An Introduction to React Native: Build Native Mobile Apps with JavaScript

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React Native has emerged as an exciting framework for building native mobile applications using JavaScript and React. In this article, we’ll take a first look at React Native and how it enables crafting high-quality iOS and Android apps with web technologies.

What is React Native?

React Native is an open-source framework created by Facebook that allows you to build mobile applications for iOS and Android platforms using JavaScript and React. It uses the same design as React, letting you compose rich mobile UI from declarative components.

React Native apps are real mobile apps indistinguishable from those built using Objective-C or Java. The core components are mapped to native UI building blocks on each platform, providing near-native performance and responsiveness.

But unlike hybrid app frameworks, React Native does not rely on WebViews. The framework instead translates JavaScript code directly into native views, leveraging platform APIs for truly native capabilities and performance.

Why Use React Native?

React Native offers several benefits for mobile development:

  • Write once, deploy anywhere: You can write an app once using JavaScript/React and deploy it to both iOS and Android without rewriting it natively. This saves significant time and resources.
  • Live reloading: React Native enables live reloading to view changes instantly without rebuilding the app, greatly accelerating the develop-test cycle.
  • Reusable components: React’s declarative components promote code reuse between platforms, reducing boilerplate code.
  • Popular and performant: React Native leverages the power of React, widely used on the web for building robust applications. The framework is also highly performant compared to hybrid apps.
  • Large ecosystem of tools and libraries: As a popular framework, React Native benefits from a substantial ecosystem of third-party plugins, tools, and libraries.
  • Developer experience: Many developers are already familiar with React and JavaScript. React Native uses familiar web tooling, letting web developers build mobile apps with minimal new knowledge.

How Does React Native Work?

React Native invokes Objective-C APIs to render to iOS components and Java/JavascriptCore APIs to render to Android components. This sets it apart from hybrid app frameworks that use WebViews.

When you write React components in React Native, the framework translates the components into native views before rendering. The native components are then managed by the platform itself, avoiding performance issues caused by the JavaScript-to-native bridge in hybrid apps.

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React Native also uses multiple threads to optimize execution:

  • The main thread uses the React framework to figure out what native components to render.
  • The separate JavaScript thread uses JavaScriptCore to run the JS
  • A native UI thread handles actual rendering via native framework components

This multiprocessing model allows smooth animations and high responsiveness on both platforms.

Getting Started with React Native

To build React Native apps, you’ll need:

  • Node.js and Watchman for file watching
  • React Native command line interface
  • An iOS/Android simulator or device environment

After installing those prerequisites, you can initialize a project, start writing React components, and view it in the simulator with live reloading via:

react-native init MyProject react-native run-ios

The default project contains an App component that renders a greeting, which you can customize by editing the React code. Refreshing the simulator will reflect your changes instantly.

The Basics of React Native Syntax

React Native uses familiar ReactJS syntax, while rendering components specific to each OS. Some basic conventions:

  • Import React Native components like:
 
import { Text, View } from 'react-native';
  • Return JSX components inside render functions, using native components:
 
return ( <View> <Text>Hello World!</Text> </View> );
  • Style components inline using stylesheets:
 
 
const styles = StyleSheet.create({ container: { backgroundColor: '#fff' } }); return ( <View style={styles.container}> </View> )

This covers some core basics of React Native syntax. Check the React Native Getting Started guide to dive deeper into project structure, components, APIs, and more.

The Future of React Native

React Native is under active development by Facebook and contributors on GitHub. Future areas of improvement include:

  • Expanding platform support beyond iOS and Android
  • Improving developer tools and error handling
  • Smoother UI animations and gestures
  • Enhancing performance and native functionality

Conclusion

React Native offers an innovative approach to cross-platform development, letting you build mobile apps using only JavaScript and React. It delivers excellent performance, a familiar developer experience, reusable components, and support for major mobile platforms.

While still evolving, React Native brings the benefits of React to native app development. It’s a framework worth exploring if you’re looking to build mobile apps with web technologies.

This introduction covers the basics of React Native. Stay tuned for more in-depth tutorials on building real-world applications with this exciting new framework.

Posted in Android, Javascript, Mobile, React Native, Software Development, TechnologiesTagged , , , , ,

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Infuy is an international technology leader company specialized in outsourcing services in the latest technologies. Blockchain (smart contracts, dApps and NFT marketplaces), full-stack, mobile development, and team augmentation are some of the areas where Infuy specializes in. As a software development company based in Uruguay with offices in the US, Infuy is always looking for the next big challenge, and the next big partner. As a fast-growing company, Infuy is always looking for talented and proactive people, who live up to the challenge and are as passionate as their team is about their mission to provide the best solutions to their partners, with the latest technologies, to join the team. For more information about the company and its services, please visit https://www.infuy.com/.