AngularJS, Angular 2 & Angular 4: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to developing front-end web applications, few platforms are better utilized than the Angular family. Comprised of platforms including AngularJS, Angular 2, and Angular 4, this series brings us sites like Google Pay and USPS Tracking. But with numerous development platforms to look after, it’s possible that Angular and AngularJS have got your head spinning. If you’re trying to understand the difference between AngularJS, Angular 2, and Angular 4, look no further.

How it all began

Let’s start at the beginning. Looking for a better solution to single-page web applications, Google developed AngularJS in 2009. With version 1.0 officially released in 2012, AngularJS pushed declarative programming for the creation of user interfaces. Web developers everywhere used AngularJS to simply craft single-page web applications.

Soon, however, Google understood that AngularJS could be clunky. The platform allowed for quick development on the coder end, but pages loaded slowly for users. These shortcomings led to Google developing a new code—Angular 2—in 2016.

The shift between AngularJS and Angular 2 was drastic, establishing two unique approaches to front-end web development. When Google introduced Angular 4 as an updated code in 2017, skilled coders rejoiced at the new single-page development platform. These newer versions established two branches of the Angular family: AngularJS and Angular, which encompasses Angular 2 and Angular 4. But what are the actual differences between Angular and AngularJS?


The first major difference between AngularJS and Angular is the platforms’ architectures. AngularJS is based on the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design. The MVC has been likened to a sandwich shop, where the Controller is the person interpreting your order—the cashier. The cashier tells the person in the back to make the sandwich. This hardworking sandwich chef is like the Model in the MVC. Finally, the delicious PB&J sandwich the chef hands you can be thought of as the View. Every participant (i.e. level) in the MVC has a job to do. The levels interact to get the job done.

Angular 2 and Angular 4, however, utilize a component-based architecture. Component-based architectures function like puzzle pieces, cutting a code into sections and allowing those sections to fit together or apart. Most importantly, each puzzle piece can be separate from the others. Component-based interfaces are considered more dynamic, while MVC-based interfaces ensure that each level of an application has its own job.


Another key distinction between AngularJS and Angular are the platforms’ supported languages.  AngularJS uses JavaScript to build applications, while Angular 2 and Angular 4 use either TypeScript or JavaScript. TypeScript is a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles down to JavaScript for execution.  While still in development, TypeScript statically verifies that the arguments passed to a function match the types declared in the function signature, helping in the eradication of run-time bugs. That can be handy for new and experienced coders, alike.


As we’ve already noted, AngularJS allows coders to quickly develop a clunkier application. For users, AngularJS leads to slower page loading. That said, AngularJS can often be developed more quickly than Angular. If you’re a coder wishing to develop fast, AngularJS may be the right choice.

Angular 2 and Angular 4, on the other hand, have been optimized for user speed. Angular 4, specifically, consumes less space and thus performs faster than its JavaScript counterpart. Overall, Angular 2 and 4 have shorter user load times than AngularJS. For a more advanced coder with user experience on the brain, Angular is a great choice.

Intended use

Finally, AngularJS and Angular are designed for different devices and audiences. Developed almost a decade ago, AngularJS simply wasn’t built with mobile in mind. Angular 2 and Angular 4, however, are optimized for mobile and allow coders to develop for a wide variety of platforms.

All members of the Angular family can help you develop superb single-page web fronts. Whether you’re looking for an MVC architecture or something component-based, Angular platforms can equip you with the power to develop beautiful single-page user interfaces.

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