Pros and Cons of Using React Native for Mobile Development

What React Native is 

Versatility is at the core of React Native’s function as an open-source User Interface software framework with its capability of developing applications for multiple operating systems. React Native does this by allowing developers to utilise Reactjs with native platform capabilities. 

As of writing, the systems that React Native can develop applications for include Web, Windows, UWP, tvOS, macOS, iOS, Android, and Android TV. The framework is also used to develop applications for the VR headset Meta, formerly known as Oculus. 

Being an open-source platform, React Native has an expansive community where developers interact and share solutions related to the framework.

React Native and Reactjs

Reactjs is different from React Native in that it is a JavaScript library built to support the front-end and the server. Its ability to create UIs for websites and mobile applications is what allows its seamless use by React Native. 

Reactjs is able to render tremendous speed for the applications and websites developed through it through what is called the Document Object Model (DOM). 

It does so by creating an in-memory data structure cache tasked to compute resulting differences and update the DOM of the website afterwards smoothly.

Why React Native Was Created

Released by Facebook’s parent company Meta, both Reactjs and React Native are the brainchildren of Software Engineer Jordan Walke, who left the Social Media Titan back in 2021. Walke developed React for the web through Facebook’s Hackathon from the observation that the use of HTML5 for Facebook’s mobile application made it unstable and slow in retrieving data. The first React JavaScript configuration was released back in 2015.

React Native was created to make the applications developed with it function faster and smoother. 

Upgrades on React Native are currently being worked on with special attention to app size reduction, UI improvement, and the management of more native modules. 

One of the things that make React Native a viable framework is its API which makes applications stable. Being its key strength, it helps in achieving the primary goal of ironing out the kinks or possible issues in application development.

However, these advancements do not spare React Native from the need for improvement. To fairly assess its potential, here is a rundown of the pros and cons of developing through the framework.

The Pros and Cons

The Pros

Working with React Native brings advantages that allow developers to innovate the apps they develop. 

1. Efficient and Budget-Friendly

In light of its reusability, development through it saves React Native Developers time as they need not write additional codes. 

It also eliminates glitches early in development through clear communication among team members throughout the pipeline. This ultimately saves firms from unnecessary spending.

2. Boasts of Plug-and-Play Solutions

React Native keeps an impressive body of solutions that have been created to be readily implemented. 

It has a testing library that allows developers to produce bug-free codes. It also has tools for seamless type checking.

3. Provides Stable Growth for Apps

The components of the framework prime apps to be displayed across well-known platforms. This provides stable growth for them. This ensured stability makes it easy for apps to be upgraded moving forward.

On top of that, development through React Native is synchronized.

4. Has the Live and Hot Reloading Feature

The Live and Hot Reloading features distinguish React Native from the rest of the development frameworks in the industry. 

Hot Module Replacement (HMR) is where the Hot Reloading feature stems from. What this does is help update files while securing them in a specific place as the app runs. This permits the apps to easily handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

In addition, Hot Reloading makes it possible for developers to view the changes that they make in the app instantaneously, effectively decreasing waiting time.

Meanwhile, Live Reloading serves the purpose of collating and reading files when the developer makes changes. Being a simulator, the file is able to read the app from the start.

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The Cons

As with any framework or software, React Native has certain areas that leave a lot to be desired.

1. Not Meant for Apps with Complex Gestures

Should an app development project require multiple screen transitions and interactions, then React Native might not be the best framework choice. Complex gestures are not meant to be built through it.

2. Challenging to Debug

The apps produced through React Native are observably difficult to debug. It would be a meticulous process as the apps are usually made through languages like Java, JavaScript, C, C++, and the like. 

3. Immature Due to Rapid Updates 

React Native can be seen as an immature framework. While it is in every sense faster and fresher, the advancements come at a quick pace that developers are not given sufficient time to catch up on the changes.  

4. It Is Difficult to Form a React Native Team

If a client or a firm is looking for a third-party team that possesses solid knowledge of the web and native tech, then it would prove a challenging affair. This would entail in-depth skills in project configuration, CI, and JavaScript, among others. If one is to hire IT specialists who are well-versed with all these skills, then it would be a search made in vain. 

Why Native App Developers Should Look Into React Native App Development

Having laid the advantages of using React Native, it begs the question if it would be good for Native Developers to learn and immerse themselves in React Native development. 

Exploring the framework would prove gratuitous to the Native developer as far as his or her professional development is concerned of course. There is no question there. But apart from professional growth, Native Developers would at an advantage as they would discover that React Native fills some of the Native framework’s shortcomings.

For instance, Native app development demands constant updates if the platform built for its updates is integrated with fresh features or should go through big changes. Frequent maintenance may prove taxing due to costs and the need for an on-call team to render the needed changes. 

Native app development is costly when placed beside React Native,  with consideration of the framework, the platforms, and the development timeframe. Developing native apps entails creating and maintaining numerous codebases.

Naturally, troubleshooting, maintenance, and updates need to be performed for each platform that would be used. Native app developers may choose either Kotlin or Java for the framework. For iOS, developers have a choice between Swift or objective C.

The code that programmers have created for one Native app has to be rewritten if another development needs to be undertaken with another framework. Simply put, one Native app cannot be repurposed for another framework.

The functionalities developed therein will be specific to the OS. As this is the case, should the developer want to develop a Native app that would work across different platforms, it would prove an undertaking that would take too much time. 

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The Takeaway

Despite its apparent flaws, the fact remains that React Native is a good framework to develop apps with. 

Despite the difficulty in debugging and the inability to handle apps with complex gestures, the stable growth it provides for apps is enough to give it credit. 

Just like with any other software and platform, React Native will be able to resolve the issues it is riddled within the long run so as to become a wholly reliable tool for app development.

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