerous requirements
- Products that are planned to be scaled up
Angular also offers a high level of maintainability which makes the applications based on this technology quite stable. That’s why Angular is always a good choice for business systems that are expected to bring continuous benefits to a company.
Like any other technology, Angular has its pros and cons. But it’s hard to argue that the advantages of this framework outweigh its drawbacks many times. One of the greatest things about Angular is that you practically cannot go wrong with it since it suits most web solutions just perfectly. So, if you have tough times choosing a front-end framework for software development, Angular is probably exactly what you’re looking for.
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