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Guide on React Native Development

24
Aug
2022
Guide on React Native Development

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.

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

2. Instagram. 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%.

3. Walmart. 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.

4. Bloomberg. 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.

4. SoundCloud. 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.

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 React Native Cons
Code Reusability. This is probably React Native's main highlight. Since it's cross-platform, devs don’t have to write code several times, as you would for web, iOS, and Android development. Relatively Young. React Native is still relatively young and has some issues that must be addressed. It's steadily improving, but it has continuous upgrades and releases, so teams might find it hard to keep up with its changes.
Faster Development. Code reusability saves a lot of time, leading to faster development. React Native's hot reload feature also cuts dev time, reloading products instead of recompiling them. Native Development. Although React Native’s highest-selling point is that it’s cross-platform, it still requires native developers. The framework bridges JavaScript with the native code but doesn't replace it.
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. Compatibility and Debugging. As mentioned, RN is still a young tech piece and hasn’t moved past its beta phase, so you might run into some compatibility and debugging issues.
React Transition. If your team works with React web, transition should be smooth! The UI has pretty much the same JS structure, and both tools share the same statement platforms. The difference would be in mobile environments.

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 React Native vs. React may be, they have a crucial difference. They serve entirely different development purposes. While React is used to create web interfaces, 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 Flutter vs React Native apart.

1. Language. 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.

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

3. Interface. 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.

4. Community. 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.

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.

Conclusion

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!