React Native is the native version of the popular JavaScript library – ReactJS, maintained by the developers at Facebook and Instagram. With over 2 years in existence, React Native has gained massive popularity amongst the developer community. So much so that it is now the fourteenth most starred project of all time on GitHub. Google trends show that the ‘React Native’ as a search term has been search more than ‘iOS development’ and ‘Android development’.

While there’s a new Javascript framework or library doing the rounds every other day, the React Native library has impressively maintained its status. We have been dabbling with the React library for sometime now, and have built quite a few apps using React Native. We believe React will be the future of mobile development, here are 5 reasons why:

1. Cross Platform Compatibility

Majority of the React Native APIs are cross platform, which means that your one component will work on both iOS and Android. You can develop complete, full blown applications that look, run and feel native – without writing a single line of platform specific code.

There are instances, though, when you need to be platform specific. Design implications, for instance, are different on Android and iOS. React provides for such cases with its Platform module and Platform specific file extensions. The Platform module can detect the OS the app is running on, which can then be used to define platform specific implementations. Platform specific file extensions let you define files for specific platforms. React automatically picks up the correct file depending on the OS the app is running on.

2. Shorter Development Cycles

React Native makes the process of developing mobile apps much faster. There’s a huge developer community supporting React, and being an open source project – it has a lot of components available for use. We’ve seen development times drop by around 30% using open source components.

Using Redux – the state management tool, has also helped reduce development times drastically. Creating one shared data layer for both iOS and Android makes it faster, with lower chances of failure.

3. Live Updates and CodePush

Developing native mobile applications with React Native has one very big advantage – Live Updates. Developers can push the updates to the users phone without having to go through the app store update cycle. This has been made possible due to the extensive use of Javascript.

Longer approval times is more specific to iOS. But updating all your user’s apps on the fly ensures that you won’t have to deal with older version problems.

Microsoft’s live update service CodePush SDK integrates with your React Native app allowing you to push updates to your app. The drawback is that only the Javascript file and the assets can be updated. Any update touching the Native OS side will have to go through the regular App Store or Play Store update process.

4. React Native Builds Near Native Apps

Mobile apps created using React Native perform as well as any native app. While Javascript is not as fast as native language (Swift or Java), React along with Javascript can run even the most complex of apps smoothly. The JS part of the code runs on its own thread, so your app’s UI animation won’t lag, no matter how heavy the compilations. Unless, ofcourse, the processes overlap.

React Native apps are quite indistinguishable from native apps. Same UI building blocks that are used for native apps, just put together using React and Javascript. It also gives the developers an option to write code in native languages when required. It’s easy to switch to Swift of Java when fine-tuning a certain component.

5. Better Development Environment

Developers are having a better time developing on the React Native environment. Hot reloading refreshes the UI instantly when any changes are made to the file. Removing the mundane re-build and deploy from the iteration cycle makes for a pleasant development experience.

React Native uses the Flexbox layout engine for both the platforms. This means you need to learn just one layout engine to develop on both iOS and Android. Flatter learning curves FTW!

While there is no doubt that React Native makes developing mobile apps a breeze, the apps so developed are also very high quality. A lot of development companies are switching to React Native. The rich ecosystem and the vibrant, growing community are tell tale signs that React Native will soon become a norm for mobile app development.

P.S If you’re looking for a React Native development company, give us a shout!

Written by
Anand Narayan
Published at
Apr 03, 2017
Posted in
Research and Articles
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