A Quick Primer on React Native

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Anyone with basic knowledge of software development knows that coding is a complicated process. Companies that want to have similar functionality available in a web-based application and mobile app often have to invest in resources whose skills are tailored to those technologies, because it’s an intense process for a frontend developer to create the same application in two different codebases. However, there are tools that allow organizations to deploy the same codebase on different platforms, streamlining the development process as a result, and the best option for doing that is React Native.

React Native has been around since 2015, and in technical circles, it’s quite popular because of its versatility. Deciding whether to use the platform can really come down to what resources are at your disposal, what goals you need to achieve with those resources, and how flexible your organization is in how it governs technologies developers can use.

But First, What Is React Native?

React Native is a UI software framework that allows developers to deploy the same codebase across multiple platforms to create consistency in the user experience.

Cross-platform development has been a challenge for many organizations because early software development relied on developing code that was compatible with a specific kind of deployment. Organizing development this way meant that businesses had to create a unique codebase for every application you wanted to develop.

For example, a social media company before the age of mobile applications would need to develop their applications in a web-compatible technologies, but these didn’t necessarily translate well to a mobile application when more people began to spend time on their phones. Facebook suffered from this, so their engineers found a way to create a source code that could be used across applications without needing new code to get the job done. That’s why React Native was created: to create a platform that could deploy a single codebase to multiple platforms without the need for additional coding.

What are the Benefits of React Native?

The number one benefit of a technology like React Native is that it adds flexibility and speed into your business’s development process. Instead of having to recode an application for deployments on different platforms, you’ll be able to code once and then deploy it, making it possible to expand your reach across platforms without the need to invest in additional resources. Plus, unlike tools like Xamarin, React Native also has the benefit of deploying codebase to the web, making it a truly cross-platform development tool.

Additionally, since React Native is an open-source technology, there’s a built-in community of developers who are actively contributing to the improvement of the React Native framework. If developers experience glitches within the system, they have plenty of resources that can help resolve the issue, based on peer experiences.

Are There Limitations to React Native?

By and large, the limitations of React Native are the common restrictions faced by any software development tool: the skills of the developer.

React Native’s design as a cross-platform development tool means that it’s largely immune to issues of compliance and compatibility that need to be considered for software solutions. It’s a platform tool, not a runtime tool, so any code developed in React Native won’t really be impacted by the code React Native uses. Put another way, React Native helps you build the building, but whether it’s compliant or secure depends more on the developer’s code than on the use of React Native.

Aside from concerns about the actual coding, React Native is also a growing part of software developer’s core skills, so using React Native won’t result in organizations needing to compete heavily against other businesses to get talent that can use the technology.

One consideration when thinking about using React Native is the diversity of experience in the team, because the more diverse the skillset, the better developers will be able to adapt the code to meet project objectives. A developer who has experience in multiple frontend technologies is better able to understand how an output is supposed to look when using React Native, increasing their ability to troubleshoot issues when they arise.

React Native Helps Future-Proof Your Organization

React Native’s ability to publish across multiple platforms has made it a solid choice for companies, but it requires a recognition that technology is always changing. Software developers should always be learning the latest tools they can use, but with a platform like React Native, developers are able to quickly develop and deploy their code across multiple platforms regardless of the initial codebase, and that’s what makes it so effective for frontend development projects.

If an organization is hyper focused on a single software offering and doesn’t really see that changing for the foreseeable future, then there may not be a need to use React Native. However, if there’s a chance that software technologies will change, then it’s worth taking advantage of the cross-platform development opportunities offered by React Native. If you’re curious about how it could apply to your business, contact us.