I went out and compiled the information I could find on the two frameworks (And Angular 1.0). Below you will see what the results of this research show.
|Version||1.5.0-rc1 / 1.49||2.0.0 - In Beta||0.14.6|
This table is pretty straight forward, Angular is created by Google and React is created by Facebook.
These tend to be high conversation areas that get started on Reddit and Hacker News.
|DOM||Regular DOM||Regular DOM||Virtual DOM|
|Debugging General||Good HTML / Bad JS||Good JS/Good HTML||Good JS / Bad HTML|
|Debug Line NO||No||No||Yes|
|Unclosed Tag Mentioned?||No||No||Yes|
|Binding||2 Way||2 Way||Uni-Directional|
|Templating||In HTML||In TypeScript Files||In JSX Files|
|Building Mobile?||Ionic Framework||Ionic Framework||React Native|
|MVC||Yes||Yes||View Layer Only|
|Rendering||Client Side||Server Side||Server Side|
Some of the most interesting differences between Angular and React are the size, community, debugging, DOM, and mobile. When talking about mobile, React has its own way of building mobile apps through React Native. Angular doesn’t try to tackle it’s own mobile and allows others, like Ionic Framework, to do this instead.
While the AngularJS 1 community is very large, the Angular 2 community is just gaining ground. This is, in part, due to Angular 2 still being in beta but the traction it has already gotten is pretty outstanding. React’s community continues to grow and become more diverse as well.
When looking at sizes, there are some distinct differences between React and Angular. While Angular 2 is currently about 764k in size, they are going to be trimming a lot of that off in the coming months. React also does not use as much of the MVC model as Angular, so it can get away with having a much smaller size. However, if you include the add-ons to React that make it fully MVC, then you will still come out with a smaller framework size than Angular 2.
Debugging is sometimes the hardest thing to do. I think it is interesting how each framework handles debugging. Angular 2 uses runtime debugging which tends to give you less information than React, which uses compile time debugging.
Finally, I wanted to talk for a moment about the Virtual DOM that React uses. This was a new concept to me and I looked at it more in depth. The Virtual DOM seems to be much faster because you don’t have to work with the heavyweight parts that the real DOM has. Manipulating and changing a virtual copy of your DOM, which is lightweight, and then only pushing the changes that are shown when doing a diff on the DOM, is pretty awesome.
After spending a few days researching and reading other articles on these two frameworks, I have found that there is a lot of give and take when it comes to comparing the two. Angular is the better choice for some projects while, for others, React is better. As always you should asses the project that you are working on to find out what best suits your needs. Hopefully these comparison charts can help you with that decision.
For more information, check out Pluralsight's library of courses that pertain to this.
Those courses should get you started on the right track. If you really want to throw a wrench in and learn something new then check out RiotJS