Confusion is the first word that comes to mind when discussing React vs React Native, both concepts essential in Software Development. In many cases, if you hear about React.js and React Native and don't know about them, you'll think that React Native is just a technological extension of React, and it's not. React is a library for creating core components and high-performance User Interfaces (UIs), and React Native, on the other hand, is a framework dedicated to Mobile Cross-Platform Development.
Yes, it doesn't sound very clear, but both terms have particular features that make the difference. In this case, you'll learn and differentiate one from another, their main differences considering many perspectives of analysis, possibilities of uses, and the right time to apply each technology. Stay here and learn intelligently!
What is React.js?
An architecture based on React components allows code reuse in different app parts. It saves time and development efforts, especially when creating large-scale projects with consistent design elements. React is a perfect option for creating dynamic web applications based on data focused on high performance and efficiency. It's ideal for Single-Page Applications (SPAs) and complex and interactive User Interfaces that require frequent updates.
React.js is popular in many aspects, and several companies are applying it in their new developments. In this list, we start with Facebook, which uses this technology to create most of Facebook's web applications. In this same count enters Netflix, which leverages React to build an amazing and dynamic User Interface for your users across all devices. Plus, Spotify also used React to create its popular stream songs app. Finally, we can mention Reddit, which uses React to create complex and rich interfaces for millions of users using its social news web portal.
If you want to expand your knowledge regarding React, you can read The Ultimate Guide to React development.
What is React Native?
On the other hand, React Native is an open-source, cross-platform mobile framework developed by Facebook for creating native, cross-platform mobile apps using components written in React. Developers use React Native to create cross-platform mobile applications for iOS and Android, using platform-specific code. React Native is a framework and has no language library. Like React, it was born thanks to Facebook and has gained popularity among developers and companies today.
Before React Native came out, developers could only create native mobile platforms by writing code in the programming languages supported by the target platform, such as Kotlin or Java for Android and Objective-C or Swift for IOS.
React Native has become indispensable in many well-known companies, including Facebook, which uses it to create Virtual Reality experiences in the Oculus VR app. Microsoft leverages the power of React Native mobile app development fields like Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and more. Coinbase, the best cryptocurrency exchange platform, uses it to provide real-time data and scale its operations for its large user base. Pinterest, an American social networking and image-sharing service, uses React Native to scale its service delivery using a UI full of attractive images.
If you want to know more about React Native, its features, fundamentals, best practices, and how it works, you can read React Native Fundamentals.
Differences Between React Native and React
Now that you know the basic concepts of both terms, it’s time for the most important thing: their key differences in functionalities. Here, you can find the major differences considering several analysis points.
Why choose React vs. React Native?
When discussing selecting one option, you must consider some aspects that may impact your final decision. The first consideration is the project’s needs. React is adequate for Web Development, while React Native is ideal for Mobile Development. Another consideration is UX. A developer with previous experience in Web Development will make it easier for you to work with React. In contrast, if a developer has previous experience with Mobile Development, it will make it easier to work with the last option. Additionally, React code is easier to read than React Native code.
React Native has an improved performance over React, which directly accesses native Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and platform-specific features and has better performance optimization tools, which, in the end, fastens the development cycles. Even so, React is a perfect option, and it can provide a high-quality User Experience (UX). If a developer is looking for a job in a high-demand field, the best option is React. On the other hand, if you, as a developer, want to work in a growing field, you can focus on React Native, considering it has an increasing demand. In addition to these factors, it’s possible to apply things like the required learning curve and support community, the project's specific requirements and objectives, and the developer's skills and experience.
As we mentioned before, both technologies have different purposes and notable differences. React is ideal for Web Development due to its cross-browser compatibility. Conversely, React Native is suitable for developing mobile apps for many OS as it harnesses cross-platform compatibility.
Each development tool has advantages, key features, and potential limitations, each standing out for its individual and specific use. Finally, your decision comes down to the particular requirements and specifications of the project you are working on.