Understanding the basics of React Native app development?

React Native app development. Native Apps. Hybrid Apps. Wrappers. What does it all mean for mobile application development? Is there a difference? Is one better than the other? In this blog post let’s explore React Native specifically.

Have you recently come across React Native and are wondering what you need to know? Well, you’ve come to the right place as we discuss all things to do with this framework, to help you make an informed decision when it comes time to either build a mobility solution from scratch or upgrade an existing set of apps.

React Native is an open source framework, which means it is freely available to be distributed or altered, and yes, without any cost to purchase the platform. React Native found its origins out of an authorised hacking project at Facebook in 2011 to build an application over a variety of platforms using just one codebase, meaning that there was a movement to steer away from native apps. (A native app is a program or software that is developed to operate on a specific device. For example, you get mobile apps that are written to run on iOS – Apple devices – or others that are developed to run specifically on Android devices. They have micro gestures and functions that may not be found on other platforms or frameworks or devices). Thus removing the need for duplication of work to create an app in, say iOS, and then recreate it again in Android. This was becoming a costly and time consuming problem for the social media giant and it needed to find a more intelligent way around the issue.

React Native app development was the outcome and it is particularly suited to mobile application development. You no longer have to choose between which operating system to build your app in, as this platform facilitates its production for both Android and iOS from a single codebase. This means that not only is the initial development a lot cheaper (and faster) as you are only developing a single set of code, but you only need a single set of skills, rather than a developer versed with iOS and another developer versed with Android. Ongoing maintainability and total cost of ownership is heavily reduced as a result too, for the same reasons.

Want to know more?
React Native uses JavaScript libraries to generate the app’s interface and can access the native code so it acts as a bridge, creating a tool for communication between the two, despite being totally separate technologies. The most obvious benefit of this is the ability to rapidly develop several platforms at once, using just one base code. This allows for more rapid development, reducing the lead time to get to market and thus reducing development costs. And as highlighted above, ongoing maintenance is also cut as it is cheaper and faster to look after one code base and not a whole bunch of them. This also makes it a darn sight easier for onboarding new staff that join the development team.

There is also a super effective feature which gives developers the ability to immediately view alterations to code without the requirement to refresh, as a live view is available.

Savings across the board
This all adds up to a revolutionary way to cross develop apps over multiple platforms simultaneously. It has accelerated performance as lag time is significantly reduced. The most obvious saving is in cost. Less coding requires less developers which equals substantial savings. Where previously two teams were required to deliver two projects, now one team can do the lot.

Do you need a partner?
Partnering with a knowledgeable agency can be a real asset, even if you have your own cross platform team. There are no restrictions around what can and can’t be utilised by React Native but a specialist team are best consulted for mobile application development. Some of the biggest corporates utilise large amounts of code written in React Native for their apps, increasing automation, reducing developer costs and rapidly speeding up project release times.

With around 90% of code being able to be reused between iOS and Android, it’s easy to see why this is such a key element to the success of this platform. Developers do not need to begin from scratch when creating a new platform, freeing up resources for other tasks.

Building just one app instead of two separate ones for the same product or service has obvious benefits. When building a cross platform app, choose an agency experienced in React Native app development so they are able to estimate potential risks and opportunities for your project in the desired technology. Significant experience in mobile application development and building in native apps would also be a requirement to ensure the best results.

Alex Tucker


Alex Tucker is a writer and editor currently living in Melbourne. He loves working with words of all shapes and sizes.

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