The Definitive Guide to Building an App using React Native

With each passing day, the number of mobile applications is drastically increasing in the App Store and Google Play. Despite the apparent colossal difference between the number of users on the two most popular platforms – Android and iOS – both have millions of users, making their developers come out with something new every time.

With the ever-increasing expectations of the consumers and global connectivity, businesses need to be present at every single platform to attract and retain more and more customers. This is the reason why businesses of all types and sizes are looking to develop mobile apps that run smoothly on multiple platforms. That’s why these days developers are using cross platform development framework instead of using a single framework for building mobile apps. It is considered to be the easiest and least expensive way to create applications for two platforms.

Building an App using React Native

Often the app developers are perplexed by the choice of platforms, frameworks and tools. But the key selection they have to precisely make is regarding the platform. One such platform is React Native. If we talk about the React Native, it is an open source framework that has been developed by the Facebook. It introduced the concept of web development into mobile app building using JavaScript.

React Native offers the developers a golden chance to create applications simultaneously at one time, thereby eradicating the need to develop the same app on two different platforms. Only a single code is enough for both the Android and iOS platforms. With the arrival of React Native, the User Interface (UI) of mobile applications got better as it has brought improvements in the graphical elements so as to match with the OS of both the platform.

What Is React Native

React Native is basically a set of libraries, which provide access to the corresponding native APIs. This means applications built with this technology will have access to native platform features like camera, user location, etc. React Native applications use a perfect blend of JavaScript and XML like syntax known as JSX to express the user interface as a function of the current application state.

React Native is much different from other frameworks such as Titanium, Ionic, Cordova and PhoneGap as they use JavaScript components, which on the corresponding platform will be rendered as native UI widgets. With React Native, developers can develop applications for multiple platforms with one set of honed skills. Presently, React Native supports iOS, Android and Universal Windows Platform.

How React Native Works?

React Native is actually truly Native

Most of the mobile applications build using JavaScript use a Cordova library or Ionic. With Cordova, you have access to native APIs, but the core of your application will be just HTML and JavaScript rendered in a WebView.

With this approach, it becomes easy to reach the look and feel of the native UI, but it’s a known fact that application developed with Cordova struggles in performance. This is especially true in case of graphically-heavy applications and on the Android platform as a whole. This will lead to poor user experience and frustrated clients.

With React Native your JavaScript-defined components will be rendered as native widgets using an abstraction layer called “bridge”, which invokes the actual rendering API on the host platform.

React Native In the Cordova-based application, logic lies in JavaScript but the UI is always truly native. React Native Libraries run the application in a different thread, which uses platform’s JavaScript engine, without blocking the main UI thread. This enhances smooth animation as well as native performance. There is another thread, which is responsible for the layout creation.

On the other hand, the styling components are taken care of through CSS syntax, which is written in JavaScript objects. To construct the layout, React Native uses a subset of Flexbox, which provides an efficient way to distribute space between components in a container.

Benefits of Using React Native

  • Cross Platform – With the increasing demand for mobile applications, many businesses now ask developers to build an app for both the major platforms – Android and iOS. The developers build iOS applications using native languages Swift and Objective C and build Android applications using Java.

The biggest disadvantage of this approach is that the businesses end up paying for the development and maintenance of two separate applications that do the same thing. However, cross platform mobile application development using React Native allows businesses to reach a wider audience across multiple platforms and devices.

With React Native, the application shares a codebase. Another advantage is that if the team needs platform specific component, it can easily be imported into the application. The platform module detects the platform where the application is running and can be used to add specific components to the app.

  • Native Code – If required, developers can write codes. But with React Native, the team can easily use native modules and connect them to an application.

For instance, if you have an existing native codebase and you want to implement it again in JavaScript, the code can be used as it is in React Native application. Application modules can communicate each other through events or through passing props. This powerful feature exposes all the power of the underlying platform to React Native application.

  • Smaller Learning Curve – In other frameworks, teams are required to learn a long list of specific concepts and cases. On the other hand, React uses pure JavaScript. For instance, in Ionic, a developer uses ngRepeat directive. If filtering based on a condition is needed, $filter service must be used. But with React Native, developers use the existing knowledge they possess of JavaScript fundamentals and also use the native map and filter functions.
  • Better, Smother Developer Experience – The strongest threshold from the developer point of view is that in comparison to standard iOS and Android development, React Native apps can be “instantly” refreshed without waiting to rebuild. Error reporting is quite good too, and debugging JavaScript code is possible through Chrome Developer Tools. Since JavaScript is transpired, all the new features of the language are available for the developer, which in turn boosts productivity.
  • Efficiency – React Native enables quick prototyping and a very high initial velocity. Implementing basic features is easy, and if needed, they can be extended with native code and native views.

React Native is a relatively new technology which already has been adopted by many developers. It boosts up the developer’s productivity and it is scalable. It could save businesses’ time and money. If you are looking for mobile application development services using React Native framework for your business, contact us today!

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