Vanilla JavaScript vs React, when to use each of them?

Developers always seek opportunities to improve their coding skills and work with better frameworks. The goal is to create responsive and reliable applications in every browser and device. And when it comes to web development, there is an abundance of frameworks and libraries available to developers.

Two popular frameworks for building interactive and dynamic web applications are Vanilla Javascript and React. While Vanilla JavaScript is the core language of the web, React is a JavaScript library designed explicitly for building user interfaces. 

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the differences between Vanilla Javascript vs React, explore their differences, and provide examples to showcase their usage and help you understand which will suit your projects better.

What is meant by vanilla JavaScript?

Vanilla Javascript refers to the core JavaScript language without external libraries or frameworks. It is considered the most fundamental and essential tool for web developers to build web applications. 

When developers talk about “vanilla JavaScript,” they usually mean using the core JavaScript language features, including variables, data types, control structures (like loops and conditionals), functions, objects, and the Document Object Model (DOM) for manipulating web page elements.

Using vanilla JavaScript gives developers complete control over their code and provides a deep language understanding. It is often considered the foundation for learning JavaScript and understanding how different frameworks and libraries built on it work.

Vanilla JS is often used for small or straightforward projects that don’t require a lot of advanced features or dynamic rendering. Vanilla JS allows developers to write code works on all browsers, regardless of their version or type. It is the purest form of coding, and developers committed to learning this will have a strong foundation in web development with Javascript.

While frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.js provide abstractions and additional functionalities, sometimes it’s necessary or preferred to work directly with vanilla JavaScript to achieve specific goals, optimize performance, or when working on projects that don’t require the use of complex frameworks.

What is ReactJS used for?

React is a JavaScript library designed explicitly for building user interfaces for web applications. It was first deployed on Facebook’s News Feed in 2011 and later on Instagram in 2012. Facebook created React to address its challenges in building complex, and high-performance user interfaces for their web applications. React allows developers to create reusable UI components and manage the dynamic rendering of the application.

React is particularly useful in scenarios where there is a lot of user interaction on a web page, and it needs to respond quickly. It uses a Virtual DOM that tracks changes on the web page and only updates the parts that require changes, making it efficient and fast. React provides excellent performance and ease of use for building complex web applications. 

Vanilla JavaScript vs React: Which one should you choose?

The answer is – it depends on your project requirements. If you’re building a small project that needs basic functionality, then Vanilla Javascript would be a good choice. It will give you more control over your code, and you won’t have to rely on external libraries.

What if there was a way to get the best of both worlds? Combining React vs Vanilla Javascript can be an excellent way to leverage the benefits of both. Use React for UI rendering and state management and Vanilla JS for smaller application parts that don’t require much complexity, like standard form validation and handling button clicks. React is also good for the overall structure of your application, while Vanilla JS takes care of some specific functionality. This can make your application more efficient, maintainable, and easy to scale. 

However, React would be better if you work on larger, more complex projects. React has a vast ecosystem of extensions and plugins to help you create more robust and scalable web applications. Compared to Vanilla JS, it offers more advanced features, like server-side rendering, functional programming, and state management. React makes it easy to scale your application as it grows, and you can build scalable applications with a smaller team, making it cost-effective. 

Whether Vanilla JavaScript or React is better for a specific project depends on several factors, including project size, complexity, team expertise, and development requirements. Here are some general guidelines to help you make an informed decision.

Vanilla JavaScript is better for:

  1. Smaller projects: If you’re working on a small project with minimal interactivity and UI complexity, vanilla JavaScript may be sufficient. It lets you keep the project lightweight and avoids adding a framework overhead.
  2. Custom solutions: If your project requires highly specific functionality or unique implementation, vanilla JavaScript can tailor your code to your needs. You have complete control over the codebase without any framework limitations.
  3. Learning and foundational purposes: Working with vanilla JavaScript is highly recommended if you’re new to web development or want to strengthen your core JavaScript skills. It allows you to understand the language and its capabilities better.

React is better for:

  1. Large and complex projects: React shines when building larger-scale applications with complex user interfaces and extensive state management. Its component-based architecture promotes modularity, reusability, and maintainability, making managing and scaling your project easier.
  2. Team collaboration: React’s component-based approach and clear separation of concerns make it suitable for collaborative development. It enables multiple team members to work on different components simultaneously, increasing productivity and better code organization.
  3. Performance optimization: React’s virtual DOM efficiently updates and re-renders components, reducing unnecessary DOM manipulations and improving performance. If your project requires frequent UI updates or real-time data handling, React’s optimized rendering can provide a performance boost.
  4. Rich ecosystem and community support: React has a large and active community with numerous libraries, tools, and resources available. React’s ecosystem offers many solutions to enhance your development process if you require additional functionality beyond basic UI rendering.

The choice between Vanilla JavaScript vs React should be based on carefully considering your project’s unique needs, development resources, and long-term goals.

Example: getting a button that generates a randomly generated number through Vanilla JS and React JS

React JS

import { createRoot } from "react-dom/client";
import { useState } from "react";
const rootElement = document.getElementById("root");
const root = createRoot(rootElement);
const App = () => {
  const [randomNumber, setRandomNumber] = useState(Math.random());
  const handleButtonClick = (e) => {
  return (
      <button onClick={handleButtonClick}>Generate random number</button>
root.render(<App />);

Vanilla JS

const body = document.body;
const button = document.createElement("button");
button.innerText = "Generate random number";
button.addEventListener("click", (e) => {
  document.getElementsByTagName("p")[0].innerText = Math.random();
body.innerHTML = `<p>${Math.random()}</p>`;

Comparison: React and Vanilla JS Combo

Vanilla JS

Writing in vanilla JavaScript gives developers full control over their code and allows them to leverage the latest language features. Here are some of the key features and benefits of using vanilla JavaScript:

Lightweight and Fast

Since vanilla JavaScript does not require any external dependencies, it is lightweight and provides fast execution. This can be advantageous for smaller projects or when performance is critical.


With vanilla JavaScript, developers can implement custom solutions tailored to their needs. There are no limitations imposed by a framework, allowing for more creative and unique implementations.

Learning Curve

Vanilla JavaScript is the fundamental language of the web, and mastering it provides a strong foundation for understanding other JavaScript frameworks and libraries. It is a valuable skill for any web developer.


React uses a virtual DOM (Document Object Model), which efficiently updates and renders only the necessary components when the data changes. Here are some of the advantages and use cases for React:

Component Reusability

React promotes building reusable components, making managing and maintaining complex UI structures easier. Components encapsulate their own logic and state, making them modular and shareable.

Virtual DOM

React’s virtual DOM efficiently updates and re-renders components by calculating the minimum number of changes required. This optimizes performance and reduces unnecessary re-renders.

Ecosystem and Community

React has a vast ecosystem with many community-contributed libraries and tools. It has a strong community support system, with many resources available for learning and problem-solving.


Vanilla Javascript and React are powerful tools for web development, but they are not interchangeable. Depending on your project’s scale, requirements, and complexity, you may choose one or use a combination when necessary.

As a developer, your job is to maximize the potential of these tools and build applications that will benefit your clients and users. So, choose wisely, learn continuously, and experiment until you find the perfect toolset to suit your project requirements.

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