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Inferno vs Preact: What are the differences?

Introduction: In the world of lightweight JavaScript libraries, Inferno and Preact are two popular choices for developers looking to build fast and efficient web applications. While both serve a similar purpose, there are key differences between the two that set them apart.

  1. Virtual DOM Implementation: Inferno and Preact both use a virtual DOM for efficient rendering, but Inferno is known for its ultra-fast virtual DOM implementation, making it one of the fastest libraries in this regard. Preact also offers a lightweight virtual DOM, but Inferno's performance is considered superior.

  2. Bundle Size: When it comes to bundle size, Preact is lighter than Inferno. Preact boasts a minimal size of around 3KB when gzipped, making it a great choice for projects where size optimization is crucial. On the other hand, Inferno has a slightly larger footprint, which can impact load times in certain scenarios.

  3. Compatibility with React Ecosystem: Preact is known for its compatibility with the React ecosystem, allowing developers to seamlessly switch between React and Preact components. Inferno, while offering similar functionality, may require more adjustments when integrating with existing React applications.

  4. Community Support: Preact has a larger community and a more active ecosystem, with developers contributing a wide range of plugins, tools, and resources. This can be beneficial for newcomers and those looking for comprehensive documentation and support. Inferno, on the other hand, may have a smaller community size and fewer resources available.

  5. Internal APIs and Features: Inferno is designed with a focus on performance, often sacrificing certain features and APIs found in React or Preact. Developers looking for a stripped-down library with a streamlined API may prefer Inferno. Preact, on the other hand, offers a more comprehensive set of APIs and features, making it suitable for a wider range of applications.

In Summary, while both Inferno and Preact are lightweight JavaScript libraries for building web applications, their key differences lie in virtual DOM performance, bundle size, compatibility with the React ecosystem, community support, and internal APIs and features.

Decisions about Inferno and Preact
Damiano Magrini

Preact offers an API which is extremely similar to React's for less than 10% of its size (and createElement is renamed to h, which makes the overall bundle a lot smaller). Although it is less compatible with other libraries than the latter (and its ecosystem is nowhere as developed), this is generally not a problem as Preact exposes the preact/compat API, which can be used as an alias both for React and ReactDOM and allows for the use of libraries which would otherwise just be compatible with React.

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Pros of Inferno
Pros of Preact
  • 4
    React-like api
  • 4
    Faster than React
  • 3
    Compatibility package for existing React apps
  • 3
    Smaller bundles
  • 3
    Faster than Angular
  • 3
    Faster than Vue
  • 15
  • 5
    Drop-in replacement for React
  • 4
  • 3
    Props/state passed to render
  • 1
    ES6 class components

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What is Inferno?

Inferno is an isomorphic library for building high-performance user interfaces, which is crucial when targeting mobile devices. Unlike typical virtual DOM libraries like React, Mithril, Virtual-dom, Snabbdom and Om, Inferno uses techniques to separate static and dynamic content. This allows Inferno to only "diff" renders that have dynamic values.

What is Preact?

Preact is an attempt to recreate the core value proposition of React (or similar libraries like Mithril) using as little code as possible, with first-class support for ES2015. Currently the library is around 3kb (minified & gzipped).

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What companies use Inferno?
What companies use Preact?
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What tools integrate with Preact?

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What are some alternatives to Inferno and Preact?
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If you've ever built a JavaScript application, the chances are you've encountered – or at least heard of – frameworks like React, Angular, Vue and Ractive. Like Svelte, these tools all share a goal of making it easy to build slick interactive user interfaces. Rather than interpreting your application code at run time, your app is converted into ideal JavaScript at build time. That means you don't pay the performance cost of the framework's abstractions, or incur a penalty when your app first loads.
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Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.
GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.
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