An Introduction to React Native for Mobile App Development

  • by Homer Ellen
  • 2 Months ago
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One of the most popular frameworks to emerge in web technology in recent years is React.js. Developed by Facebook, React was originally developed as a data-driven framework to handle the “view” state of a web application (in the MVC, or Model – View – Controller design pattern). Given the success of React in dealing with many common problems in creating an application, a mobile counterpart was created for developing native applications for the iOS and Android platforms, React Native. With several benefits over previous “hybrid” options in building a mobile app, React Native has become one of the most popular choices for quickly developing an app without many of the drawbacks of its counterparts. This post will give an introduction to what React Native is, how it differs from other options, and some of the reasons for choosing it when developing for a mobile platform.

Why React Native?

When building a truly native application for a platform such as iOS, apps are written in either Objective-C or Swift, or a combination of both. While these options offer the most “close to the metal” programming option in terms of interacting with the device’s hardware with the least amount of intermediary, there are many drawbacks to this development route. Aside from requiring a developer experienced in these less universal programming languages, every update to an app requires recompiling the source code, then re-submitting the app to the App Store. This can result in a long, drawn-out process that can impede rapid development and iteration of new features.

For many years, the alternative was to use a framework such as Ionic or Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) to wrap common web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript inside a WebView container that could then run on an Android or iOS device. This had the benefits of shortening development time, being more accessible to a larger pool of developers (it’s easier to find a developer well-versed in HTML, CSS and JavaScript than Objective C, Swift or Java), and being able to release updates to the app far quicker. The primary drawbacks however, are significant decreases in performance and an incongruity with the native experience of the given mobile operating system.

React Native addresses the primary drawbacks of both native apps and previous hybrid frameworks, whilst combining both of their advantages. React Native apps are significantly faster and more performant than apps built with a framework such as Ionic or Cordova, as it renders actual native UI components instead of relying on WebView. Given that it utilizes native UI components, its look and feel are much more consistent with the overall experience of the iOS or Android platforms.

Since React Native is built within regular JavaScript, the prevalence of the language makes it easier to get up and running with the framework rather than picking up something like Java or Objective C. And due to the popularity of React, if you are already experienced with the web-based framework, React Native is almost identical in how it deals with components for every aspect of an application.

Conclusion

React Native is increasingly becoming the go-to option for mobile app development, for both small startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Just a small selection of companies utilizing the framework for their app development include Facebook, Instagram, Uber, Tesla and Walmart.

If your looking for an app developer in Los Angeles, reach out to Sunlight Media LLC. They provide high-end custom app development for both iOS and Android.

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