August 22, 2020

Writing Cross-Platform Apps with React Native

If earlier most of the companies producing mobile applications used HTML5, then over time, quite a lot of alternative frameworks have appeared that have made mobile app development more convenient and simple. Among them, React Native stands out, the product of Facebook, which decided that there was no need to sacrifice either the complexity or the cost of the development process.

To get more info on the efficient cross-platform app development, find out about React Native pros and cons.

So what’s it like to write a cross-platform app using React Native?

Cross-platform development is the best solution for a mobile app design because it significantly speeds up the release time and allows you to please the owners of a wide variety of devices. React Native is a JavaScript framework that is used to develop cross-platform mobile apps. “Learn once, write anywhere” is the main principle of React Native, which implies the use of the same code for different platforms. Since React Native is aimed at a result comparable to native development, in the pursuit of performance, this framework is most often preferred.

Building interactive user interfaces in React is fun and easy. You just need to describe how parts of the application interface look in different states. React will update them in a timely manner when the data changes. Declarative views make your code more predictable and easier to debug. Unlike Apache Cordova and Ionic, React Native has managed to achieve a declarative approach to interface development without sacrificing performance.

React Native allows you to write code once and run on both Android and iOS. The codebase will be the same for both platforms, so you don’t have to spend money and time on two development projects. Because React Native is open source and reusable, you can reuse components at any time, at any level, without rewriting it or recompiling your application. Shared code will minimize the number of bugs during development and will greatly facilitate product support in the future.

Besides, the framework allows you to write applications even for VR headsets and virtual reality glasses on React VR. This makes it possible to compose a multifunctional mobile UI using declarative components.

Unlike other cross-platform solutions like Cordova, Ionic, or Titanium, which mimic a browser environment (like a site that pretends to be a mobile app), React Native uses native APIs. There are no problems with tabs and scrolling, and the interface behaves as responsive as in a desktop application. Using its own API, and wrapping it in React components, the platform allows you to develop applications that are barely distinguishable from native ones. React Native has its own niche in mobile development: it is ideal for those cases when you need the speed of native applications, but you do not need their complexity (that is, for small and medium applications).

Compared to standard iOS and Android development, React Native has many more advantages. Since your application is mostly JavaScript, you can enjoy many of the benefits of web development. Want to see the result of your work right away? Thanks to the live reload feature, React Native splits the screen into two parts, where the first is the code you write, and the second is a visual representation of the code, for example, on a smartphone screen. Besides, React Native provides smart error reporting and standard JavaScript debugging tools to make mobile development much easier.

Besides, React Native provides fast initialization. Two years ago, Airbnb claimed that RN was slowing down the first launch of the app because it had to load absolutely all screens. This was especially true for products with a large number of screens. Now you can optimize the launch speed by using RAM-bundles + inline requires – the application opens quickly by loading only the required screens. Hermes JS Engine helps to close this problem for Android applications.

React Native shortens the development cycle, allows you to develop and deliver applications as quickly as possible. It uses the ReactJS UI library developed by Facebook for user interfaces. Whereas native apps run on a CPU, React Native uses a GPU. Overall, with React Native, companies can cut development costs by up to 50% without sacrificing quality or performance.

React Native is completely user interface oriented. The declarative API makes it much easier to understand your requirements and predict your UI. The declarative style allows you to control flow and state in your application and you don’t have to worry about implementation details anymore.

Adding device hardware capabilities to an application is one of the most common requirements these days. Unlike WebView features, React Native allows you to directly link a plugin to a native module through the framework. This results in smoother application launches, faster loading times, and lower memory requirements.

However, the framework is pretty young, so there are still some shortcomings that need improvement. For example, more components have been created for iOS applications than for Android due to the difference in release dates, respectively. Also, the disadvantages include the fact that if you need to deploy the application in presentation mode, all JS data will be available. React Native is updated frequently and some components are still missing. Therefore, developers have to constantly monitor updates to the technology and its libraries. If you don’t follow the updates, React Native apps simply stop working.

To conclude our discussion of React Native, we would say that it is a more than useful technology known for its simplicity and time-saving. The framework allows developers to reuse codes and modules, and also provides the benefits of a large community base, hot reloading, and stable applications. So, React Native should be used if:

  • You want to meet the minimum deadline and minimum budget for developing an application for both platforms;
  • You do not have a goal in creating a really complex interface (for example, cool animations) or this goal is not currently a priority;
  • The application is not geared towards using its own API. Otherwise, you will have to finish some functions yourself.

If all this is true, using React Native can be more efficient than working with native platforms.

About the author 

Imran Uddin

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