React Native for Mobile – Initial Impressions

nativesmall

I’ve always done mobile development in the device native language (Objective-C/Swift for iOS, and Java for Android)

Recently I worked on a project that needed to be deployed on Android, iOS and eventually the web, using the same code base if possible. After reviewing the options I decided to use React Native.

React Native lets you build mobile apps using only JavaScript. It uses the same design as React, letting you compose a rich mobile UI from declarative components. It is the library used to build Facebook, Instagram, and many other applications.

The project was originally a native Android app – used by TED for handling attendees checking in to individual sessions during a conference. It makes multiple API calls to the server back-end, does NFC scanning, needs local data storage, and must work offline as well as online.

I’ll post more further down the road about working in React Native so for now I’ll list some initial pros and cons…

Pros

Performance – better and faster json parsing, cleaner program flow, screen redraw update appears faster than native if state is used properly

Multi-platform – same code base for Android and iOS, can also develop for web using React Native for Web.

Open source – strongy supported by facebook, code available on github, 1,700 contributors, 68,000 stars

Cons

Javascript – the language still makes me nervous, I like a strongly typed language – recommend using typescript or flow to lower your risk.

Debugging – debugging tools aren’t as mature as I would like, using Chrome and a lot of console.log calls – which is definitely old school.

Tools – no integrated tools, I use a mixture of the command line, Chrome, and Sublime Text as my editor.

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Further reading

How to Get Started with React Native

The Basics of React Native

An iOS Developer’s Journey Into React Native

Building the F8 App

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