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React Native vs React JS: What to choose for your app development?

Codecraft Technologies
Based in the Silicon Valley of India, CodeCraft is a digital transformer for enterprises by providing robust, reliable, and scalable solutions across Mobility, web, cloud, and design.
・7 min read

Mobile applications are a very diverse and versatile market. Developers need to be up to date with various languages. The two major leading mobile development platforms are iOS and Android. Each platform has its specific languages for custom application development. The development of an application in two different languages for the two platforms has its drawbacks. Increased cost, time resources, etc. There have been various attempts to create hybrid languages, frameworks, services to solve this problem. The hybrid languages fail to provide the individual native feeling which each mobile application platform has.

What are Native Applications?

Native tools are preferred for building the best user experience for the customer. Native applications are faster and more responsive. They excel at utilizing the underlying hardware features like sensors for GPS, Camera, Bluetooth, etc.
The creation of any native application requires time and effort and takes more effort to learn and master these skills. Native applications cannot be built on different platforms with the same source code. Hence the need to create the same application for many platforms such as iOS and Android. iOS and Android have a combined market share of 96.7%. The company has to invest in two teams which will have to be involved in a long development cycle. There arises a need for a cross-platform language providing the native feel.

The popular mobile operating system Android is based on an open-source model. It is a single modified Linux Kernel. Google bought Android inc in 2005 and developed it further. The credit for the development of Android goes to Google and Open Handset Alliance. In 2008 Google launched its first Android-based smartphone. Android dominates the mobile phone market by above 80 percent. Android, alone has 1.5 billion apps downloaded every month and the number keeps rising. The Android architecture consists of Libraries, Application framework, Linux kernel, Android runtime, and Applications. The android system is based on a modified version of Linux 2.6 which is made to run on the phone. It performs many services such as internet communication, process management, device management, etc. The Android OS is written in C language and it’s drivers have many layers and processes.

There have been many frameworks and techniques which have been created to provide solutions for the many platform applications. The aim has always been to develop a language that can be deployed across many platforms and provide a native experience.
The popular technique created to address this issue is to build a responsive website that can be accessible by mobile devices as well as through the desktop. This is created using features of HTML5 and CSS3 along with front end library Bootstrap. This will create a web application that can be used on both devices. The website is stylized by the height and width dimension of the screen which will enable it to be viewed as a normal website on a computer. And as an application when viewed from a mobile device.

What is React.js?

React JS is a JavaScript framework developed by Facebook and released as open-source in 2013 with a goal to help the development community to build modern and reusable interfaces. Facebook created React to solve the problem with a complex user interface. It utilizes the model-view-controller paradigm of development and provides the view part. It works on both client and server-side. React is both declarative and imperative in code style. Declarative coding style dictates what to do, imperative style dictates how to do it. React is more imperative in nature. React also utilizes the Document Object Model (DOM). To learn more about the world of React you can explore this post. (insert a link to the other article)

What is React Native?

The JavaScript framework of React Native can be used to produce both iOS and Android applications by using React to compile the code. The applications which is created using react native have similar code and can be utilized interchangeably for each platform. React Native creates a very similar UI based application which hardly tells users they are in a different OS. React Native has similar GPU frequency, CPU load, memory usage and power consumption in both the operating system of Android and iOS.

React Native has a simplified development process for mobile applications. The development of application depends upon the level of complexity. The lesser the complexity the faster the development of the application. The level of complexity also dictates the time it requires to develop an application

The rapid rise of smartphones also accelerated the want of applications for smartphones. This spirit of competing apps led to the rise of a vast amount of new applications. This has led to increased demand by consumers for newer and better applications, which are to be supported by both operating systems. So applications are essentially the same, but developers have to invest extra time and learn new skills to create the same output. This has changed ever since Facebook launched React Native in 2015 which has been utilized to build applications in React language and which in turn will be compiled to Android and iOS.

The goal of the framework was to revolutionize the way the entire mobile development and applications were created. React Native at the beginning only supported iOS but the support for Android has been building up. Facebook is moving in the direction of open source for their direction of React Native. The source code for React Native is not completely open-source but the community contributions improve the framework.

React Native was created with a simple goal to reduce time in developing cross-platform applications. The solution was based on the premise that development should be done in the same language. And the graphics should be rendered separately based on the targeted platform and the native components.

Why is React Native called learn once, write anywhere language?

Facebook calls React Native as “learn once, write anywhere” language. The technology behind React Native is completely based on React.js. It utilizes the helpful parts of the React Framework to build native applications. React Native utilizes the embedded form of V8 within the applications. This then performs rendering of high-level platform-specific components.

How popular is React Native?

React Native is used and preferred by some of the most well-known tech brands around the world. These companies include AirBnB, Instagram, UberEats, etc. These are just a few popular companies among many which use the services of react-native.

What are the advantages of React Native compared to Native apps?

React Native excels at providing a responsive application with a native feeling. React Native is designed to imitate HTML and CSS. It creates a separate thread for its performance which gives the main thread the ability to render animations. This, in turn, provides a native feeling.

Shared Codebase: React Native focuses on utilizing the shared codebase to perform its functions across the platforms. The shared codebase is deployed to the platforms which reduce the developer's work half by half. The developer only needs to focus on writing just a few sections for components which are platform-specific and graphical elements. These are written separately for each specific platform to provide its native element.

Better than a Hybrid: There have been frameworks over the years which were designed to provide hybrid solutions. The languages have failed at providing the complete set of features that React Native provides. React Native is not a hybrid like most other languages such as PhoneGap, Titanium, Ionic, etc. React Native does not rely on rendering within Web10.

Asynchronous Execution: React Native permits asynchronous execution of different operations. It supports the JavaScript code of the machine. It also has support for many non-simultaneous processes in JavaScript code. React Native allows many different operations to be executed without creating a lag or load on the user interface.

Better Screen Interaction: React Native provides a very high and efficient screen and user interaction. It implements a system which deals with the complex view and high-level characteristics. The gesture recognition being more active in mobile devices lead React Native to perform well and make it more responsive while the user scrolls, slides, or taps. The framework also allows multiple touches to be executed. This difference between native and web is noticed when users use web-based apps and native apps on their devices. React has implemented the Touchtable and Touchtable Highlight functions which makes it easier to use the touch screen without any need for more input.

Simplified UI building through flexbox: React uses JSX which adds an inline style. The style based components create a flawless structure without stressing it. React Native unlike React utilizes the Flexbox compared to HTML tag. The use of flexbox makes it easier for building UI layouts. There is no need to declare component inline and layout. This is taken care of by the stylesheet abstraction.

Ability to create custom native modules: React’s way of using components as foundational bricks has helped React Native in its approach to mobile application development. The framework utilizes UI components and native modules. React Native supports the APIs and native Ui components. React native also supports the creation of native modules and views if the need arises.

What are the Cons of React Native?

New and Untested: React Native since it’s launch in 2015 has grown tremendously but it still is a new player in the field. React Native compared to Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android has miles to go before it can prove its worth as an all-around player.

Lags: The loading of react-native based applications takes a lot of time in some instances. This is due to its dependence on various threads. With each new update and with the advance of web technology and gadgets this problem might be solved.

What apps are React Native suited for?

Suitability: React Native is a perfect framework for applications that are list-based or well organized. React Native is also well suited for quick prototypes

What apps are React Native not suited for?

Unsuitability: React Native doesn’t perform that well as with native apps when it comes to a lot of users and device interaction. The constant touch and interaction bear a load on the framework and make the app become unresponsive. React Native is not suited for applications which see a lot of user and device interaction like messaging services, etc.

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