As the landscape of web development continually evolves, so do the frameworks and libraries that power our applications. If you're still using AngularJS for your projects, it might be time to consider making the transition to React. In this blog post, we'll first explore the reasons for migrating from AngularJS to React, and then we'll cover step by step how to perform the migration both manually or with an automated tool.
Note: This article will cover migrating AngularJS (sometimes referred to as Angular 1) to React, not Angular (sometimes referred to as Angular 2+) to React. Although AngularJS is the predecessor of Angular, AngularJS and Angular are completely different frameworks!
As of January 2022, AngularJS is no longer supported. Regular updates are crucial for open-source software to ensure its relevance, security, and functionality. As technology rapidly evolves, updates enable open-source projects to adapt to new environments, address emerging security vulnerabilities, and incorporate user feedback. These updates not only enhance the user experience but also foster a sense of community engagement and collaboration, as contributors continuously refine the software. By staying current, open-source projects can maintain their effectiveness, attract a wider user base, and demonstrate a commitment to quality and innovation.
AngularJS was groundbreaking when it was introduced, but its architecture has aged over the years. React, on the other hand, embodies modern development paradigms. It embraces component-based architecture and one-way data flow, making it more aligned with current best practices in web development.
React boasts a thriving ecosystem with a vast collection of libraries, tools, and resources built around it. The community is vibrant and constantly innovating, offering solutions to a wide range of challenges. This translates to better support, faster issue resolution, and access to a wealth of knowledge when compared to the shrinking AngularJS community.
React's Virtual DOM optimizes the rendering process, resulting in improved performance. The Virtual DOM efficiently updates only the necessary parts of the actual DOM, minimizing resource-intensive operations. This can lead to snappier user interfaces and enhanced user experiences.
Migrating an entire codebase can be daunting, but React offers a smoother transition. You can gradually introduce React components into your AngularJS application without needing to rewrite everything from scratch. This incremental approach allows for flexibility, testing, and minimizing disruption to your ongoing projects.
React benefits from an array of modern tooling, including the powerful development tool "React DevTools." This tool provides real-time insights into component hierarchies, state, and props, streamlining debugging and improving overall development efficiency.
While AngularJS provides integrated solutions like ngModel, React's flexible state management can be customized to fit your project's needs. You can choose from libraries like Redux, Mobx, or even React's built-in Context API, tailoring your state management to the complexity of your application.
As the industry moves forward, technologies tend to become obsolete over time. AngularJS is gradually fading away as newer alternatives gain prominence. By migrating to React, you ensure that your projects stay relevant and aligned with the latest industry standards.
Install Node.js if not already installed, as React applications require Node.js for building and development. Utilize tools like Create React App (CRA) or Next.js to quickly set up a React project with a predefined structure, configuration, and development server.
The CRA setup will generate a directory structure like this:
Although React doesn't enforce any particular directory structure, here are a couple of the most common approaches:
Find the root level Angular index.html template and convert it to App.tsx.
Next, find the AngularJS routes in the application and note the top level Angular templates and corresponding controllers. Convert these templates into React components, and then add the controller logic at the top of the React TSX file. AngularJS routes typically look something like this:
Finally, convert the remaining angular templates to React components.
Find the remaining controllers, directives, and services, and move component specific logic to the corresponding React components, and move the remaining logic to utility files.
Move all static assets, including CSS, images, SVGs, fonts, etc.
For larger codebases, we recommend automating this process with a tool like Second. Connect Second to your GitHub account, run a module, and get a pull request! If you need additional help with this migration, whether you are doing it manually or automatically with Second, please connect with one of our migration experts on Discord.