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12 April
5 min read

React Native: A comprehensive guide

What is React Native? A comprehensive guide for beginners and non-developers.
by AdamEditorial Team at Lucky Duck
react native developer writes code illustration by Emma Grandich

Table of contents: 

  1. What is React Native? 

  2. What is the difference between ReactJS and React Native?

  3. React Native: Advantages and disadvantages. 

  4. React development agency

  5. Conclusion

New to React Native? This article will help you learn the basics and determine if hiring a react development agency is the right thing for your business. 

Let’s dive in. 

What is React Native? 

React Native is a framework for developing native mobile applications. It was created by Facebook, Inc. in 2015.

React Native is a relatively new and fast-moving platform in the cross-section of iOS, Android, web, and cross-platform frameworks. When considering which technologies to use to build a mobile application, it is worth understanding what a native application is and how it compares to the cross-platform approach to app development. A native application is an app developed for a specific platform. For iOS, a native application is built in an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) called Xcode, and the language can be both Objective-C and Swift. For Android, the IDE is Android Studio with Java and Kotlin as the languages.

React Native is an open-source framework that allows software development teams to build natively rendering mobile apps for iOS and Android devices using Javascript. A React Native developer uses the toolkit to write the business logic of your app. React Native uses native iOS and Android modules to communicate with the respective platforms to implement native functionality such as gestures and data persistence. It allows React code to work on iOS and Android and gives access to the features made available by these platforms.

What is the difference between ReactJS and React Native?

The difference between React (ReactJS) and React Native is that React is a code framework for building websites, and React Native is a code framework for building native mobile applications on iOS and Android. React uses HTML, CSS and JSX, while React Native uses its own similar versions.

React Native: Advantages and disadvantages. 

The main advantage of using React Native is it reduces the resources needed to build products for the most popular mobile platforms. Theoretically, this means your development team writes Javascript code once instead of writing native Swift and Kotlin code for iOS and Android, respectively. You can ship products faster, quickly learn about your market and understand which features are valuable to your customers quicker than you would build for two platforms.

React Native is supported by Facebook, and because Javascript is one of the most used programming languages in software development, it has been well-adopted by the developer community. Its convenience has attracted several big-name companies such as Shopify, Discord, and Tesla to have their products written in React Native. It is better than older hybrid frameworks because it translates your code to real, native user interface elements and leverages the current means of rendering on the platform you are working with. Flutter is another hybrid framework that has some traction in the software development ecosystem. Google supports Flutter, and it performs well and has other benefits. Flutter doesn't have the same level of adoption as React Native because it is still nascent in its development, and it requires users to learn a new language, Dart.

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There are some things to consider before you start looking to hire React Native developers. If you already have an existing native iOS and Android codebase, then trying to centralise your business logic in React Native may not be worth the effort because, in practice, you end up maintaining three codebases instead of one. Furthermore, applications that need to access all the features that a platform offers - such as multithreading or audio and video processing - are more efficiently built natively instead of using a hybrid approach. Development teams solve this problem by introducing native modules that allow them to access these platform features not currently supported by React Native. However, this can start to defeat the main advantage of using React Native and results in code duplication since the native modules have to be written in iOS and Android. Another consideration is that React Native code can be hard to debug because it introduces a layer of abstraction between your code and the platform's services.

The disadvantages of using React Native are more of an issue for larger companies with legacy code and a strong customer base. For younger startups, this would be considered a good problem to have.

React development agency

React agency is a relatively new term used for design and development agencies that write code in the react ecosystem. Our main technology stack at Lucky Duck is based on React.js. We also work with other frameworks such as Gatsby.js, React Native, and Next.js. 

Looking for a career path in a react development agency? Check out our open positions for React Native developers and more.

Conclusion

React Native is the industry leader in cross-platform development and a strong competitor to native app development. It is a compelling option for new products because it makes cross-platform development much easier, faster, and cost-effective, so it may be worth talking to React Native experts early on when considering new projects.

If you are unsure where to start check out reactnative.dev. You’ll find a blog with valuable information and a lot of additional resources.

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