Mar 3, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Should Try Out React Native

Say you’re a web developer and have been interested in mobile development for years, but you haven’t had the time or the motivation to learn it. You know it will take a great deal of effort because you would need to learn not only a new programming language like Objective C, Swift or Java, but also a completely different set of tools — for example, Xcode or Android Studio.

In the past, you got excited when different frameworks like Ionic or Apache Cordova appeared. They promised to give you the ability to target multiple mobile platforms with just one code base, but for some reason you lost all your interest when you noticed that apps created with these frameworks didn’t feel like real native apps.

Last year, React Native suddenly appeared, and you were not sure that investing your time and effort in it would worth it.

Why would this time be any different?

But in my opinion, React Native is in a league of its own. Here are some of the reasons why React Native is so promising:

1. React Native doesn’t promise one codebase to be shared among all platforms.

This is where the guys at Facebook nailed it. They understood that all platforms have their own look, feel and capabilities, and that we should be developing separate apps for each platform. They call this approach “learn once, write anywhere.” This means that the same set of developers should be able to build applications for whichever platform they choose, without any need to learn a completely different set of technologies and tools.

2. React Native truly feels native because it uses truly native components.

With React Native, you can use standard platform components such as the NavigatorIOS, the DatePickerIOS and the UITabBar on iOS, or the Drawer, the DatePickerAndroid and the ProgressBarAndroid on Android. You’ll also have access to platform-specific APIs like Async Storage, Camera, Camera Roll, Push Notifications, etc.

Here are some gifs that reveal how React Native apps look and feel:

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Here’s an app I built to practice React Native:

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3. You can use the same workflow you do as a web developer.

If you come from web development, you will appreciate that the workflow is quite similar. You can use Chrome Web Developer Tools to debug and inspect elements, and you can even take advantage of live reloading.

If you’ve tried creating a native application in the past, you probably know that laying out things onscreen is quite cumbersome.

With React Native, laying out and styling is really easy, and it is pretty much the same as styling a web page. You can use flexbox to build the most common UI layouts, and you can even use common web styles such as backgroundColor, margin, padding, fontSize and more.

4. Do you already use React? You will get the hang of it in no time!

Components are written in the same way as on the web, and the only difference is that instead of rendering <div>, <p> or <img> components, you will render components like <View>, <Text> or <Image>.

5. You can share a substantial amount of code between your iOS & Android app.

I know that I said that the idea of React Native is not to “write once, run everywhere,” but you can still share quite a bit of code between your iOS and your Android app.

You can share utility functions, your app state, your router and even some components.

Plus you can have platform-specific components like these ones:


When you import them, React Native will automatically import the correct option for the running platform.

import BigButton from './components/BigButton';

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