React is one of the most exciting technologies available for you to consider using for the next year ahead — here's why. As one of the most popular tools available to developers right now, Facebook's impressive framework has proven itself to be highly productive, extremely flexible, and capable of adding remarkable value to the development teams deploying it. Yet, to its many newcomers, the naming conventions around the technology can be difficult to follow. Choosing between React vs React Native vs ReactJS? How do you know which is the best tool for any given task?
Each of these React terms are often used interchangeably without any clear definition or explanation. While in some places, the substitution is justified and correct, the way others use it can be just plain wrong. As both mobile app and front-end web developers, we feel that it's our duty to set the record straight when it comes to technical jargon and framework specifics.
Here, we take a look under the hood at React, ReactJS, and React Native. Starting with what each project title means, looking at what they can do for your projects, and analyzing the key differences that make each worth choosing for your next mobile or web app.
While both technologies have vastly different use cases in the minds of developers, there is a significant cross-over in their underlying technologies. The ReactJS library lies at the heart of the React Native framework.
Using either technology outside of their intended use case without good reason will disregard many of the key advantages each tool brings to the table, however. Discarding the lightweight credentials of React or the cross-platform capabilities of React Native should be done only with extreme care, a lot of knowledge, and an abundance of caution.
Choosing the right technology for the right project is critical for mid to long-term success and a key part of what we do in the research, planning, and discovery phases of software development projects.
Two of the most notable selling points of React amongst teams are its remarkable runtime performance and highly capable UI features. The library creates this advantage by deploying a virtual DOM (Document Object Model) to update the data structures of web pages faster than many more conventional frameworks.
The virtual DOM has proven to be a key advantage of the React library, but it's far from React's only selling point. Today, as one of the most popular web frameworks in use the technology has a community and ecosystem surrounding it that is virtually unmatched among other web frameworks. As a result, developers have an abundance of resources and assistance available on hand to troubleshoot projects and maintain forward momentum.
What are the specific advantages of the React library that make it worth considering for a web development project?
Of course, as with any technology solution, there are drawbacks to React you should consider as an engineering trade-off before deploying the technology for your next project. These include:
Released 2 years after React, React Native is an open-source framework that brings the advantages and benefits of the React library to mobile platforms.
React Native applications benefit from a look and feel that is entirely consistent with what users would expect of any native application on the same device. For developers, the ability to write code that will apply to both iOS and Android can reduce development time and improve consistency, branding, and user retention.
Much like React itself, React Native has come to dominate its own niche as the most popular cross-platform development tool last year.
Some things for teams to keep in mind when considering React Native should include:
When it comes to defining clear and identifiable differences between React Native and React, there are a handful of technical components we can point to that split the two technologies.
React uses CSS to create animated components in the browser. In comparison, React Native has an animated API to provide on-screen animations.
ReactJS apps render HTML on the server or client side to display components. React Native uses JSX to render UI components for its apps.
ReactJS changes the virtual DOM to manipulate browser code. React Native implements changes through platform-specific native APIs
ReactJS makes use of CSS to style its pages while React Native uses StyleSheet exclusively.
ReactJS is an independent library that provides front-end tools for developers. React Native, in comparison, is a complete application framework to implement native applications.
The best solution for your next project depends entirely on the size, type, scale, and future plans. As we've looked at here, each of these two highly capable technologies operates best within their intended use case.
When it comes to creating dynamic, responsive, and highly performant web UIs then there are few tools as capable or as dependable as ReactJS. To build mobile applications that look, feel, and perform at the standards that users expect, React Native is one of the best available technology to reach a cross-platform audience.
Software engineer with an entrepreneurial mindset. Passionate about UI and UX with an extensive experience in HealthTech, Cyber Security and Marketing.