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The byproduct of an internal hackathon in 2013, Facebook’s React Native has since morphed into one of the most popular frameworks among mobile app developers. But the open-source, cross-platform tool is not the only fish in a crowded sea of mobile development options. No longer the new kid on the block, does React Native still rule the roost or has the industry giant been dethroned by emerging technologies like Google’s Flutter? Let’s evaluate some of the framework’s key pros and cons and see if React Native meets your app development needs.

Pros trust the Pros

From Walmart and Uber, to countless tech startups, React Native fuels the mobile apps of thousands of brands worldwide. The framework boasts advantages that appeal to both iOS and Android developers alike. A look at three of its notable pros is helpful in evaluating whether it’s the right tool for you.

1. React Native’s Hybrid Capabilities

If you’re like most enterprises aiming to capitalize on the lucrative mobile app market, you are likely looking for a cross-platform solution that only requires a single codebase.  React Native delivers on that front. It allows developers to write reusable code in JavaScript – one of the most widely accepted programming languages – that runs on both iOS and Android platforms. Essentially, it compiles to native Java and Swift and forges a connection between web UI elements and their respective native Java and Swift counterparts. Therefore, you don’t have to enlist multiple development teams to complete and maintain the project. You can develop your app faster with fewer cooks in the kitchen. And we all know that time is money. The bottom line? React Native is good for your…… bottom line.

2. Clean and Concise Development

As the adage says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” React Native won’t help you recreate the Roman Empire, but it will allow you to build sophisticated and consumer-level apps.  The platform’s building-block structure allows you to write small portions of code that are rendered as native widgets in both iOS and Android applications. With React Native, you and your developers can continually iterate and increase the complexity of the app while maintaining each individual UI component along the way. This “brick by brick” model makes for a clean, efficient, and economical development process.

3. Reliability and Stability

Between its maturity (over 3 years old is practically veteran status) and code structure/styling, React Native is praised for building reliable and stable apps. Additionally, there is a robust scope of tools and Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) available that support the framework.  A common misnomer is that React Native can be used only to build new apps. That’s a dirty little untruth – you can also use Reactive Native to apply upgrades and changes to existing native apps. Its “hot reload” feature streamlines and strengthens development efforts by loading changes made in source code directly into its respective iOS and Android. The outcome is a stable, high-octane version of a previous app.  Perhaps the biggest testament to the reliability of React Native is the broad pipeline of brands that use the framework. From Facebook itself to Airbnb and Tesla, more and more companies are turning to React Native to build their mobile apps.

React Native: (Con)sidering the Cons

When it comes to mobile app development, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. React Native boasts a favorable reputation among developers building small, midsize, and large apps alike, but it’s not without some drawbacks. It’s prudent to assess the framework’s potential cons before deciding to add it to your toolbox.

1. Architecture Issues

Reliance on third-party application programming interfaces (APIs) and component libraries can present both time and quality issues. Sure, there are pre-canned components available for React Native, but the selection process can be fraught with uncertainty. In a nutshell, it can feel like a crapshoot in terms of securing reliable components. Thus, you may find yourself spending unanticipated time fixing glitches and trouble-shooting.

2. Nearly  Native

Always read the fine print, right? In other words, React Native isn’t entirely native. Depending on your app’s needs, you will likely have to incorporate native coding into the development process. Some developers see this as a headache, while others like having the flexibility to tailor the app using native code for specific features. Any way you spin it, when using React Native, you should factor additional coding time into your project’s timeline and budget.

3.  Documentation Frustration

Clear documentation sure makes for a positive developer experience, doesn’t it? React Native dissenters point to the framework’s somewhat messy docs and subpar guides as an area of weakness. However, Facebook has been working on an extensive rearchitecture of React Native that addresses a multitude of improvements. The project includes the production of more comprehensive and concise documentation to aid developers.

Although the pool of hybrid mobile-app solutions continues to grow, React Native remains one of the most popular frameworks used worldwide. Proven efficiency, coupled with its stability, make for a convincing selection. But don’t leave your mobile app development project to chance. For additional insight on whether React Native is the best choice for you, feel free to contact us any time.