The emergence of stable library options like React, Vue, and Angular has helped encourage the increasing popularity of web apps. However, another competitor that might be worth considering is the comparatively newer and lesser-known Svelte.
React quickly became popular after it was released by Facebook nearly a decade ago, as it helped developers build interactive and seamless user interfaces. While React remains dominant in the world of UI, Svelte offers a new and appealing approach to UI.
Is Svelte or React better for developing web apps? The answer depends on what you want to prioritize when it comes to creating your digital product. Let's take an in-depth look at each library to help you make a decision that is best suited to your project.
Released in 2016, Svelte is a front-end component-based framework created in response to dominant frameworks like React. Free and open-source, Svelte allows developers to potentially build faster and smaller apps than React apps. This is thanks to its ability to compile HTML to code that directly manipulates the Document Object Model (DOM).
Rather than carrying out most of its work in the browser like React and Vue, Svelte processes application code in the compiler which can help to avoid runtime overhead.
Svelte was created by Rich Harris, a software developer on the New York Times graphics team, and is maintained by a core group of team members.
In addition to the fact that there's no virtual DOM because Svelte is a compiler, another feature is that the syntax is simple, and there are typically fewer lines of code when compared to React and Vue. This means that developers can avoid errors and save time.
Developers can also build web apps based off of their requirements without concern about unnecessary overhead using Svelte. Without the virtual DOM, the number of layers separating the app and the browser are decreased, leading to a highly optimized and faster product.
Finally, with the help of declared variables, Svelte updates data automatically.
Though relatively new, Svelte has been adopted by a number of huge companies.
This list of companies includes:
In a number of large-scale developer surveys, Svelte comes out on top again and again. Notably, it had the largest number of satisfied developers in the 2020 State of JS and was chosen as the most loved web framework in 2021 over at Stack Overflow.
The UI components are maintained by Meta, while improved versions are released by the vast community of developers and organizations behind the framework.
Wondering what the difference is between React and React Native? Check out our complete guide here.
Even though there are a lot of features that make Svelte appealing to developers, React is the first choice of many dominant players on the web (and for good reason.)
One notable feature is that the code of React is easily readable and simpler than many of the other options out there. It also allows developers to identify and fix bugs quickly and easily. When it comes to developing interactive, intuitive, and engaging web and mobile apps, React is often the best choice on the table.
Developers can also move data across the app without having to change the DOM, thanks to the component-based architecture of React.
Last but not least, the virtual DOM creates an elevated user experience compared to other popular libraries and helps speed up the web development process. By being able to update every little change in real-time, virtual DOM allows for fast updates without interrupting the user interface.
React is a highly popular front-end framework and is used by some of the biggest companies in the world.
These companies include:
The primary similarity between Svelte and React is that they are both front-end development frameworks that developers can use to create UI interfaces.
They were both released under the MIT license and are free and open-source. This means that Svelte and React can both be used without any restrictions for commercial purposes and projects.
Whether Svelte or React is right for you depends on your purposes and needs during development.
React is typically used for the following:
Svelte, on the other hand, is relied on by developers for creating things.
These things include:
Even though the lightweight and fast user experience provided by Svelte offers several advantages, it also comes with more limitations than React. It offers more maintainable code, a smaller bundle size, and allows you to achieve stellar performance without virtual DOM.
React is a good choice when you want to prioritize using a library with a huge community or support, not to mention a major company (Meta) behind it. Because it's such a popular library, it's also easier to find developers that are well-versed in React than Svelte.
React is also the better option if you value predictability and testability.
On the other hand, Svelte has a less steep learning curve for beginners and is said to be more intuitive by some developers. A great choice for building simple web apps, using Svelte offers you speedier render and load times.
While Svelte has grown quickly, it only recently reached a point where it is being used for enterprise-scale apps. This means that there simply aren't as many use cases for this library as there are for the mega-popular React.
For many companies that are building web apps, choosing the newer and less-tested library of Svelte might not make sense when mainstream frameworks like React are, by all accounts, excellent options.
Let's look at some of the key differences between Svelte and React to explore the question of which library is better for web apps. The typical use cases for each of these libraries are different, so it's not necessarily a question of which is better but what your purposes and requirements are.
When you pit Svelte and React against each other in terms of performance, React comes out as the winner. Using error boundaries to prevent crashes, React is the better framework when it comes to robustness.
With React, the UI can be updated without the entire page reloading through the use of a virtual DOM and the generation of overhead code during runtime. Because of this, React is quite a bit more flexible than Svelte.
That being said, Svelte wins when you compare the speed of the two frameworks. Though data must get updated in real DOM structure in Svelte, which makes it less robust and flexible than React, this does provide a faster user experience.
If you're using React, you can run end-to-end tests in a realistic browser environment. This can help to decrease the amount of time it takes to get your app to market and therefore increase how much value you receive from it.
With Svelte, on the other hand, you can use the testing library in order to run unit tests.
When it comes to bundle size, Svelte is the clear winner.
A smaller bundle size makes for more responsive sites that run smoothly. This is essential when it comes to UI render time and loading time.
Many libraries and tools are available with React, and you can enjoy a faster development process thanks to its extensive component library. Svelte doesn't come with this benefit and instead has a sparse and lightweight library.
For this reason, developers creating a more robust web app will likely have to invest in third-party products.
Another important difference between the two frameworks is the size of the community surrounding them. React is incredibly popular and has been around longer, meaning its community is huge. For people learning React or troubleshooting issues, this is a major benefit.
Svelte, on the other hand, has a smaller community because it is still a relatively new framework. As its popularity grows, though, the size of the community grows with it.
One of the key features of React is the virtual DOM. In short, the virtual DOM serves as a temporary memory storage for changes made to the user interface.
When dealing with real DOM, web apps are slowed down every time there is a change because each instance triggers an update. The process of making updates is delayed when using virtual DOM, as it waits until it has the most efficient opportunity to make the update during a process that is known as diffing or the reconciliation process.
While one of the main selling points of React is its use of virtual DOM, Svelte was able to prove that great performance can still be achieved with the use of real DOM. With Svelte, the DOM gets updated whenever there are updates to the state of the web app.
Load time is something that all web app developers are concerned with, and this is an area where Svelte wins hands down. The GZipped version of React is 42.2KB, including ReactDOM, while it's only 1.6KB for Svelte.
Because of this massive difference in size, Svelte makes it possible to create flawlessly responsive web apps that load faster while also lowering bandwidth costs.
There are wider selections of packages available with React.
Still relatively newer, Svelte offers a smaller (yet quickly growing) range of packages.
If reusing components is something you find valuable, React will edge out over Svelte.
Svelte doesn't let you reuse components, nor does it let you nest components. React, on the other hand, has a reusable nature that can help teams develop better user experiences.
Built to develop user interfaces, React beats out Svelte when it comes to apps that rely on a lot of interaction from the user. This library makes it easy to manage lower-level algorithms, and developers only have to write code for the view model of the interface. Additionally, loading times and performance are enhanced by the virtual DOM.
Svelte initially grew out of the needs of the web developer Rich Harris who needed quick-to-produce, fast, and tiny bundle-size web UIs.
If scalability is a major concern, React is typically considered the better option.
At this point, there are simply more resources available to aid in scaling web apps created with React.
If you've come up with a brilliant idea for a web app, you've already done the hard part. Now it's simply time to take that gem of an idea and turn it into a reality. That being said, there is a huge learning curve when it comes to web app development, and you might find that hiring out the development of your web app saves you from having to read highly technical articles comparing different frameworks and libraries.
At Planetary, we specialize in helping our clients transform their vision into a custom digital product. No matter how big or small your company is, we'd love to hear about your next project and discuss the process if you choose to take us on as partners. If that sounds good to you, drop us a line today.
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