React Native

React Native: A great platform for mobile app development

According to one of the articles in “The Verge”, 99% of the smartphones run on iOS or Android (https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/16/14634656/android-ios-market-share-blackberry-2016). When it comes to mobile app development, we are always looking for shorter development cycle, want to get the app out in the market as soon as possible. Android and iOS have very different codebases, and startups and businesses often struggle to hire or afford engineers for both.

Facebook developed “React Native” as a solution for cross platform mobile app development. React Native lets you build iOS and Android compatible mobile apps using only JavaScript. The component based structure of React Native allows building apps which are indistinguishable from native application when it comes to speed, look, and functionality. If any complex functionality not yet supported by React Native framework needs to be implemented, then the framework provides native modules functionality to implement them in native app layer itself.

Benefits of using React Native

  1. Save on time and money

With React Native, you need only one team working for both Android and iOS, whereas in case of native development, you require two different teams to handle Android and iOS parts. This will definitely save on time for development, along with cost of development, as we are not spending on two different teams.

  1. Faster development

Speed is often a crucial parameter where development is concerned. With React Native, the development time, is considerably shorter. With third party plug-ins being available, you can do the development quite fast. It is just a matter of plug and play with some tweaks, if required.

  1. The community

React Native is growing and offers a great network of experienced developers through online developer communities. If one is just starting out, he/she can get fast answers to common problems. Also, there are many tutorials and documentations available to help.

Challenges of React Native

  1. It’s still evolving/improving

React Native is not perfect. It is still improving. One has to be very careful while choosing the libraries that it supports, the required OS/platform. There is some functionality that has to be developed in natively. These include incorporating Smartphone camera accessibility into an app or push notifications, and more sophisticated data handling.

  1. It is not React JS

Though it sounds familiar to React JS, it is not same as React JS. React Native has its own learning curve and one might take considerable amount of time to get comfortable with React Native. Prior experience of mobile app development might help in some aspect, but it’s all together a new learning.

  1. Long lasting?

Because this framework is brought to you by Facebook, there is a small worry that Facebook could kill off the project, leaving developers out in the cold.

While there are other tools for cross platform mobile app development like Xamarin, and Ionic, React Native has edge over the two in many areas. React Native performance is close to native because it renders code components directly to the native APIs. React Native also allows for using native iOS and Android modules written in Objective-C and Java, whereas, they can’t be reused in Xamarin and Ionic and their main purpose is higher performance in complicated operations like image editing, or video playback. All three are open source, but Xamarin’s language is C#, and there’s the additional cost of Visual Studio IDE for commercial use. Even for Ionic, you have to spend some amount to get some additional features in Ionic Pro. React Native is completely free. Due to these, and some other reasons, React Native is more popular having 59.6k GitHub stars, as compared to Ionic with 33.3k, and Xamarin with 3.6k Github stars.

All in all React Native is a great platform for mobile app development that is open source, produces high performance apps, and also saves time and efforts. It is going to play crucial role in the future of mobile app development.

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