What is React and Why You Should Add it to your Developer Toolkit

What is React?

React is an open-source, declarative JavaScript library for building user interfaces. React also happens to be one of the most popular front-end frameworks for building web applications—specifically single-page apps.  With this developer-friendly tool, you can build rather complex interfaces using small pieces of reusable code, called components. The framework also allows you to create rather large web applications capable of real-time data updates without requiring a page reload.

The Main Features of React

On top of being a learn once, write anywhere language, React developers praise this framework because it includes a few really important features. Let’s take a look at some of them.

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    Virtual DOM
    Typical DOM (Document Object Model) updating is very slow. And most JavaScript frameworks update the entire DOM at once, which slows things down even further. React uses a Virtual DOM, which is a lightweight copy of the original DOM. After the Virtual DOM is updated, React compares the original to the virtual and updates the portion of the original that is different from the virtual (a process known as “diffing”). This in-memory data structure cache makes it possible to automatically update what is displayed within a browser.
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    JSX is a syntax extension to JavaScript that is used in React. JSX isn’t a string or HTML. You’ll recognize HTML elements as well as string elements. React doesn’t require the use of JSX, but developers find it useful when coding UIs within JavaScript.
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    React Native
    React Native is a framework for building mobile apps using JavaScript. With this framework, you can build truly native mobile apps that don’t compromise the user experience. React Native provides a set of platform-agnostic components, such as View, Text, and Image which all map directly to the mobile platform’s UI building blocks.
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    One-Way data flow
    With React, data can only flow one way. React apps are organized as nested components, which receive information through arguments and pass the return value from the arguments. Because of this one-way flow of data, the data binding in React handles the updates automatically.

Why You Should be Developing with React

The primary reason you should consider working with React is the ability to develop native apps for multiple platforms, using a single framework. Outside of that, there are plenty of other reasons why you might opt to go with this particular tool. 

First and foremost, React’s component-based approach makes using the framework very simple. On top of that, you’ll be using a language that’s already familiar, JavaScript. And with React’s JSX, you can combine two familiar languages—HTML and JavaScript.

The use of JavaScript and HTML means React is very easy to learn. With a basic knowledge of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, you can quickly get started with the React framework.

Another reason is the reusable nature of React components. Once you’ve created a React component, you can use that component for Android, iOS, and even web applications. Not only does this make development easier, but it also makes it far more efficient.

React also has a number of incredible developer tools. Two of the most important tools you’ll find are React Developer Tools and Redux Developer Tools. For those that aren’t familiar, Redux is a reinterpretation of the Flux architecture. Redux is a predictable state container for JavaScript applications that helps developers write apps that behave in a consistent, predictive manner while running within different environments (client, server, native).

React Developer Tools is an extension to the Chrome Developer Tools and is the best way to debug your React code. Redux Developer Tools, is a powerful tool for debugging an application’s state changes. 

You might find some of your projects are too simple for React. For those projects, you could opt to write them in JavaScript alone. Although React offers a shallow learning curve, don’t think of it as a simple framework. React is capable of building incredibly complex apps. And when used in conjunction with Redux, it becomes even more powerful.

But if your project:

  • Involves a lot of moving parts, with constantly changing states.
  • Requires active/inactive navigation.
  • Includes elements such as accordion sections that expand and collapse.
  • Uses dynamic input and enable/disable buttons.
  • Depends on user logins and access permissions.

…then it might be an outstanding candidate for React.

In other words, if you’re looking at building either a mobile or web-based application that veers into the realm of the complex, React might be the ideal framework for your project.

Why outsource React development?

Once you’ve determined if your project is a good fit for React, you have to ask yourself if it’s something you can handle in-house. Do your developers have the necessary skills to get up to speed with React quickly enough to meet deadlines?

If not, that project might need to be outsourced.

Fortunately, there are plenty of onshore, nearshore, and offshore development companies that are perfectly capable of taking on your React project. And not only are they capable, but they are also efficient and far more cost-effective than hiring a new team of in-house developers to handle the job.

So not only will you save time, you’ll save money, all the while knowing you’ll be delivered a reliable, secure, and functioning application.

To learn more about what BairesDev can do to help get your React project off the ground, contact us so we can put together a team to meet and exceed your needs.

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