Two javascript frameworks compared: Svelte vs React with some futuristic background

12 May 2023

Svelte vs React

Irelia Codeheart, Senior Developer

In today's cutting-edge web development scenario, the choices among frameworks and libraries for building interactive user interfaces (UIs) are vast. Two such frameworks that have been making waves are Svelte and React. Both have unique propositions and strengths. This section of the caisy blog introduces you to Svelte and React and outlines the significant differences between them.

Overview of Svelte

Svelte is a modern JavaScript framework created by Rich Harris. Unlike other web frameworks that do most of their work in the browser, Svelte shifts that work into a compile step. The hallmark of Svelte is its simplicity. It allows you to write less code and manage complexity better. Not only is it easy to understand and get started with, but it also reduces development time. Another notable aspect of Svelte is its compile-time approach, which results in highly optimized JavaScript code for improved performance. It natively supports animations and transitions, which adds to the UX.

Overview of React

React is one of the oldest and most popular web frameworks, known for its flexibility and efficient rendering with its Virtual DOM. Originally developed by Facebook, React.js has grown to have one of the largest ecosystems with tons of libraries and tools available, with widespread use among both developers and employers. Despite being one of the more complex libraries, its scalability, extensibility, and large community has kept it among the top choices in the field of web development.

Differences between Svelte and React

There are several differences between Svelte and React. To start with, their approach to handling the DOM is fundamentally different. React maintains a Virtual DOM and uses a diffing algorithm for efficient updates and rendering, whereas Svelte compiles your code to efficient imperative code that directly mutates the actual DOM.

In terms of size, Svelte applications typically have a smaller bundle, thanks to the removal of the framework's footprint in the production build. React applications can end up being larger in size because the React library must be included in the bundle.

When it comes to writing components, Svelte uses a more straightforward syntax that can be easier to pick up than React's JSX. Additionally, certain features, like animations and transitions, are built into Svelte, reducing the need for third-party libraries.

Furthermore, while React has broader job market demand and a more mature ecosystem, Svelte's ecosystem is growing quickly, with increasing adoption and satisfaction rates among developers. Despite being newer, Svelte is a strong contender against React, especially for developers prioritizing fast development and simplicity.

These differences, along with each developer's specific needs, can help influence the choice between Svelte and React. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into these differences and how they can affect the development process.

Comparison of Key Features

Both Svelte and React bring distinct features and functionalities to the table whereby each contributes to the developer experience and the final product’s performance. In this section, we will delve into these key features including code efficiency and syntax, server-side rendering, bundle size, and support for animations and transitions.

Code Efficiency and Syntax

When it comes to writing code, React relies on a virtual DOM and interprets the code at runtime. React leverages JavaScript XML (JSX) letting you write HTML within JavaScript. While this makes React flexible and powerful, it does make the learning curve steeper, especially for beginners.

On the other hand, Svelte compiles the code at build time, resulting in highly optimized and efficient JavaScript code. Moreover, with Svelte, you directly interact with your DOM making the syntax simpler. So, developers might find Svelte easier to learn and its code more readable.

Server-side Rendering: Next.js and SvelteKit

React’s broad ecosystem includes Next.js, a JavaScript framework built on React, and provides an excellent solution for server-side rendering (SSR). Similarly, Svelte offers SvelteKit. While both enable you to pre-render your apps on the server before sending it to the client, Next.js may have a slight edge due to its larger community and extensive library support.

However, SvelteKit is rapidly developing, and with its faster development and shorter code, developers who prioritize simplicity and speed might find SvelteKit a formidable competitor.

Bundle Size and Performance

Bundle size makes a big difference in your app’s performance. Notably, Svelte, with its compile-time approach, results in a leaner and faster bundle as compared to React.

React uses a virtual DOM and diffing algorithm, which might create some overhead especially in larger applications. Conversely, Svelte, by generating optimized JavaScript code at compile time, removes this overhead, which can lead to a noticeable performance improvement.

Support for Animations and Transitions

React does not have built-in support for animations and transitions and relies on third-party libraries. However, its large ecosystem offers numerous libraries to fill this gap.

In contrast, Svelte provides out-of-the-box support for animations and transitions, making it easier for developers to incorporate these features, making Svelte a great tool for UI-centric projects.

In conclusion, Svelte and React have their own strengths and weaknesses. React with its advanced capabilities and expansive ecosystem is ideal for larger, more complex projects whereas Svelte, with its simplicity, speed and out-of-the-box features, is better suited to fast-development projects or developers beginning their journey in front-end web development.

Headless CMS for developers

Your terms, your stack. Experience unmatched speed and flexibility with caisy - the headless CMS you've been dreaming of.

A graphic showing caisy's benefits for developers, including frameworks and features.

Exploring React and Svelte’s Ecosystem

Ecosystems form a significant part of the decision-making process when choosing a framework, so let's look at them as a next step of comparing Svelte vs React. Having a high-quality ecosystem means an abundance of plug-ins, libraries, and resources for developers to utilize, which can significantly speed up the development process. In terms of Svelte and React, their respective ecosystems contrast quite noticeably.

React’s Extensive Ecosystem

React has been around for quite some time, since 2013 to be precise. Over this period, a robust ecosystem has been developed around React, bolstered by the backing of Facebook, its creator. As one of the most popular frameworks, React boasts an arsenal of libraries, components, and tools that developers can leverage. The large community also means lots of tutorials, stack overflow questions, and guides.

Moreover, what is truly special about React's ecosystem is the job market. As React is extensively used by many large tech corporations, it significantly boosts job opportunities for React developers. Being a competent React developer is highly sought after in the tech industry.

The downside of such a large and mature ecosystem can be the overwhelming amount of options available, making it occasionally difficult for newbies to choose the right tool.

Svelte’s Rapidly Developing Ecosystem

On the other side of the fence, we have Svelte. Being relatively new to the world of JavaScript frameworks (initially released in 2016), its ecosystem is still developing. Despite this, it's evident that Svelte is expanding rapidly. The lightweight and performance-focused nature of Svelte has enamored a large subset of developers, contributing to the development of its ecosystem.

The Svelte documentation has been praised for its clarity and conciseness, making it easier for beginners to understand the workings of the framework. This, coupled with the innovative concepts and efficient performance offered by Svelte, aids in flattening the learning curve.

However, Svelte's ecosystem still cannot match that of React's. The number of Svelte-specific tools, libraries, or job opportunities, while growing, are not as abundant as React's, making it less suitable for large-scale applications.

In conclusion, while React offers an extensive ecosystem, Svelte’s rapidly growing ecosystem shouldn't be overlooked either. It would seem that the choice between the two depends on specific project requirements, developer experience, and personal preference.

Learning Curve: Svelte vs React

Understanding the Complexity of React

React is a powerful JavaScript library developed by Facebook. It uses a virtual DOM, which is a lightweight copy of the actual DOM, for managing changes. React utilises JSX, a syntax extension for JavaScript that allows HTML and JavaScript to coexist. However, the use of the virtual DOM and JSX adds layers of complexity that require time and effort to master.

React's component-based structure allows for reusability, but the way data is shared between these components via props can be confusing for beginners. Adding to the complexity is state management in React which, even with the introduction of hooks, can be a steep learning curve for new developers.

React also relies heavily on third-party libraries. While this brings flexibility, it also means having to learn each library's unique syntax and architecture, adding more to the learning overhead.

import React from 'react';

function App() {
  const [state, setState] = React.useState(0);

  function increment() {
    setState(state + 1);

  return (
      <button onClick={increment}>Increment</button>

export default App;

The above code snippet is a basic counter application in React.

Ease of Learning with Svelte

In contrast, Svelte is a modern web framework designed for simplicity. Svelte does away with the virtual DOM, updating the actual DOM directly instead of diffing and rerendering like React. This results in faster performance, smaller bundle sizes, and in general, a cleaner and easier-to-understand codebase.

Svelte uses a less complex syntax. It combines JavaScript, HTML, and CSS into one single file. This means you don’t need to understand the intricacies of JSX, making Svelte a much friendlier framework for beginners.

  let count = 0;

  function handleClick() {
    count += 1;

<button on:click={handleClick}>
  Clicked {count} {count === 1 ? 'time' : 'times'}

Above is the equivalent counter application in Svelte. This example illustrates how Svelte's syntax is more intuitive and easier to learn than that of React.

A Comparative Overview

When comparing the learning curves of React and Svelte, it's clear that the latter has less complexity in its syntax and architecture. React provides more flexibility through third-party libraries, but this requires extra learning, whereas Svelte has many features integrated out of the box.

Overall, while both React and Svelte have their pros and cons, the simpler syntax and faster performance of Svelte leads to a more efficient and enjoyable developer experience. However, the choice between Svelte and React ultimately depends on the specific requirements of your project and your level of JavaScript proficiency.

Pros and Cons of Svelte over React

In this section, we will walk you through the pros and cons of using Svelte over React. It's important to remember, however, that every project and development team is unique, so what works best will vary from case to case. A clear understanding of both Svelte and React's strengths and weaknesses will allow you to make a confident decision.

Advantages of Using Svelte

Svelte offers a number of benefits that can make it an excellent choice for certain projects. Here are a few key advantages:

  • Performance and Efficiency: As a compiler, Svelte translates your code into efficient JavaScript at build time. This leads to smaller bundle sizes and faster runtime performance compared to React, which relies on a virtual DOM to update the UI.

  • Simplicity and Ease of Use: The syntax in Svelte is simpler than in React, making it easier to learn, especially for newcomers. There's less boilerplate code, which can speed up development and improve readability.

  • Build-in Features: Svelte has built-in support for animations, transitions, and component scoping. These features can reduce the need for additional third-party libraries.

  • Optimized for Specific Use-cases: Svelte excels in projects where small bundle size and quick loading times are critical. It is best suited for developing individual web pages, apps with limited data connection, or projects with heavy use of interactive visuals.

Potential Drawbacks of Svelte compared to React

Despite these benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to using Svelte over React. They include:

  • Smaller Community: React's community is significantly larger than Svelte’s. This translates into more resources, tools, libraries, and third-party integrations available to React developers.

  • Less Extensive Documentation: While Svelte's documentation is good, it’s not as extensive or mature as React’s.

  • Development Tools: React has more robust development tools, including the highly-regarded React Developer Tools.

  • Suitability for Complex Use-cases: For complex or large-scale applications, the comprehensive libraries and tools provided by React may be more suitable.

Remember, these are general observations. Depending on the specifics of your project and your team's background, Svelte could be a better fit, even if React is more widely-used. The key is to understand the trade-offs and make an informed decision based on your specific use case and project requirements.

Examining Use Cases for Svelte vs React

In this section, we will delve into the different scenarios where each framework stands out.

Situations where Svelte may excel

Svelte, a young entrant in the web framework ecosystem, is liked by developers for its simplicity and lightweight nature.

  1. Small Projects and Prototyping: Svelte's simplicity and reduced setup complexity make it an ideal choice for small projects and simple prototypes.

  2. Performance: Due to its ahead-of-time compilation, Svelte could be favored in scenarios where runtime efficiency is crucial.

  3. In Applications Where Size Matters: Svelte compiles components down to highly efficient imperative code that directly updates the DOM. As a result, your app's bundle size can be significantly smaller.

let count = 0; // reactive statement
<button on:click={() => count += 1}>
  Clicked {count} {count === 1 ? 'time' : 'times'}

In the above snippet, the variable count is reactive, and the UI updates instantly as its value changes.

App Types where React could be a preferable choice

Stability, vast community support, and maturity are few of the qualities that make React a reliable choice in many scenarios.

  1. Large Applications: For large-scale applications, React's robustness and extensive ecosystem become essential. The abundance of libraries and tools built around React gives developers enormous flexibility.

  2. When Team is Familiar with React: From a practical perspective, if a team is already well-versed in React, it makes sense to utilize that expertise.

  3. SEO-sensitive Apps: Although both Svelte and React support server-side rendering (SSR), React's mature support, with options like Next.js, may be preferable for SEO-sensitive applications.

const [count, setCount] = React.useState(0);
<button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>
  Clicked {count} {count === 1 ? 'time' : 'times'}

React uses a hook (useState) to create reactive state variables, and a special function (setCount) is required to change the state.

Ultimately, the choice between Svelte and React should be guided by factors such as application requirements, team expertise, and specific use-case scenarios. Remember, there's no 'one-size-fits-all' solution when it comes to choosing the right framework or library for your project.

Looking into the Future: Long-term Sustainability of Svelte and React

As developers, when we opt for a certain technology, it's not just about today's efficiency. We need to consider the future implications for our chosen technology. It's imperative to evaluate the future potential of both Svelte and React, especially when making a decision between the two.

The Ongoing Development and Support for React

React has been around since 2013 and has been an open-source project from the beginning. Over the years, it has accumulated a large community of developers who contribute to the project and have written unprecedented volumes of tutorials, guides, and documentation. React also enjoys the backing of one of the world's largest tech companies, Facebook. This solid community base and the backing of an industry giant give us confidence to believe in React's long-term sustainability.

Over the years, React's popularity has grown, and it has become a go-to solution for many developers. React's development is active, with frequent updates and new features that keep it fresh and competitive. However, React's design is more mature, and future iterations likely continue to focus on performance enhancements and stability improvements.

ReactDOM.render(<App />, document.getElementById('root'));

This code snippet remains much the same with each passing version, a testament to React's maturity.

Long-term Aspects pertaining to Svelte

Svelte, as an emerging tool, presents a different case. Rich Harris, the creator of Svelte, has taken a unique path that, albeit less travelled, shows promise. Svelte does away with the traditional virtual DOM concept in favor of a compile-time approach that is novel and efficient.

Svelte is purely community-driven, which while presenting challenges of resources and development speed, reinforces the decentralized and collaborative spirit in open-source development. Despite being newer, Svelte's popularity is on rise.

import App from './App.svelte';

const app = new App({
   target: document.body

The code above exemplifies how Svelte provides a different approach to application structure.

Comparative Assessment of their future trends

While it's difficult to predict the future, there are certain trends we can note. React, with well-established support and a broad developer base, is likely to remain a reliable option for the foreseeable future. Its solutions and use-cases are matured, and it is firmly established in the industry.

Svelte, on the other hand, is the nimbler, newer option. It carries momentum and a burgeoning user base, and seems to be addressing modern development problems with innovative solutions, which might make it more appealing for developers seeking new methodologies.

However, any decision between Svelte vs React should be both context-centered and future-aware.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Choosing the Right Framework for your Requirements

Finalizing between Svelte and React can be an intricate decision. Picking the right framework banks largely on the specifics of your project and your development team's competencies.

Svelte is a dependable option if you are running a smaller project, seeking a simple approach, rapid development, and leaner code bundles. It is an engaging option if you want less boilerplate, tighter coupling between CSS, JS, and HTML, and a built-in state management system. The learning curve is smoother and precise, making Svelte a top choice for beginners and small to medium-scale applications.

In contrast, React is favored for larger projects due to its expansive ecosystem and community benefits. If your project involves dynamic data, complex user interfaces, and demands scalability, React is a solid choice. It has an extensive array of libraries, a relatively larger community, a rich in-house library of hooks, and support for server-side rendering with Next.js.

Factors to Consider while choosing

Considering that both Svelte and React have their pros and cons, here are some significant factors that developers like you (and me) often weigh when making a choice:

  • Ecosystem & Community: React's ecosystem is broader, but Svelte’s ecosystem is growing rapidly and is known for having a very active and passionate community.

  • Performance & Bundle Size: Both offer speedy performance, but Svelte’s compile-time approach produces a much leaner bundle size.

  • Syntax & Learning Curve: Svelte's syntax is simpler and closer to plain JavaScript, making it less intimidating for beginners.

  • Library Support: React has more library support and tools available, thanks to its larger community.

  • Job Market: React has more job openings due to its longer existence and popularity among businesses.

  • Long-term sustainability: Both show strong promise for the future, with Svelte gaining increasing popularity and React having established market adoption.

Closing Remarks from the Expert

Svelte’s simplicity, performance, and beginner-friendly syntax are very compelling for many developers. Conversely, React’s mature ecosystem, flexibleness, and extensive tooling make it a solid choice for complex and large-scale projects. My advice? Choose what aligns best with your project requirements, team’s skills, and preferences. Have a play with both and see which one clicks for you!

Nevertheless, regardless of the framework you settle on, bear in mind that we, developers, are tool users. We must remain flexible and adapt as the environment around us changes.

After fully understanding these modern web frameworks, you may feel equipped to take your project to the next level. This would be the perfect time to try out caisy – a developer-focused headless CMS. Having been built with a focus on speed and efficiency, caisy supports popular web frameworks you would be using, such as Svelte or React. With a lot of in-house functionalities and support, it can provide you a robust platform to manage your digital content effectively. The powerful GraphQL API lets you consume content in your application in a really convenient way, giving you more control of your project. It's simple, fast, and efficient - things every developer appreciates! Curious? Learn more about how caisy empowers developers. Give caisy a shot and set up your free account today.

Focus on Your Code
Let caisy Handle the Content.