What is React Native?


React Native is the next generation of React - a JavaScript code library developed by Facebook and Instagram, which was released on Github in 2013.

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Native app creation simply means writing apps for a specific operating system.

React Native helps developers reuse code across the web and on mobile.

Engineers won't have to build the same app for iOS and for Android from scratch - reusing the code across each operating system.

What's great about React Native is that there are very little differences between a finished app built in Objective-C or Java and one built using React Native.

Android and iOS have very different codebases and startups and businesses often struggle to hire - or afford - engineers for both. But with Reactive Native, just one developer can write across different mobile operating systems.

But with React Native, just one developer can write across different mobile operating systems.

Pros of React Native

The community

Like with most online developer communities, the React Native one is growing and offers a great network of experienced developers.

If you're starting out, you can get fast answers to common problems and queries while also taking advantage of some of the new updates to React Native.

There will also be lots of documentation and tutorials to help you though.

Faster development

We've already mentioned this, but it's so good it deserves more airtime.

Speed is often the name of the game where development is concerned. Anything that can speed up the development of an application is much appreciated!

With React Native, the development time is considerably shorter. This is mainly down to the amount of pre-formed elements, meaning copy and paste approach can be taken quite often.

Closer teams

With React Native bringing both iOS and Android developers together, you'll most likely be working in closer teams. This should make working together and making decisions a lot easier.

The 'too many cooks spoil the broth' scenario shouldn't be relevant here.

Cross-platform building

Not only can you create code that can be copied and reused multiple times, but you can also React Native's codebase to work across iOS to Android. Which is pretty cool and in the long run will save time for the developer and money for their employer.

Cons React Native

It's still improving

React Native isn't perfect, in fact, it does have some clear limitations.

Some custom modules are missing, meaning that you might lose out on some of its time-saving perks but having to build and create your own.

It is still technical

It's easy to get swept up in React Native's pre-packaged elements. However, for certain things, you'll still need a developer at hand to take care of some technical nasties.

These include incorporating smartphone camera accessibility into an app or push notifications and more sophisticated data handling.

Is it all too convenient?

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

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Why open source?

Back in 2015, Facebook said in a blog post: "If we work together in the open, we can advance the state of technology together."

Altruism aside, opting to open source code is a tricky decision. Keeping a businesses infrastructure under-wraps has commercial advantages, especially when your technology is your business model.

But the developer community is loyal to those who open up. Web engineers across the world are quick to point out a bug in the code for free.

Developing open source projects helps keep Facebook one of the most coveted companies to work for. Developers want a challenge, and a sense of giving back - and Facebook wants a large pool of talented engineers to pick its employees from.

Plus, it saves on training. If every engineer Facebook hires already knows how to write in React Native, they have a running start.

Facebook has a culture of maturing its development. Over 12 years’ it has scaled to serve one billion users, thousands of developers and three major platforms - iOS, Android and Web.

React Native online courses

There is a myriad of online courses for those just wanting to test the waters to others ready to take the plunge.

We particularly like courses from Udemy as they are often cheap, relatively quick and easily accessible. Here are our favourites:

- Create Your First React Native App
- The Complete React Native and Redux Course
- React Native Expo from Beginner to Pro
- Ultimate React Native - Easily Build iOS and Android Apps

Other great online courses come from Lynda.com and Hackr.io.

This story, "What is React Native?" was originally published by Techworld.com.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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