In recent years, React Native came into existence. It is considered as an effective framework that can be used for Android development and creating cross-platform mobile apps. Also, several developers customized the platform for desktop apps employed in Mac and Windows.
React Native is quite like ReactJS to some extent. However, you can spot some variation that you need to note prior to using your preferred native app. In this article, the main differences between ReactJS and React Native are cited prior to building some native apps using the technology.
Bundling and setting up
With React Native, it provides anything you need with fewer worries on other things. When starting a new project, you can find how easy while setting it up. It quick to do and simply requires one command line to operate in the terminal and you are good to go. Coding your first native app can be done instantly with ES6, including several ES7 features and some polyfills.
In testing your app, you can use Xcode mainly for iOS or Mac only. This can also be used for Android Studio (Android) by installing it on your laptop. You may opt to run it through the platform’s simulator/emulator in case you decide using it directly on your chosen device.
In-app rendering, React Native never employs HTML. However, it has optional elements that have a similar approach. Using the React-Native components, they can be used in mapping the actual real native iOS or Android UI parts when conducting the app rendering.
Most identified components are translated to those similar in HTML. For instance, a View component is the same to a div tag while a Text component is close to a p tag.
Not totally similar
Considering your code is not being rendered in an HTML page, you cannot reuse any libraries that you used in the past with ReactJS that provides any HTML, SVG or Canvas type. Essentially, you might have optional libraries available for React-Native but react.parts have a native category where you can check if they have what you need.
Stylesheet sample using React-Native
Through React Native, you can develop a responsive app than settling for a Flexbox. This can be quite tricky initially as its behavior is not similar when working with CSS. In the process, you can quickly get the hang of it after continued use.
Innovative animation and gestures
From this point, the PanResponder gives a list of functions to use when catching up with the different touch events like onPanResponderGrant (touchstart), onPanResponderRelease (touchend) or onPanResponderMove (touchmove). These functions can provide access to the gesture and native event using details like all the touches, their locations, accumulated distance, velocity, and touch origin.
Basically, the main issue lies with the PanResponder, particularly in case you have nested views or components using their own PanResponder. It becomes more complicated when you should decide which of these must be provided with the gesture control.
Using Navigator in-between scene transitions
Most mobile apps don’t have plenty of scenes going in every direction like would do a web app, the Navigator component even though it might seem a bit complicated to use at first will provide you everything you need to manage the transition between scenes. Unless you build a very large-scale mobile app that requires lots of different scenes and you are afraid to get lost at some point, I think you should stick with Navigator. You can also have a look at NavigatorExperimental, but in my opinion, it’s not ready yet to be used for production.
Specific code platform
When you create a native app, it’s essential to identify the user interface and experience for both iOS and Android that require distinction. On the issue regarding taking control of how your app appears and behaves, there can be two options.
First, you may choose a universal design to use for your app, so it appears the same in both platforms with the consideration that it remains intuitive and does not create confusion among platform users.
Second, you may define code sets for every platform, which means you will provide a different DOM, stylesheets, and probably various logic and animations to follow the UI and UX platform guidelines.
In case you go for the second option, React Native can identify which platform you are using the code and load the best code for the right platform. It is highly advised to define the main logic of your components in one file known as index.js, so these can provide the presentational components defined with the personal files. For both iOS and Android, you can take index.ios.js and index.android.js files, respectively.
Employing developer tools
For a new native project, you will need a few out-of-the-box developer tools from React without installing anything. Hot Reloading is a good option that you can use when adopting minimal modifications to the app styles. For drastic changes that may impact the app logic, you may use the Live Reload. This can be used when completely reloading your app as you modify the code.
Need for debug tools
One advantage of using React Native is its ability to use most developer tools that are applicable to ReactJS. Chrome Dev Tools performs well to evaluate the network requests with a little trick to add to the requests. This includes showing the console logs and stopping the code on debuggerstatements. The great Redux DevTools may also be used to check the status of your Redux store.
Ease of publishing
When creating an app for both iOS and Android, you should know how Xcode and Android Studio function to ensure all is properly set up initially prior to the first app deployment on the App Store or Google Play. Regarding iOS, it is the same when you deploy a regular native app. For Android, you can do the React recommendation. This requires you to sign your APK prior to undertaking the Google Play uploading.
In case you miss to type a single command line when publishing an update in your native app that you commonly do with a web app and a properly create VCS, you can employ the Code Push when directly deploying the code to the user without archiving and sending the app to the store until it becomes readily available. Code Push is helpful when providing enhancements or fixing bugs. However, it is not highly advised if you are adding completely new features.
Currently, there is an increasing community around React Native and the technology is being upgraded continuously. It is best recommended for web developers seeking to develop a mobile app and a good alternative instead of using Cordova.