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ReactJS and React Native: Pros and Cons

ReactJS and React Native are truly groundbreaking technologies in the web and mobile apps development industry. These innovative tools arrived back in 2011, thanks to Facebook. Jordan Walke, one of the Facebook developers, came up with an idea to establish special libraries that can be used for the interface development of the interface when coding with the help of JavaScript, to facilitate the process of the app creation and make the system more convenient for the end-customer.

In this article, we'll take a look at what React is, what are ReactJS pros and cons, as well as a brief history of ReactJS and React Native.

The Essence of React

Before ReactJS became available for multiple users, the biggest challenge of developers at Facebook was to create fast-moving and rich UI. For instance, the developers needed the possibility to enable adding fresh news into the newsfeed at the same time while the client was modifying personal data profile or talking to the friends in chat.

To make that happen, Facebook needed to improve the development procedures on the whole. Walke suggested to use JavaScript for it and, in particular, to place XHP, the marking pattern of Facebook, into the JS-navigated environment.

Back then, it seemed like advice right out of a fantasy world. Here we are, however, years later, and we've got a ReactJS library based on the mixture of JavaScript and XHP.

When the solution became public, Facebook developers realized that ReactJS is swifter than any of the similar tools of the same profile available on the market.

In a nutshell, ReactJS is a JavaScript-based library that combines the JavaScript velocity and the innovative mechanism to render the websites, so they become much faster and reactive towards users' inquiries.

This solution drastically transformed Facebook's methodology for web development. Since its initial release as open-source software, ReactJS quickly spread among the developers, thanks to its extraordinary way of coding the user's interface.

A couple of years after that, the same team delivered React Native, a combined framework for mobile application creation for iOS and Android operational systems. The core technologies of ReactJS and React Native are the same, which was the reason developers, as well as companies, accepted it as the new normal.

React Native provides the possibility to create native mobile apps in JavaScript UI environment. Large and complicated properties are developed using native iOS and Android components, and the remaining part is coded with the help of JavaScript and distributed among the platforms. Compared to PhoneGap or Cordova, the multiple-stage instruments, React Native doesn't use WebView. However, it does allow native portable adapters to get a sense of the app's UI.

Let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of the ReactJS and React Native and compare these two technologies.

ReactJS Strengths

Improve UX and Coding Experience using Virtual Document Object Models (DOM)

DOM is the file formation in multiple formats such as HTML, XHTML, and XML. It's a tree-structured arrangement of the data's ins and outs.

The main issue with the conventional (HTML) DOMs is the need to continually update it throughout the file to provide relevant answers to the customers' requests. Since HTML DOM trees have become rather expansive and consist of multiple constituents, such updates take too much time and put a strain on the servers.

The group of developers in charge of ReactJS managed to increase the velocity of system update with the help of a virtualized Document Object Model. Therefore, while other frameworks use the good old DOM, ReactJS exploits the virtual model. This means ReactJS allows to easily alter parts of the file, according to the customer needs, without having to change everything at the same time. React's elements and exclusive scheme of data arrangement within the library boundaries are encapsulated, and this results in a velocity increase.

If our updating process is prompt, we can design an extremely fast UI. For example, a user can change one small thing in the personal account, and the newsfeed updates automatically right away.

Furthermore, in the case of ReactJS, developers don't have to connect the DOM with the operational front-end content, since the components have already been associated with it.

In a nutshell, ReactJS speeds up the response time for users' requests and streamlines the development process in terms of UI modules and enhances productivity.

Reuse the code elements you've created

ReactJS allows reusing the code components at any stage of development, which means less routine work for the developer (and more time to dedicate to more complex challenges.)

Reusing the available components is a useful practice, which web designers love because it saves them so much time. In terms of programming, the situation is not as straightforward. System updates can be challenging because even a tiny change may affect the correct functioning of the other elements.

Produce substantial code using the single-oriented data stream in ReactJS

ReactJS ensures direct access to the elements and exploits a descending data associating method to protect the higher-level configurations from being transformed when the lower-level structures are modified. It allows getting the balanced code.

More complicated observation-type arrangements of JS-configuration are characterized with real weakness: schemes of data streams. The low-level elements may influence the higher-level ones when being altered in JS view model structures. In the case of ReactJS, the vendor has eliminated these negatives by leaving it as just the viewing structure.

As a substitute for applying clear data association, ReactJS prefers utilizing a single orientation model - a descending data stream. Thanks to this, the lower-level components don’t affect the higher-level ones. Consequently, the developer simply needs to change the status of the element and add the updated fragments, and only the authorized constituents will be amended.

More progress & improvements: open-source code libraries

ReactJS is one of those JavaScript-related software products that has been delivered to the industry as an open-source solution. It allows ReactJS to get all possible benefits of such format, in particular, plenty of innovative and productive concepts and applications contributed by the outside coders. Such a community helped ReactJS to skyrocket in popularity among developers. Nowadays it is among the TOP 10 most demanded solutions proposed on GitHub with almost 70 thousand stars. To keep the product up to date, over 1,000 outside contributors are focusing on the library.

Weaknesses of ReactJS

Extreme development velocity

The coding landscape gets altered too fast for many developers. While it means that there are many improvements, the need to constantly re-learn methods and patterns becomes a block for coders in using ReactJS more.

Insufficient documentation

The heart of the problem is the continual issuance of the upgraded instruments. Various cutting-edge libraries such as Reflux are aimed to facilitate the functioning and to advance the whole ReactJS environment. However, the coders often have difficulties when implementing new instruments into ReactJS.

For instance, some societies of developers believe that React solutions are updated and changed so quickly that there is not enough time to create sufficient working manuals. As a result, the coders have to develop special instructions by themselves for the individual instruments employed in the ongoing projects.

The challenges of JSX

To allow combining HTML and JavaScript, React utilizes JSX. Indeed, JSX presents certain benefits such as securing the code from inputs, but some developers believe JSX is a big problem too. For example, they are often confused with their multiplicity when studying it.

The distinction between ReactJS and React Native

The chronological gap in the release of ReactJS and React Native is two years. However, this is not the biggest issue that makes them different.

ReactJS was created to develop a web interface while React Native is a mixed-type framework for developing applications for iOS and Android mobile operating systems.

The excellent news is React Native derives the majority of concepts and patterns from ReactJS, and the most substantial variations between the two products are related to the purposes of the platform.

As long ReactJS exploits Virtualized Document Object Model (DOM) for rendering the code of a browser, React Native takes advantage of original Application Programming Interfaces that serve as an adapter for rendering the elements in the portable format. For instance, React Native embraces the Application Programming Interfaces of Java and actuates Objective-C API’s module to shift to iOS.

There is no HTML involved in React Native. Therefore, it may take some time and effort for you to get adjusted to React Native patterns if you've only dealt with ReactJS before.

As long as React Native avoids utilizing CSS, the CSS-based elements can be launched only with the help of special Application Programming Interfaces.

React Native Strengths

These days React Native is acknowledged to be one of the fastest and most productive spaces for creating mobile applications. In layperson's terms, it is very similar to ReactJS, but in a mobile format.

Relying on JavaScript

JavaScript is still a popular programming language all over the world. As the recent Stack Overflow study shows, more than 50% of the coders prefer JavaScript. The experience of JavaScript societies allows rookie developers to master it quickly.

Moreover, React Native provides the key strengths of JavaScript and ReactJS. JavaScript coding elements make it possible to build a software product from start to finish within a shorter time. The coding process itself is easier as well because there is no need to reboot the entire app every time it's updated to review the changes. You only need to refresh the page you were working on.

Sometimes the follow-up updating can be even accelerated, e.g., iOS ensures the functionality of the JS-related transformations of the apps in an online regime without the necessity to observe the circuit.

Original monitoring features and elements in React Native: the productivity reinforcement factor

React Native transfers the range of code elements using native Application Programming Interfaces as contrasted with other frameworks, for example, PhoneGap that shifts the code elements through WebView. Since WebView negatively impacts the through-put, React Native accesses the required modules of iOS and Android, transferring the data straight to the original API. This method also includes the individual fiber connecting UI that improves the results too.

Original modules also are important. React supplies the developers with the kit of native modules on Java as well as in Objective-C. It is impossible to utilize them throughout two OS repeatedly. However, they are useful for increasing productivity when dealing with complex solutions such as a photo or video processing. What is important, you are able to operate with the available modules or to create specific individual modules by yourself. The expansion of React developers’ societies positively influences the availability of public features when the remaining part of the code can’t be reused repeatedly. For example, Facebook Ads Manager distributes almost 90% of the code in the iOS and Android environments.

Furthermore, React Native ensures easy bugs elimination and error notification instrument availability. Therefore, the developers are able to employ the development facilities of the most popular and well-known browsers, for example, Safari or Chrome.

React Native inherits all ReactJS features that make UI better

As React Native derived multiple features from ReactJS and the JS library, it also takes over the primary benefits from it. In order to design a cross-platform application using React Native, the understanding of the original stage language is not required. The only thing they have to know is the basic patterns of JS and React. If necessary, it is always possible to supplement the code with native elements.

In React Native, the descending data stream model is reproduced. Thus, the high-level elements are modified without changing low-level ones. This approach helps to polish the procedure of UI development, so the applications seem to be more native.

Weaknesses of React Native

Lack of technical documentation

Sadly, React Native has the same problem as ReactJS. The society is at the early stage of its development, so quality and availability of the necessary manuals are low, in particular, what concerns associating React Native with supplementary instruments.

Low proficiency in native modules

Undoubtedly, the native modules play a positive role in coding by providing a framework with extra variability and helping out the system in case of lacking some performance. The developers often exploit the original modules when dealing with complicated objects.

Yet, at the same time, it may negatively impact the multiple-platforms development stage because the team will require additional engineers focused on native modules just in case.

In-House and Outside Elements Possible Clashes

The vendor declares that it possesses the range of original modules for Android as well as for iOS, taken from the outside environment; however, the quantity of such elements is insufficient. At the same time, there is no guarantee that in-house created modules will remain valid in the further updates of the framework.

Leaving off SDK amendments

It is a well-known fact that React Native often back-pedals when SDK is upgraded by Android or iOS. The thing is the React Native development group has to associate the library with the latest software. Although these processes are conducted quickly, they are not able to amend each segment of the Application Programming Interface simultaneously. This is the reason why the complete integration of React Native with the latest versions of SDK is so slow.

Successful Projects with ReactJS and React Native

Obviously, in terms of world-known projects, React JS is a leader being a key technology for such distinguished startups like Instagram, that aimed to make both web and mobile apps to get more users, Netflix, that is utilizing it along with Gibbon, and Airbnb, that shifted to ReactJS due to code reorganization simplicity and the possibility of its elements repeatable use.

In turn, React Native was integrated by Bloomberg when creating the mobile application for a web magazine, and it stands to mention that Bloomberg seems to be excited about having this technology.

Conclusion

In the context of productivity, React is a sky-rocketing technology, taking into account its progressing popularity in the developers’ societies and among the businesses that start using it. 

As long as most of the other frameworks enhance user interface by increasing software effectiveness, “green as grass” and sometimes puzzle-headed React Native thrives into the transformation of the method for associating the application with the software as well as hardware. At the same time, ReactJS proposes outstanding possibilities in front-end web development improvement and upgrading.

Here at HUSPI, we use JavaScript and its frameworks to build successful projects for our clients. Are you looking for developers? 

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