What is React Native: Understanding the React Native App Development Framework

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React Native has become very popular for building mobile applications. You can’t be in the frontend industry without hearing about it. But what is React Native? And how does it work?

In short, React Native is an open-source framework that was developed by Facebook. It lets you create mobile apps using JavaScript and React.

In today’s fast-paced world, people need to be able to develop mobile apps quickly and efficiently.

React Native allows developers to do this by offering the ability to write natively rendered apps for iOS and Android using a single codebase, making it extremely popular.

Let’s dive into the details and cover everything you will need to know about using React Native for software development.

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What is React Native?

Definition and Purpose

As already mentioned, React Native is a JavaScript framework for writing iOS and Android applications.

React Native was first released by Facebook in 2015 and has become widely used as it allows developers to utilize the very popular React JavaScript library to build user interfaces based on React.

Key Features and Benefits

Again, one of the biggest benefits is cross-platform compatibility, which allows the same code to be used for Android and iOS, saving both time and money along with their reusable UI components.

React Native also gives you the benefit of hot reloading, which lets you see changes instantly without having to go through the effort of recompiling the entire app every time.

Then there is the increased performance. React Native provides an experience similar to that of native applications. The only exception is in the most complex animations or data-heavy pages.

Lastly, because the React Native community has grown so fast, there are many resources like libraries and tools available. This is rare for such a recently developed platform.

The fact that it has such a large and supportive community means React Native is a good choice for developers.

They also have access to native APIs, which means React Native allows developers to use advanced functionalities.

Additionally, there are many popular React Native apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Airbnb, showcasing the framework’s capabilities and reliability in development for Android and iOS.

Key features of React Native framework
An overview of key features of React Native, including cross-platform compatibility, hot reloading, native performance, and large community support.

How Does React Native Work?

Core Principles and Mechanisms

The core principle and mechanism of React Native in mobile app development is the bridging of JavaScript and native code.

React Native lets you benefit from utilizing JavaScript throughout your tech stack, but you still get to use a separate native thread to handle UI rendering.

Differences from Other Frameworks

While React Native allows you to use native app rendering, other frameworks used in mobile development often rely on tools (like React, where you would use WebView.) This can cause performance issues.

Other frameworks, like Ionic, have tried to get around this by using a more hybrid approach, offering users a web app experience wrapped in a native feel.

But, this comes with its own issues, resulting in bottlenecks and a generally subpar user experience.

Similarly to React Native, these frameworks aim to simplify cross-platform development but often fall short in terms of performance and native feel.

Differences between React.js and React Native

When comparing React and React Native, it’s important to note that React is primarily used for building web apps, whereas React Native is used for building mobile apps.

The key differences between React and React Native lie in their application targets and the way they render components.

React focuses on creating interactive user interfaces for web applications, while React Native enables the development of natively rendered mobile applications using a similar syntax and structure.

Benefits of React Native

Advantages of Using React Native

There are four main advantages of using React Native.

  1. Easy cross-platform app deployment
  2. Faster development time
  3. Extensive community and talent pool
  4. Third-party plugin support

Cross-Platform Development Capabilities

As mentioned, the cross-platform application development capabilities of React Native mean that you only have to write code once before you can deploy it to multiple different ecosystems.

This is arguably the biggest advantage of React Native because of how much money and development time it can save you.

This also means that React Native is one of the best frameworks for long-term maintenance and app updates.

React Native Development Process

Getting Started with React Native

To get started with React native, you first need to ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest JavaScript and React.

Then, you can start setting up the tools and environment that you need.

You will need Node.js or React.js, a package manager, and the React Native CLI.

If you get stuck, you can refer to the documentation provided by Facebook.

Setting Up the Development Environment

Understanding this app development process is crucial for building efficient and high-quality mobile applications with React Native.

Let’s look at a step-by-step process for setting up your React Native app development environment.

Step 1: Install Node.js and your package manager (npm or Yarn are a great option.)

Step 2: Install the React Native CLI so that you can create and manage your projects.

Step 3: Choose your integrated development environment (IDE.) Some popular choices are Visual Studio Code and IntelliJ IDEA.

Step 4: Lastly, consider getting an emulator or simulator so that you can test apps on different devices that you might not have.

Once you have completed all of these steps, you should be ready to start developing.

Steps in the React Native development process
A step-by-step guide to the React Native development process, from installing Node.js and the React Native CLI to starting development.

React Native for Mobile App Development

Building and Deploying Apps

As mentioned before, you will need to know JavaScript to write React Native code. This code will define the logic and user interface.

Then, the code is compiled into native code for the relevant platform.

You just need to configure the app, set up any required certificates and provisioning profiles for iOS, or generate signed APKs for Android in order to successfully deploy the app.

Working with React Native UI Elements

There are some built-in React Native UI elements. Some of the most useful ones are View, Text, and Image. These React Native elements are essentially native components that you can use directly in your code.

There are also plenty of third-party libraries that can give you more control over UI elements. You can also create custom components if you have more specific design requirements.

Many of these components are similar to React UI components, making it easier for developers familiar with React to transition to React Native.

Comparison: React Native vs. Native Development

Differences Between React Native and Native Development

When considering whether you want an app built using React Native or you want to use native frameworks instead, there are some key differences that you need to consider.

The first difference to take into account when you consider using the React Native framework is the ability to reuse code for different platforms.

While React Native enables you to do this, if you use only native development, you will need to write entirely separate code for each platform.

Hot reloading also helps React Native developers speed up development. On the other hand, this feature is not available strictly for native mobile development.

However, even though both development speed and code reusability make React Native the best option for many, React Native doesn’t beat native development when it comes to performance and native features.

React Native is usually more than enough for most apps, those with more intensive requirements – for example, intensive graphics – might need to utilize native development instead.

Pros and Cons of Using React Native

To make the decision easier for you, let’s summarize the pros and cons of React Native.

The advantages include the following:

  • Faster development and deployment times
  • Single codebase for multiple ecosystems
  • React Native developer community

The disadvantages include:

  • Performance is not always as good as native apps
  • Possible native API integration issues

When considering your options, it’s essential to weigh these pros and cons and determine if you should include React Native in your development toolkit based on your specific project requirements.

Comparison chart of React Native vs Native development
A comparison between React Native and Native development, highlighting the pros and cons of each approach.

Future of React Native

As the React Native community is continuously growing, new features and improvements continue to be developed.

There is also strong backing from Facebook and their React Native team.

The combination of these two means that React Native probably will not go anywhere in the near future.

Many companies have decided to integrate React Native into their tech stacks, which further solidifies React Native’s position in the mobile app development industry.

Some possible things to look to in the near future include new architecture integration, better concurrent rendering, and general performance improvements.

The first React Native conference also showcased various innovations and advancements, highlighting the framework’s potential and future growth.


React Native is a robust framework that is ideal for building mobile applications. It is very popular for the ability to reuse code while taking advantage of native performance.

However, it isn’t suitable for everyone.

If you are trying to develop quickly and with minimal cost, React Native is good for its code reusability. This means React Native applications are the right way to go.

But, if you have intensive performance requirements, native apps are best.

If you are interested in learning more about React Native, explore the extensive documentation and community resources available online.

If you need to find a React or React Native developer, contact us here at Trio.dev. We can help you outsource your development and even hire a dedicated team for your mobile application development needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

React Native is a framework for building mobile apps, while ReactJS (or React) is a library for building web applications.

React Native is best for developing cross-platform mobile apps quickly and efficiently, especially when the app needs to be deployed on both iOS and Android.

Yes, you can make apps with React Native. React Native allows you to build fully functional applications by providing a framework and libraries.

Yes, React Native primarily uses JavaScript, but it also allows integration with native code for advanced functionalities.

React Native is used for front-end mobile app development, focusing on the user interface and user experience.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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