There are many frameworks on the market designed to build high-end web and mobile applications, but there are none more popular than React.js.
In this article we’ll discover what React really is, why it commands such respect and popularity, along with the pros and cons of using it for your business.
So let’s dive in!
The what and why of React.js
Maintained by Facebook, Instagram and 839 contributors (at the time of writing), it’s an extremely popular framework used by major websites such as Airbnb, Bleacher Report and streaming giant Netflix!
Its biggest selling point is to help developers create fast user interfaces, it does this by allowing you to create flexible web-applications without being burdened with reloading pages.
React has a few notable features when compared to its contemporaries such as Vue, Backbone and Angular.
Known as ‘one-way data flow’, views in React are commonly rendered using components that contain further components that are listed as custom HTML tags.
Additionally, React also uses Virtual DOM, which generates an in-memory data structure cache. From this, it establishes the differences and then refreshes the browser’s DOM. The benefit of this for the programmer is that it allows you to write your code as if the page is being rendered on every change.
React.js has been built to essentially provide developers with a flexible, efficient, simple and stylistic framework. Having been in existence for just over 4 years, it’s community continues to grow and its scalability is one of its biggest selling points.
Let’s look closer at its development during those 4 years and what the pros and cons of using React are for business.
Pros and Cons of React.js for Business
There are many advantages to consider when considering React.js for your business. It’s particularly beneficial if you are a fairly new and small company, as its main benefits centre around cost and onboarding.
React’s API is miniscule when compared to many others. Due to its combination of UI elements and declarative syntax, it’s an ideal solution when onboarding new developers.
This is especially great if you are looking to be particularly frugal with costs. As it allows you to hire developers who are straight out of college or university, at a much cheaper rate. As they may not be as familiar with the frontend environment you could negotiate a much better price.
The Virtual DOM is present in React’s memory. So anytime a programmer changes its actual DOM, React will instantly change the Virtual DOM, because it is situated within its memory.
React then compiles these adjustments and compares them directly to the DOM’s state, before re-rendering the modified components.
This approach means that there is no need to carry out DOM updates on a regular basis. Which in turn will help drastically with increasing the performance of your React app.
As I mentioned earlier, React’s framework is backed by Facebook and it’s 839 contributors. So it’s reliability, stability and backing is far superior to other frameworks.
The support is there through a number of varying ways such as web or screencasts, informative articles and new libraries. There are regular rallies and conferences held around the world, such as USA, Italy, Poland and Spain.
Videos of previous keynote speeches, sessions, meetups and hack days are regularly uploaded to the Facebook Developers YouTube channel as well.
When you consider this with something like Angular where there is no syntax highlighting in many editors, very limited support in regards to code completion and no run-time failures.
React is extremely SEO friendly.
This is ideal to avoid any nasty surprises that you might have to try and explain to the marketing department. React is also real time and can adapt when dealing with heavy traffic.
Because it uploads as soon as it is rendered, this ensures that pages load much faster. According to SEO giants Moz, a fast loading page is integral to success, “No matter how you measure it, a faster page speed is better. Many people have found that faster pages both rank and convert better”.
React.js allows you to build high end mobile applications alongside a web based one.
The benefits of this for business is that users can access an app without having any internet connection. Additionally this gives you the possibility of employing push notifications, which allows you to be in contact with people 365 days a year, 24/7!
A benefit of React is its speed, and this comes in varying forms. It’s quick in regards to migration for developers, the user experience is fast and also it’s rapid when on-boarding new developers!
From a developer point of view React can be used in a small expanse, of an already existing page, regardless of how it has already been built. This allows the programmer to migrate as swiftly as they like.
In regards to speed, the updating for the UI can be achieved without having to constantly reach out to a server, in order to retrieve a new view.
Cost is a big positive of React which I touched on earlier, however if you do have money to spare in your business to hire a skillful programmer, then React is ideal as they can pick this up very quickly.
It is also compatible from a programmer’s perspective as well. Due to the fact that the same code can be used on both the client and server side of an application, there is no need to duplicate the functionality. This results in a huge decrease in development time and more importantly, cost!
Reusing existing code will increase your test coverage level, as a result this leads to improved standards in quality, avoiding a number of unnecessary bugs and errors.
As the same code can be used for both the web and mobile application, this means there is no necessity to hire two separate teams to build the website along with the mobile app.
React is a UI library only. Therefore when you are building with React you are required to incorporate additional libraries, in order to handle the other parts of an application, such as the state.
Whereas Angular has many features, React requires you to add things such as form validation packages. Angular is more established and regular updates are being developed by their team.
If you start a new project with React.js, it is likely that you will have to pick a bundler such as Webpack. You will need to decide which bundling modules you require, whereas a Native package will come with everything included.
One complaint about React is that its documentation is poor in comparison to Vue and Angular. Angular is backed by Google and comes with a router, form validation and additionally it allows you control the whole user experience.
As you can see the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to React.js.
The ability to change the existing components with ease, thanks to its component-oriented approach, alongside the fact you can reuse code, means you there is opportunity for constant improvement.
Speed for users, programmers and on-boarding, plus its benefits for SEO make it an extremely popular choice for businesses, and that only looks to grow.
The future is bright, with a library maintained and developed by highly skilled professionals the curve for improvements in future only looks like it will rise.