Facebook is known surely for connecting people via the world’s biggest social network. At the same time, this company has made a significant contribution to the developer community by releasing two technologies aimed at facilitating the creation of web UIs (React) and mobile apps (React Native). The outcome surpassed all expectations – today these Facebook brainchildren are in huge demand in the industry and belong to the inventory of many software companies like Railsware. Let’s find out what makes them so special and how they interrelate.
Who is who?
The year 2013 was marked with the release of React – a JS library, which is meant to simplify the process of the frontend creation. Instead of templates, the technology leverages structural components to build the UI. As a result, web engineers spend less time on this task, and the interface looks more modular. Single-page apps are the target implementation area of React. However, it’s not limited to this sort of software products and is widely leveraged in building multi-page applications. The library powers Dropbox, WhatsApp and many other web products.
React Native can be called a young brother of the JS library we mentioned above. Nevertheless, it has a different activity vector and focuses on creating mobile apps. React Native is rightfully considered revolutionary in the industry. The framework allows for building apps that are close to native in terms of performance and UX. Moreover, it’s the leading solution for creating cross-platform apps so far. With React Native a JS-oriented team can build one mobile product that will run on versatile mobile operating systems.
After a short introductory warm-up, we can center on answering the question enclosed in the title namely how these Facebook’s pet projects differ.
The first thing to be mentioned is which type these react-brothers belong to. React is a JS library which means you can build only the interface with it rather than an entire web app. React Native, on the contrary, is a framework that allows you to create full-featured mobile products.
That’s the major distinction between the solutions. The library is leveraged within the scope of web development, while the framework focuses on mobile software production. In short, React is for web, and React Native is for mobile.
Both of them differ in the way they render the user interface. React Native leverages APIs specific to a particular platform to represent the app view, and React is known for its concept of a virtual document object model.
In terms of component styling, Facebook brainchildren resemble two sides of the coin. The heads, React, supports both HTML and CSS, and engineers can choose from a multitude of options to style the app. React Native has neither CSS nor HTML for content organization, so the programmers need to opt for alternate ways to do styling like StyleSheet API.
The lack of CSS forces you to choose another way as for app components animation. If you can do it with CSS animations in React, the mobile framework needs an animated API like LayoutAnimation to be leveraged.
When and why use React or React Native
Despite the list of differences, these solutions share common roots. Moreover, the framework is often called a consequence of React for mobile. On that account, find some examples of React Native apps in this article.
React is a good choice for building single-page-applications (SPAs). This JS library allows for creating a responsive UI and is characterized by unidirectional data flow and friendliness for search engine optimization.
React Native is a full-scale option to replace native app building. The framework allows you to create mobile apps using the best practices of React. Its major hallmarks include time and cost-efficient development, final products with close-to-native UX and feel, and huge code reusability for cross-platform support.
Both technologies are not fundamentally different. A React-savvy programmer will have a rather short learning curve to get in peculiarities of working with React Native. Besides, being proficient in both Facebook brainchildren opens horizons for creating web apps with a great look in the browser, as well as mobile apps with native UX.