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React vs React Native: Everything You Need to Know

June 9, 2022
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React Native vs React.js

React.js and React Native are two of the most widely used technologies for Web Development. The former is a library used to develop Web Applications. The latter is a framework used to create both web and mobile apps. Comparing React Native vs React.js, they both have unique features and advantages that make them the best in the market. Facebook developed React.js to tackle the underlying constant developments required for their entire application. Later, they developed React Native, which follows the ground rules set by React.js but can help develop Native Apps.

In this blog, you will read some of the common questions developers have with React Native vs React.js. Some of them are 

  1. Fundamental differences between React.js vs React Native.
  2. React.js vs React Native, which one among them is better?
  3. Can you reuse the code you write in React.js into your React Native Project?

Before diving deep into these aspects, it is important to get their insights.

What is React.js, and what are its key benefits?

React.js is a Frontend Javascript library used to develop web applications. It helps us create responsive, robust, and highly efficient web applications using its primary USPs. Some examples are Virtual DOM, component architecture, and SEO-friendly nature. Lets us see some of the key features of React.js: 

  1. React js provides our application a blazing speed by avoiding direct updates to DOM and using its own Virtual DOM.
  2. It lets us create reusable components that simplify complex applications’ development.
  3. Its developer tools ease the development process by adding features on top of it.
  4. It supports many third-party tools and libraries, which makes the ecosystem vast with saving time and resources at the same time.

What is React Native, and what are its key benefits?

React Native is a cross-platform mobile framework built on top of React.js, creating native applications. React Native compiles to native app components, enabling developers to create mobile and web apps that run on different platforms such as Windows, IOS, and Android. Let us see some of the key features of React Native: 

  1. React Native creates platform-specific code. This means that when you build your app, the framework automatically detects the platform and creates code for you to run.
  2. It supports Hot Reloading features that help developers to see their changes at run time while developing the app.
  3. It supports ready-to-use user interface libraries that save time for developers and let them focus on innovation and app development ideas.

These were the key aspects of Reactjs and React Native. Let us now discuss the differences between them.

Key Differences between React.js vs React Native: 

React.jsReact Native
React.js is the platform-independent library. The Applications built from React.js can run on Web, Mobile browsers, or any other browser-based platforms. It also allows you to reuse code components.React Native is platform-dependent. You have to build explicit code for Web, Android and IOS Apps.
React.js is a base derivative of React DOM, suitable for developing web applications.React Native is a base derivative in itself. The react native components invariably alter when developing applications using React Native, but the workflow and syntax remain the same.
React.js renders browser code using the Virtual DOM.React Native renders the mobile code components by the Native APIs. Using Native APIs to render components improves performance, specifically as a high performing ui layer.
CSS adds animations in React.js to add keyframes and add effective animations.Animation using CSS is not possible in React Native, and you have to use explicit animation libraries to render animation effects on different components and/or on cross platform apps.
React.js bootstrapping code can be simply made using create-react-appFor React Native, you have to use expo or React Native CLI.

Now, that you have seen the key differences between React js vs React Native, it is important to know their limitations before you pitch in with either one of them.

Limitations of React.js: 

  1. Since the inception of React.js, numerous updates have come to this library, making React.js more efficient every day by adding multiple improvements on top of existing library features.
    • Sometimes, developers find it challenging to adapt to these upcoming changes. Although the changes do not break into any developer’s skillsets, keeping a constant pace with numerous improvements sometimes adds a vast, complex learning curve.
  1. One of the significant issues you will face with React.js is its complete dependency on React-enabled external libraries. These libraries increase the cost and time expense and overhead the bundle size.

Limitations of React Native: 

  1. When the React Native application is complex and growing with heavier functionalities, React Native can slow down the native development process. The simple reason for this is the lack of sufficient native APIs, which makes the framework highly dependent on external libraries.
  1. Due to Javascript being a single-threaded language, the loading time of React Native-based applications is sometimes too high on gadgets and portable devices.
  1. Although React Native is open source, Facebook developed it, controlling all of its patenting rights and legal bindings. If you create something out of the box and Facebook does not like it, they have the full right to stop you from using Reactjs and React Native. 

React.js vs React Native, which one is better among the two?

React.js vs React Native is a topic to discuss for developers these days and they are the critical pillars in Web and mobile app development today. They both have flexible functionalities and growing architecture, making both of them highly popular in their specific domains. React.js is the JavaScript library that acts as the heart of React Native, and they complement each other.

React.js is best for creating highly responsive and complex web applications. React Native does the same natively on mobile devices. It is always best to understand the pros and cons of both of them, and after noting all the outcomes and benefits, you should conclude using one of them.

Are there any critical aspects of similarities between them do you need to know more about React.js vs React Native?

In technical terms, React.js and React Native share the same lifecycle methods. Microsoft has multiple projects like ReactXP that allow developers to write code based on these life cycles and use them in React.js and React Native and lets you reuse the code you write in React.js to work for you on React Native platforms.

React.js is a Javascript library, not a framework, to create codebases that operate on multiple life cycle events. Their handled JS thread is in numerous platforms like React Native for mobile application development and Electron framework for desktop application development.

So moreover, there are differences in terms of their usage and handling of View and HTML DIVs, but in the end, they share the same behavior and ecosystem to handle states, props, and life cycle events.

Differences: Project

Now that you have some good insights about the theoretical aspects of React.js vs React Native, let us see what the underlying differences are when setting up these two for a sample Project: 

Let us assume that you have to create a sample project Shopping Cart to understand more about React.js vs React Native in terms of project setup.

  • To set up the project in the React.js ecosystem, you need the below command: 
npx create-react-app ShoppingCart

Once you run the above command, a new React.js project gets created into your working directory with all the required dependencies.

  • While on the other hand, to create a new Project in React Native ecosystem, you either need Expo or React Native CLI.
npm install -g expo-cli

This will install the Expo in your global system. Now you need to simply create your app using the below command: 

expo init AwesomeProject

There are complete different steps needed to set up React Native Project using React Native CLI, which is beyond the scope of this article. But I highly recommend you go through them and get installation ideas.

Summary

After going through each section mentioned in this blog, I hope you have a better insight into React.js vs React Native, their advantages and disadvantages, and the different underlying steps you need to take while setting up your web development and mobile apps.  

Both of the two are better, and in the end, it all depends on the requirements and architect choices. You being a developer, should always have a core understanding of both of them before you start working.

Bottom line, React.js is ideal for building dynamic, high-performing, responsive user interface for your web interfaces, while React Native gives your mobile apps a genuinely native feel. If you are using React to build products and also use Figma, try using CopyCat to convert Figma to React code. We handle the redundant boilerplate code and tedious work so that you can focus on the real challenges.

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