Angular vs Aurelia: Who Wins?

Angular vs Aurelia: Who Wins?

Angular and Aurelia are popular web development frameworks based on JavaScript. Our article on this topic compares Angular and Aurelia in a variety of areas to determine the best choice.

A web application framework (WAF), also known as a web framework (WF) supports the development of web applications, which includes web application programming interfaces (APIs), web resources and web services. WAFs standardize the approaches developers use to build and implement web applications, largely by automating common tasks. For example, they often include libraries of routines that perform tasks like database access, session management and creating framework templates. These routine help promote the reuse of code, which reduces development time.

Many WAFs are currently available, so selecting one the best requires you to compare them in many areas. Aurelia and Angular are popular JavaScript (JS) client frameworks that decision makers often consider when developing applications for desktops, mobile devices and the web. The use of JS is currently a critical factor for software development frameworks, according to a 2018 survey by StackOverflow showing that nearly 70 percent of developers consider JS to be their primary coding language.

Both Aurelia and Angular include the modern features needed to build complex applications such as HTML, routing, single page application (SPA) and user interface (UI) composition. However, significant differences in their performance and capabilities also exist, requiring careful consideration of many trade-offs.

Angular

Angular is an open-source TypeScript-based framework developed by the Angular Team at Google, along with its community of organization and individuals. TypeScript is an open-source programming language developed by Microsoft and first released in 2012. Its primary difference from JS is that TypeScript does more code checking at compile time.

Angular is a ground-up rewrite of AngularJS and is generally considered a separate product. Angular was initially released in 2016 and is currently in version 9.0.0, as of February, 2020. Active support for this version of Angular will end in July 2020 and long-term support (LTS) will end in July 2021.

A survey in early 2020 shows that the number of people who have used Angular and plan to continue using it has dropped by 2 percent compared to the same time in 2019. Furthermore, overall interest in Angular dropped by about 1 percent.

Aurelia

Aurelia was initially released in 2015 and is currently in its first version. Developer interest in Aurelia peaked in mid-2016 in the United States. As of mid-2019, interest was about 25 percent of that peak. This trend is typical of other JS frameworks; initial interest rises quickly and then fades as developers turn their attention toward newer products.

Convention over Configuration

Aurelia favors convention over configuration, so it has minimal impact on development. This software design paradigm, also known as “coding by convention,” reduces the number of decisions that developers need to make, ideally without sacrificing flexibility. David Heinemeier Hansson introduced this philosophy in Ruby on Rails, another web development framework. However, it’s closely related to earlier concepts in software development like the principle of least astonishment and sensible defaults.

Coding by convention essentially means that a developer only needs to specify an application’s unconventional aspects. For example, if a model has a class called Sales, the database will have a corresponding table called “Sales” by default. The developer doesn’t need to write code for these names unless deviating from this convention. Aurelia’s behavior is similar when writing configuration files; the developer only needs to specify settings when the desired behavior deviates from the convention.

Modules

Aurelia is a collection of JS modules that serve as a platform for building applications for web browsers, desktops and mobile devices. Building applications in Aurelia generally consists of composing simple components with standard JS and TypeScript classes, along with an HTML template. These modules implement specific features of Aurelia such as the following:

  • Binding
  • Dependency injection
  • Metadata
  • Routing
  • Templating

Developers can use many of these modules individually in any JS project, including Node.js.

Open Web Standards

Aurelia also uses the Document Object Model (DOM) standard, which is independent of both platforms and language. This standard places web documents in a tree structure such that each node in the structure represents part of a document. Aurelia implements its own HTML parser and JS extensions, while also leveraging DOM APIs to optimize performance. It’s also based on the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Components, which will allow Aurelia applications to evolve as this standard advances without requiring major rewrites.

History

Rob Eisenberg is a central figure in the development of both Angular and Aurelia. He discussed his reasons for leaving the Angular team at Google to develop Aurelia in a 2016 interview with Cuttlesoft. Rob’s approach to software development is heavily influenced by his love of music, which he also studied in college. He views software development as a combination of art and reasoning, just as with musical composition.

Open-Source Advantages

Rob is a strong proponent of open-source software, which has greatly affected his career as a professional software developer. He regards the developer community as one of its greatest advantages because it provides a sense of camaraderie that allows developers to easily get help. It also means a closer relationship between developers producing the source and its users, which help the code grow more easily. Another advantage of open-source software is that bugs are identified and fixed faster because more eyes are looking at the code. Developers also have greater freedom, since there aren’t any owners to dictate the course that development should take.

Enterprise Support

Developers can build commercial add-ons for Aurelia that support enterprises. Organizations can form a support level agreement (SLA) with Aurelia that puts both development teams in touch with each other. Enterprises can submit support tickets that receive priority according to the terms of the SLA. This added value is worth the cost for many enterprises, since they can obtain the advantages of open-source software while retaining the support of proprietary software. Aurelia will also support version 1 clients for a year after the release of version 2, while users make this transition.

Future Developments

Rob expects the trend towards open-source development to continue growing. Software development is already at the point to where some open-source code is a virtual necessity. Organizations that have previously been reluctant to adopt open-source development are beginning to recognize its benefits. More developers want open-source, making adoption more a matter of management and company politics than a technical issue. Major players like Apple and Microsoft are embracing open source, and other developers will soon follow suit.

Microsoft in particular has kept software development as part of its core competency, which isn’t the case with Google. Most of their revenue comes from ads, so they take a very different approach to software development. While they are working on Angular as an open-source project, they don’t consider it to be a Google product nor do they consider Angular developers to be their customers. On the other hand, Microsoft does consider .Net developers to be their customers. This difference in business perspective has profound implications for open-source developers.

Reasons for Leaving Google

Rob left Google due to irreconcilable differences he had with the rest of the Angular team. He felt their design choices wouldn’t be sufficiently flexible when Angular was implemented. He also thought Angular’s development process was disconnected from its user community, especially when work began on version 2. Despite Google’s strong interest in supporting its users and availability of data, it never produced any case studies or use cases for Angular.

The Angular development team is organized as a subteam of Google’s Adwords Customer Relationships Management (CRM) team. Anything Angular does is will thus be driven by Adwords CRM system because it isn’t an independent product. Angular doesn’t have a business side because it’s funded internally by Adwords, which has its own agenda.

Take Away

Rob’s take away from his time at Google is that companies are spending millions of dollars to develop software on JS platforms without official support from the makers of those platforms. The system at Google simply isn’t set up so that a software development firm can simply offer Google money to fix a bug. In practice, the company would have to hire a development team on the side to do it, which would likely be a breach of Angular’s terms of service (TOS). Rob left Google because he realized that this structure was creating business problems that no one at Google was working on to any significant extent. He couldn’t solve them while working on the Angular team because the solution is to create a company and product with the structure needed to provide accountability to its customers.

Comparison

The Slant favors Aurelia over Angular for a client-side JS model-view-viewmodel (MVVM) framework as of 2020, ranking Aurelia third and Angular fifth. The MVVM software architectural pattern promotes separation of graphical user interface (GUI) development with that of business logic, generally through the use of a markup language or dedicated GUI code. This model exposes data objects such that developers can easily manage and present them to users. Important areas to compare Aurelia and Angular include the following:

  • Convention over configuration
  • Standards compliance
  • Popularity
  • Commercial backing
  • Language support
  • Routing
  • Documentation
  • Interoperability

angular javascript web-development programming developer

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