September 19, 2022
But let’s dive deeper into how those two technologies differ and what you should know to make an informed decision.
Facebook, wanting to improve their site's user experience needed to optimize the increasingly complex dynamic UI to work fast and smooth. Facebook’s software engineer Jordan Walke, a software engineer at Facebook, created a prototype of what would soon become React – FaxJS – in 2011.
Fast forward two years— shortly after publication React quickly begins gathering devoted supporters who appreciate its usefulness and scalability. One additional factor contributing to its popularity is licensing: an open-source MIT license meant that React is free for personal or commercial use and every developer has the right to modify it as they see fit.
In 2023, React was voted the most popular web framework among professional developers. So why is it so popular?1. Speed
Virtual DOM is a programming concept used in React. It’s an in-memory representation of a “real” Document Object Model (DOM) that's lighter and faster. Developers also appreciate relatively easy testing, with prompts from React informing about every encountered error live.2. Component-based architecture
As with every technology, React had its growing pains. At one point its complexity and lack of comprehensive learning materials were a barrier for beginner developers. Plus, new React trends and ideas were appearing virtually every day, making proper documentation difficult to maintain. Today it's no longer the case, with updates officially announced far in advance and useful tools such as Create React App available.
If you’re looking for alternatives to React, Angular is a framework made by Google, considered to be its biggest competition. Read our comparison of React vs. Angular to see which framework is best for you.
The apparent examples of real-life React use are various Facebook products. Both web versions of WhatsApp and Instagram were built using React. The latest Facebook revision heavily relied on React for better performance when loading new live content simultaneously on the wall and in Messenger. Other big names who use React on their websites include:
Facebook quickly recognized the steady increase in mobile needs and in 2015 released the React Native framework. Instead of relying on HTML, React Native has been designed to make mobile apps work more seamlessly and streamline the development process.
Sharing one codebase for iOS, Android and other platforms leads to faster development of multiple-platform apps.3. Big & helpful community
An active community of developers working in React Native creates quality informational content that's easily available online. Developers can join a Facebook group with over 49,000 members or read through over 7,000 questions tagged [react-native] on Stack Overflow.
According to our developers, React Native still lacks some of the custom, platform-specific modules, so you may end up needing a native developer who can create them for your project. The navigation isn’t considered very smooth and the animation engine isn’t that powerful. Read all the pros and cons of React Native development.
Understandably, not every programming tool will be right for every project. React Native is far from the only way to build mobile apps. Read our comparisons on React Native vs. Flutter and vs. NativeScript.
Besides Facebook properties, these are some of the most popular apps built using React Native:
React, on the other hand, it's a library. A library is a collection of pre-composed rules and routines that a developer can use instead of writing every line of code from scratch. Libraries cover common use cases and can be incorporated into frameworks.
Frameworks are generally more complex than libraries. React Native was built as a framework. When using it, the developer gets a set of rules and mechanisms ready to be built upon, serving as a sort of support structure.
You can use React Native for Web which uses React DOM to run React Native components and APIs on the web.
But the tool specifically suited for this job is actually ReactXP, a library created by Microsoft for cross-platform development. It works with React and React Native to further streamline the process by allowing most of the code to be shared between the iOS, Android, Windows, and the web version of an app.
Complexity and lack of systematized information are the main reasons it can be hard to get into React and React Native. Since skill shortage in IT is still a relevant issue in 2023, you may want to consider outsourcing your app development to a team already well-versed in the technologies you want to use.