Sunday, January 24, 2021
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The Good and the Bad of ReactJS and React Native

 

Before looking at both of them — first, we need to understand why the emergence of these two technologies was needed for the top mobile app development companies.

In 2011, when Facebook was trying to expand the service to users. They encountered a few hurdles, especially the constant updates which were slowing down the progress. They realized there was a genuine need to change and realign the entire app.

Then an engineer called Jordan Walke used XHP(an HTML component library for PHP) to create FaxJS, which was the prototype of ReactJS or also known as React.

Consequently, for the first time, it was deployed in 2011 on Facebook’s timeline, and that was a giant leap for mobile apps, web apps, and responsive UI experience.

Later on, in 2015, Facebook also launched React Native. In a way, React Native is very similar to ReactJS, but React is a JavaScript library, and React Native is a framework that can be used for cross-platform apps.

Anyway, we will see the difference between the two technologies and how they differ from each other in the following:

What is React?

ReactJS or React is a JavaScript library that can be very dynamic and user-friendly, along with the speed of JavaScript. Since its release, not only has the look of the Facebook web interface changed, but it also became a revolutionary library for user-interface.

What is React Native?

Reactive Native is a hybrid app development framework that is mainly focused on assisting with cross-platform apps. With React Native, you can reuse the code for up to 95%, and the rest you need to design for the app-specific interfaces.

Differences Between React and React Native

As I mentioned before, they are similar, but there are a few differences. All the technical differences are created mainly because the goals of the platforms are different in both of them.

  • React — used for creating websites, web apps, SPA, etc.
  • React Native — used for creating cross-platform native apps.
  • React — used for creating UI hierarchy
  • React Native — allows creating native apps in a web-style approach
  • React — decreases the refreshing time compared to the conventional one
  • React Native — front-end developers can become mobile app developers

The above are some differences, but let us look into them deeply and understand why the two codings are different with two coding examples:

React Sample Code

import React, { Component } from ‘react’;
import ReactDOM from ‘react-dom’;

// every component is created by
// extending the React Component class.
class Clock extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
// constructor creates an instance of this class.
this.state = {date: new Date()};
}

componentDidMount() {
// this function is called immediately
// after component is mounted on DOM.
this.timerID = setInterval(
() => this.tick(),
1000
);
}

componentWillUnmount() {
// called before component will unmount from DOM.
clearInterval(this.timerID);
}

tick() {
// this function is used to update the
// state of Clock component.
this.setState({
date: new Date()
});
}

render() {
return (
<div>
<h1>Today Date and Time</h1>
<h2>It is {this.state.date.toLocaleTimeString()}.</h2>
</div>
);
}
}
// code will not run needs specific environment setup
ReactDOM.render(
<Clock />,
document.getElementById(‘root’)
);

You will notice that React uses HTML tags here and there along with JavaScript. Meanwhile, this is not the case with React Native. Anyway, let us look at the following React Native sample code:

React Native Sample Code

import React, { Component } from ‘react’;
import { Text, View } from ‘react-native’;

class ReactNative extends Component {
render() {
return (
// it is a container, layout support with flexbox think
// of it like a div with a container class.
<View>
<Text>// A react component for displaying text.
If you like React on the web, you’ll like React Native.
</Text>
<Text>
You just use native components like ‘View’ and ‘Text’,
instead of web components like ‘div’ and ‘span’.
</Text>
</View>
);
}
}

Here, you can see that the tags are different since the goals of this framework are different.

Benefits of React

Virtual DOM Makes the User Experience Better and Developers Work Faster

Traditional DOM (Document Object Model) uses a logical structure of documents in HTML, XHTML, and XML format. To put it simply, it’s a viewing agreement on data inputs and outputs which has a tree. Web browsers are using layout engines to transform HTML syntax into a document object model.

The issue with the traditional DOM is that it takes so much time to process the changes like queries, inputs, and so on. To overcome this issue, the developers came up with an abstract copy (virtual DOM) which can reduce the time to update the changes. Unlike regular DOM, the virtual DOM just updates the required part and leaves the rest of the parts of the interface as it is.

This not only improves the user experience but also reduces the developers’ work.

Permission to Reuse React Components Significantly Saves Time

Another enormous advantage that Facebook brought with React is reusability. Think of doing the same task, again and again, a lot of times, don’t you think it is not only boring but also time-consuming?

Upgrades to the system are a never-ending process. Even one change can change all the components in the systems, and this became a huge impediment to reducing the time.

But with React, the components are isolated, which makes the process a lot easier, and it also doesn’t affect the entire system with just one change in the system.

This not only decreases the developers’ work but also significantly overcomes the time impediment.

React Improves SEO for Your Web App/Page

Since React is capable of server-side rendering, it improves SEO and helps in getting more organic traffic to the website. When a Google bot visits a server that has already rendered the content and images, indexing and caching becomes easier and faster.

Additionally, if the Google bot indexes the content from the server-side, it also improves the page loading time. This will also enhance the user experience, creating a win-win situation.

Huge Ecosystem of Developer Tools

Since React is open-source, it is available for all developers to reap the maximum benefits of the progress and updates in the Java ecosystem.

React is blessed to have such a huge number of developers who have created a massive ecosystem of tools, IDEs, web browsers, component libraries, extensions for code editors, etc.

Drawbacks of React

Hard for New Developers

Building an app using React is significantly more challenging than for a new developer. React takes more time to learn, and this can be an issue for new developers who are trying to build an app with no experience.

External Library Support

Though React has its native libraries, there are few to rely on. Yes, you can use other libraries like HTML and CSS and build it into JSX, which has its complexities and steep learning curves.

Benefits of React Native

Improved Performance and Speed

Building blocks in React are reusable native modules and components, which means it doesn’t depend on the web view for code rendering, unlike other cross-platform frameworks. This results in improved performance and speed.

Easy To Learn

If you are a front-end developer and know a bit about JavaScript, platform-specific APIs, native UI elements, or other design essentials, then you can easily become a mobile developer.

Since most of the React Native coding is in JavaScript, it is easy for a front-end developer to create a mobile app.

Can Be Combined with Any Existing App

Another significant feature of React Native is that you can add an extra feature without overhauling the entire app when updating it. You can add UI components directly into the existing app.

 

Built-In Debugging

In the latest 0.62 version, released in March 2020, React Native added built-in support for Flipper. Flipper is a debugging tool for developers, that is very popular among both iOS and Android platforms.

Starting with the latest release, Reactive Native will now have the default Flipper support for React Native Apps.

Drawbacks of React Native

Lack of Native Libraries

If the app has heavy functionalities, React Native can slow down the development process. This is because of over-reliance on external and third-party libraries and the lack of native libraries.

Expertise in Native Modules:

If we do not find a specific functionality in Native, then you have to either write the native module in objective-C and Java or you should ask a native developer to create one. In short, React Native is useless if the functionality is too heavy to handle.

Wrapping Up

Both React and React Native are progressive libraries and frameworks. There is no doubt that both are being used in app and web development companies, however, React Native is still young and needs to improve on so many fronts.

Yes, every technology or framework has its own merits and demerits. It is all up to the user’s criteria and priorities. Weigh the pros and cons of each programming language and pick one based on your application.

If you are excited about developing a new mobile app, then React Native is the perfect fit to get your app up and running. Also, if you are new to the React world and have some familiarity with JavaScript, then React Native wouldn’t take much time to learn and get going.

Nevertheless, if you want to build a solid web interface, then it is good for you to go with React.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that people are learning React Native because they got fed up with Cordova and cross-platform apps.

So why late? Try it and have fun.

All the Best!

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