Cross platform development frameworks have been around for a while. In the past, the main gripe that people have had with these frameworks is their lack of acknowledgement of the differences between platforms. This is where React Native really shines, allowing you to include separate modules specific for iOS and Android like status bars, navigation, or the accessibility with native device elements like the camera and contacts which are built according to the platform.
Another advantage of React Native development is that you can use libraries like ReactXP and React Native for Web, which allows you to develop a cross-platform mobile app that can be made available on the web, meaning you really get the best of all three worlds.
Building out your Development Team
Using React Native, web developers can actually become mobile developers if they have a little bit of knowledge on UI Elements and React. The framework is relatively easy to pick up and this can save you a lot of time and money when building a team, seeing as you can just have one web developer build out your business’s entire app stack. Whereas, if you were taking the native route, you’d most likely need a iOS Developer, a Android Developer, and an Additional Web Developer.
Now do note that using react native to build out your app doesn’t mean you wont need help from a native developer. If the application includes the usage of several native features we recommend to have a native developer do some work on their side to ensure your app is up to native standards.
Although native apps do have better accessibility to device hardware and platform specific implementations, apps written in React Native have been performing similarly and sometimes even better than Native apps. This was proved by John A. Calderaio in his article ‘Comparing the Performance between Native iOS and React Native.’ When comparing native iOS and React Native apps by measuring both of the application’s GPU, CPU, and Memory during the tasks in several different screens, the apps were almost identical in performance. The React Native app, winning two out of the three categories, beat iOS native as the better performing platform.
Stepping into the Developer’s Point Of View
In Comparison to React, where you’d usually start with a bundler, such as Webpack, and then try to find the right modules for the app you’re developing, React Native comes complete with everything you need to just start writing your code.
Thanks to built-in hot/live reloading, developers don’t constantly have to be checking the results of their code by rebuilding the app. This feature massively increases development productivity and saves tons of time. The developer can see introduced changes right away as he is coding, without compiling.
The React Native component usage allows developers to easily drive basic tasks and functionalities such as scroll, animations, buttons, text inputs, etc. through efficient recipes. In comparison to Native development, the use of components in react native is a lot less complex, and saves a lot of time and frustration.
Native Modules: Where there are noticeable limitations
When developing a Native app there are countless native libraries to choose from. In comparison to these native alternatives, React Native definitely hides in the shadows. For Example, Apple provides swift users with a library that is guaranteed to be updated and written well, as they have to approve of these additions to their library. But when it comes to React Native, although there are a lot of different libraries and components, they are mostly provided by a third-party, and usually either leave a lot to be desired, or are just not up to par to those native modules.
The Bright Future Ahead
However, the React Native team, led by Facebook, have been collaborating with third parties and are constantly working on the betterment of react native. In the last year alone, there were over 2500 commits from 500 different contributors.
While existing React Native modules are lacking the documentation and completeness of native modules, they are easily editable and you can pretty much either change an existing module or develop one from scratch to match your needs, thanks to the simplicity provided when using React Native.
To wrap things up, we believe that React Native is a great platform and that businesses could save a lot of time and money by relying on a single shared code repository for a complete application stack available on all platforms. However, every app is different and your business might benefit from going the native route so that is something to keep in mind.