Technical 101 Series: React Native

Welcome to the first installment in our introductory series on our favorite programming languages.

by Susan Mees

What is React Native?

React Native is a framework developed by Facebook that allows you to build mobile applications using JavaScript. It enables one code base to be deployed to both iOS and Android platforms, saving you time and effort. Unlike other JavaScript mobile app frameworks, React Native uses native platform APIs to render the UI. You write code to describe the UI and the framework maps your code to platform-specific components. This approach enables faster application development across multiple platforms while avoiding the downsides of imitating native UI features.

History of React Native

In the world of coding, React Native is relatively new. It hit the market in March 2015 after a private beta and some time being used internally by Facebook. It was originally created for web development but has expanded into native platforms. Similarly, React Native was originally developed by Facebook to support iOS app development but as Android has gained popularity, it can now support Android as well.

Pros & Cons of React Native

React Native is powerful because it allows engineers to quickly build and iterate on cross-platform apps which look and feel at home on their respective mobile platforms. . The shorter development cycle can save time and money on projects while also offering a reliable, consistent experience when compared with hybrid frameworks or web applications. Lastly, React Native will allow for a single code base which can reduce long-term maintenance costs.

The flip side of the coin is that React Native has a steep learning curve. Additionally, JavaScript can struggle with CPU-intensive tasks so it won’t be right for every application. Your developers will need to have some expertise in native development in order to build and release the software. They may also need to write platform specific features if they need to access native features not available in the core framework. A React Native codebase will always include both an iOS and Android application and it helps to have some familiarity with the base platforms.

Where have I seen React Native in the wild?

React Native was developed and is used by Facebook. If you’ve ever used the official Facebook app on mobile (iOS or Android), you’ve seen an application build on React Native.

The good news is that usage doesn’t stop there. In fact, among the top 500 apps in the US, nearly 15% of them are built using React Native.

Who is using React Native? Some popular examples include: instagram, Pinterest, Wix, Uber, Bloomberg, Salesforce, Skype, and Walmart.

Why does Promptworks use React Native?

React Native offers the Promptworks team an efficient and streamlined framework for building mobile applications. Because we work with many clients who are looking to engage their customers or users on mobile, React Native helps us to build a stable code base that can be used across platforms and get our clients up and running faster.

See it in action with Honeygrow and Movers Specialty Services, Inc..

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