React Native: A new competitor to native development?
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React Native is only two years old but it has already proved its usefulness. However, is it as convenient as some say? In this article, Lolita Rogers weighs in on the advantages and reveals exactly what you should be aware of.
You may have already heard about React Native — despite the fact that it’s a pretty young technology, its potential is massive. Let’s sort things out for the ones who are not familiar with this development tool and are thrilled to learn more.
SEE ALSO: Facebook announces React Native
React Native — Is it as convenient as some say?
We have been using React Native since 2015 and have already written some apps with its help. During this time, we were able to gather enough intel so as to share it with you right now.
So, what advantages and disadvantages of React Native app development can we distinguish? Here they are!
What are the main reasons to use React Native?
- Cross-platform development
Many mobile IT companies consider the ability to develop cross-platform apps as the main advantage of React Native. Actually, it was never so easy to build mobile applications for both main platforms (iOS and Android share about 96% of the market). With React Native, it’s possible to reuse up to 70% of the code and then just apply some platform adjustments (mostly concerning UI).
- Rapid development iterations
Fast debugging is another thing that we like about React Native. When coding, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the compilation or uploading the app to a physical device or an emulator each time. Instead, all your updates can be monitored right away. It significantly boosts productivity and reduces development time.
- Simplified layout
Native iOS or Android developers often face problems when working on UI. However, React Native has another development environment where the whole process is much simpler! Actually, they decided to make mobile UI development similar to web development. Therefore, when building an app with React Native framework, developers operate with blocks that can be easily managed.
So, for example, you can just forget about sophisticated rule system that’s typical for iOS. It makes the whole process fast and not too complicated, especially for ones who have some web experience.
Tip: For this purpose, RN developers apply Flexbox algorithms.
- It is constantly improving
The React Native framework was created only in 2015, so it’s relatively young. Therefore, it’s constantly improved and updated with new features. Moreover, as its library only grows with each coming year, it becomes more and more beneficial and easy to use React Native in your mobile development.
- Component composition
One more advantage of Facebook’s framework is a convenient system of component reuse. React Native allows you to store the most used elements of your app so they can be placed on different screens without any changes.
Moreover, such an approach is more convenient than code copying. Why? Because if you’ll ever make some changes to the component, these changes will automatically apply to all its copies.
- After all, you get almost a native app
Many cross-platform frameworks (like PhoneGap or Cordova) render code via a mobile engine called WebView. Yet, if you have ever used/developed such apps, you should know that their performance is usually very poor.
React Native, on the other hand, renders code to native APIs without the help of any mobile engines. Moreover, this framework offers a set of native modules that are written in Objective-C and Java out-of-the-box. They help to improve performance in computationally heavy operations (for example, video playback). Finally, you get a mobile app that’s written in JS but looks and feels like a native one.
However, everything can’t be so perfect, can it? Of course, React Native also has some weak points and we’re not going to hide them from you!
React Native: What should you be aware of?
- Imperfect navigation
One of the things that React Native can barely handle is in-app navigation. This is particularly conspicuous when we talk about navigation between displays. Yet, you should also remember than native development doesn’t offer any perfect solutions for this matter.
- Documentation issues
As you know, React Native is a pretty young framework that’s being actively developed. On the one hand, you may still face the lack of documentation now as it doesn’t offer you precomposed solutions in some cases. On the other hand, due to regular library updates, you have to monitor all the new changes so as not to miss something important.
- Lack of language strictness
If you have never used React Native, we hope this article has sorted things out and will encourage you to try it. Good luck!