An Angular Dev Tries Svelte

Originally published at: An Angular Dev Tries Svelte - Ionic Blog

If you ask anyone who knows me, they would say my favorite framework for building apps is Angular. While I do like React and Vue as well, Angular to me has always felt like home. I feel the most productive when working in Angular and the most confident in the code I write. But it’s…

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Hi @mhartington

Cool stuff. And I did the same way trying to integrate svelte with Ionic using their starter. I used CDN - which seemed the easiest way and indeed with barebone svelte this works nicely. But of course, doing import might be better.

And another user made some integration happening - especially on the initialisation code for registering components. Check his stuff out - GitHub - raymondboswel/ionic-modal-reproduction . Especially App.svelte.

The comparison may not need to be just on the syntax. I guess, we don’t want to do a framework discussion on the coolness of syntax of A vs B.

As an Angular guy, I believe the scaffolding using Angular CLI is really cool and makes the difference in terms of productivity. Here svelte kit kicks in as well. If that works well for some of the projects I have in mind, I will definitely consider switching, because the svelte syntax is almost too easy.

A series on svelte kit as “to become the new productivity suite for svelte” (also powered by vite) combined with Ionic, will be great.

For starters, I already bumped into SSR integration not working immediately, so only with SPA mode, svelte kit & seems ionic to work nicely. Maybe working on the global styles will be needed to cascade the ripple effects etc into other components.

Next it will be good to see how the svelte-kit router works with Tabs and other router related stuff in Ionic. In Sapper, this did not go well. And even in plain svelte, there are some minor tweaks needed to make it work.

Looking forward how the Ionic experts will go in setting the HOWTO for sveltekit & Ionic!

Tom

I will say, I’m not targeting Svelte + Ionic, just Svelte + capacitor. :smile:

Nice move! :grinning:

Looking forward

Small edit… I meant, not targeting svelte + ionic.

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At my org we use Single-Spa to allow distributed development, mostly in Angular. The problem for us was that many microfront ends brought all of Angular into simple things like headers, navigation, footers, etc. An engineer brought in Svelte and it significantly reduced our bundle size. Got us thinking about the right tool for jobs instead of “We use X framework”. In many ways, I enjoy svelte because it just gets out of your way like Vue 2 did. I’m interested in seeing how it evolves, seems like as framework mature, so do their embedded opinions and with it, we fight the framework again.

Svelte is a really nice UI lib and it is fun to try on.

It got my attention when I saw that reactive statements thing.

Also, when I found that it supports two way data binding, man… They made it so simple.

Just use bind:name={prop} and, in the component, all you have to do is assign new values to “name” prop.

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“New” is a big word for a framework that was initially released in 2016, but the rise of the Svelte JavaScript framework took a little time. Most front-end developers heard about it in 2019/20, after the release of Svelte 3.

Svelte is a direct competitor to highly opinionated frameworks like Angular, React, or Vue. However, it works a bit differently. While, in all three of them, your whole view’s code goes through the framework and is executed in the runtime in a browser, Svelte aims to do as much work possible on a compiler level. It has three main calling cards:

  • Write less code
  • No virtual DOM
  • Truly reactive

Write less code

The Svelte JavaScript framework lets developers do more by writing less code. How is that possible? By simplifying things that are overly complicated in other frameworks.

One such example is state variables. In React, if we want to have a variable causing a component’s rerender, we need to use either setState or useState (depending on how we’re writing the code). On the contrary, in Svelte, any variable in code declared in a component can cause rerendering without additional boilerplate.

Secondly, similarly to Angular, we get two-way data binding. That means that developers don’t need to manually write support for data inputs (like in React); they just need to tell which variable to update and look for the value.

Also, as with Vue, component code is contained in special files that have HTML with template syntax, CSS styles, and JS scripting, all divided into clearly separate parts. We don’t have multiple files for one component, as we do in Angular, or mix HTML inside JS, as we do in React. By the way, Vue’s syntax has been influenced by Ractive.js, a direct predecessor of Svelte.

There are several other things that make coding in Svelte faster, but it would take a whole article to show all of that awesomeness.

No virtual DOM

Virtual DOM (VDOM) became a buzzword with the release of React. React creators talked a lot about how great it is and how it boosts performance, being faster than the real DOM. However, React still uses DOM next to Virtual DOM. It just works so that, before actual rendering, everything is first done in-memory inside VDOM. The differences are then rendered to the user via a real DOM. That approach is not unique to React, it is also used in Vue.

But using real DOM without diffing in Virtual DOM can also be fast. That’s what Svelte (and Angular) are doing. Instead of keeping an in-memory copy of the whole page, Svelte knows precisely what should be updated and does it directly in the DOM, omitting the additional step. If you’d like to get more into technical details, you can read on Svelte’s official blog how it successfully skipped using Virtual DOM and why it’s better.

Truly reactive

I’ve already touched on the topic of variables causing the rerender in the ‘write less code’ section, but I noted that it works just for the internal component state. To be honest, what we often need, especially in larger apps, is a global state that is not just a singleton variable but implements a reactivity in some way, e.g., using an Observable pattern. We want the global state to let every user know that the other part of the app has changed it. That’s where many state management libraries are coming in; these include[ Redux], MobX, RxJS, VueX, to name just a few. Most of these frameworks work in the way that we need to use a particular function to update the state and use another function to subscribe for updates.

The Svelte JavaScript framework does it differently. It’s more developer-friendly. It provides its own lightweight global state management that gives full reactivity in the simplest possible way (but still implements an Observable pattern). Basically, I want this code to develop the best ERP software in Kolkata and relate things. It hides the whole setting and subscribing logic and adds it during compilation. The developer only needs to create the store by using writable , readable , or derived and later use it by prefixing the variable name with a dollar sign. We can then use it like any other JS variable without even considering that it’s a part of the global state. It’s as simple as that.

To be precise, MobX does it in a very similar way without the compiler step. However, this creates a considerable overhead in terms of library size, which is not the case in Svelte.

Server-side rendering

I know, you may say, “Wow, Svelte is amazing, but [enter your favorite UI framework here] offers me server-side rendering, so I don’t need to use a browser for that.” I can agree. That is fantastic, especially for pages made with SEO in mind. There are remarkable frameworks for that, such as Next.js for React, Nuxt.js for Vue, and Universal for Angular. It shouldn’t come as a great surprise to learn that there is also one for Svelte. It’s called Sapper and is very similar to Next.js. The only drawback is that it is still in the early development phase (as of November 2020). Unfortunately, it will never hit the 1.0 milestone since it’s in the process of being rewritten into a new library called SvelteKit.

Will my app weigh less?

That’s the most intriguing question and one for which we need some hard evidence. I decided to do a simple app in the four frameworks I have mentioned in the article (in the most straightforward way, using standard build templates, without additional optimizations) — Angular, React, Vue, and Svelte. The app is a simple click counter. If you’d like to check the source code, you can see it on the GitHub repository:
After building the app in a production configuration, we got the following sizes for JS files:

Framework Weight of all JS files
Angular 2.4 MB
React 134 kB
Vue 81 kB
Svelte 3 kB

As you can see, in terms of final file size, the Svelte JavaScript framework outperforms the others. This is thanks to having its own compiler. Svelte brings all the framework’s dependencies down to a bare minimum without any need to do manual optimizations. That feels entirely different from Angular, which produces over 2MB of JavaScript files, just because we always get the whole framework in a build.

Disadvantages of the Svelte JavaScript framework

Unfortunately, Svelte is not perfect. The most significant disadvantage is its current lack of popularity. While React gets nearly 9 million weekly downloads, and Vue and Angular boast around 2 million, Svelte hits just 100 thousand. That means that it has less comprehensive community support (though it’s not so bad!) and less ready-made components (including[ UI frameworks]. But, looking at NPM stats, we can see that the number of downloads is continuously growing; therefore, we can confidently suppose that there will be a steady improvement over time.

Hope this detailed article will help you properly.

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I was really impressed with this demo on the speed of svelte compared to the incumbent(s):

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