Angular vs. React: Who wins the front end battle in the enterprise?

The Google and Facebook front end development frameworks have large developer communities, but different demand in the enterprise vs. startup world, according to a Cloud Academy report.

The most in-demand programming languages and developer jobs across the globe These coding languages are the most in-demand among companies, according to a Hired report.

In the battle between front end development frameworks Angular and React for enterprise dominance, Angular comes out on top, but React is catching up, according to a Thursday report from Cloud Academy.

As a refresher, Angular is a full stack web application framework based in Typescript, commonly associated with the front end architecture trend toward Single Page Applications, and maintained by Google. Meanwhile, React is a user interface library based in JavaScript, typically associated with the trend toward component-based architecture, and is maintained by Facebook. Both frameworks have large developer communities and organizations supporting them, but many differences in terms of use cases, the report noted.

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Angular is more popular than React when it comes to enterprise use, the report found: Among full stack developer job posts on Cloud Roster over the past two quarters, Angular was mentioned in 59%, while React was mentioned in 37%.

Part of this is likely due to the analysis examining full stack developer job descriptions, not strictly front end developer jobs, the report noted. It's likely that front end developers have a stronger reason to use React than full stack developers, who operate up and down tech stacks. Angular has also been around a few years longer than React, which means the increased demand for those developers is partially likely to the progression of legacy technology decision making and software availability, according to the report.

Despite this, React is popular among developers, and its use is growing quickly, the report found. React was named the no. 2 most-loved framework in StackOverflow's 2018 developer survey, second only to Tensorflow. In that survey, 69% of developers said they loved React, compared to 55% who said they loved Angular. Only 31% said they dreaded working with React, while 45% said they dreaded working with Angular, the survey found.

The StackOverflow survey also found that while in 2017, 20% of developers used React while 44% used Angular, by 2018, that gap was closing: That year, 28% used React, and 37% used Angular, the survey found.

In the enterprise, developers are typically asked to work in either React or Angular, not both, the report found. Of job postings that mentioned React, only 26% also mentioned Angular. And of job postings that mentioned Angular, only 7% mentioned React, according to the report.

Demand for either framework also depended on the size of the company, the report found: Larger companies recruit more frequently for Angular, and smaller companies recruit more frequently for React.

React's popularity among developers is likely to break into the enterprise in the coming years, due in large part to its switch in late 2017 to the MIT license, removing certain legal issues for companies that want to use the user interface library, the report noted.

"You can expect drastically different conversations among your technology teams during front-end re-architecture conversations in the coming months: React is very popular and the licensing showstoppers have been removed," the report stated.

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The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Angular was mentioned in 59% of full stack developer job posts, while React was mentioned in 37%. — Cloud Academy, 2019
  • Larger companies recruit more frequently for Angular, and smaller companies recruit more frequently for React. — Cloud Academy, 2019

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By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.