Component vs Directive in Angular 2

Overview (source:

Let’s look at the documentations from, there are total three kinds of directives in Angular 2:

  • Component - directives with a template
  • Structural directives - change the DOM layout by adding and removing DOM elements, such as *ngIf, *ngFor
  • Attribute directives - change the appearance or behavior of an element

Component actually is one kind of directives in Angular 2, it is a directive with template. This post is going to focus on Component and Attribute Directives. Let me dive into each kind of directives, and find out what are their characteristics.

Component (source:

Every Angular application has at least one component: the root component, also can has children component.

import { Component } from '@angular/core';
selector: 'my-app',
template: '<h1>Hello Angular!</h1>'
export class AppComponent { }

Each component comes with:

  • An Import statement import { Component }
  • @Component decorator that associates metadata with component class:

    • a selector
    • a template
    • etc
  • Input and Output Properties

  • Lifecycle
  • Providers
  • Host Element - a component can interact with its hos DOM:

    • listen to host events
    • update host’s properties
    • invoke methods on host DOM
  • Components are Self-describing:

    • knows how to interact with host
    • know to render itself
    • configure dependency injection
    • well-defined input and output properties

Base on self-describing characteristic, any component can be bootstrapped as an application, can be loaded into router outlet, or be used in some other component directly.

Directives (source:

More precisely, it is attribute directives, it is used to change appearance and add behavior to DOM


import { Directive, ElementRef, Input, Renderer } from '@angular/core';
@Directive({ selector: '[myHighlight]' })
export class HighlightDirective {
constructor(el: ElementRef, renderer: Renderer) {
renderer.setElementStyle(el.nativeElement, 'backgroundColor', 'yellow');

The import statement specifies symbols from the Angular core:

  1. Directive provides the functionality of the @Directive decorator.
  2. ElementRef injects into the directive’s constructor so the code can access the DOM element. api
  3. Input allows data to flow from the binding expression into the directive.
  4. Renderer allows the code to change the DOM element’s style. api

selector: '[myHighlight]' is a CSS selector to identify the HTML in the template associate with directives, usage:

<p myHighlight>Highlight me!</p>

It is hard to explain all the detail about directive, I prefer to read over the documentation from By creating a example directive will help you understand what attribute directives is.

Overall Comparison (source: CODEANDYOU)

Component Directive
For register component we use @Component meta-data annotation. For register directives we use @Directive meta-data annotation.
Component is a directive which use shadow DOM to create encapsulate visual behavior called components. Components are typically used to create UI widgets. Directives is used to add behavior to an existing DOM element.
Component is used to break up the application into smaller components. Directive is use to design re-usable components.
Only one component can be present per DOM element. Many directive can be used in a per DOM element.
@View decorator or template URL template are mandatory in the component. Directive don’t have View.
Component is used to define pipes. You can’t define Pipes in directive.
viewEncapsulation can be define in components because they have views. viewEncapsulation can be define in components because they have views.