React vs React Native: All the differences explained

Before you think about hiring a react native developer or a team of React js developers, you need to be sure you have chosen the right framework for your project. 

While they are both Facebook natives, React and React Native has a world of difference between them. 

So read on to find out what the differences are, and which one you should choose for your next project. 

In this post, we cover:

  • What is React? Advantages of React js.
  • What is React Native? Advantages of React native.
  • A feature-by-feature comparison of React js and React Native.
  • Which is better: React js vs React Native?

Starting with the basics…

What is React? Advantages of React js.

React js (or simply React) is an open-source JavaScript library that is used to build responsive user interfaces. Primarily used for web applications, React is responsible only for the “view layer of the application”.

It was released in 2013 by Facebook and has since continued to remain the top choice for most developers

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In fact, according to a 2021 Statista survey, React js is the most used web framework by developers around the world. Around 40.14% of developers use React js in their work, giving it a lion’s share of the market.

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But what are the real benefits of using React js?

Advantages of React js

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Short learning curve

ReactJS is incredibly easy to learn and get started with, even for a newbie developer. In fact, any developer with a good understanding of JavaScript can easily switch to React in just a few days.

So this makes finding a new developer, or even getting your current developer to switch to React is an easy option for you.

Improved speed and performance with the virtual DOM

Speed and performance are crucial for a better user experience and the success of a web app. And React holds the best cards in this aspect.

The virtual DOM is one of React’s prize features. This feature is what allows for a reduced update time and thus provides much higher performance for apps.

How, you ask?

The virtual DOM is just a memory that represents the web browser’s DOM. So React components are written virtually, and then turned into the COM by React. Thus giving it smoother and faster functionality.

Reduced coding time with Component-based architecture

A web application created with React js is made up of a series of components. In this, each component has its logic and controls. 

But the real benefit is in the feature that lets you reuse these components whenever and wherever you need them on the web app.

You can simply use the same code for different components, making the apps easier to develop and, maintain down the line too.

Plus, React also gives you a real-time view of all the changes you make, so you can “preview and edit” faster.

Boosts your SEO with server-side rendering

React doesn’t just make it easier for you to build an app… It also helps you ensure that the app has its best chance against Google’s SEO algorithm.

Web apps built with React js have faster indexing, and the content is indexed at the server level. This way, when the server is visited by a Google bot, it is able to index and cache the content faster. 

This in turn leads to better SEO ranking and more leads.

Massive community and ecosystem for support:

As we’ve already mentioned, around 40.14% of developers are skilled in and use React js in their daily work. 

This community of developers has also created a massive ecosystem of tools, component libraries, extensions for code editors, etc.

This wide range of third-party tools, extensions, and support help developers innovate further and instantly problem-solve any roadblocks that come their way.

What is React Native? Advantages of React native

Like React js, React Native is also free and open-source. It is a JavaScript framework used to develop mobile applications for multiple platforms (like iOS Android, and even Windows). 

React Native is similar to React js in terms of its Javascript foundation. But it uses native components instead of web components as the building blocks of code.

It was released in 2015 by Facebook, as of 2021 it is the 2nd most popular cross-platform mobile framework. According to Statista, around 38% of developers worldwide claim to be using React Native when it comes to cross-platform frameworks. 

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Advantages of React Native

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Save time and money with cross-platform code reusability for native apps

As they advertise on the website, React Native allows you to “Learn once write anywhere”.

Meaning developers can a single piece of React Native code, that can be used to build mobile applications for both iOS and Android. 

React Native automatically detects the platform it is being run on and generates the platform-specific code.

So it is written in JavaScript, but rendered with native code.

Plus, they can reuse most of that code for creating a web application as well. 

All in all, saving you both time and money!

Easy access to talent since it is based on Javascript / React js

Like React, most of the React Native code is from the React js / Javascript framework. So even a regular front-end developer will be able to quickly get a grasp on the framework to quickly create an app.

This short learning curve makes the framework easy to use and helps expand the talent pool of developers available for you to hire.

Reduced development time with Hot Reloading:

React Native’s ‘hot reload’ feature is one of its biggest boons for developers. 

Hot reload allows you to see the changes that you’ve made in the code without the cumbersome process of reloading your entire app. 

Whenever you make any changes, all you need to do is save your code, and React Native will immediately track new changes and reload only those files. 

Thus saving time and increasing development speed. 

Easier workflow with strong community and ready-to-use UI libraries

Since its release by Facebook, React Native has been extensively supported by its loyal community. The massive community regularly shares their knowledge, new solutions, and shortcut tools to make life easier for developers on the job.

They also rally behind to help solve any issues that come up during the development process.

Apart from this, there are many Component UI libraries in the React Native ecosystem that developers can make use of.

With these, developers save time by avoiding building libraries from scratch and instead focus on innovation and faster development.

A feature-by-feature comparison of React js and React Native

React jsReact Native
ReactJS has a library as its foundation.React Native is the framework. Thus it has no language library.
It is platform-independent. Can be executed on all platforms.It takes more effort to be executed on all platforms.
React uses a JavaScript library and CSS for the animation.It comes with built-in animation libraries and offers less animation functionality.
In React js code is rendered from the DOM.Here APIs are used to render code for mobile applications.
React uses HTML tags.React Native doesn’t use HTML tags.
The React-router is used to navigate web pages.The built-in Navigator library is used to navigate mobile apps.
It offers a high level of security.It offers comparatively less security.

Which is better: React js vs React Native?

Now you probably have a better understanding of the differences in features and use cases between React js and React Native. 

But the question still remains…

At the end of the day, which is better: React js or React Native?

Well, as you probably expect, the answer isn’t as straightforward as that.  

React js and React Native are both leading choices for web and app development. And each has its own benefits.

Don’t worry though, we aren’t going to leave you hanging in the grey. 

They are each built to shine in specific use case scenarios. 

React js is ideal for building dynamic, high-performing, responsive UI for web interfaces. And React Native is your best bet if you’re looking to create cross-platform mobile apps, with a native user experience.

So depending on your project needs and goals, you make the call.

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