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Five reasons to develop apps with React Native.

Staying relevant in the competitive web and mobile app development space is crucial for any coding professional. With creating high-quality apps a shared goal, it’s essential developers continually assess the frameworks they build with to ensure the best-possible outcome for the end-user, the product owner and even themselves.

One such framework commonly used by app developers – including our team – is React Native. Created by Facebook in 2015, React Native is widely considered to be the framework of choice for building cross-platform apps for iOS and Android. While some may argue whether React Native truly deserves the title of ‘best in show’ when it comes to building high-quality native and hybrid apps, we think its reputation is well earned. Let’s explore five key reasons why:

  1. The best way to handle cross-platform app development.

Unlike hybrid WebView-based solutions that compromise on performance, React Native apps feel like native apps. This is all thanks to the way React Native works internally: the Javascript thread interacts with the native thread through the bridge to control native components. React Native comes with enough components and API to build most apps, while third-party native modules and native UI components allow developers to access any native API or create custom components. While it’s true that with a lot of complex animations happening simultaneously the bridge can be overwhelmed – for example in a mobile game – the majority of apps built with React Native will be indistinguishable from native apps in terms of performance.

  • Supportive community.

React Native comes with a great community. Whether you need a third-party library for a custom component or have a question to ask on one of the numerous slack workspaces and discord channels – the React Native community has got you covered! Additionally, the majority of popular native libraries for iOS and Android have stable open-source React Native wrappers available to install, while helpful documentation is widely available to assist in creating your own. 

  • Development experience.

With impressive development technologies such as React Profiler, Inspector, Chrome dev tools, Flipper and Storybook, the experience is flawless compared to native solutions. React Native is easier to learn, the code easier to understand (particularly with the addition of React hooks) and, most importantly, it scales very well. It’s a great choice for enterprise apps and apps with complex user interfaces, not to mention the React framework encourages developers to build reusable components.

  • Javascript.

There seems to be an endless list of amazing libraries and tools for Javascript. Redux, Axios, Jest, Eslint, Jest… the list goes on! React Native also enables developers to use any language that compiles down to Javascript, for instance ECMAScript, TypeScript and CoffeeScript.

  • Fast Reload.

While technically this point comes under development experience, this is such a fundamental part of the React Native experience that it deserves its own mention. With Fast Reload you not only see the layout you’re developing change as you type, you can also change business logic and see it take instant effect. There’s no need to re-compile the app or wait for the JS bundle to reload; changes are loaded instantly through the development server. The only time when you need to recompile the app is when you introduce new native features. Fast Reload was introduced to React Native four years ago and remains the best implementation of the concept.

Final thoughts.

Of the above reasons to build web and mobile apps using React Native, the point that resonates with me the most is ‘Community’. While Mark Zuckerberg and his team should be applauded for delivering us the framework, I believe it’s the global community of app developers that has significantly contributed to React Native’s success. As an open source product React Native is a platform made for innovation and it’s exciting to belong to a community that is championing its continuous improvement. Watch this space!

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