React Native is a JavaScript framework for writing real, natively rendering mobile applications for iOS and Android. It’s based on React, Facebook’s JavaScript library for building user interfaces, but instead of targeting the browser, it targets mobile platforms. In other words: web developers can now write mobile applications that look and feel truly “native,” all from the comfort of a JavaScript library that we already know and love. Plus, because most of the code you write can be shared between platforms, React Native makes it easy to simultaneously develop for both Android and iOS.

It is not wrong to say that mobile phones are the half soul of every individual and when it comes to Android development or iOS development, businesses often get confused whether they should offer their consumers, a mobile app with superlative User Interface (UI) and outstanding User Experience (UX) or apps that are compatible with multiple platforms and are faster to develop in the first place. And hence, there comes the REACT Native Development in the picture!

So you want to be able to build mobile apps for both Android and iOS. What should you learn?  The individual native languages for each app i.e Java for Android and Swift/Objective-C for iOS?, Actually NO
Native Android and iOS development are quite different and can be expensive – first, the language itself is quite different and second, all the underlying API’s are different – the way of using the GPS is different, the way to create animations is different, the way you make network calls is different.

Advantages of React Native

The fact that React Native actually renders using its host platform’s standard rendering APIs enables it to stand out from most existing methods of cross-platform application development, like Cordova or Ionic. Existing methods of writing mobile applications using combinations of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS typically render using webviews. While this approach can work, it also comes with drawbacks, especially around performance. Additionally, they do not usually have access to the host platform’s set of native UI elements. When these frameworks do try to mimic native UI elements, the results usually “feel” just a little off; reverse-engineering all the fine details of things like animations takes an enormous amount of effort, and they can quickly become out of date.

Native Development For Everyone

React Native lets you create truly native apps and doesn’t compromise on your users’ experience. It provides a core set of platform agnostic native components like ViewText, and Image that map directly to the platform’s native UI building blocks.

Fast Refresh

See your changes as soon as you save. With the power of JavaScript, React Native lets you iterate at lightning speed. No more waiting for native builds to finish. Save, see, repeat.

When to choose React Native?

A lot of big companies like Tesla, Walmart, and Uber Eats are developing apps using this technology. Facebook, Instagram and Zynga also integrated some React Native features into their existing apps. It means that RN, despite some opinions, is a good choice not only for simple apps, but also for more advanced ones. Still, it’s true that RN is the best solution for small/medium apps targeted at both platforms where heavy computations are moved to the server side.

What to consider if you decide to develop in React Native?

If you plan to build an app with RN and maintain it over a longer period of time, you need to prepare for more frequent updates than in native technologies (you need to update your app both when the platform has been updated and when new components have been added to RN). This is not a disadvantage, as React Native is regularly updated and new useful components are created (reportedly, a new version comes out monthly)! But you have to remember about making more regular updates to your app. In the past developers developers struggled with the update process, but since version 0.59 you can make updates without any concern. Also share your plans with you mobile development partner to minimise potential risks (a mismatch between the technology and the development plans).

Risks and Drawbacks

As with anything, using React Native is not without its downsides, and whether or not React Native is a good fit for your team really depends on your individual situation.

The largest risk is probably React Native’s maturity, as the project is still relatively young. iOS support was released in March 2015, and Android support was released in September 2015. The documentation certainly has room for improvement, and continues to evolve. Some features on iOS and Android still aren’t supported, and the community is still discovering best practices. The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, you can implement support for missing APIs yourself, which we’ll cover in Chapter 7.

Because React Native introduces another layer to your project, it can also make debugging hairier, especially at the intersection of React and the host platform. We’ll cover debugging for React Native in more depth in Chapter 8, and try to address some of the most common issues.

React Native is still young, and the usual caveats that go along with working with new technologies apply here. Still, on the whole, I think you’ll see that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Developer Experience

If you’ve ever developed for mobile before, you might be surprised by how easy React Native is to work with. The React Native team has baked strong developer tools and meaningful error messages into the framework, so working with robust tools is a natural part of your development experience.

For instance, because React Native is “just” JavaScript, you don’t need to rebuild your application in order to see your changes reflected; instead, you can hit Command+R to refresh your application just as you would any other web page. All of those minutes spent waiting for your application to build can really add up, and in contrast React Native’s quick iteration cycle feels like a godsend.

Additionally, React Native lets you take advantage of intelligent debugging tools and error reporting. If you are comfortable with Chrome or Safari’s developer tools, you will be happy to know that you can use them for mobile development, as well. Likewise, you can use whatever text editor you prefer for JavaScript editing: React Native does not force you to work in Xcode to develop for iOS, or Android Studio for Android development.

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