What is React Native?
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What is React Native?

Aleksander Jess
Senior Content Marketer & Technical Expert

React Native is a JavaScript library for building mobile apps. It was created by Facebook and released in 2015. React Native is similar to React, but instead of using DOM elements, it uses native components. This allows you to build native apps that are fast, responsive, and have a native feel. React Native is a great choice for creating cross-platform apps, as it allows you to maintain one codebase that can be used on both iOS and Android (with the little help of Expo).

The Benefits of React Native

There are many benefits to using React Native for mobile development. One of the biggest benefits is that React Native is a cross-platform framework, which means that it can be used to develop apps for both iOS and Android. Recently, Windows and macOS were added to this list. This is a huge advantage because it means that you only need to learn one framework to be able to develop apps for many platforms, (almost) at the same time.  

React Native has a large community, which means that there is a lot of support available if you need help. StackOverflow, Reddit, or even Discord servers, are all places where people gather to help each other, and discuss all things React.

Furthermore, React Native has a strong ecosystem, with many tools and libraries available to help you with your development. The available libraries come in clutch to fix, and patch, all framework’s shortcomings and flaws. React Navigation, expo-splash-screen, expo-navigation-bar, react-native-purchases are examples of helpers.

What’s highly appreciated is that React Native is a very flexible framework. This means that you can use it to develop a wide range of different types of apps. Whether you want to develop a simple app or a complex app, React Native will be able to meet your needs. Unlike other frameworks, this one does not enforce any strict rules as to how you should structure your apps, or how to write your components. In the hands of an experienced developer, who knows what they are doing, it’s a powerful tool.

JSX is another reason for the love. It started out as an antipattern (back in the day developers would believe you cannot put styles, behavior, and structure together, in one file). It now is one of the very reasons React is the default for most engineers. In case you don’t know what JSX is, it’s JavaScript’s extension that enables you to structure components using only JavaScript; you may think of it as a crossover between JS and HTML. As a sidenote, we have to add that JSX is used and React, but also in other libraries and frameworks. Vue, Solid, Qwik use it as well, on top of others.

Finally, the framework performs really well, also on slower devices, which means that your apps will run smoothly on both iOS and Android devices. Unlike Ionic or other WebView-based frameworks, it’s a native framework. Everything (or almost everything) you see on the screen are native elements. Running at 120 fps is not impossible (which is becoming a more common requirement nowadays).

The Drawbacks of React Native

Of course, there are some drawbacks to using React Native for mobile development.  

One of the biggest drawbacks is that React Native does not support some features that are available on other frameworks. For example, React Native does not have a built-in solution for routing. You will need to use a third-party library if you want to add navigation to your app, a third-party library to implement checkboxes and radio buttons, and the list goes on.

In addition, React seems like a simple library, though in reality it isn’t. There are many hidden gotchas, that only experienced devs know how to navigate. On top of that, React Native has a learning curve on its own, which means that it may take some time to learn how to use the framework effectively. However, once you have learned how to use React Native, you will be able to create high-quality apps.  

Lastly, we will mention that it can be difficult to debug. Errors can be cryptic, and it can be tough to make sense of what went wrong. Additionally, there are two types of errors: JavaScript, and native ones, that can be hard to handle correctly. The easiest solution is to... install third-party libraries, though you may also opt for creating your logic.  

Who Is React Native For?

React Native is a good choice for mobile development for a variety of reasons. Firstly, since it is a cross-platform framework, it can be used to develop mobile apps for both iOS and Android. This is a huge advantage because it means that you only need to learn one framework to be able to develop apps for both platforms. It also means your company must employ at the very least HALF of the engineers they would have otherwise.  

It’s a great choice for both large companies, who wish to save money creating a quality app, while it also is a superb choice for small, and medium-sized companies who want to kill two birds with one stone and target a wider array of clients with the same codebase.

Why React Native Is Good for Business?

React Native is a good choice for business because it is easy to learn, has relatively great performance, and is cross-platform. This means that you can write one codebase that can be used on both iOS and Android. This makes it easier to develop and maintain your app, which will save you time and money in the long run. Additionally, React Native is backed by Meta (formerly Facebook), which means that it is here to stay.  

React Native is also a great choice for businesses that want to create a native-like app experience for their users. With React Native, you can create an app that feels like a native app, without having to write two different codebases. This will give your users a great experience, and will make your app more successful in the long run.

The Future of React Native

There are a few things that could make React Native even better. First, it would be great if there were more built-in components. This would make it easier to develop apps without having to use third-party libraries. Additionally, it would be helpful if React Native had better support for animations. Right now, it can be difficult to create smooth animations using React Native. If these two areas were improved, React Native would be an even more appealing option for mobile app development.

Even though, the new internal driving force behind the framework, Hermes, is the default choice now, the team must think where to go from here. One issue they face is the difference in experience of writing apps on iOS and Android. The developers behind the project also aim to improve the speed of building big apps. To do that, they could embrace the new project that took the world of JavaScript by storm: terser. They did plan that, though the status of this change is unclear at the moment.

As Flutter is pulling ahead, however, one has to ask how Meta is planning to respond to that. If they plan to respond, that is. After all, it works for them, and it works for countless other developers. It does not have to be an industry leader, as it used to be. Nevertheless, a reaction is warranted, and we will see what they plan to do.

Closing Words

Overall, the future of React Native looks very promising. The list of successful apps created using React Native Skype, Facebook, Tesla and Uber Eats are all developed using the framework. While it isn’t suitable in all cases, it most likely will be a good fit if your company wants to write a general purpose cross-platform experience, then it’s going to be more than suitable for the job. It will not disappoint you as long as you follow React Native’s best practices. You might have to write native Java or Swift code, though. In that case, you might want to avoid having to hire a cross-competency team. In this case, we are more than glad to offer our services.  

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