Difference Between React and React Native

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In this article, we’ll be comparing React JS and React Native – the two popular JavaScript-based tools. We will see why both of them are important and how they are different from each other.

Anyone familiar with frontend development knows that there are many frameworks and libraries to choose from. However, most of them make the developer’s life easier only to some extent. On the other hand, there are a few libraries that allow developers to build highly interactive user interfaces on the web as well as the mobile platform.

The most prominent among them are React JS and React Native. So, let us compare React JS vs React Native to understand which one should be used for what kind of project:

What is React?

React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. It is maintained by Facebook and a community of individual developers and companies to avail the advantages that ReactJS offers.

React can be used as a base in the development of single-page or mobile applications. However, React is only concerned with rendering data to the DOM, and thus creating React applications usually requires the use of additional libraries for state management and routing. Redux and React Router are respective examples of such libraries.

The advantages of React JS

  • One-way Data Binding: In React JS, we have to follow unidirectional data flow or one-way data binding. In simple terms, it means that the data flows only in one direction.
  • Reusable Components: Components are the building blocks in React JS which get combined to create an application and these components are reusable.
  • Virtual DOM: This concept makes React JS unique. The virtual DOM is a programming concept where an ideal, or “virtual” representation of a UI is kept in memory and synced with the “real” DOM by a library such as ReactDOM. This process is called reconciliation.

Limitations of React JS

  • React JS is a limited framework that operates only on the front end. It is useful for developing web applications that are responsive, dynamic, and fast. Its sole purpose is to generate a view of what the user sees on their device.
  • You can not change the DOM directly on React; you need to create a component.
  • You can not use two-way data binding as Angular does.
  • React does not have an opinion about how your styles should be organized or loaded into the app.

What is React Native?

React Native is a framework for building cross-platform apps. It uses the same design as React, letting you compose a rich mobile UI from declarative components.

With React Native, you do not build a “mobile web app”, an “HTML5 app”, or a “hybrid app”. You build a real mobile app that’s indistinguishable from an app built using Objective-C or Java. React Native uses the same fundamental UI building blocks as regular iOS and Android apps. You just put those building blocks together using JavaScript and React.

The advantages of React Native

  • One of the many advantages of React Native is that it allows you to write both iOS and Android apps with a single JavaScript codebase. It also lets you develop for multiple platforms at the same time, which is convenient for developers who are already familiar with ReactJS.
  • Code reusability: JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages, and mobile developers are already well-versed in it. This means that they will not have to learn any new concepts to understand what’s going on in a React Native project.
  • Performance: It is possible to integrate code written in Swift, Java, and Objective-C with apps written in React Native. This makes it possible for developers to use the best features from each language to create a highly efficient product.
  • Easier UI development: One of the most significant advantages of React Native is that it uses native components instead of web components as building blocks. This provides greater flexibility and faster performance than a hybrid app approach or developing several separate apps for Android and iOS.
  • An active community: Since its release three years ago, React Native has become very popular among mobile app developers. As a result, there are now many third-party libraries that can be easily integrated into your code if you’re looking for a convenient solution to a specific issue.
  • Improved cost efficiency: Cross-platform applications are more budget-friendly to develop than native ones because they can be launched on two platforms at once.

Limitations of React Native

  • React Native is still not the optimal solution for building a mobile application. It suffers from performance issues when compared to native solutions, and it does not provide enough custom modules to cover all the needs of a developer.
  • React Native also has limitations in delivering a pixel-perfect UI. On the other hand, it is much easier to build a pixel-perfect UI in Android than in iOS. For example, it is much more difficult to achieve perfect UI elements placement with React Native than it is with Xamarin. Forms, which offers better built-in support for layout options.
  • In addition, React Native does not give you all of the features that are available in the latest versions of iOS and Android unless they have been built into React Native core, or unless you build them yourself.

Which is better: react or react native?

If your business is starting to revolve around software development, to remain competitive you’ll have to look into React JS vs React Native. Both will come in handy, depending on the type of apps you’ll be creating.

If you need a well-developed app, which will take full advantage of the technical capabilities of the platform it will be deployed on, you should use React Native. If instead, you need a cross-platform app that will reinterpret the elements and make them suitable for each different platform, then creating it using React JS would be more suitable.

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