React Native bridges the gap and has several benefits for building cross-platform applications on iOS or Android. Perhaps the most obvious perk is being able to write code a single time for both platforms. If you are a mobile app developer, it is likely that React Native is already on your radar.
While the tool definitely streamlines mobile app development, it is not a pick-up-and-use service. There are things you need to know before you start to create React Native app. In the following guide, we will introduce you to the most important considerations to make.
Why Use React Native?
Tech is an ever-expanding industry that is growing scope into new avenues all the time. The mobile evolution is well-documented, whether in the consumer space or in enterprise. However, for many, the ability to develop apps efficiently for mobile remained locked behind a learning curve or constrained by technology.
It was a strange contrast between the booming and ever-evolving mobile sector and archaic development methods. React Native broke through those barriers. Initially launched in 2015 but not reaching stability until March 2022, the tool from Meta/Facebook really has changed the picture.
If you think the app development framework is worth investing in, then you will want to know how to make the most of your experience with React Native. Let's take a look at the main starting points:
Choose a Native Base Framework
Meta – via the official React Native website – recommends using one of two methods for setting up the framework: Expo CLI or React Native CLI. So, which is best? Well, if you already have experience with mobile app development, React Native CLI is the best option. However, Expo CLI is more useful if you are a newcomer to mobile development.
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to both frameworks:
React Native CLI
Get Familiar with React Native Components
As a mobile platform, the development of React Native is different to web development. Because apps are different to websites, the components for building them also differ. In other words, React Native has its own set of components that are not available on other development frameworks. These components provide their own unique attributes for the overall functionality of the app.
When starting with React Native, it is essential to learn these components before you begin to build your app. This will help you avoid nasty mistakes that are hard to rectify down the line. Understanding the components will give you more control over HTML elements and allow you to access pre-existing tools you can plug straight into your development.
You can check out the list of React Native components on the official page here.
Use Component Patterns
React Native is a dynamic development framework that allows you to pick and choose which components you use, and how you use them. This freedom is a major benefit, but it can also be problematic, especially for beginners. In general, it is best to keep your components as organized as possible, even if the invitation to customize is there.
One way to achieve organization is to learn how components interact with each other. For example, React categorizes components, making it easier to see the purpose of individual elements. Before you start developing, learn about “stateful” and “stateless” components in React Native. These are component patterns that are essential to beginners.
Even so, they are by no means the only patterns. Others include presential components, container components, and more. Learning these patterns and their purpose can help you properly segregate components for their specific role in your project.
Clearing the Styling Hurdle
One of the biggest culture shocks developers face when using React Native for the first time is how the framework styles apps. On React JS, you will use HTML elements that would be universal across apps, React Native uses unique components for styling. That makes the framework different from other CSS platforms.
Example: If you want to set the background color in CSS, you would use the HTML element “background-color” while colors are written simple as red, yellow, orange and so on. React Native takes a different approach, so the background color command is “BackgroundColor” and individual colors will be wrapped in quotation marks, such as “red.”
That means React Native comes with a learning curve because most developers are used to the CSS syntax. It is very easy to be writing in React Native and accidentally include CSS commands and later realize a style element of the app is not working. To avoid this, research the framework to see the React Native syntax equivalent of commands.
No Automatic Optimization
One of the challenges of developing mobile applications is that there is no universal hardware. Devices have different screen sizes, different form factors, and different requirements. Whether it is a smartphone, tablet, or folding screen, there is no one size fits all approach. It is important to know how devices work before creating mobile apps.
Developers build their apps to be responsive for any type of mobile hardware. However, on React Native you will need to do this yourself because the framework does not add responsiveness automatically.
Using State and Props
If you have previously developed with React, you will know State and Props are important. This is also true in React Native, so if you are new to React development it is essential to understand these concepts.
- “Props” are what components use to communicate with each other. This happens by data passing from a parent component to others.
- “State” is what components use to track information that is necessary each time it renders.
Thinks of State and Props as the critical data management backbone of React. They are essential in every single project on React Native. If you are new to the concepts, start learning more about Props and States before getting into more complicated concepts.
For many developers, the transition from web to mobile can be daunting. There is confusion, different concepts, and the potential for error. React Native makes that transition much more welcoming, allowing developers to create mobile apps efficiently. Even so, there are things to know, and the above points will help you start your journey using React Native with confidence. If you want to get started yourself with react native or other coding systems, consider taking a full stack web development course.