If you’re new to app development, then you might not be aware that Android and iOS applications use different default (or “native”) coding languages: Kotlin for Android, and Swift for iOS. This makes it expensive and time-consuming to develop cross-platform mobile applications because the inherent language and API differences require you to build two completely separate apps. As a result, hybrid native mobile frameworks have become ideal for mobile developers who are developing cross-platform mobile apps.
React Native is one such open-source mobile framework. It was developed by Facebook based on Facebook’s own ReactJS development framework. React Native enables devs to build apps for Android and iOS platforms simultaneously using only one common language. From a technical perspective, React Native consists of special native components such as Text, Input, Modal, and Button, mapping into native platform-specific component versions using a common codebase. This enables React Native to support many other platforms like Windows, Web, and macOS.
React Native development was started as a hackathon project from Facebook in 2013 by Jordan Walke, who discovered a method to generate UI components for iOS applications. Therefore, React open-source framework was initially built for iOS only and became available on Github as an open-source project for public use in March 2015.
Then Facebook quickly provided React Native with Android support, enabling developing apps for both platforms. Currently, React Native is one of the biggest projects in GitHub, which has 101k stars and 21.7k forks. Facebook maintains its comprehensive documentation, including a getting started guide to code different usage examples.
If you aim to build mobile apps using React Native, you may wonder why you should use React Native over the other mobile development frameworks. Building mobile apps with React Native offers several benefits.
One of the drawbacks of using platform-specific native languages such as Java and Swift is needing to re-deploy the whole application even if there is a small update. React Native solves this problem by enabling developers to only re-deploy the updated code without creating a whole new version of the application.
The other reason you should use React Native is its code is reusable with the capability of cross-platform development without affecting the user experience. If you use native code, you will have to write two separate codebases for each platform and manage separate developers to develop and maintain the two codebases. With React Native, developers can simultaneously write just one codebase for Android and iOS applications, enabling a quicker development cycle.
Developing cross-platform applications in React Native also brings the advantage of cost savings, including costs for developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining two codebases. In addition, its “live reload” feature lets the developer see the effects of the code changes immediately without going through a time-consuming build process.
React Native is continuously evolving. Sometimes users may find some components are not available but to overcome such situations, React Native allows third-party plugins.
Last but not least, React Native is great for developing universal applications because it is a pure UI language. It uses primitives components such as <View>, <Text>, or <Image> to create all other components, and those primitives components can run on any interface.
In summary, the major benefits of using React Native are:
The React Native team continuously improves the features by fixing major bugs and issues and adding more features for every release. At the beginning of the year 2021, many changes were planned, such as support for:
In October 2021, React Native announced the last release version React Native 0.66, supporting Android 12 and iOS 15 with some updates and bug fixes. So what are the updates and the fixes that have been introduced with the 0.66 version?
One of the goals of React Native in the second half of 2021 was to make their release process more stable and faster. To realize it, they have made accessing nightly releases by publishing them using a “nightly” tag. In addition, they have improved their testing for individual commits by creating tarballs with each commit and pull requests.
iOS developers were facing numerous challenges due to the poor performance of React Native apps. Hermes was introduced to make the rest of Native more lightweight. Another open-source framework based on JavaScrip enabled React Native to operate on multiple platforms. Its main aim is to improve the app’s performance by reducing memory utilization and reducing interaction time and size of the application.
React Native still has not released what to expect in the rest of 2022. However, some articles indicate that in 2022, they will focus on Native modules and Fabric and introduce new APIs.
Building applications that also support modern web browsers is immensely helpful for todays’ web developers as clients can use the application on multiple platforms in multiple web browsers. React Native Web is a library for web development that helps bring React Native applications to web browsers by using a single codebase. It acts as the middle layer between the React Native and React DOM, which developers can use in web-only apps and multiple platforms.
React Native web was specifically developed to support React Native web applications on both Android and iOS platforms. As React Native supports cross-platform mobile development, using the web version, developers can use only a single codebase to develop apps that render in both web and mobile without any performance impact.
React Native for the web is based on React DOM, and it consists of the latest React API capabilities such as hooks and all the major components of React Native. Using React DOM, React Native for the web uses modern React Native components and APIs on modern web browsers. Therefore, developers can use native DOM APIs directly for feature development. Also, when the React Native for the web updates, the browser platform also updates with it.
React Native Web was developed and maintained by Nicolas Gallagher and made available to the public in GitHub as an open-source code in 2015, where React Native was also made available to the public from React Native version 0.60 onwards, which means it supports web platforms.
Building mobile apps with React Native web offers several benefits.
The most important advantage, as mentioned above, is the ability to build applications that support both mobile and web platforms using only a single code base. It will drastically reduce the amount of effort developers have to put into writing separate codebases and will enable quick application deployments.
Another reason why you should use this library is its high-quality interactions. Even if you use a laptop, desktop computer, or mobile device to access web applications, React Native for web supports multiple input modes like keyboard, touch, or mouse.
Another advantage of React Native web is its support for accessibility through accessible HTML and APIs. The components of React Native that provide accessibility support include accessible, accessibilityLabel, importantForAccessibility, accessibility role, and accessibilityLiveRegion.
Another advantage is its reliable styles, such as RTL layouts which supports languages that write and read from left to right by automatically flipping the layout. If you aim to expand your applications to more consumers of different countries, different layouts such as RTL will be beneficial.
Moreover, based on existing React DOM, it enables incremental adoption. It means you do not need to bundle everything but only take what you use. Also, it supports server-side rendering, and enables rendering dynamic components as HTML on the client-side. In addition, it supports integrating third-party tools such as Gatsby to extend your application functionalities.
In summary, the major benefits of using React Native Web are:
2021, React Native for Web Community addressed several issues during their three major releases from version 0.15 to 0.17. The 0.15.0 release went live in February, 0.16 in April, and 0.17.0 in June 2021, which includes deprecations, new features, and breaking changes; as in React Native, React Native web is continuously improving its features addressing various limitations, performance issues, and challenges. Especially with native dependencies, it is hard to make your project function similarly on web browsers.
The 0.15 version introduced accessibility improvements and minor bug fixes, in addition to the deprecation of the accessible prop in the minor release. The new accessibility features that were introduced include
Some notable breaking changes include
The 0.16 release did not include many features and breaking changes than the previous release. It included flow type export as a new feature with bug fixes and updates.
Then the final major release, 0.17.0, didn’t have any new features, but there were the following bug fixes and updates for unstable APIs.
According to the milestones of their GitHub page, the following are some of the bug fixes they were working on for 2022.
As well as some bug fixes, feature requests, and updates open related to the Image component including:
In addition, there are also some bug fixes, feature requests, and updates open related to the ScrollView component.
In Reality, Windows and macOS are incompatible platforms, and developing applications for both platforms separately can involve many design changes. React Native solves this problem by offering React Native for Windows + macOS framework, enabling developers to build cross-platform desktop applications for Windows and macOS using only a single codebase.
Facebook supported React Native for both iOS and Android platforms by 2015, and the support for Windows and macOS was integrated by 2020, enabling full cross-platform development. During this development, they have rewritten many components in C++ to improve the performance. The project is made available to the public on the Github repository. Microsoft maintains a comprehensive React documentation that describes APIs, components, React Native-related topics, and React APIs shared between React Native and Reacts DOM.
Many top organizations are leveraging the power of using React Native for Windows and macOS. For example, Microsoft applications such as MSOffice and Xbox, Facebook Messenger
Within Microsoft, we have several applications such as MSOffice and Xbox, making a really big bet on React Native. Additionally, enterprise and consumer applications like Axsy, Plex, and Facebook Messenger are also using React Native for Windows and macOS to expand their reach beyond mobile and drive their business forward on desktop.
Suppose you plan to build mobile apps using React Native for Windows + macOS framework. In that case, you may be thinking about how it becomes more beneficial for you than other mobile development frameworks for Windows and macOS.
As with React Native for the web, the most important benefit is developing apps that can run on Windows and macOS with only a single codebase. Creating a new React Native application will create one project template for Windows and another for an XCode project. The react Native layer exists on top of those separate projects where platform-specific and shared UI components exist.
This reduces the time and cost for developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining two codebases without compromising the application performance on either platform. It also means that this framework supports developing universal apps that do not constrain to one particular platform but apps that are deployable in any platform with ease.
React Native also provides the 'live reload’ feature, enabling developers to see the changes and offering a web-like developer experience even for desktop applications without consuming the build process.
Another advantage of using this framework is the support you get from the developer community and the community modules you can use in your applications.
In summary, the major benefits of using React Native Windows and macOS are:
The React Native for Windows and macOS team continuously improves the features by fixing major bugs and issues and adding more features for every release. From the last release of December in 2021, so far, the React Native for Windows and macOS team have done several patch releases for React Native for Windows. The latest release version is 0.66.0. The following is the summary of new changes introduced with versions upto the latest version.
According to the current milestones in the React Native for web, Github repository, the following are the summary of possible changes that can introduce in 2022
Having an application builder that allows even non-technical people to develop apps has great value for users who want to start development and technical users who require them to develop an app efficiently. The Crowdbotics App Builder is one such app builder that lets any user build applications in minutes. Crowdbotics App Builder provides a range of prebuilt packages for faster development and deployment.
The RAD stack, which is based on React Native and Django, is the component that runs the app builder applications. Crowdbotics supports all React Native frameworks, including React Native for web and Windows+maOS for building high-quality cross-platform applications.
When it comes to cross-platform web development, react native is one of the top choices of many web developers because it enables developing apps that support mobile platforms and modern web browsers with Windows and macOS platforms. Developers can share one single codebase with other platforms, reducing the pain of maintaining two. React Native frameworks are improving continuously, addressing major bugs and issues found in the frameworks and introducing new enhancements. Many changes have been introduced in all these frameworks and 2021, and we hope to see another set of updates and new features with this exciting framework in 2022.
July 26, 2022