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The difference between Angular and AngularJS

It's important to cover the differences between Angular and AngularJS. Was the transition successful? Was it a good thing for developers? Read on and find out.
Daniel Zacharias

Code Power Team

December 5, 2023

Web development is moving forward at a phenomenal pace. Functional and aesthetic trends come and go. So do the frameworks behind them. It’s not uncommon for one to disappear and make way for another.

One of the most drastic changes occurred at the very beginning of 2022. Google announced that it was pulling the plug on AngularJS. No more updates to fix security, no more support for jQuery issues, and no more effort to improve browser compatibility. AngularJS is over. Welcome Angular. The king is dead, long live the king, that sort of stuff.

Almost a year and a half later, it’s important to cover the differences between Angular and AngularJS. Was the transition successful? Was it a good thing for developers? Please, do read on, and you’ll find out.

The older brother: AngularJS

The main purpose of this JavaScript-based web framework was to develop single-page applications. It was free, open-source, came with a lot of ready-made components, and was surprisingly easy to use. In addition to development, it could run most of the testing. This, in turn, reduced the costs of development.

AngularJS covered two types of architectures, namely model-view-controller (MVC) and model-view-viewmodel (MVVM). It was able to extend traditional HTML to present dynamic content. It achieved this by synchronizing models and views through two-way data binding.

The younger sibling: Angular

Between 2011 and 2021, AngularJS ruled. Then came Angular, a complete rewrite of its predecessor. We’re still talking about an open-source framework, albeit this time based on TypeScript. It’s still free and still focused on developing single-page web apps. You can use it to write, build, test, and keep your code up-to-date.

Angular comes with a wide selection of components and libraries. You can use it to sort out routing, client-server communication, and forms management. It’s also the go-to of millions of developers and content creators.

For now, Angular and AngularJS sound pretty similar. So what’s the catch? What makes one better than the other?

What are the differences between Angular and AngularJS?

Now, we will finally cover the major differences between the two platforms and (hopefully) show how you can benefit from them.

1. The language

When comparing Angular and AngularJS, the most obvious difference lies in the language each uses. AngularJS rests on JavaScript while Angular has TypeScript at its core. What does this mean to the web developer?

AngularJS uses terms of scope and controllers. This makes it directive-based. Angular, on the other hand, relies on the hierarchy of components which, obviously, makes it component-based. Because of this, Angular is more robust and less likely to contain type errors.

There is, however, one thing you ought to bear in mind. TypeScript is actually a typed superset of JavaScript. This means it has backward compatibility with previous incarnations but also means that it’s a bit more complex. As a consequence, Angular tends to have a steeper learning curve.

2. The directives

It’s no secret that both frameworks use directives. The difference lies in the distinct ways in which they use them. The old AngularJS had a purpose-made pack of them included by default. Today’s Angular relies on standard directives.

Let’s say you want to make a two-way binding. AngularJS would use the ng-model for two-way, and the ng-bind for the one-way bind. Angular, on the other hand, will simply use the ngModel for both.

3. The architecture

AngularJS has the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern as its central component. The Model manages the data. The View generates the output. The Controller receives input and converts it to commands.

What about Angular? This framework uses directives with templates. There are two of them: structural directives and attribute directives. In terms of efficiency, they are more up-to-date and in sync with what most modern front-end frameworks use.

4. The performance

We’ve already mentioned the two-way data-binding feature of AngularJS. This usually signals reduced development. The downside, however, is somewhat slower performance on the user end. Angular is pretty much the opposite. The developer may take more time with it but, due to better structure, it’s much faster for the app user.

5. The modularity

When Google decided to replace one web framework with the other, a large chunk of the core functionality moved to modules. It’s a major trend in software and web development right now. Modularity refers to the practice of dividing an application into self-contained modules. It’s a great way to organize and manage components, services, and directives. The efficiency lies in keeping them separate and the code neater.

6. The support for mobile devices

It may come as a surprise that AngularJS wasn’t particularly mobile-friendly. Maybe that’s one of the main reasons why Google decided to abandon it. Angular is a different story altogether. The new framework provides full mobile support. The apps developed with it work on all major mobile browsers. This makes them far more inclusive and accessible and is perhaps the most substantial difference between Angular and AngularJS in the eyes of the user.

7. The SEO

Another mistake that Google initially made was not including robust search engine optimization (SEO) support in AngularJS. Since we are talking about web frameworks (with emphasis on the web), it was high time that this feature was introduced. Angular fully supports it, making apps easily crawlable for search engines.

Moving forward

Comparing Angular and AngularJS, one can’t help but come to the conclusion that the new framework is a move in the right direction. From the languages they use to their approach to architecture, we can see a clear step forward. Add to this full compatibility with mobile browsers and increased modularity and you’ll get the gist of it. 

Extensive community support and improved flexibility mean a better experience for the developer. The final product, in turn, delivers greater accessibility and increased speed on the user end.

Are you working on beginner projects or creating advanced dynamic apps? Either way, opting for Angular is well worth it.

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