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Prakash Donga for SoluteLabs

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14 Reasons to Choose React Native for App Development

Open-sourced 5 years ago by Facebook, React Native was developed after an internal hackathon to create Native UI elements using Javascript. React Native was the perfect combination for developers who wanted to create native UI using the tooling of their choice - Javascript. Since then, React Native has grown by leaps and bounds.

But, why? Let's take a look at some past developer experiences.

Building an app has never been easier, with thousands of resources available online and a lot of developers churning out tutorials every second. But there has always been a polarizing war between Android and iOS.

Do you learn Java/Kotlin to develop Android Apps that have a wider reach and a huge audience? According to the latest reports, there are 2.56 million apps on Google Play Store alone. So your average customer is spoilt for choice.

Or would you prefer the much more lucrative iOS, where consumers, on average, spend 2.5 times as much as Android users? In that case, you will have to go down the objective-C/Swift learning path.

But a few developers at Facebook were tired of using different languages to build apps that did essentially the same thing, and, back in 2015, came up with a framework for developing native-style apps for Android and iOS using a single language, Javascript. They called this framework React Native.

The mantra that Facebook has used is "Learn Once, Write Anywhere," and React Native is a perfect application of this saying. So without further ado, let's dive right into the reasons why you should consider React Native for App development.

Reason 1: Supports Cross-Platform App Development

Talk to any developer on the planet, and they will tell you how much of a headache it is to maintain both Android and iOS apps because they were written in different languages and use different frameworks.

A single platform to develop the app means consistent user experience across multiple platforms. All one needs is a proficient Javascript developer who is comfortable with native UI libraries, APIs, and hybrid app development.

Caveat: Although most of the time, there will be no need to learn native programming languages in detail, there might be times wherein you might have to work with some native development. This happens especially when you're integrating native SDKs for Android/iOS but no React Native SDK is available or when certain specific native features aren't available with React Native.

Reason 2: Develop Apps Faster (Move Fast and Build break Things?)

React Native has been around for more than half a decade now, with a large online support community that is growing by the day. What does this mean to the average developer? There are tonnes of relevant components out there ready for use, which means you don't have to build everything from scratch.

Due to a single code, the chances of finding a bug in a React Native app is greatly reduced. This means that a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can be built faster than ever. You can easily launch the first version of your app with bare minimum functionality, your MVP, and keep everything else for later development.

Once you know what additional features are required, you can go ahead and build them, rather than wasting time and resources on building detailed interfaces. Get your app out fast, see what is working and what's not, and then put your weight behind the things that are working.

Using a shared layer for iOS and Android means React Native apps are developed at least 30% faster.

Reason 3: Update Apps Without Going to the App Stores - Code Push

Once the app is published on the App Store or the Play store, you might realize that you missed out on a typo or wanted to tweak a small feature. With native apps, adding new features means you have to reiterate the build process, and upload the updated versions of the app on the store.

This would then go through the approval process of Apple or Google, followed by which the users have to install the updated apps manually.

But all this was before Code Push - being used by React Native and Apache Cordova. With the App Center cloud service, the app is automatically updated during run time, and the users can see the changes without needing to re-launch the app.

Reason 4: Work with a tight budget

We have already seen that React Native apps can be built a lot faster than building separate Android and iOS apps. While time-saving is an obvious advantage of using React Native, another important benefit is the money saved.

When you are a small startup that is just getting off the ground, you need to maximize the ROI on every penny spent. Instead of hiring separate iOS and Android developers, you can instead divert those resources to hire a good React developer. While there are cross-platform options such as Xamarin and Cordova, developers agree that they do not provide the best experience.

Reasons to Choose React Native for App Development

Reason 5: Reduce Development Complexity (Simple and Supple)

With React, complex tasks are made simple using easy to read code. The UI library made by Facebook is used by this framework to create code that is simple to understand and to implement React JS.

App development projects usually have different expected outcomes, and React Native provides a simple and straightforward solution to a variety of these problems.

A key feature of React Native is "Hot Reload." Using this feature, app developers get a live preview of the code and its actual impact, all of which co-occur while coding the app. This makes sure that developers commit the least amount of errors, and makes the code "bug-free."

The hot reload app means that the code can be corrected or customized while the app is being uploaded. The system gives you a state-independent perspective, even during a state change.

Reason 6: Looks like a Native App

Apps built with React Native have native UI components as opposed to Phonegap or Ionic. Using the latter makes the user experience always feel web-based, rather than a native app. This is an area where React Native scores big time.

React Native allows your application to use elements that are native to the mobile design. Instead of single components that render elements across both platforms (ex. Button), React Native components are aware of other native components. React Native takes the building blocks from the native user interface and combines it with its own Javascript.

The result? Apps look and work like native apps, and the user experience is greatly enhanced. Add to this the fact that React uses the same building blocks for iOS as well as Android, the look and feel that the users expect will be the same across both platforms.

To get similar functionality as a native app, developers also have the option to write a mixture of native and React code. This further enhances the "native-like" appearance of the app.

airbnb native app - Reasons to Choose React Native for App Development
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Reason 7: Same programming language makes things straightforward

While building an app using React Native, the primary code base uses the same foundation-level programming language for both Android and iOS.

This is similar to building the same app and deploying it both on the Play Store and App Store. You can also recompile the app easily without any changes in the framework at a level of your choice.

While other Javascript-for-mobile approaches wrap your Javascript code into a web-view, in React, a component describes its own appearance. React handles the rendering after this stage, a clean abstraction layer separating these two functions. This abstraction layer, known as "the bridge," enables React Native to call the rendering APIs on iOS (real UI Views) and Android (native Views)

With React Native, most of your code will be written in standard Javascript and CSS. React then takes your application and runs it using the host platform's Javascript Engine. You thus get the benefits of native performance, behaviour, and animations, without actually having to write Java or Objective C code.

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Being mostly written in Javascript, you can make use of a lot of perks of web development like, for instance, the ability to instantly "refresh" your application to see changes in your code.

Reason 8: Lots of ready-made solutions and libraries

With React Native, there are plenty of ready-made solutions and libraries to ease development activities.

There are testing libraries such as Jest, Chai, Mocha and Enzyme that aid in writing bug- free code. Expo is a free and open source tool chain which will help you monitor the progress of your app and test new features.

Potential errors in your code can be checked easily using a process called linting, and ESLint is a great tool to accomplish this task in React Native. Type Checking can also be done faster now thanks to tools such as Flow and PropType.

Redux is one of the most popular React Native libraries that accomplishes State management. With all these tools and libraries, you can easily move heavy computation towards the server and build cloud-native apps.

Reason 9: Supported by Facebook

Facebook is promoting React Native in a big way, by constantly updating the framework with new features and new ways to solve our problems. React Native is already more than half a decade old and has a huge developer community online.

The ease of use of the language, along with cross-platform compatibility, means React Native is being adopted by more and more developers. If you take a look at React Native's Github repository, you can see that nearly 2000 developers have committed more than 16000 times in 72 branches, with a whopping 300 and above releases. Facebook itself uses 750+ screens made in React Native in their apps

In the absence of a steep learning curve, even general-purpose developers can create apps with minimal support from mobile app specialists. With support from tech giants such as Facebook, React Native is now becoming the de facto language for mobile app development.

In January of 2018, Facebook opened the door to conversations like what should be part of a certain release, by creating a React-Native-releases-repository, where everyone could keep releases of React Native in a collaborative manner.

React Native is already adopted by companies such as Skype, Uber, Tesla, Walmart, Pinterest, and Bloomberg, and it doesn't look like it is slowing down.

Reason 10: Individual users get personalized UX

React Native was built with the ability to segregate Framework code, Native code, Javascript code, and styling. This means developers can easily create different styles for the app from the server-side.

Developers can now deliver a personalized user experience to each individual user on the same application. Personalization is one of the cornerstones of digital transformation.

personalized UX in React Native
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The level of personalization possible on React Native is so high that you can, on the server-side, define personalized style per user group, and each user will then be able to see their own personalized UX.

Reason 11: Third-party plugins

React Native has a lot of reusable libraries available online, and this number is keeping on increasing by the day as more and more companies such as Wix start supporting it.

Building an app from scratch, with an original software foundation, can be an expensive and a time-consuming affair. To overcome this challenge, you need to re-use some of the existing components, and this is where 3rd party plugins come in.

Third-party plugins eliminate the need to use specific Web View functions. React Native can act as the framework that connects the plugin with a native module. There are a variety of options available to link the processes, which help in faster loading and smoother running, along with better memory management.

Simply head on over to your favourite React Native community or library, search the required plugin, and use it to enhance the app's performance.

Reason 12: Developer Availability and Community

A great reason to use React Native is the ease with which we can find developers. Backed by Facebook, who does a lot of heavy lifting in the development space, React Native has a very robust community online.

Facebook engineers are always developing and updating the platform, which helps keep it relevant. React is also among the top 3 most commonly used libraries.

Javascript being one of the most accepted programming languages, has allowed a large pool of specialists to mushroom, who can build React Native apps. Javascript's wide range of applications and its maturity enables even new developers to pick up the language quickly.

Choosing React Native to develop your app gives you the flexibility to choose a smaller team of designers, programmers, QA specialists, etc. Being a popular programming language, finding a new React Native developer is easy if your current developer has left the organization in the midst of developing the app.

Smaller teams also tend to be more involved and innovative, according to this Forbes article. All the more reason for you to choose React Native.

Reason 13: Access to Native API

Using React Native, developers can imitate the look and feel of the UI very close to Javascript and less like a framework. This makes the development process simpler and enables the UI to give quicker responses.

React Native's components match 1:1 with native development artifacts, and the result is the app looking indistinguishable from a native app.

React Native also seamlessly integrates with the existing code, since it is compatible with native software. Developers can thus build complex apps using simple code.

Reason 14: Easier Debugging

One of the biggest advantages of having a single codebase for Android and iOS is that the detection of bugs becomes easier. React code being reusable; you only need to give a single update for both platforms.

Ask any developer, and they will tell you that debugging is not the most pleasing job around. You have to spend hours looking at yours, or sometimes others code, and pinpoint that exact location where the developer has made a silly syntax error.

With React Native, your team does not have to spend countless hours looking at two different codebases. A single bug fix removes the bugs in all the different operating systems at once, helping you deliver consistent behaviour across all platforms.

When you are developing a native mobile app, you or your team will need to use the particular platform's Integrated Development Environment (IDE), having to learn all the nuances of the relevant debugger. But with React Native, you can use a few commonly available tools, such as console.log or Nuclide, a plugin released by Facebook itself.

And lastly, with React Native's "hot reload" feature, developers can now perform functions such as error handling at runtime, and instantaneously see their results on the running app. Compare this to native development, where developers have to halt the entire system, apply the fix, and then restart it again. The developers can push updates later, and the end-user will not be affected.

There you have it. Thirteen reasons why your next app should be built using React Native.

SoluteLabs is a leading React Native app development company taking pride in building most complex enterprise applications in a shorter development cycle and on-budget. Talk to us now!

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