React and React Native are powerful technologies that serve as the backbone for many websites and mobile applications. Earlier, Facebook users could not view News Feeds and access chats at a time. To overcome this issue, Facebook introduced React, which is also known as ReactJS.
This article will walk you through the key differences between React and React Native. Also, it will familiarize you with React and React Native individually along with the pros and cons of each.
What is React?
Modern websites mostly follow the model-view-controller (MVC) architecture. In the MVC architecture, React is ‘V’, which stands for ‘View’.
A single React application is composed of multiple components, where each component is developed using a small and reusable piece of HTML code. We can use these components with other React components to build complex applications.
Jordan Walke, a software engineer at Meta (formerly Facebook), got influenced by XHP, an HTML component library for PHP, and released the first prototype of React called “FaxJS”. This prototype was used in Facebook’s News Feed in 2011 and Instagram in 2012.
React enables web developers to create web applications that can change data without reloading the page. However, the React library is not sufficient to develop full-fledged React applications since it is only concerned with state management and rendering that state to DOM. Therefore, you need additional libraries for routing and certain client-side functionalities.
Pros and Cons of React
The following are the key advantages of React:
Easy to Learn
React consists of multiple UI components, where each component has its own logic and controls. Since each component is developed independently, we can reuse React components anywhere we need them. In addition, we can nest one component with other components to develop large and complex React applications.
React uses one-way data binding. The application architecture in React, called Flux, is responsible for controlling the flow of data to components via a control point known as the dispatcher. With one-way data binding, it becomes easier to debug the components of large React applications.
The virtual DOM enhances the performance of React. The virtual DOM is a cross-platform and programming API that deals with HTML, XML, and XHTML. Prior to the introduction of virtual DOM, many developers experienced that when the DOM was updated, the performance of a React application slowed down.
The virtual DOM is the representation of a web browser’s DOM and entirely exists in memory. Therefore, when we write any React component, we do not directly write it to the DOM. Instead, we write virtual components, which React will turn into DOM, resulting in better performance.
Developing Dynamic Web Applications has Become Easier:
The following are some significant downsides of React:
High Development Pace
React changes too quickly, and many developers find it challenging to learn and adapt to new changes in the React library. To work well with the React library, developers always have to update their skills whenever it changes or updates.
Since React is a constantly updating technology, there is no detailed documentation available. Therefore, poor documentation is one of the most significant drawbacks of React.
What is React Native?
With this framework, we can develop applications for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, tvOS, Web, and UWP by using the React framework with the native platform capabilities. In addition, React Native supports mobile app development for both Android and iOS simultaneously since we can write code that can be shared between the two platforms.
In 2015, React Native was released as an open-source project by Meta Platforms, Inc. Today, React Native has become one of the top frameworks for mobile development.
Pros and Cons of React Native
Here are some popular benefits of React Native:
Faster to Build
One of the most significant benefits of React Native is its short development time. It has multiple ready-to-use components that accelerate the development of mobile applications.
One Framework, Multiple Platforms
React Native enables developers to share a single piece of code between Android and iOS platforms. Moreover, React Native supports the sharing of codebase between React web applications. Such reusability of code between platforms saves a lot of time and reduces the overall cost of app development.
The development of native mobile applications for Android and iOS requires two teams. Also, individual Android and iOS teams employ different application development methods. This, in turn, results in the inconsistency between the mobile app developed for Android and iOS platforms separately.
The hot reloading feature of React Native makes it more unique. This reloading feature is based on the Hot Module Replacement (HMR).
HMR is an inter-mediator that assists in updating files and maintaining them at a specific place while an application is working. It enables React mobile applications to manage multiple tasks efficiently. With hot reloading, developers can see the changes made to an application in real-time.
Ready-made Solutions and a Vibrant Library
React Native has a wide array of ready-to-use solutions along with the React library to enhance the process of mobile app development. For example, it has a testing library that allows developers to write error-free and bug-free code. Besides testing, if developers wish to observe successful type checking, they can utilize tools such as ESlint, Axios, etc.
Below are the drawbacks of React Native:
Very Challenging to Debug
To overcome the issue of debugging, React Native community and developers have enabled the integration of React Native with Flipper. In general, Flipper provides several tools useful for debugging, such as a tool for a bug report and log preview, local database, and performance inspector.
No Type Safety
New and Immature
React Native is still in its improvement phase, and it is a new framework compared to other widely used frameworks for developing Android and iOS applications. Therefore, developers working with React Native may find several features missing in the framework.
React vs React Native: Head-to-Head Comparison
The following table draws a detailed comparison between React and React Native:
|User Interface||React renders HTML tags in its user interface. In addition, React components can include HTML tags.||This framework renders JSX in its user interface. It supports specific JSX tags.|
|External library support||React lacks native library support. However, it supports several third-party packages and libraries.||React Native lacks support for both native and external libraries and packages.|
|Rendering||React uses virtual DOM, which allows easy interaction with DOM elements.||It widely utilizes native APIs.|
|Navigation||It uses React Router that enables users to navigate different web pages.||It uses a built-in Navigator library to allow users to navigate to different web pages.|
|Primary use||React is ideal for developing dynamic user interfaces for web applications.||React Native is ideal for developing native mobile applications.|
|Users||Renowned companies like Meta, Medium, Udemy, and Netflix use React to create dynamic user interfaces for their websites.||Uber Eats and Tesla are popular companies that use React Native to develop mobile applications.|
Which one to Choose – React or React Native?
React and React Native both are robust technologies for web and mobile application development. Both these technologies are gaining massive popularity due to their evolving ecosystem and functionalities.
React is an ideal choice when you wish to build a stable user interface for web apps. On the other hand, choosing React Native would be a great move if you wish to develop mobile applications for different platforms.
React and React Native have their own set of benefits and limitations. Also, each of these technologies is ideal for developing a specific set of projects.
For instance, ReactJS is a perfect choice if you wish to create dynamic and incredibly performant UI for web applications. On the flip side, choosing React native would be a great move when you need to develop a cross-platform mobile application or give mobile applications a truly native feeling.
Hopefully, you might have understood the key differences between React and React Native after reading this article. We recommend you map the pros and cons of React and React Native and then make a more informed choice based on your project requirements.
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