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March 17, 2022

Comparing AngularJS vs. VueJS: Key Similarities and Differences

AngularJS

With AngularJS now end of life, many organizations are considering AngularJS alternatives and how to migrate. One of those options is VueJS, a JavaScript-based front-end framework. However, there are differences between AngularJS vs. VueJS that teams need to account for before they make a change.

In this blog, we discuss the major similarities and differences between AngularJS and VueJS, with a close look at differences in architecture, scope, ease of use, and overall performance.

AngularJS vs VueJS: Key Similarities

Sit down with Vue and you may start noticing some surface-level similarities to AngularJS. This is because Vue, like many modern front-end frameworks, drew much of its inspiration from what it perceived as the best parts of AngularJS. Meant to act as a lightweight and modernized alternative, Vue strips out much of the extra functionality of AngularJS in favor of a more extensible modular design. However, they both stand as strong front-end JavaScript frameworks.

Differences Between AngularJS and VueJS

Though AngularJS share some key similarities, there are a number of differences between the two frameworks, including differences in architecture, scope, usability, and performance.

Architecture

AngularJS is often described as a model-view-controller (MVC) or model-view-viewmodel (MVVM) based architecture. In contrast, Vue exists almost entirely as the "viewmodel" of MVVM. This along with other factors, has meant that the scope of Vue is much more limited, but it also has led to other differences.

As an example, one of the better-known features of AngularJS is its two-way data-bindings, allowing for data from the model and view to automatically be synchronized. While reliance on this feature can greatly simplify some application designs, it's often at the cost of performance and complexity. As such, while Vue does support two-way data binding, it discourages their use.

This difference, and many like it, helps Vue in terms of scaling and performance. However, application which heavily rely on such features may find larger architectural changes necessary when trying to move away from them.

Scope

Vue's approach to scope differs greatly from AngularJS's. Keeping itself simple, Vue relies on its ecosystem to expand functionality. The result of this is the ability to scale and adapt to the needs of an application. Need Vue in just one portion of one page? Vue can handle that. Need something larger and more structured? There are libraries within the Vue ecosystem for that. There's always an option to add functionality to Vue, and that makes it fit a much wider range of needs.

AngularJS, while having quite a bit of functionality packaged into it, expects you to use AngularJS for all your needs and to follow its rather opinionated structure. This can be helpful starting out but causes friction as requirements shift and scope increases.

Ease of Use

One of the greatest strengths of Vue is its flexibility and ease of use. Owing to its lightweight design, Vue is able to offer a much easier developer experience, with a much smaller API footprint. One of the strengths of this approach is that Vue's learning curve is much shallower. This combined with strong tooling means getting started with Vue tends to be a relatively painless process in comparison to many more "complete" frameworks.

AngularJS sits somewhere on the other end of the spectrum. With a vast API and limited tools, it can feel daunting and requires a much greater understanding before real progress can be made. This is mitigated over time as familiarity grows but is ultimately a pain point in using the framework.

Performance and Speed

A lot of AngularJS's performance issues stem from its fundamental design. Changes to the application state must be tracked with so-called "dirty checking" during its digest cycle. As an application grows, this process becomes more and more expensive. Worse yet, trying to optimize around it leads to unintuitive designs and additional work.

Vue solves this problem by strongly preferring a one-way data flow and relying on an event driven system for propagating changes. The result is a system which does not require large state comparisons or digest cycles. Instead, it uses an asynchronous queue to propagate changes independently.

Final Thoughts

Your investment in the AngularJS ecosystem will ultimately be the greatest indicator of whether Vue is the right fit for migration. Given its lightweight approach to web frameworks, Vue can be a great replacement which allows you to slowly migrate an application over while maintaining much of the same functionality. However, to get the most of Vue you'll want to break away from some of the discouraged behaviors from AngularJS.

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