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Is React Native the End of Native Development?

Is React Native the End of Native Development?

App developers and mobile companies are looking for faster deployment times, shorter development cycles, and considerably better app performance. This exceptional demand requires innovation in every aspect of the mobile app development.

Mobile apps have traditionally been developed as native apps or hybrid apps. While native apps are built from the ground up keeping an OS such as iOS and Android in mind, hybrid apps are much easier to develop especially for multiple Operating Systems using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. Hybrid apps have come a long way overcoming several development challenges on the way. At the cutting-edge of this technology and a poster-child for a new generation of developers is, the React Native user interface (UI) design framework.

What is React Native?

In the simplest of terms, React can be considered a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, and has proven to be tremendously successful, especially under the auspices of Facebook, who have now open sourced it. React has powered everything from Facebook and Netflix, and with React Native, this technology is now embracing the mobile platform by allowing developers to create native-looking and functioning iOS and Android apps.

Today, several developers view React Native as a one-stop-solution to writing and deploying applications they see fit while speeding up the entire development process, as React Native apps do not have to be written separately for different mobile operating systems. This, therefore, also gives them better dividends than Native development. React Native allows developers to only focus on the view portion of their applications, writing small pieces of code which describe how the application should look based on user input, thereby saving them a considerable amount of time and resources. By designing simple views for each stage of the application, React will ensure that it renders and updates only those components which change with user input at that particular time.

6 Reasons Why You Should Choose React Native

React Native development initially faced quite a bit of apprehension from the developer community since it combined both HTML and JavaScript. But in time, successful mobile apps launched using this technology have changed the overall perception. Some of the various benefits of React Native include -

  1. Ability to Hot Reload

    Ability to Hot Reload

    One of the main reasons behind the popularity of React Native and probably the first thing a developer will answer to your question about "Why choose React Native" is its Hot Reload capability. To keep it simple, hot reload ensures you can easily modify the applications' code without having to recompile the entire application from scratch. This simple task has major repercussions, as it saves a significant amount of time and money for the developers.

  2. Better Native App Development

    Better Native App Development

    Although development of native apps is nowadays considered inefficient and requires more development time, React Native is fast changing that notion. By bringing in some much-needed speed and mobility to the entire development lifecycle for native apps by introducing hybrid capabilities, React Native is fast becoming ubiquitous amongst the developer community. Improvements include better app performance due to ReactJS, DOM abstraction, and simplified & easy-to-code programming methods.

  3. Easy UI Development

    Easy UI Development

    Since the overall layout in React Native is completed with CSS-type stylesheets, you can easily modify components such as borders, margins, width, height, colors, fonts, etc. This in turn, ensures that all individual components in the flexbox can specify the exact layouts without you having to stress about compatibility with different browsers.

  4. Rapid Deployment

    Rapid Deployment

    React Native is a comprehensive framework consisting of CodePush and AppHub which ensure that updates are delivered to the customers instantly, on a regular basis. This is a far cry from delivering updates traditionally which can take anywhere from 24 hours to 3-4 days before being readily available on all customer devices.

  5. Exceptional Focus on UI

    Exceptional Focus on UI

    When compared to other JavaScript frameworks such as MeteorJS and AngularJS, the React native solely focuses on the mobile UI aspect of an app. This focus on the UI aspect ensures React functions more like a JS library instead of a framework. The result of the UI-focused approach can be seen in the way apps developed with React Native look and behave, where exceptional speed and responsiveness is now steadily becoming a norm.

  6. Low Memory Usage and Plugin Compatibility

    Low Memory Usage and Plugin Compatibility

    Since React Native supports third-party plugins out of the box, developers do not have to rely on WebView for certain parts and functions of the app. Most third-party plugins are added with the help of a native module, which in turn ensures that the app provides a seamless experience while using less memory and RAM.

Xamarin vs React Native: How Do They Stack Up

When it comes to developing native-like hybrid applications, there really are two main competitors in the market right now, React Native and Xamarin. The latter, which has now been acquired by Microsoft and is included with all versions of Visual Studio is developer's favorite as it allows them to develop apps for multiple platforms using C#.

React Native on the other hand is extremely suited to the modern-day demand of "develop once, deploy twice" strategy and runs on the lean legs of JavaScript. Using Xamarin, you can only write the kind of code which ape native coding, and include similar interface design tools, similar calls, etc. On the other hand, React Native's approach towards application coding is completely different, and relies on JS code, CSS stylesheets, and HTML tags which are then implemented within JSX transforms using the Babel JS Compiler. This makes React Native work much more seamlessly as compared to Xamarin.

Pros and Cons of React Native

There are many reasons why React Native is fast gaining importance in many areas of mobile application development. At the same time, is it actually the hybrid app savior that many are making it up to be? Let us have a look -

Pros of React Native

  1. Speed

    Speed

    Although the learning curve for React Native is quite steep, the speed with which one can develop apps using it is undeniable. If you have experience developing with JS, Redux, etc. then you will be right at home with React Native

  2. Native Coding

    Native Coding

    Certain features that can't be implemented solely with JavaScript can be coded for natively including push notification, implementing other native components, and deep linking

  3. Wide Variety of Third-party Libraries

    Wide Variety of Third-party Libraries

    Third-party libraries are a boon in today's cutthroat world of mobile app development, allowing you to reuse code without having to reinvent the entire wheel from scratch. There are plenty of 3rd party libraries in React Native to choose from, and you will always find something right up your alley

  4. Faster Release Cycles

    Faster Release Cycles

    React Native, being open source, has a two-week release cycle. This ensures that new features are incorporated as soon as possible, and ensures the framework remains stable for long

  5. Better Cost Savings

    Better Cost Savings

    Using the framework as it is, the cost of React Native for developers to use and implement is considerably less as compared to other similar platforms. In most cases, these cost savings could amount to almost 30%, a big boon since clients want high-quality results at cost-effective prices

Cons of React Native

  1. Less Documentation

    Less Documentation

    Whenever developers begin working on a new platform, one of the first things they require is access to the available documentation created officially as well as by the community. This documentation helps them know the platform better, while helping troubleshoot their initial queries. According to most developers, even with the current efforts, the documentation available for React Native is less than stellar

  2. Poor Quality Code Base

    Poor Quality Code Base

    Developers often need to sift through the source code of a new platform such as React Native when the documentation does not answer all their queries. The code base of React Native, as per many developers, is a hodge-podge of good ideas placed improperly together. Also, many of the core components are still in a "work-in-progress" mode, making it even more difficult for new developers to get a hang of the framework.

  3. Third-party Component Compatibility

    Third-party Component Compatibility

    Even though there are a wide variety of 3rd party component libraries available for React Native, future compatibility is not guaranteed since React Native is still being heavily developed upon and modified.

  4. Compatibility with Native SDK Updates

    Compatibility with Native SDK Updates

    Whenever the native SDKs for both iOS and Android are updated, it takes time before support for the new APIs is integrated within React Native. Also, even though the React Native team does ensure that compatibility is bridged as soon as possible, the APIs which have the most requests get incorporated first.

Will React Native Herald the End of Native Development?

React Native has proven its usefulness when it comes to developing hybrid apps within a short span of time, especially if it is for apps developed for one-shot events such as conferences, concerts, meetings, etc. At the same time, many apps which need constant updates without having to trouble the user with frequent downloads also fit the target market for React.

At the same time, this platform is still in its infancy and is being heavily developed upon. As a result, if you are looking for stability and maturity from your platform of choice, it's better to window shop elsewhere. In short, React Native is not yet ready for primetime, but with the pace of development that this platform is seeing, we won't have to wait long before everyone around us starts using it.

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Contact us right away and learn more about how we can help you get your React strategy up and running, and learn more about what the apps of tomorrow will look like.

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