React Native as the Rise of Hybrid Apps



React Native is a JavaScript framework in order to write real, natively rendering mobile applications for iOS and Android. It’s based on React, Facebook’s JavaScript library to build user interfaces, Regardless of targeting the browser, it has the purpose of targeting mobile platforms. We can also say that web developers can now write mobile applications that look and feel truly “native,” all from the ease of a JavaScript library that is already known and loved by us. Furthermore, because most of the code you write can be shared between platforms, React Native makes it easy to simultaneously develop for both Android and iOS

Same as to React for the Web, React Native applications are also written using a combination of JavaScript and XML-esque markup, known as JSX. Then, under the hood, the React Native “bridge” invokes the native rendering APIs in Objective-C (for iOS) or Java (for Android). Hence, your application will work using real mobile UI components, not webviews, and it will be same as to any other mobile application. React Native also expands JavaScript interfaces for platform APIs, so your React Native apps can access platform features like the phone camera, or the user’s location.

React Native presently supports both iOS and Android, and has the ability to expand to future platforms as well. We’ll cover both iOS and Android. The large majority of the code we write will be cross-platform. And yes: you will be really able to use React Native for sake of building production-ready mobile applications! Some anecdota: Facebook, Palantir, and TaskRabbit are already using it in production for user-facing applications.

The history of React Native

When Facebook first took decision of making its service available on mobile devices, regardless of building out a native app like many top tech players at the time, at the same time they also decided to run with a mobile webpage based on HTML5. However, the solution was not able to stand the test of time, leaving much room for UI and performance improvements. In fact, in 2012, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that “the biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML as opposed to native.”

Soon after, in 2013, Facebook developer Jordan Walke made a groundbreaking discovery – he found a method of generating UI elements for iOS apps by using JavaScript. This sparked a fire, and a special Hackathon was organized to further discover how much mobile development could be done using (so far, traditionally web-based) JavaScript solutions.

That’s how React Native came to life. Initially developed just for iOS, Facebook quickly followed it up with Android support, before taking the framework public in 2015.

Just three years later, React Native was already the second biggest project on GitHub, as measured by the number of contributors. In 2019, it stood strong and came sixth, with over 9,100 contributors.

React vs. React Native

In the simplest terms, React Native isn’t a ‘newer’ version of React, although React Native does use it.

React (also known as ReactJS) is a JavaScript library used for building the frontend of a website. Similarly, to React Native, it was also developed by the Facebook engineering team.

Meanwhile, React Native – which is powered by React – lets developers use a set of UI components to quickly compile and launch iOS and Android apps.

Both React and React Native use a mixture of JavaScript and a special markup language, JSX. However, the syntax used to render elements in JSX components differs between React and React Native. Additionally, react uses some HTML and CSS, whereas React Native allows the use of native mobile user interface elements.

Advantages of React Native

The fact that React Native actually renders using its host platform’s standard rendering APIs enables it to stand out from most existing methods of cross-platform application development, like Cordova or Ionic. Existing methods of writing mobile applications using combinations of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS typically render using web views. While this approach can work, it also comes with drawbacks, especially around performance. Additionally, they do not usually have access to the host platform’s set of native UI elements. When these frameworks do try to mimic native UI elements, the results usually “feel” just a little off; reverse-engineering all the fine details of things like animations takes an enormous amount of effort, and they can quickly become out of date

In contrast, React Native actually translates your markup to real, native UI elements, leveraging existing means of rendering views on whatever platform you are working with. Additionally, react works separately from the main UI thread, so your application can maintain high performance without sacrificing capability. The update cycle in React Native is the same as in React: when props or state change, React Native re-renders the views. The major difference between React Native and React in the browser is that React Native does this by leveraging the UI libraries of its host platform, rather than using HTML and CSS markup.

For developers accustomed to working on the Web with React, this means you can write mobile apps with the performance and look and feel of a native application, while using familiar tools. React Native also represents an improvement over normal mobile development in two other areas: the developer experience and cross-platform development potential.

How does React Native work?

Now that we’ve discussed cross-platform development, let’s take a look at the mechanics of React Native, and how it’s different from anything we’ve seen before.

Don’t worry if you’re not a technical person – we’re going to explain this in layman terms.

As mentioned earlier, React Native is written with a mixture of JavaScript and JXL, a special markup code resembling of XML. The framework has the ability to communicate with both realms – JavaScript-based threads and existent, native app threads.

How does this communication work? React Native uses a so-called “bridge”. While JavaScript and Native threads are written in completely different languages, it’s the bridge feature that makes bidirectional communication possible.


It’s Cross-Platform Usage:

Initially invented for iOS development, the REACT Native Framework sees the popularity and success and hence Facebook, later on, decided to provide support for the Android platform as well. Thus, the REACT Native apps can be developed via using a single codebase for both the platforms simultaneously, which increased its popularity even more.

It’s Class Performance:

At the initial stages, ‘hybrid’ or ‘mobile web’ apps were popular for their uncommonness mainly. However, when it comes to performance, the complicated the apps, the more lags it experienced. Hence, REACT Native came into the picture to break the ice! The REACT Native apps are compiled into natively written code, which enables it to not only work on both the operating systems but also functions the same way on both the platforms with no lags at all.

Other benefits of using REACT Native Framework include its faster development, ability to reuse components and ease to be maintained. Besides, it is a timesaving process and therefore many industries and even individuals today prefer using React Native along with NodeJS for creating astonishing mobile applications.