React Native has been a trending technology in the mobile app development world for a while now. It took the tech world by storm because of its way of mobile app development for both iOS and Android platforms.
One Framework to Beat All
React native is being successfully applied by hundreds of different businesses worldwide. These businesses also include big tech giants such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Uber. So it’s a good choice going forward with it in 2022.
But, before you jump onto the decision of using React Native for your business it is important to understand how it works and see whether it’s the best fit for your business or project or not.
What are its top advantages and drawbacks? How React Native is different from other cross-development platforms? What do developers need to be aware of before they start with their React Native journey? – This article will answer these questions and provide a detailed explanation of the framework.
What is React Native?
History of React Native
React Native was firstly released by Facebook as an open-source project in 2015. Within a couple of years, it became one of the best solutions in mobile development. React Native development is useful in powering some of the worlds leading mobile applications such as Instagram, skype & Facebook. Further in this article, we will see other examples of React Native-powered apps.
What is Cross-platform Development?
Cross-platform development is the process of developing software that is compatible with multiple types of hardware platforms. A cross-platform application is capable to run on Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS. A web browser or Adobe Flash is a good example of a cross-platform application because irrespective of the computer or mobile device you run it on they both give excellent performance.
Before we understand React Native cross-platform let’s have a quick glance at some aspects of Cross-platform development.
- Wider user base
You don’t have to decide whether you should target iOS or android users because cross-platform software runs on both platforms, which will certainly give you access to a wider user base.
- Platform consistency
There are some navigation and design differences between Android and iOS in cross-platform development. These differences are dealt with- thanks to a shared codebase. So the codebase evidently helps in creating a consistent app brand identity on both platforms with less effort through the Native approach.
- Code reusability
Code reusability is undoubtedly one of the greatest advantages of cross-platform development – you can develop a single codebase for both Android and iOS at the same time. Native app development requires writing code separately and also takes two different software developers to execute the task.
- Rapid development
Since only one codebase is necessary to handle both iOS and Android, so everything is in one place making the product development process rapid.
- Reduced costs
Developing cost for cross-platform applications is 30% cheaper than developing native due to the abilities such as code reusability and Rapid development.
React Native seamless Cross-platform
What you’ve read so far might lead you to think that cross-platform development is flawless – it’s not, it has some disadvantages. Let us get into them right now.
Disadvantages of Cross-Platform Development:
- Proper expertise is necessary to ensure high performance
It is a common misconception that cross-platform applications perform worse, than their native counterparts. For instance, both React Native and Flutter aim to run at 60 frames per second. So, in most cases, cross-platform applications can perform to the same standard as native apps given that the developers have enough expertise.
- Hard code design
Since cross-platform apps have to be responsive to various devices and platforms, it certainly makes coding more complex. Further, this results in more work for developers who have to include exceptions for different devices and platforms to account for the differences, especially when it comes to complex features.
- Long feature release time
Nowadays, with every new feature released for Android or iOS, it takes a while to update both apps to support the new feature but Native apps are provided with those updates quicker.
How does Native React work?
Now that we have the idea of how cross-platform development works it will be simpler to understand the working of React Native.
Have a look at the diagram for a better understanding-
Benefits of React Native
- Code Reusability
Being able to reuse code is the core benefit of React Native, this also indicates that apps can run effectively on multiple platforms and is appreciated by business owners. They can integrate 90% of the native framework for reusing the code for both operational systems.
Further, developers can utilize web application code for mobile app development if they both are using React Native. This also speeds up the development time as it includes pre-developed components which are in the open-source library.
- Fast refresh – Save, see and repeat.
- Simple UI
React Native app development uses React JS to build the app’s interface, which indeed makes it more responsive and faster because of reduced load time. Further, this results in an overall better user experience. Thanks to the reactive UI and component-based approach, the framework is perfect for building apps with both simple and complex designs.
- Fast applications
Considering the pace at which the framework took over the market also its simple approach to resolving development problems, the future of React Native for cross-platform apps looks bright enough.
Risks and Drawbacks
Here are some potential drawbacks you need to be aware of before you make a decision on developing a React Native app.
React Native works just fine for any application even though it evolves into a highly-sophisticated complex application. For Instance, companies such as Skype and Facebook have been successful with the framework and have been using it consistently for many years.
But, some companies look to back out from using React Native. For example, Airbnb chose React Native while it was an emerging startup. However, over time the technology proved to be unfit for the progressive future of the company.
Hence, it’s a difficult situation for companies to make the decision but with current advancements, in React Native the scalability issues are easily manageable with proper architecture.
- Lack of custom modules
While React Native has been around for some time now, some of the custom modules either leave room for further improvement or are entirely missing. This also means that you might need to run three separate codebases (for React Native, iOS, and Android) instead of a single codebase.
That being said, it’s not a common occurrence. So, unless you’re developing your app from scratch or trying to modify an existing one then you won’t come across these issues.
- The specific requirement of the developer
So for proper execution, you will need some assistance from Android or iOS developers to get through the tricky phase. For small companies hiring Native mobile app developers is costly.
- Compatibility and debugging
Surprisingly, React Native is still known to be in its beta phase. The developers find issues with package compatibility and debugging tools while using React Native. Hence they spend more time on troubleshooting. So if the developers are not proactive enough it will have a negative impact on the development process.
Apps built with React Native
Here are some exciting React Native mobile apps built with React Native.
Facebook remains one of the most popular Native React apps. Facebook is the main force behind React Natives’ development. Facebook brought many benefits for web development to mobile such as quick iterations, a single product team and that’s the reason why React Native is so popular.
The company uses React Native development for its own Ads Manager app in iOS and android – both versions were built by the same team. Facebook allows the exchange of messages through messenger so it is safe to say its a react-native messaging app.
Skype is another brilliant example of a React Native mobile app. In 2017 Skype made an announcement of building a new app based on React Native.
The app saw a complete transformation from icons to the new messaging interface. Further, this interface now has three sections such as find chat and capture. So Microsoft who owns skype made a decision to use React Native in the desktop version also.
Instagram took a decision to integrate React Native into its existing Native app. This integration started with a Push notification view that originated as WebView. However, it wasn’t necessary to build the navigation infrastructure because UI was enough to cope without one.
React Native vs Flutter
React Native and Flutter are two cross-platform frameworks developed by tech giants; Facebook and Google. Both are highly appreciated frameworks, with Flutter being more popular amongst developers than React Native.
You might think that since Flutter is a go-to option for programmers, it might also be the best option for building your app you may be right or even wrong. So, before jumping to any conclusions, let’s see how these two frameworks differ from each other.
Difference Between React Native and Flutter
Flutter is easy to grasp – all you need to do is download the Flutter package, unzip it, and create an environment variable that targets a folder inside your unzipped folder. It operates based on widgets, which come in abundance, but unfortunately, those widgets aren’t adaptive. Hence, you’ll have to create platform-specific widgets by manual process.
React Native uses components that are available in its various libraries. Even though the number of the components isn’t as large as Flutter, components in React Native are adaptive, meaning they’ll identify the platform and run on – iOS or Android and further renders the compositions appropriate for the respective platform.
React Native is better than Flutter when it comes to the ecosystem. It’s been around for a long time than Flutter and also has the support of hundreds of packages. It actually has five times more packages than Flutter.
In terms of performance, Flutter will always have an edge over React Native due to its architectural differences.
- User interface
When it comes to the user interface React Native is certainly winning the battle. It’s more dynamic compared to Flutter which enhances the user experience. Flutter works well with proprietary widget sets, which are great for getting a customized UI design. React Native is based on UI native components, but RN developers are also able to choose from several ready-to-use, polished UI kits. These kits include react-native-paper and native-base.
In order to evaluate any frameworks’ stability, we need to emphasize on few areas such as their maturity, how big the developer community is, and which companies use them.
React Native is a Facebook project released to the public in 2015. Flutter is a slightly younger framework as it first saw light as an experimental Google project (then known as ‘Sky’) in 2015 and official release in 2018.
Both frameworks have excellent communities. As of mid-2020, React Native and Flutter’s main threads on Stack Overflow were followed by 48,600 and 24,700 watchers, respectively. The numbers look good on GitHub as well, with 2,100 contributors for React Native, and 600 for Flutter. The number of unresolved issues on GitHub also speaks in favor of React Native – with only around 700 for React Native and 7,000 for Flutter.
However, while the numbers speak in favor of React Native we did start with a statement saying Flutter is preferable by developers which indicates that the developers are currently using the framework and have expressed interest in using it in the future also.
React Native’s architecture is built around two patterns – Flux ( Facebook) and Redux (React Native community). Flux is based on unidirectional data flow. Here each piece receives data from one location and outputs changes to another. Redux adopts Flux architecture, so it is based on the same app-building method. Both of these approaches come down to keeping your application data in one place.
Flutter is undoubtedly winning this round. Flutter Framework comes with a toolkit that supports developers throughout the development process. Flutter’s documentation is both comprehensive and neatly organized. On the other hand, React Native documentation is extensive in Nature in comparison to Flutter.
React Native is a great framework for creating apps that will function smoothly irrespective of the platform or system they run on. It’s a framework loved by businesses and developers. So what’s taking you so long? Hire our excellent React Native team for your next application using React Native.