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React Native for Your Mobile Application Development Project

React Native offers a hybrid solution that supports building apps for both top mobile platforms, iOS and Android. React Native offers an alternative to traditional native development. The relatively new framework is predictably navigated and comfortably accessed. It has received mostly favorable criticism, yet there are some minor flaws. But, to better understand the pros and cons of using React Native it helps to be familiar with the core functions of the React JavaScript library (ReactJS).

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By Fraz Jamil

April 21st, 2017

Some preliminary pros and cons of ReactJS include it being an open source JavaScript library for data rendered as HTML. Described by its developer, Facebook, to be a “declarative, efficient, and flexible JavaScript library for building user interfaces.” Implements an intermediate DOM that is a stand in for the actual HTML DOM. ReactJS optimizes DOM manipulation. Enabling web applications that require minimal code. ReactJS can be used alongside other JavaScript libraries like Angular or jQuery. Simplified and quick to learn syntax and API. Maintained by a combination if Facebook, Instagram, and several other large and small companies.

ReactJS has been massively popular since the time of its release. Now that you know what react offers to the web, you can understand the power that it brings to the table for mobile.

Pros of Using React Native for Your Mobile Application Development

  • Pro 1 – React Native can be used for cross-platform mobile app development. Unlike the ReactJS library, mobile application development using React Native doesn’t require a complete understanding of both Objective C and Java for Android. Instead, the mobile application development process can be mostly completed using JavaScript. The code written in JavaScript is successively built using ReactJS and components are rendered as native platform widgets (when applicable) on their respective platforms.
    Your company wastes time by developing individual apps for each platform. Though code must generally be tested for either individual platform, the benefit is still clear in opting for React Native over traditional native. You stand to save up to 30% of the time compared to using traditional native platforms. Thanks to the react-native-web project, in the future your application will be unlimited. Able to render on the server, iOS, Android or a browser.
  • Pro 2 – The JavaScript ecosystem is diverse. The fact that React Native uses mostly JavaScript means that you can benefit from the many advancements the language has made. JavaScript offers many preexisting resources that solve an array of common problems.
  • Pro 3 – Open source. React native is offered for free as an open source project. The space is for developers to share the challenges they face. This will create opportunity for collaboration between colleagues at a universal scale. This means more minds working on the code that will be implemented in your mobile application. Trends change and new problems always surface. The rate at which solutions are tested is exceptional.
  • Pro 4 – Efficient development environment. The best development environment is a responsive one. React Native utilizes a handy function referred to as live reload. Your developers won’t have to wait for code to compile and restart. Tiny changes and edits are automatically made to your React Native codebase with no need to restart.
    Because the bulk of a React Native written app is JavaScript, it is an option to retrieve updates on the fly over your network. If the app you are building is aware of its current version and how to identify when updates have been released, you can update your app immediately. Unlike iOS, which oftentimes forces you to wait for App Store Approval. This expedites the process and eliminates unnecessary frustrations.
  • Pro 5 – Learning React Native is simple (if you already know ReactJS). It is not required to learn ReactJS before developing your first project on React Native. Still, having a background in ReactJS and traditional native platforms will prove beneficial. Most senior developers who are comfortable on React Native do suggest learning the basic concepts of ReactJS syntax before getting started on React Native. The facilities of ReactJS are essentially the same as those in React Native. Therefore, any progress made learning ReactJS can be applied to React Native as well.

Cons of Using React Native for Your Mobile Application Development

  • Con 1 – React Native is not 100% cross platform. Many argue React Native is not fully “cross-platform” in that it is not a complete “write once, run anywhere” solution. Colin Eberhardt, of Raywenderlich, once stated that, “it is aiming to be a learn-once write-anywhere” solution.
    The framework is capable of producing cross-platform applications. Cross platform apps have been created by developers across the world using React Native. The Facebook Ads Manager is famously known as being the first cross platform React Native Android and iOS app.
    Approximately 85% of the available code is shared between iOS and Android but still written in JavaScript. Meaning, up to 15% of the code that needs to be written must be done not using JavaScript. Though most core functions and logic are able to be built into native widgets, many of the front end components fall into the latter 15%.
  • Con 2 – The React Native ecosystem is immature The Android version of React Native launched in September, 2015. The iOS version just 6 months prior to that. On the other hand. Traditional native development is getting quite mature. The iOS and Android versions of React Native have a long way to go.
    Tools are vital in improving developer productivity. The suite of tools available for native development far exceeds the options available to React Native development.
    Many tools developers have grown most familiar with are lacking functionality in React Native. Other tools have no comparable alternative available within the framework. Without access to the resources they are most comfortable with, new and experienced developers will face a steeper learning curve.
    Even worse, the gap between iOS and Android’s release means that even within the React Native platform there will, for some time, be component inconsistencies.
  • Con 3 – Your Mobile App will be fast! But not always that fast. React Native is known to have exceptionally fast speeds. But because it uses JavaScript, the speeds are lacking compared to native. JavaScript is not top tier when it comes to calculation-intensive tasks. Expect occasional slowdown when controlling native elements and utilizing complex logic. Facebook has even admitted that they “are not all the way there” in terms of optimization. There will be times that mobile application development will be slowed by the need to manually intervene and handle performance bugs.
    Consider React Native for Your Mobile Application Development Project.
    There are not many platforms that offer the same ease of use that React Native does. The system feels like developing for the web, yet it produces full fledged native apps. The process of producing an application can be smooth and efficient. The open source framework brings the best parts of ReactJS into the realm of mobile.
    So far, more than 650 people have volunteered to commit code to the React Native codebase. More than 50% of the code contributed to the codebase so far has been made by non-Facebook employees. Mobile application development on this framework is picking up as this ecosystem quickly grows in abundance.

Mobile apps don’t have to take a team of engineers to produce. Though not a “write once, run anywhere” solution, a single senior developer can head your mobile application development. With JavaScript and minimal traditional native development experience, you can produce a smaller mobile app that functions as well as one written using native frameworks. The framework isn’t perfect, so weigh these pros and cons when considering the best framework for your mobile application development.

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