Delving into React Native Development

Written by
Mariel Lettier

React Native (RN) is one of today’s most popular cross-platform frameworks. It has been used to develop thousands of apps, including Facebook and Instagram. This article will cover everything you need to know about this framework and answer some FAQs. Further, we'll get deep into its stand on React, Flutter, and Swift. Let’s dive in!

What is React Native?

Released by Facebook in 2015, React Native is an open-source JavaScript (JS) framework. Specifically, it's designed for natively-rendered cross-platform mobile and web app development. React Native allows you to use the same codebase across different platforms. As a result, this saves a lot of time and money. The framework was built based on the React JS library, which we will look at later in this article.

How does React Native work?

React Native uses JavaScript to produce the app’s interface. It also uses JXL, a unique markup code and syntax extension of JS. React Native can cover several platforms using a “bridge.” These bridges connect the JS and native threads. This is relevant when considering these are written in different programming languages.

What is React Native used for?

We mentioned Facebook and Instagram as examples of what React Native can do, but what exactly is it used for? This section will cover a handful of examples of RN in mobile development projects.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads was the first React Native app built for Android. It was useful, especially when handling currency differences, date formats, and time zones.


The social media platform started integrating React Native into its native app in 2016. An example of this is its Push notification view. The most significant perk was that React Native helped Instagram increase developer productivity by nearly 100%.


Walmart rewrote its iOS and Android apps using React Native. Today, 95% of the code in its apps is written in RN. Also, the company can leverage the same automation test suite in both operating systems.


Bloomberg was an early React Native adopter and launched an app in 2016 using this framework. The Bloomberg app gives users personalized content according to their location. Moreover, it provides curated news depending on the time of the day.

SoundCloud Pulse

SoundCloud’s app for music creators was developed with React Native. This resulted from the company's trouble recruiting a team for the iOS version of the app. The fact that they could easily synchronize releases was another reason for choosing this framework.

Delving into React Native Development

What are the Pros and Cons of React Native?

Now that we’ve covered the React Native basics let's get into the nitty-gritty and look at its advantages and disadvantages.

React Native Pros

Code Reusability

This is probably the main highlight when it comes to React Native. Since it's cross-platform, developers don’t have to write code several times. For instance, as you would for web, iOS, and Android native development. This also leads us to…

Faster Development

Code reusability saves a lot of time, leading to faster development. React Native’s hot reload feature also reduces development time. With this feature, you can reload your app instead of recompiling it to introduce changes.

Cost Efficiency

Code reusability also leads to cost efficiency. There is no need to hire separate teams for the different operating systems. In consequence, this can significantly reduce costs.

Growing Community

React Native is an open-source framework with a large developer community eager to contribute knowledge. There are almost 100k questions on React Native in StackOverflow. Moreover, there are various channels and conferences devoted only to the framework. If you encounter an issue when working on a React Native project, you are bound to find help from your peers.

React Transition

If your team is already used to working with React web, the transition to React Native should be smooth. The user interface (UI) has pretty much the same JavaScript structure in both cases. What's more, both tools share the same statement platforms. The only large learning curve would be related to mobile environments.

React Native Cons

Relatively Young

React Native has been around for a few years. Yet, it’s still relatively young and has some issues that must be addressed. The framework is steadily improving, but it has continuous upgrades and releases. As a result, developers might have difficulty keeping up with all the changes and improvements.

Native Development

Although React Native’s highest-selling point is that it’s cross-platform, it still requires the help of native developers. The framework bridges JavaScript with the native code but doesn’t replace it. Therefore, you’ll need someone with native code knowledge in your team to guide the process and ensure your app succeeds.

Compatibility & Debugging

As we’ve mentioned, React Native is still a young piece of technology and hasn’t moved past its beta phase. Because of this, you might run into some compatibility and debugging issues.

React Native FAQs

We’ve covered much of what React Native is all about, but you still might have some unanswered questions. Here are some of the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve come across on the cross-platform framework.

Is React Native a Programming Language?

No, React Native is a framework. The language used for the framework is JavaScript.

Is React Native Front-End or Back-End?

On mobile and web apps, React Native is used for the front end. Yet, you can use a framework like NodeJS, Django, or Ruby on Rails on the back end. Moreover, you can use a back end service like Firebase.

Does React Native work on iOS and Android?

Yes, as React Native is cross-platform, it can be used to develop apps for both iOS and Android.

Which Database should I use with React Native?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a database for your app. These include the complexity of the data, concurrency, ease of use, and offline data syncing. Yet, if you want to look at some options, you can explore MongoDB, Firebase, Realm, and SQLite.

What are React Native Elements?

React Native Elements is a styling library that serves as a UI toolkit. The library includes over 30 components built on existing RN components. These components include search bars, icons, and headers. React Native Elements provides more usable and customizable styles. Moreover, it speeds up the development process. You can look at all its documentation and the React Native Elements Playground to learn more.

Comparing React Native

React Native vs. React

React is an open-source front-end JS library. Also known as ReactJS or React.JS, it's used to build user interfaces for the web. React was created by Facebook for internal use. Later, it was released to the world in 2013. Meanwhile, React Native is an open-source, cross-platform framework built on top of ReactJS. The framework's release was in 2015. Its development is mainly in the hands of Facebook and its dev community.

Given that people often think of React as a framework, it is sometimes mixed up with React Native. However related these tools may be, they have a crucial difference. They serve entirely different development purposes. React is used to create web interfaces. Meanwhile, React Native is used for developing native mobile apps.

React Native vs. Flutter

Flutter is another cross-platform framework, this time developed by Google. According to StackOverflow, Flutter, and React Native are pretty close in popularity. As a result, they're the two top contenders in the cross-platform framework category. There is no straightforward answer if you are wondering which one is better. It all comes down to the specific project you are working on. Let’s take a look at what sets the two frameworks apart.


The main difference between the two frameworks is the language they use. React Native works with JavaScript, while Flutter uses Dart (also created by Google). Given JavaScript’s popularity, React Native is a more accessible tool to learn and use.


This point goes to Flutter, which shows quite a performance improvement over React Native.


Another noteworthy difference is that Flutter uses custom widgets to build user interfaces. Meanwhile, React Native creates the app’s UI through native user interface controllers.


Finally, as RN is more established, it has better community support than Flutter. The choice usually depends on which language your team is more comfortable with. Further, GUI with native or custom components preferences also becomes relevant. If you want to learn more about the differences between React Native and Flutter, you can check out this article.

React Native vs. Swift

We can’t predict the future, but it is unlikely that React Native will replace Swift. React Native has many advantages and is easier to use and learn than Swift. Yet, as a specialized iOS programming language, Swift has more than a fighting chance. Although Android holds almost two-thirds of the market share, more apps are available for iOS devices. This makes sense, as iOS users usually have higher incomes. This conclusion translates into more money to spend on apps. Moreover, as native development, Swift offers better performance than React Native. So, it's the clear choice for those wanting to develop an app only for iOS.


React Native is, without a doubt, a fantastic cross-platform framework to work with. It reduces development costs and your product’s time-to-market. Not to mention, it has an incredible community behind it!

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