React.js vs React Native: Knowing The Difference

React.js vs React Native
Published by - Himanshu Rehani | 28th Feb 2019

“Despite having the same parent, similar names, and same technology backbone, ReactJS and React Native are worlds apart.”

Maintained by Facebook, Instagram and a community of developers and corporations, React is one of the most sought after JavaScript libraries today. According to JavaScript Analytics Libscore, React is being used by some of the high-end websites including Imgur, Netflix, Feedly, Airbnb, Walmart, to name a few.

React.js was developed by Facebook to address its need for a dynamic and high performing UI. In 2011, they released the React JS library, a JavaScript library which brought together the speed of JavaScript and a new way of rendering pages, leading to responsive and dynamic user input. After the team open sourced React.js and its popularity grew, they released React Native in 2015.

The two share a thin line of difference regarding setup or how they render any specific function. But before moving with these differences, let’s consider the most notable differences for a broader outlook.

ReactJS is a JavaScript library for creating user-interface for large web applications. This open-source library is especially useful for creating dynamic web pages that process data in real-time and can display the changes without needing to reload- like the Facebook/Instagram feed we all adore.

React Native, on the other hand, is a framework consisting of native libraries for creating mobile applications. The libraries are used to develop applications for all platforms where the React Native code complies into native mobile app components.

So, as a simple rule of thumb, ReactJS is for web development and React Native for mobile app development.

Apart from this, there are a few subtle changes in how they approach the same task:

Setup and Bundling
React Native is the framework, whereas ReactJS is a Javascript library used for website development. When a company plans to start a new project, they choose bundler like web packs and figure out which bundle module best fits the project.

Here, react native comes into the picture. Acquainted with almost everything required during the development project, it makes project setup a cakewalk for the developers. All it takes is running a command on the terminal.

To run your app, you will need to have Xcode (for iOS, on Mac only) or Android Studio (for Android) installed on your computer. You can either decide to run it on a simulator/emulator of the platform you want to use or directly on your own devices.

Animations and Gestures
React native allows you to have a completely new way of animating components of an app with the help of Animated API. It allows in creating different animations including timed or velocity-based or associated with the gesture.

Furthermore, for user gestures interaction, it provides a similar thing to Javascript that touches the events with web API called PanResponder. The PanResponder is applied for viewing text and images of a component for enabling touch handler on the view.

Platform-Specific Code
Designing an app for multiple platforms with the same set of code can be a tedious task. It can certainly make the code look ugly. When you build a Native app, it’s important to know that the UX and UI for iOS and Android might need to be different.

Based on this and also how your app will look and feel, you can have two choices:

  • You can define a universal design for your app to look exactly the same for both platforms as long as it stays intuitive and doesn’t confuse either platform users.
  • You can define sets of code for each platform, i.e. have a different DOM, stylesheets and even maybe different logic and animations in order to follow the UI and UX guideline of the platform.

Depending on the two approaches, you can decide for yourself which platform to choose. However, if you are in favour of the second approach then, React native has the ability to detect which platform you are running the code from and can load the right code for the right platform.

Navigation
This is one point where both take a different approach: the results are fairly neck-to-neck.
The web pages built in ReactJS use React-router for navigation whereas React Native has an entirely different library- Navigator or the purpose.

Wrapping Up
Both ReactJS and React Native are masters in their field of operation. Comparing them and placing one over the other is never a good idea. It all depends on your business needs and goals.

So before you opt for any, analyse your business requirements, consult mobile and web development companies and make a decision you won’t regret.

Author’s Bio

Himanshu Rehani - Sr. Software Developer

Holding the position of a software developer, Himanshu started off his career with Nethues five years back. Since then, he has put in every effort to learn and grow into a full-fledged developer.

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