React and React Native are two of the most popular technologies used to build web and mobile user interfaces (UI) today.
While React is used to build web applications, React Native is used to build mobile applications.
Even if you know nothing about React (also known as React Js) and React Native, you have been definitely using either of the two almost every single day!
In this article, we’ll tell you all about React and React Native, the pros and cons of each, their differences and provide ample examples of their usage, so you have a clear understanding.
What is React?
It was conceived in 2012 by Jordan Walke, a software engineer with Facebook, where the technology was developed.
React allows developers to easily integrate it with existing code or other libraries and simplifies the process of developing and building web applications.
The best feature of React is Virtual DOM.
This is how it happens: React creates an in-memory data structure cache that computes the resulting differences, and then updates the browser’s displayed DOM seamlessly. The programmer writes the code as if the entire page is rendered on each change, whereas in reality, only those sub-components which are changed are rendered.
This enables React to work at blazing speeds.
Also, you can tell React what state you want the UI to be in, and Virtual DOM allows it to ensure the DOM matches that state, without you having to go behind the scenes.
If you are interested in knowing more about React’s Virtual DOM (Document Object Model) you can read it here.
What is React Native?
React Native enables the creation of applications across multiple platforms (Windows, Android, iOS) smoothly and seamlessly.
And that’s React Native’s biggest advantage.
Before React Native, developers had to use different tools to build applications for different platforms.
React Native uses native Application Program Interface (API) when rendering UI components.
React Native comes with native modules and components that improve performance.
After the resounding success of React, Facebook began working on a cross-platform mobile framework to address their growing mobile needs.
That is when React Native was born. React Native was made available on Github by Facebook in 2013.
Advantages and Disadvantages of React and React Native
Advantages of React
Here are some of the major advantages of React:
- Component-Based Architecture Saves Time
React contributes to efficiency by allowing users to reuse assets through its component-based architecture. Apart from saving enormous amounts of time, it is advantageous for another reason which is that changes in one component do not affect any others. This component isolation and one direction flow of data with downward data binding not only promotes efficiency but also improves code stability.
- Easy to learn
- Better for SEO
A web application based on React is more SEO-friendly. React ensures a faster speed by reducing the time of page load, thus aiding SEO, which is the cornerstone of any business today.
- High performance, better user experience
As already mentioned in this article, Virtual DOM is one of the key features of React. Virtual DOM shortens the update time to the real DOM, ensuring the application has higher performance and better user experience.
- Easy to use
React requires much less coding than HTML, making it easy to build high-functioning web applications with greater ease. It also provides greater functionality.
- Huge pool of value
Developers from across the globe have been using and improving React for nearly a decade now. The React community provides valuable libraries that facilitate the React development process.
- Easy development and maintenance
React uses multiple components that have their own logic and rendering, which can be reused as needed. This means that applications built on React are easy to develop and maintain.
Disadvantages of React
Some of the disadvantages of React are listed below:
- Need for constant upgrades
Given the dynamic nature of the React environment, it requires developers to constantly update themselves and keep abreast of the changes and developments. This becomes a tedious task for developers as the react environment is constantly changing at a rapid pace.
- Poor execution owing to upgrades
Because of the constant upgrades in the React world, developers are forced to create their own documentation for specific tools that result in poor execution.
Advantages of React Native
Below are some widely accepted advantages of React Native:
- Lightning-fast Development
- Advantage of Live and Hot Reloading
The React Native’s support for Live and Hot Reloading is a huge advantage.
Live Reloading is a tool that helps in compiling and reading the file where the developer had made the changes. It also offers a new file to the stimulator, automatically reading the app from the beginning.
The Hot Reloading is based on the Hot Module Replacement (HMR) and made its inception after the initial reloading process. Although there is not much of a difference in functions and features, but the main aspect comes into play during saving the changes.
- Lesser debugging
Using React leads to unified version updates and only one set of bugs to be fixed across multiple platforms, which reduces the amount of work that goes into optimization and debugging.
- Cross-platform Functionality
Thanks to its reusable code, which can be deployed for both iOS and Android, React Native enables cross-platform functionality.
- Strong Community
The React Native community is a decade-old group that’s ready to exchange knowledge and know-how about React Native, meaning if you ever face a problem, there’s a huge network of developers ready to help at all times.
React native comes with a huge advantage of minimizing costs. A React Native application typically needs to be built once, that too using a single codebase. Another cost-saving comes from the MIT license under which React Native is distributed. Anyone can modify the software, and changes to the code do not need to be reported. The React Native framework is also completely license-free, so there is no need to pay or share for anything done within the framework.
Disadvantages of React Native
Here are the main disadvantages of React Native:
- Relatively new
React Native is new as compared to other Android and iOS programming languages. It is still in its nascent stage and this can have a negative impact on the apps.
- React Native lacks consistency in releasing updates, which at times becomes tough for developers. Due to the suddenness of the upgrades, developers are not left with any choice but to make a lot of changes and make regular upgrades.
- While using React Native, developers are at times required to write the extra native code for components not compatible with the React Native.
- Tough to learn for new developers
- Takes Longer to Initialize
- Not as Secure
- Constant Updates
React Native is continually updating and that comes with bug fixes, new ported native components, performance improvements, and improved custom components. Updates aren’t necessarily a disadvantage, but something that React Native developers have to consider as opposed to a more developed framework.
- Lacks Custom Modules
React Native still lacks certain components, while others are yet to be fully developed. Most React Native developers would not encounter this issue; however, those who do have to find ways around it by building a solution from scratch or hacking an existing one. Creating a custom module may also result in three separate codebases (Android, iOS, RN) instead of only one.
Differences between React vs React Native
The best way to understand the differences between React and React Native are by comparing them in the following categories:
React is primarily used to build UI for web applications, whereas React Native is for creating cross-platform mobile apps on iOS, Android, and Windows and designing responsive mobile UI.
React can be executed across all kinds of platforms. While a large percentage of code can be shared across multiple platforms, there is also a percentage of platform-specific code that is adapted to each specific platform i.e. iOS or Android.
React uses HTML tags, while React Native does not.
Where have you seen React and React Native?
As discussed in this article, both React and React Native have widespread popularity in their respective functions.
If you are wondering where you have come across web applications and mobile apps built on React and React Native, the following list will pleasantly surprise you:
The following websites use React:
The following apps use React Native:
Going through those real-world examples in the previous section would probably be enough for you to understand the popularity of React and React Native. The two technologies are only gaining popularity with time and most developers swear by them. In the coming years, their popularity will only increase and more and more websites and mobile apps will be using them. Hopefully, this article was helpful enough to understand the basics of the two technologies.
Have a question? Leave it in the comments section below and we will get back to you. In the meantime, you can check out our other articles here.
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