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jQuery vs Angular JS: The Differences You Need to Know

A lot of web developers find themselves wondering about the differences between certain technologies in their tool belt. While it's worth noting that jQuery is a JavaScript library, not a framework like AngularJS, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the two come from the same backgrounds. After all, jQuery is incredibly powerful and extensive, that's part of why it's been used to help developers manipulate DOM environments since 2006.

The AngularJS framework didn't arrive on the scene until 2009, offering developers in the space a new way to build dynamic single web page applications that work effectively with the latest web practices. Today, both jQuery and AngularJS play a very important role in helping to support front-end web development, before you jump into the considerations surrounding web hosting.

Here, we'll take a look at the key differences between jQuery and Angular JS, and the best use cases for each of them.

Defining jQuery: What Does jQuery Do for Developers?

Let's start by looking at the oldest option out of the two, jQuery. jQuery is a type of DOM manipulation library designed to help developers use JavaScript with ease when creating applications and websites. For most developers, JavaScript remains to be the most popular and accessible language to use when creating dynamic and interactive web pages, either for themselves or their clients.

jQuery is effective because it takes the complicated coding involved in manipulating the DOM, and transforms it into a simple solution that developers can use to make changes with single lines of JavaScript. Not only does jQuery make life easier for developers, but it can also ensure that you are more productive and efficient in your career too.

The key technical features to be aware of when it comes to using the jQuery library for your development projects include:

  • DOM and HTML manipulation frameworks
  • CSS manipulation solutions
  • JSONP/AJAZ
  • Event handling strategies
  • Animations and effects
  • Cross-browser compatibility

Lightweight features for JavaScript (gzipped and minimised)

Part of what makes jQuery so appealing to modern developers is the fact that it can be used in almost any developmental situation. There are no assumptions made about technology stacks, and you can use jQuery in conjunction with any of your other frameworks, including the Angular JS framework. In fact, it's worth noting that AngularJS was originally designed using an implementation in jQuery known as jgLite.

Since there's no fundamental structure to jQuery, you should have full freedom to create your projects however you like. However, this lack of structure can also be problematic, leading to issues like spaghetti code, and confusion in larger projects.

When to Use jQuery

You should use jQuery if you're looking for a powerful, yet lightweight tool for manipulation in the developer process. jQuery is a simple library of code that's been designed specifically to help you manipulate DOM with JavaScript. Whether this involves designing a from-scratch website alongside a range of vanilla JavaScript or contributing to your pre-existing framework with a new jQuery plugin, it will depend on the unique requirements of your project.

Remember, if you're going to add functionality to an application on AngularJS with a jQuery plugin, you will need to make sure that you're following the right steps to ensure proper data binding within the application. You should never try to call jQuery plugins from within your controller either as you might with a non-Angular app. jQuery is most effective in situations where you require absolute flexibility or specific customised features.

Defining AngularJS: What Can You Do with AngularJS?

AngularJS is a type of JavaScript framework designed to help developers create their SPAs in accordance with best practice solutions for web development. By offering a more structured space to build SPAs, the risk of producing damaged code can be sometimes be limited. AngularJS also allows for a suite of features that help the developer to do more with less code.

AngularJS is a convenient solution for people who want to create more with their development projects that would typically be required using vanilla JavaScript (script without any libraries). Some of the features that AngularJS can offer on top of jQuery include:

  • Templating features
  • Angular directives (an extension to HTML)
  • Two-way data binding solutions
  • Dependency Injection features
  • REST API
  • Form validation
  • MVC Support Options

As you may recognise from the features above, while jQuery is a fast and feature-rich language with a fantastic library and plenty of great tools, AngularJS can be better suited for web application development because it works on JSON data and HTML code. This helps to develop a stronger interactive website and robust applications, but it can also lead to erratic and slow-loading websites in some cases.

When to Use AngularJS

AngularJS is the best solution for developers to use when they want to create robust and powerful applications from scratch. While you might use jQuery to build your overall website, AngularJS gives developers the tools that they need to develop the client side of applications. As well as helping to develop more fully-featured applications, AngularJS can also make it easier for developers to keep their web projects modular and organised to avoid the repetition of code.

Advanced features such as dependency injections and two-way data binding offered by AngularJS can be perfect for helping developers to create more visually stunning and highly engaging applications that might otherwise take months of development time using jQuery and vanilla JavaScript options.

Finishing Thoughts on jQuery and AngularJS

Ultimately, the decision of whether jQuery or AngularJS is best for your web development project will be one that depends on what you're trying to accomplish with your code. Interestingly, you don't necessarily have to replace one with the other or even make the two compete in your development environment. Instead, you can simply make sure that you turn to either jQuery or AngularJS depending on the things that you want to accomplish.

While jQuery is best suited for the DOM manipulation processes common in web development, AngularJS is better suited for application development. In other words, if you're looking to build strong applications, then use AngularJS. When you want to add more functionality, and manipulate DOMs, stick with jQuery.

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