An Overview of React Native


Here at the Betica Blog, we recently provided a high level overview of React.js, a JavaScript library that makes creating web user interfaces an easier process. This time out our eyes are trained on React Native, a version of React aimed at achieving the same goal for mobile app development. Its cross platform support allows developers to quickly target iOS, Android, and the Universal Windows Platform.

If your organization includes mobile platforms as one of its development targets, React Native just might the tool to streamline your application engineering efforts. Let’s take a closer look at the framework to see if it belongs in your team’s toolbox.

Spawned in the Forge of Facebook

Since React.js began its life as an internal Facebook project before becoming open source, it stands to reason that React Native grew out of this original initiative. It was first announced in early 2015, with its open source debut taking place in March of that year. Facebook still serves in a leadership role with the overall project and the framework is used in the social network’s own mobile apps.

React Native leverages the same Architecture as React.js

If your software development group already uses React.js for web development and is hoping to add mobile apps to its arsenal, React Native is a perfect choice. Since both use the same design concepts, your developers should quickly come up to speed with Native. It also facilitates the porting of web applications to the most popular mobile platforms, in addition to Microsoft’s UWP.

It is important to note that mobile apps developed using React Native aren’t just web pages viewed in Safari for iOS or the Android version of Chrome. Instead, expect an app running “close to the metal” just like it was written using Objective-C, Swift, or Java. This becomes a powerful option for development shops hoping to target iOS or Android without investing in additional programmer training to close a mobile skills gap.

In a similar manner as React.js, React Native lets programmers construct mobile apps using JavaScript in combination with the React framework. Tags in the JavaScript code are translated into the relevant mobile control on the targeted platform. For example, the React Native <ScrollView> tag is converted to either the iOS UIScrollView or the Android ScrollView control when compiled.

Other Useful React Native Features

In addition to making the mobile app development process more efficient, React Native also sports other features useful for software engineers. Hot Reloading lets modify your code while retaining the current application state. This saves the time spent recompiling your app, which provides a nice productivity boost during crunch time.

If your team is already familiar with native mobile app development in Java or Objective-C, with pre-built components ready to go, it is easy to include those pieces within a React Native project. Ultimately, React Native can serve a similar purpose as its older brother does for web development – the rapid development of the user interface framework for a mobile app.

If your shop is involved in mobile app development, React Native is definitely worthy of further exploration if you aren’t already using the tool. It lets your team use its familiarity with JavaScript to accomplish much more. It is also a boon for organizations targeting both the web and mobile with a similar codebase.

Thanks for checking out this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights from the software development world!