Svelte vs. React: A Comprehensive Comparison
Last updated on
Table of Contents
Are you curious about how Svelte's compiler-based approach differs from React's runtime?
Do you wonder how reactivity works in each framework and how they handle state management?
Are you interested in learning how the simplicity of Svelte's code compares to React's JSX syntax?
In this article, we will dive into the key differences between Svelte and React, comparing their approaches to compilation, reactivity, simplicity, and overall developer experience . By the end, you'll have a better understanding of what sets these frameworks apart and be equipped to choose the right one for your next project.
Architectural Differences: Svelte as a compiler vs. React's runtime
Svelte's compiler-based approach
It's important to note that Svelte offers other interesting features, which you can learn more about in this post: Svelte vs. SvelteKit: The Difference.
Here is the code generated by the Svelte compiler for the reactivity example we will see below:
React's Virtual DOM and runtime
React, on the other hand, uses a Virtual DOM to manage changes to the application's state. The Virtual DOM is an in-memory representation of the actual DOM, and React updates this virtual representation whenever a change occurs. Once the Virtual DOM has been updated, React compares it to the actual DOM and applies the minimal set of changes required, a process known as "reconciliation ."
The Virtual DOM approach allows React to batch updates and optimize rendering performance. However, this also means that React applications need to ship with a runtime framework, which can lead to larger bundle sizes compared to Svelte.
Reactivity in Svelte and React
Reactivity is a fundamental aspect of modern web development, allowing for efficient updates to the UI as the application state changes. Both Svelte and React offer unique approaches to handling reactivity, which we will explore below.
How does reactivity work in Svelte?
In Svelte, reactivity is built into the language itself. To create a reactive variable, you simply use the
keyword. Whenever the value of the reactive variable changes, Svelte automatically updates the DOM to reflect the change.
Check out this blog post by Rich Harris, the creator of Svelte, to understand the language's approach to reactivity: Svelte 3: Rethinking reactivity
Here's an example of a simple counter component in Svelte:
Svelte also provides built-in stores, which can be used for more advanced state management. Stores are essentially containers for reactive values that can be shared across multiple components
. To create a store, you can use the
function from the
Here's an example of using a store in Svelte:
In the above example, the
symbol is used by Svelte to mark a statement as reactive.
How does reactivity work in React?
React handles reactivity through its state management system. In class components, you would use the
method to update the state and trigger a re-render. In more recent versions of React, the introduction of hooks allows for a more functional approach to state management. The
hook is used to declare a state variable and provides a function to update its value.
Here's an example of a simple counter component in React using hooks:
For more advanced state management in React, developers often use external libraries like Redux, Jotai, or Recoil.
Comparing the Reactivity Approaches
Svelte's reactivity model is built into the language, making it straightforward to create reactive variables and update the DOM automatically. React, on the other hand, relies on its state management system, which has evolved from class components to hooks for functional components. Both frameworks provide ways to handle complex state management, with Svelte offering built-in stores and React relying on external libraries .
The choice between Svelte and React's reactivity models depends on your project's needs and your personal preference as a developer.
When comparing Svelte and React, one of the most noticeable differences is in their syntax and the way they structure components . This section will showcase the syntax differences between the two frameworks and how it affects code simplicity.
, making them easily understandable for developers who are familiar with these languages. Each Svelte component consists of a single
file, which can include a
tag for CSS, and an HTML markup for the component's structure.
Here's an example of a simple Svelte component:
This syntax is intuitive and easy to read, as it closely resembles the structure of a typical HTML file.
React's Use of JSX
Here's an example of a simple React component using JSX:
In this example, the component's styles are imported from a separate CSS file, and the
attribute is used instead of the standard
attribute to apply styles.
A comparison of the syntax and code complexity
When choosing between Svelte and React, consider how the syntax and simplicity of each framework align with your personal preferences and the needs of your project. Both frameworks have their strengths, and the choice ultimately depends on what you find most comfortable and efficient to work with.
Developer Experience: Svelte vs. React
Developer experience is an important aspect to consider when choosing a framework, as it can directly affect productivity, code maintainability, and overall enjoyment of the development process.
Svelte's Developer Experience
Svelte has garnered praise for its simplicity and ease of use, which contributes to a positive developer experience. Some aspects that developers appreciate include:
Minimal boilerplate : Svelte components require little boilerplate code, resulting in cleaner and more readable files.
Reactivity : Svelte's built-in reactivity makes it easy to manage the state and update the UI automatically when the state changes.
Built-in features : Svelte includes features like built-in stores and transitions, which can simplify state management and animations without the need for external libraries.
React's Developer Experience
React has been a popular choice among developers for years and offers a mature and well-documented ecosystem. Some aspects of React's developer experience include:
Component-based architecture : React's component-based architecture promotes modular and reusable code, which can improve maintainability and scalability.
Strong community and ecosystem : React has a large and active community, offering a wealth of resources, third-party libraries, and plugins to extend its functionality.
Well-established best practices : Due to its maturity, React has a wealth of best practices and design patterns that can guide developers in building efficient and maintainable applications.
Flexibility : React's JSX syntax allows for more flexibility in terms of logic and composition within components, which can lead to more expressive and powerful code.
Comparing Developer Experiences
Both Svelte and React offer distinct developer experiences that cater to different preferences and requirements. Svelte focuses on simplicity and ease of use, with an intuitive syntax and built-in features that minimize the need for external libraries. React, on the other hand, emphasizes a component-based architecture and a flexible syntax, backed by a mature ecosystem and strong community support.
In this article, we've explored the differences between Svelte and React, focusing on their architecture, reactivity, syntax, and developer experience. Both frameworks have unique strengths and cater to different preferences and project requirements:
React provides a flexible and powerful syntax with JSX, along with a strong community and ecosystem that offer a wealth of resources and third-party libraries. React's virtual DOM and component-based architecture have been tried and tested, making it a popular choice for many developers.
Ultimately, the choice between Svelte and React depends on your personal preferences, development style, and project requirements. By understanding the differences and strengths of each framework, you can make an informed decision and choose the one that best aligns with your needs. As you embark on your next project, consider experimenting with both frameworks to gain firsthand experience and discover which one is the right fit for you.