React Native has been anointed a "revolution" in cross-platform mobile app development, along with Flutter.
We describe the main benefits and drawbacks of React Native in this post. They are worth considering while selecting whether to create a mobile application with React Native.
What is React Native?
In 2015, Facebook developers built React Native. It enables you to speed up the development of mobile applications while lowering manufacturing costs. It is a framework for developing cross-platform applications for the Android and iOS platforms.
- Advantages of React Native
What are the advantages of utilizing React Native? There are several advantages to developing a mobile application utilizing the React Native cross-platform technology. I've listed the most intriguing benefits of utilizing React Native below (in my opinion).
- Accelerates the app development process.
The ability to develop applications for two platforms using one code is the key feature of React Native. So, while working on a feature or update, we instantly develop them for each mobile platform. For a product published on both platforms, this can save you up to 30% in time and money.
It's worth noting that the list of supported systems is expanding thanks to community support and React Native's flexibility. All that is required is the installation of extra libraries.
- App development costs less.
Having one team and one programming language also enables the elimination of issues when anything disrupts platform development. For example, due to challenges in platform implementation or random circumstances such as a programmer's sick leave in one team).
As a result, the application for one platform is complete, but the application for the other requires extra development. When native languages are employed, it is typically hard for developers to migrate between systems. There are no such instances in the case of React Native app development, there is no downtime, and you can arrange the team's work best.
- Compatible with the Native Application.
React Native has tools for integrating with pre-existing native applications. As a result, in a mobile application, you may find both natively created views and views built with React Native. This opens up several options.
Developers can save money by writing some views in React Native (e.g., account management, purchase summary, etc.). The rest, which the framework cannot manage, will stay native.
If you wish to migrate your application to a cross-platform solution, you may rewrite it in tiny phases. This method decreases the possibility of mistakes and enables the new application to be released more quickly.
- Diverse Ecology
It's worth noting that we only compare libraries for cross-platform programming, omitting those that are ubiquitous enough to be utilized in both mobile and web applications. Of course, the quantity of available libraries does not necessarily correspond to their quality. It does, however, demonstrate the community's dedication to creating tools for the React Native framework.
Another component of expanding library and tool availability is basing React Native on how ReactJS works. ReactJS is a well-known web development framework. Many libraries for ReactJs also function for React Native thanks to a shared mechanism.
- It assures the app's steady growth.
React Native has the advantage of sharing its collection of components that "know" how to show the app on a specific platform. React Native's abstraction lets the developer focus on building the application rather than the platform's intricacies. As a result, the process of developing app features is more robust and resistant to platform differences than in separate native teams. This enables better planning of application releases containing new features/updates.
- Aided by external tools
The application development process includes both developing codes and doing repetitive routine chores. Building (compiling a new version of the program), testing the application with automated tests, publishing the application to the store, and investigating and fixing defects are all examples.
Such repetitive chores are typically assigned to other tools or services (3rd party software), which, once set up, do them for developers, allowing them to focus on creating new features. This method also avoids human mistakes in repetitious tasks.
Disadvantages of React Native
- It's not a Native Solution
What problems do React Native developers and app owners face? In addition to its undeniable benefits, using React Native has a number of drawbacks and obstacles. You should consider these while selecting this technology for your application. Let's look at the drawbacks of React Native.
- It does not speed up the testing procedure.
While the working time of development teams is decreasing, the task of the Quality Assurance team is not. The time spent on testing is comparable to the time spent on testing in native development. And in rare circumstances, it may be considerably more. This is another element to consider while deciding on React Native for app development.
- Debugging is difficult.
Since version 0.62, the React Native community and developers have enabled integration with Flipper to aid in debugging. It includes numerous important debugging tools, such as a bug report, log preview, local database, and performance inspector. They've updated the error and warning display module since version 0.63.
- Android support is subpar.
React Native initially only supported the iOS platform. Only subsequent editions added support for the Android platform. As a result, React Native still has limited support for the Android platform. The Facebook framework development team acknowledged this, and there is continuing effort to correct it. These are not issues that impede the building of Android applications with React Native. They demand further precision and testing of this platform.
React Native's second drawback in the context of Android is its performance on this platform. This is one of the reasons the Discord team chose to build its Android app using native technologies. Nonetheless, they were able to share 94% of the code in this scenario — not across mobile applications, but between iOS and online applications.
- It is more challenging to develop a cross-platform team.
- Testing is Challenging.
One of the drawbacks of React Native is that its usage of cross-platform technologies creates two additional possible error categories.
At the same time, it's worth noting that React Native is an established framework. Many Facebook products, as well as many other firms and a vast community, actively use it. As a result, we may be confident that React Native is error-free. The second type of problem that only occurs in cross-platform solutions is connected to share source code. If there is a problem, you may be certain that it will occur on all platforms. As a result, the tester should investigate if a bug happens on both systems when a bug is discovered.
When should you use React Native?
The framework works effectively for a custom-designed app that needs to be created for both Android and iOS. The flexibility to operate on two platforms concurrently reduces development time. Furthermore, the bespoke design makes customizing views on both platforms easier and faster. As a result, this technology is a suitable fit for applications where time to market is critical (idea review/MVP version). It's also an excellent option for cutting production expenses.
The advantages of React Native will also be useful for apps whose primary objective is to "give a graphical interface" for interacting with APIs, such as applications for purchasing or reporting factory improvements. This application consists mostly of obtaining data, showing it to the user, and transmitting the user's modifications to the server. We will receive the most popular code in this situation, which everyone associated with a speedier development process and reduced expenses.
When designing native applications, consider using React Native to construct individual views or groups of views, minimizing the cost of their production without sacrificing quality (as many firms like Pinaster and Facebook have done). If you have a web application (especially one created in ReactJS) that performs the same functions as the intended mobile application, you should think about adopting React Native. Because of the shared language and environment, it is simple to reuse web app code in a React Native application. React Native is an excellent solution for projects that do not necessitate the creation of complicated animations or the integration of native technologies like geolocation or Bluetooth modules. Using RN in such circumstances is not difficult, but it would need a significant amount of additional effort.
React Native Solutions
React Native is not the only technology available for developing cross-platform applications.
Xamarin, the oldest of the frameworks discussed, is intimately connected with Microsoft's technology based on the C# language and the.NET framework. According to its website, Xamarin allows you to share up to 75% of the source code. It is compatible with Android, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, macOS, and, of course, Windows.
Xamarin offers built-in components that allow you to create a platform-agnostic design. The drawback of this technology is that it has a smaller community and fewer available libraries. Furthermore, one of its disadvantages is the expensive cost of Visual Studio - the IDE license required to develop applications in this framework.
- Native development
The final option worth noting is, of course, to create the application using native technology. This is the most costly method of running an application (two teams are required), as teams repeat their code.
The most significant advantage of this method is improved application performance. Another advantage is the ease of usage of native components like GPS or Bluetooth, as well as the application's native feel.
- Hybrid App
Hybrid apps enable you to construct a mobile application using any web technology with any framework and then use the Apache Cordova framework to generate a mobile app.
The benefit of this method is the ability to reuse an existing web application and a single code base for each platform. The disadvantage is inefficiency and the fact that you must work more on the app to guarantee it has a native feel. Please see this article for further information.
The most significant benefit of cross-platform solutions is the simultaneous development of code for both mobile platforms. It saves you both time and money.