What is React ?
Before we begin our comparison, let’s first review the React framework.
React focuses specifically on the user interface and was created to aid in the frontend aspect of building applications, including handling the view layer of web and mobile apps. React is component-based, meaning that the different parts of a React application are broken down into smaller components and then organized inside higher level components. These higher level components are where the final structure of the application is defined.
React allows us to create reusable components. This means that we can create a component and use it multiple times in different parts of our application. Such components help in reducing the number of lines of code we write and the time spent on writing code, as well as helping developers follow the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle.
JSX in React
Although JSX is not a requirement in React, it does make writing React applications easier. Using the
createElement() or and/or
appendChild() methods in React will result in longer and more complicated lines of code.
Below is an example where JSX and
createElement() are used:
Alternatively, here’s an example without JSX:
Both will return the same output – “JSX is better!” – but the simplicity of JSX gives it the edge in the long run, especially with a large codebase.
Virtual DOM in React
The concept of the virtual DOM became more popular with React. According to the React documentation, “The virtual DOM (VDOM) is a programming concept where an ideal, or ‘virtual,’ representation of a UI is kept in memory and synced with the ‘real’ DOM by a library such as ReactDOM.” The virtual DOM is able to be frequently manipulated and updated, without using the DOM APIs.
This VDOM approach enables the declarative API of React: You tell React what state you want the UI to be in, and it makes sure the DOM matches that state. This abstracts out the attribute manipulation, event handling, and manual DOM updating that you would otherwise have to use to build your app.
The way it works is that whenever a change is made in an application, the API checks for the new change and sends that changed update to the original DOM. React does this to ensure that the development process runs efficiently. Ultimately, React is a framework designed to make the development process as a whole easier for developers.
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Let’s highlight some of Aurelia’s key features.
- Module-based framework: Aurelia is broken down into a collection of feature-oriented modules. It is composed of smaller focused modules that can be used together as a full fledged framework. Users can also select the actual modules they want and import them to create custom solutions
- Excellent documentation: Aurelia’s documentation is well detailed and easy to follow through. It is extremely descriptive and well maintained. The documentation is helpful for beginners, experienced users, and language enthusiasts
- Open-source: Surprisingly, despite having so many features, Aurelia is not closed source. Instead, it is free for all to use, and its code is open sourced under the MIT license
Aurelia vs. React
Aurelia and React are both open-sourced projects that can be used to achieve the same result. However, different methods are used to obtain those results.
Another point of difference is binding. With Aurelia, two-way data binding comes out of the box, (it also has one-way data binding), but in React, there is only one-way data binding. Two-way data binding does not exist. Using a one-way data binding makes it easier to debug components in an application, but also having the option of two-way data binding can be advantageous in certain situations.
Core capabilities like templating and routing are provided in Aurelia, so developers do not need to use different libraries to achieve those functions. In React, routing function is handled through the use of a library.
Aurelia and React have a lot of similarities, as well as some differences, and both are perfect for specific use cases. If you’re looking to get a project running in a short time with only a select number of modules, Aurelia would be a better option. But if you want to build an application with a lot of state management, React is your best bet.
hyperHTML is the perfect library for developers who prefer working with something lightweight and minimalist.
According to the hyperHTML documentation, it is “a DOM & ECMAScript standard compliant, zero-dependency, fully cross-platform library suitable for declarative and reactive Web Applications.”
Let’s highlight some features.
- Fast rendering: hyperHTML rendering is quickly and efficiently, and only parts that have been changed will be rerendered. This fast performance rate gives it an advantage over some other frameworks and libraries
- Focus on template literals: hyperHTML builds its core features on top of template literals, which are simply string wrapped in backticks. Using template literals, every interpolation is addressed once as a unique DOM operation, and updated at lightning-speed when needed
hyperHTML vs. React
hyperHTML and React are both efficient, open-source libraries for creating well functioning applications. However, while they are similar in some ways, they differ significantly in others.
Whereas React is big on virtual DOM, hyperHTML intentionally avoided it. This helps in reducing its RAM and CPU usage because there are no virtual DOM operations running alongside it. Also worth noting here, hyperHTML is extremely lightweight at 4.5kb while React is 5.3kb.
With all of this said, the better framework for you depends on what you plan on using it for. If you want something lightweight with little to no stress in getting started, you can go with hyperHTML. If you want a library with a large community support, wide range of plugins, and organized coding conventions, React may be a better option for you.
Below are some reasons why people love Svelte.
- Low bundle size: Svelte has a significantly smaller bundle size when compared to many other frameworks. This may be because Svelte does not have client side dependencies (only developer dependencies)
- Reduced amount of code: One of Svelte’s goals is to reduce the amount of code that developers write. With less code written, there is a lower chance of writing buggy code, and more time to focus on doing other things
Svelte vs. React
Svelte’s performance and plain language features have made it one of the top frameworks to look out for. Some similarities between React and Svelte include their component-based architecture, their availability of efficient tools for building user interfaces, and their open sourced status.
Unlike React, Svelte does not make use of JSX. Instead, it uses a HTML-like syntax with a powerful built-in templating engine. This will help people who are new to the language get started quickly without spending time learning how JSX works.
Worth nothing, Svelte’s bundle size is also very small when compared to React. This is because it has no client side dependencies, nor does it have complex state management libraries.
Svelte’s small bundle size and extremely fast build time will always be a good choice when you want to build fast and lightweight applications. But if you want to build a large application with various integrations, React may be a better option.
- Easy to understand: Understanding Preact takes less time compared to many other frameworks out there, and if one already understands React, Preact will be a walk in the park to get started with
- Lightweight: A notable feature of Preact is how it is small in size. It’s easy to use in small projects and large projects alike
- Wide browser support: Preact has excellent browser support, although there may be need to use polyfills for IE7 and IE8
- Performance: Preact runs very fast and renders quickly, helping to ensure a hassle free development process
- Documentation: Preact’s documentation is very detailed and has examples that can help familiarize users with the framework in no time
Preact vs. React
Preact is a good option when you like how React works, but you want something lighter and faster. You can start using Preact in the browser with no build required, which gives developers time to focus on other parts of their projects.
Although there are a lot of similarities between both of them, Preact does not intend to be a complete reimplementation of React. As such, there are some notable differences.
Unlike React, Preact does not make it compulsory to use
className. Instead, it allows and encourages the use of
class, which is more familiar to people who do not use React.
Preact also does not include
propTypes validation in its core because, according to official documentation, “not everyone uses
propTypes is supported with preact-compat or can be used manually.
Just like many other frameworks, Preact does not enjoy the robust ecosystem that React has. It is, however, a really good library to use when building a variety of applications quickly and efficiently.
As you may have noticed by now, one of the major advantages of React is its extensive features and versatility. That said, new frameworks are always being created to improve the developer experience.
In this article, we discussed Aurelia, hyperHTML, Svelte, and Preact, and compared each framework to React. If you’re interested in trying a new framework, the ones mentioned here are great options to start with.
It can be tempting to try the newest and shiniest frameworks around, but whichever framework you choose, make sure it is the best solution for the application that you’re building and that you use it to maximize its strengths.
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