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Comparing Front End Frameworks: AngularJS vs EmberJS

By plaoha
May. 17, 2016

Complexity with front end development is growing because of the requirement to make more feature rich and engaging applications for users. To speed up the development time, engineers use common practices that are known to simplify some reoccuring problems to basically scaffold these solutions as the foundation of what the app can do. These common practices or reusable components are encapsulated within frameworks or libraries. In the past decade, there has been a large surge in new frameworks which highlights the increasing desire to create more of these feature rich apps. Today we'll look at two popular trending frameworks, AngularJS and EmberJS.

Can't go wrong with either one

These frameworks both have a strong chance of maintaining long term support because they both have active user communities that contribute to there growth and both provide the tools to get almost everything a modern web app requires. Let's look at what is contained in these frameworks and what are the benefits.

Angular changed the game of MVC

Angular 1.x of the framework has been around for some time and focused its effort of providing a complete MVC framework from the start. Others before it required combining features from multiple frameworks but Angular was the first to bring what developers needed for MVC into one place. Separating the concerns of the MVC meant there had to be a way to combine and scale these parts progressively. In Angular 1.x this is done using two-way data binding, dependency injection, and directives.

Then Angular upped its game to a new level

Angular is in a paradigm shift. The shift is in Angular 2.x which is still in the works but attempts to improve on some of the bottle necks developers have faced by simplifying the framework. These goals include performance improvement, native support, and server-side rendering. Performance improvement comes from one-way data flow and immmutable data. Native support comes from integrating with React Native which provides native rendering to bring hybrid apps to a new level. Server side rendering will speed up the page load time and improve SEO by making the app more accessible to web crawlers. Angular 1.x is the most popular framework so this makes it the safe candidate of choice for new projects. When Angular 2.x becomes available the landscape of which to choose might be different but for backwards compatibility Angular intends to allow both version 1.x and 2.x of the framework to work in coexistence.

Ember simplifies the solution of utilizing MVC

Ember aligns itself with some ambitious projects. It's been used in Apple Music on iTunes, discourse.org for forums, and ghost.org for blogging. Ember 1.x introduces features that will be finalized in Ember 2.x and thus provides a great degree of support for backwards compatibility. The focus of Ember is convention over configuration which means the developer has less technical design decisions to make, improving simplicity out of the box without losing flexibility. Ember comes with a large set of opinionated tools that help with the whole development process. Each tool is tailor made to work as part of the larger unit so the thought process behind how the tools were meant to be used helps to make them very useful.

How does one compare to the other?

Comparing the frameworks, Ember is the quickest to get an app up and running. It has an opinionated way of working, and so from a learning perspective you have to understand the way it works to really get moving. This simplifies things when working in large teams or over long term projects because those who are familiar with Ember will understand how the app is supposed to work right away. Angular on the other hand is moldable and allows a lot more technical decision to be made, so from a learning perspective you can focus on what you think is needed for the project and not how the framework needs to operate. It's because of this ability to decide structurally how the app will work that Angular requires less code for very simple projects.

Apples vs Oranges, which is more satisfying?

Choosing one over the other is a tough choice. Having worked more closely with Angular, I would choose it for more innovative or experimental projects that are done in really small teams. This would allow for a great degree of freedom to see what the app needs to become. For larger projects or for a more well defined app, I would use Ember so that there was better cohesion within the team and in the long term the app will be more maintainable because the conventions created by the framework enable this.