React vs. React Native: Which One to Choose and Why?

React vs. React Native

Confusion!

A lot of confusion takes place in humans’ life based on various characteristics of things. On top of that, we get confused with different things having a similar name too.

We actually get to know the names of a new thing. Either with applications, materials, humans, software, products, etc. Here, we will open Google and search with their names. Then, we will come to know about their different functionalities, applications, key features, and many more.

Well, why am I talking about this confusion and similar products?

The thing is, here in the technology world, we actually get confused with the terms named, React and React native. In many cases, if a person with no coding knowledge hears React and React Native, they will assume React Native is an extension of React technology. Even the developers may consider the same thing if they are taking a baby step in the development industry.

So, what are the things actually? Why do we often get confused? Let’s figure it out in this article.

React and React Native are famous technologies in the app development industry. The names look similar with an extra word in them. Therefore, it’s untestable if you get confused at first glance. If you are still confused and not sure about the functionality – React and React Native, then you have landed on the right page to unwrap the mystery behind them.

Introduction: React vs. React Native?

React and React Native are developed by Facebook and have gained a huge fan base in a short time. React is known as ReactJs, which is a JavaScript library to build single-page web applications.

Besides, React Native is a React JS-based framework to design mobile apps. Moreover, with reusable components, you can develop native mobile applications.

Both React and React Native are ruling the industry and are widely used for mobile and web applications. However, the difference between web apps vs. websites will not affect your user.


Now, let’s take a bird’s-eye view to understand the actual usage, key benefits, drawbacks, and differences for choosing the right technology for your project: ReactJs vs. React Native.

What’s React?

What’s React

GitHub: 177k Stars and 35.7k Fork

React: A Front-end Development Library

React, or ReactJs is an open-source JavaScript library used to develop single-page web applications. It’s one of the popular libraries to build UI (front-end) for web and mobile apps. It was developed and backed by Facebook in 2011 and has gained popularity since then.

React allows developers to develop quick, adaptive, and intuitive mobile and web applications. Also, it enables them to automate the designing process. By utilizing its features, ReactJs developers can build whatever they want without adhering to strict rules.

ReactJs developers can easily integrate plugins or libraries with existing code. It also enables them to develop fast, scalable, and simple web applications. With the advent of React in front end development, it brought back the much-needed server-side logic.

By leveraging React JS development services, you will be able to satisfy your customer’s needs by offering them Progressive Web App Development, Single-Page Apps, and static websites.

Looking to create a feature-rich React Native application?

What’s React Native?

What’s React Native

GitHub: 98.9k Stars and 21.4k Fork

React Native: A Native Mobile Development Library

When we talk about React Native, it’s an open-source JavaScript-based framework developed by Facebook to meet its growing demand of mobile needs. React Native is a hybrid mobile app framework, allowing you to develop mobile applications with a single codebase. This JavaScript framework lets you build mobile apps that render natively across different platforms like iOS and Android.

Now, many of you will be surprised by the above sentence. Right?

So, now can we build a mobile app with a single framework for both iOS and Android OS?

Well, if you are not staying updated with our articles, then there is no chance you can have an idea of it. So, coming back to your question, the answer is YES!

React Native allows you to develop cross-platform applications for every platform – Windows, Android, and iOS. So, here comes another framework for cross-platform application development.

Actually, React Native utilizes the base abstraction of React.Js. But only the library components are distinct. Despite having a similar nature at the core, like siblings, the distinction between React JS and React Native is substantial. And we will discuss it later on in this article. However, both technologies are masters for their respective usage. Also, React Native development cost varies on the functionalities of the app requirements.

So, now again, the question is, what’s up with Native in React Native?

Coming to it, React Native development allows you to develop a native application that works seamlessly on both iOS and Android platforms.

It seems like creators named it React Native because of this approach only. That’s what I assume, not sure of it!

React vs. React Native: How Do They Work?

You must be wondering, what works behind the stage for both React and React Native?

React uses the Virtual DOM to create amazing UX, while React Native leverages APIs to render UI components that can be used again for both Android and iOS platforms.

Virtual DOM for ReactJs

Document Object Model (DOM) is an essential programming interface that represents a web document and its content. The capacity of libraries and frameworks to manage the DOM has a significant impact on how they are used and displayed in the end.

Virtual DOM is a game-changer for React. It is a virtual representation of the real DOM. It means Virtual DOM manages quick updates while creating dynamic UIs. The main difference is, Virtual DOM is speedy, has enhanced performance, and better user experience than real DOM updates.

Native APIs for React Native

Besides, React Native uses Java APIs to render Android components, native Application Program Interface (API), and Objective-C to write iOS components when rendering UI components.

Following that, JavaScript is used to construct the remaining code and personalize the app for each platform, enabling maximum component reusability and code shareability.

React Native doesn’t leverage CSS and HTML, whereas, ReactJs does. Therefore, you have to create style sheets in JavaScript to style the components of React Native. However, it may look similar to CSS, but it is not the same.

Similarly, in React Native, ReactJS uses <p> against <text>, while <div> is used in React instead of <view> for React Native.

Let’s give you a real-time example here:

For ReactJs:

function tick()
{
const element = (
  <div>
   <p> Hello World </p>
  </div>
ReactDom.render(element, document.getElementById(‘root’));
}
setInterval (tick,1000);

For React Native:

import React, { component } from ‘react’;
import {text, view} from “react-native”;

export default class HelloWorldApp extends component
{
  render()
     {
       return
     {
     <view>
         <text> Hello World </text>
     </view>
    }
    }
}

Useful Tip: To run a React Native app, you have to have an Android Studio for Android or Xcode for iOS in your system. Thereafter, you can decide whether you have to run an application on the simulator or directly on the device.

Key Differences: React JS vs. React Native

Differences between React JS and React Native

“The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML as opposed to native.” – Mark Zuckerberg

As we know, most of the siblings have common functionalities and features. Though they will also agree that they have as many differences as they have similarities.

The same theory applies to these siblings – React and React Native. So, let’s understand the difference between React and React Native.

1) Installation Process

Installation Process of React vs. React Native

React:

As we read earlier in this blog, React is a JavaScript library. All you have to do is to integrate React library in the HTML page in the <script> tag.

<script src="https://unpkg.com/react@16/umd/react.development.js"<crossorigin></script>

<scriptsrc="https://unpkg.com/react-dom@16/umd/react-dom.development.js"<crossorigin></script>

Done!

https://reactjs.org/docs/add-react-to-a-website.html

Now you can create your first React Component to integrate in your HTML website.

You can use bundler to work with large projects. If you use instruments like a Next.Js, create-react-app command, or Gatsby framework for new projects, Webpack may have already configured to bundle to your application. Otherwise, you will have to ensure that the Webpack is configured.

Bundlers combine all code-enabled files into a single large file. You will also find other bundlers like Rollup or Browserify.

React Native:

To develop an app using React Native, you must have a development environment like Android Studio for Android or Xcode for iOS.

However, you need to install other tools like Node, the React Native CLI, JSDK Watchman, etc. After the installation, you can create a new project in the React Native Command Line Interface and execute it on a mobile emulator or your own devices.

The migration from React JS to React Native is a very easy method. In fact, if you are familiar with React and JavaScript libraries, then you will get a proper understanding of React Native framework in a couple of months. This way, you can develop your first native application.

Let’s work together and develop a modern application using ReactJS

2) Efficiency

Efficiency of Reactjs and React Native

React:

If you plan to develop an amazing user interface for your project, ReactJs is the right library for you. One of the amazing features ReactJs offers is that it can execute on the client-side while being rendered on the server-side.

ReactJS not only improves developer efficiency but also gives them more options to use when creating fundamental abstractions. In a nutshell, it’s useful for both lower-level elements like clickable buttons and higher-level elements like dropdowns.

React Native:

React Native implements a different approach to maximize the efficiency of a developer. The components you might use in iOS and Android have counterparts for a similar appearance and feel in React JS. Reusable native components are the basic blocks of React Native. These components are compiled directly to native code. Therefore, the app will have the amazing look, feel, functionality, and speed of a native app, distinguishing React native from other mobile app development frameworks.

Furthermore, React Native developers can easily integrate native codes such as Java, Swift, Objective-C into the framework to get a customized look.

3) Technology Base

Technology Base React and React Native

React:

React is just a JavaScript library. Therefore, to become a master at ReactJs, you just have to learn and understand JavaScript. If you get proper knowledge of technical documentation, you can become a React developer in a while.

React focuses on developing intuitive UIs for the web using JavaScript.

React Native:

React Native is a framework that uses React.Js to create mobile user interfaces. Since it inherits all the functionalities of ReactJs, it also offers many advantages and uses declarative components like React.

Precisely, React Native is not a pure JavaScript framework. It combines Java, Objective-C, Objective-C++, and C++ code. Therefore, it’s essential to learn and have a good command on the used languages to build a React Native application.

4) Feasibility

Feasibility of React and React Native

React:

React, often known as React JS, blends HTML and JavaScript technologies. It’s been determined that this is mostly done to integrate CSS, which eliminates various challenges associated with CSS development, such as global namespace and variable/scope isolation.

React Native:

Do you want to add more components and features to your existing app without changing the whole code? Well, React Native can help you here.

React Native allows you to add various native components to your existing app code. If your hybrid app is developed with Ionic and Cordova, then you can reuse that Ionic-based code effectively with just a plugin integration.

5) Compatibility

Compatibility of React and React Native

React:

React JS was created with the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factor in mind, wherein it renders on the user’s server using Node.

React Native:

Besides, React Native is exclusively designed to develop a mobile UI. It means, aside from being entirely UI-driven, React Native works more like a JavaScript library rather than a framework. As a result, the UI is incredibly responsive, giving the apps a smoother feel and faster loading times.

6) Syntax

syntax of React and React Native

React:

Using React, you can write code in JavaScript. Thereafter, React.Js renders Html-like components with <p>, <div>, <h1>, etc. tags. You may use JSX – a special syntax extension for JavaScript.

JSX is a syntax similar to a template language that doesn’t distinguish between markup and logic. That means you’re writing markup in JavaScript, which may appear to be inappropriate at first glance, but React claims that it’s not as terrible as it appears.

After compilation, there will be no JSX code. There will be only regular JavaScript functions and objects.

React Native:

If you wish to use React Native, you have to be aware of its specific syntax. Here, React Native renders native components with <view>, <text>, <images>, etc. instead of rendering HTML-like components.

We have seen the difference in the code logic in the above section to display “Hello World.”

So, we can say that, React Native doesn’t utilize HTML, and thereby, it’s not preferred for web development. Therefore, you can develop mobile apps (Android, iOS), smartwatches, TVs, AR, and many more apps as tags like <view> and <text> in React Native compiles into native languages.

This means you can’t use any library that renders any type of HTML, SVG, or Canvas.

7) Components

components of React and React Native

React:

React is a component-based library. A component is a JavaScript class or method that delivers a React element and defines the appearance of a certain user interface part. ReactJs has two different components: function components and class components.

If you use function components in JavaScript:

function Welcome(props)
{
  return <h1> Hello, {props.name} </h1>
}

Moreover, you can also define the same component using ES6 classes:

class Welcome extends React.Component
{
  render()
 {
  return <h1> Hello, {this.props.name} </h1>
 }
}

In fact, using both types of components, you can create a similar functionality app. As compared to function components, class components offer more features. However, the code readability grabs everyone’s eyes while using functional components. It allows developers to write less code. So, you can see a great app performance.

Build a high-performing and cost-effective mobile app with ReactJS

React Native:

As we said earlier, React Native has Native components and Native modules, which allow developers to develop apps.

Native UI components are handy widgets that are ready to use. They come as part of the platform or as third-party libraries. If you require a specific component, you can find out in UI explorer. It also lets you create a customized component and then reuse it throughout the app.

A Native Module is a set of JavaScript functions that support platform API when React Native doesn’t support that required feature/module you ask for. With some tools from GitHub, you can build your own module.

8) Navigation

navigation of React and React Native

React:

If you develop an application using React.Js, you must be aware of the react-router library that offers navigation on click events. After the release of React Router v5, the useHistory hook became a useful feature in the framework to access the history instance.

React Native:

Well, React Native doesn’t allow you to use react-router. Therefore, React Native offers a unique library Navigator to manage the transition between different displays. Besides, you will also find another library called React Native Navigation. This library offers accurate native platform navigation on both Android and iOS platforms.

9) Storage

Storage of React and React Native

React:

React uses local storage to store and manage data. The stored in the local storage has no expiry date. So, it will also be persisted even the browser window is closed.

React Native:

React Native uses AsyncStorage by default. In addition, it also has some libraries which allow to store data locally.

If we consider an iOS platform, AsynStorage is backed by native code that stores small values in a particular format and larger values in individual files.

Whereas, AsyncStorage on the Android platform uses either RocksDB or SQLite based on its availability.

While developing a React Native app, it’s mostly enough to have AyncStorage. However, in some cases, you need to have several options to store data, which are given below:

  • While using Redux, you can use redux-persist.
  • Use libraries to store data on a device or Realm or SQLite.

10) Search Engine-friendly

Search Engine friendly of React and React Native

React:

While developing the React.Js application, you have to keep the SEO factor in mind. However, the primary goal of React JS technology is to offer an intuitive user interface that keeps on changing, depending on the user interaction.

But as a matter of fact, the Google bot is not a human. Hence, we need to index our web page correctly to get our app noticed by the Google bot.

React JS has various tools and libraries to optimize your app in terms of SEO.

React Native:

When we consider React Native, it has nothing to do with SEO. It depends on us (developers) how we build native UIs.

The Advantages: React vs. React Native

React:

Pros of React

1) Easy Learning Curve

If you are planning to learn ReactJs, you will find many tutorials, guides, articles, and documentation on the internet. This will help you learn and have a good understanding of React JS in a very quick time. Moreover, a developer with a basic understanding of JavaScript can learn React JS very easily.

2) Reusable Components

A ReactJs developer can reuse various components during the application development. Each component offers its own logic and rendering. And this logic can be reused whenever it’s required. This feature enables faster app development.

3) Virtual DOM

Virtual DOM is another amazing feature that offers higher performance. It ensures that the lightweight copy of the real DOM is updated. This helps to enhance efficiency and usability.

React Native:

Pros of React Native

1) Easy to Learn and Implement

React Native uses JavaScript like React.Js as the base language. This gives the same app development feel but with many iterations and flexibility. It also improves the skills and abilities of developers to develop React Native apps.

2) Reusable Code

The primary benefit of using React Native is that it allows developers to build cross-platform apps. With code reusability, you can use one codebase to deploy on both Android and iOS platforms.

3) Fewer Errors

While deploying a React Native application on various platforms, less debugging and optimization are required. React Native requires less testing and enhancement because it is distributed on various platforms.

The Drawbacks: React Js vs. React Native

React JS:

1) JSX

React uses JSX (JavaScript XML). JSX is an extension or plugin allowing developers to write HTML code in React. Therefore, many developers don’t like or prefer JSX documentation and feel it’s difficult for beginners to learn.

2) Constant Library Updates

The major concern for every developer is that app development speed is highly hindered due to frequent changes in the React library. However, React improvements are now mostly reserved for libraries and other updates, making the code more or less robust.

3) Third-party Integration

Even though React offers multiple third-party modules and plugins, it has a few native modules. With the use of third-party integration, developers can combine HTML and CSS code into JSX with its complexity.

React Native:

1) Shortage of Custom Modules

If an application is loaded with many features, it will decrease the development speed due to a shortage of native modules and dependency on third-party libraries. Moreover, creating a custom module will create three individual codebases (RN, iOS, Android) instead of only one.

2) Frequent Updates

Developers are constantly working towards the betterment development of React Native. It always comes up with new ported native components, enhanced performance, and improved custom components.

However, updates are not a minus point here. But here, as compared to a highly evolved cross platform app development framework, developers must consider this factor.

3) Load Time

Application load time is a critical issue that every React Native developer faces. It’s because of the JavaScript thread that it takes a lot of time to deploy.

Wish to develop an interactive app that attracts and engages users?

Conclusion: Should We React for React Native?

So, now you may have got a clear idea about these siblings – React and React Native.

As we know, they are both different for the end-product platforms, but they follow similar principles or methodology for the development.

Actually, if you can learn either React or React Native framework, it will become easier to learn another framework too. However, to develop a React Native application, you should know React. But it doesn’t end there! We need to understand and get into the depth of more native applications as its support is limited in React Native.

So, if you plan to develop a web or mobile application, then you can hire React or React Native developers. They will add certain advantages to your development in the future. But that’s not mandatory, though! If you are aware of JavaScript, learning React will be a cakewalk.

So, what are you waiting for? If you are looking to hire dedicated developers, the talented developers from Radixweb – the leading mobile application development company – will never fail to amaze you.

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Jaydeep Patadiya is a senior business development manager at Radixweb and always has the answer to- what's on the mind of the customers? In an industry that is fundamentally changing, he helps customers make the right decisions by connecting the right dots and adopt new technologies. Beyond work, he prepares for upcoming marathon races.