React and React Native are two popular technologies developed by Facebook for building user interfaces. While they share similarities, they are designed for different purposes and have distinct characteristics. In this article, we will explore the key differences between React and React Native, helping you understand when to use each one.
The main distinction between React Native and ReactJS is as follows: Web applications, or programs that run in a web browser, use React JS to create their user interfaces. Building cross-platform mobile applications, which work on both iOS and Android devices, requires the use of React Native.
The purpose, syntax, UI components, styling, performance, and development process of React and React Native are some of the other key distinctions that will be covered in this blog post.
10 key Differences Between React and React Native
React updates the user interface effectively using a virtual DOM (Document Object Model), which makes it quick and browser-friendly.
In contrast, they are converted into native code and executed directly on the device, giving them a more native-like performance and appearance.
2. Syntax: While both React and React Native use a similar syntax and share many concepts, there are some differences in how they are used. In React, developers use standard HTML tags and CSS-like syntax to create UI components. For example, to create a button, you would use the HTML button tag and apply styles using CSS classes or inline styles.
React Native, on the other hand, uses a different set of components that are designed to render native UI elements on mobile devices. These components are similar to the ones used in React, but they are not standard HTML tags. For example, to create a button in React Native, you would use the Touchable component, which has various types of buttons such as TouchableOpacity, TouchableHighlight, and TouchableWithoutFeedback, among others.
Styling is also done differently in React Native, using a combination of inline styles and a custom stylesheet object, which is different from CSS used in React.
3. UI Components: While both React and React Native share similar concepts and patterns for building UI components, there are some differences in the available components and how they are used. React has a wide range of UI components that are designed for web-based applications, such as divs, spans, input fields, check boxes, and so on.
These components are based on standard HTML tags and can be easily styled using CSS.
On the other hand, React Native offers a unique set of components that are made to display native UI elements on mobile devices. These components, which include View, Text, Image, ScrollView, FlatList, TextInput, and many others, are based on native UI elements found on iOS and Android devices rather than on conventional HTML tags.
In contrast to React components, these components have a distinct selection of properties and styling options, and they are mobile performance-optimized.
4. Styling: Another distinction between React and React Native is in styling. CSS classes or inline styles are frequently used for styling in React. Inline styles are used to apply styles specifically to an element, whereas CSS classes are used to apply styles to a number of components.
The custom stylesheet object is created using the StyleSheet.create method and allows for defining styles in a separate file, which can be reused across components. This approach provides better performance compared to inline styles, as the styles are precompiled and optimized during the build process, resulting in faster rendering and better performance on mobile devices.
5. Performance: Development of mobile applications must take performance into account, and React and React Native differ in some ways. The DOM is used by React apps to render UI components while they are running in a browser. When working with a lot of UI components, updating the DOM, a tree-like structure that describes the structure of the HTML text, can be slow and ineffective.
React mitigates this performance issue by using a virtual DOM, which is an in-memory representation of the actual DOM. React updates the virtual DOM first and then calculates the minimal changes required to update the actual DOM, resulting in optimized rendering and improved performance. However, there is still an overhead of translating between the virtual DOM and the actual DOM, which can impact performance in complex applications.
On the other hand, React Native bypasses the DOM entirely and renders components directly to the native UI elements on mobile devices. This allows for faster rendering and better performance compared to React, as there is no need to translate between the virtual DOM and the actual DOM.
React Native apps also leverage the performance benefits of native animations and gestures, resulting in a smoother and more responsive user experience compared to web-based applications.
6. Development Process: The development process also differs between React and React Native. React applications are typically developed using a web browser and a code editor. Developers can use various tools and libraries to create UI components, manage state and props, and test their applications in different web browsers. React applications are then deployed to a web server and accessed via a web browser.
React Native applications, on the other hand, are developed using a combination of a code editor and a simulator or a physical device. Developers use the React Native CLI (Command Line Interface) to create, run, and build native mobile applications. React Native provides a set of development tools, including the React Native Debugger, Expo, and React Native CLI, which allow for testing and debugging mobile applications in simulators or physical devices.
React Native also provides a live-reloading feature, which allows developers to see the changes in the application in real-time without having to rebuild the entire application. This can speed up the development process and allow for quicker iterations and testing.
However, setting up the development environment for React Native can be more complex compared to React, as it requires installing additional dependencies and tools specific to mobile development.
7. Code Reusability: The ability to build reusable code is one of the benefits of utilizing React and React Native. React enables developers to construct reusable UI components that can be used in many application components, leading to a codebase that is easier to manage and scale.
A vast ecosystem of third-party libraries and components is also made available by React, which can be quickly added into an application to increase its functionality.
By enabling developers to share a sizable percentage of the codebase between the iOS and Android platforms, React Native advances code reuse.
The majority of the code that defines the UI components, state management, and business logic may be shared throughout both platforms because React Native components render to native UI elements, decreasing the duplication of code and development efforts.
It’s crucial to remember that while creating React Native applications, platform-specific variations and optimizations still need to be taken into account. Writing platform-specific code may be necessary, for instance, to handle navigation, animations, and device-specific capabilities, which can lower the level of code reuse.
Nevertheless, React Native offers more code reuse than React because it enables code sharing across several platforms.
8. Third-party Libraries and Ecosystem: Both React and React Native have extensive third-party libraries and ecosystems that can be leveraged to enhance the functionality of the applications.
React has a vast ecosystem of libraries and tools that are built specifically for web development. These include popular libraries like Redux for state management, React Router for routing, Axios for making API requests, and many more. The React ecosystem also includes a large community of developers who actively contribute to the development of new libraries and share best practices, making it a thriving ecosystem for web development.
On the other hand, React Native has its own ecosystem of libraries and tools that are tailored for mobile app development. While some of the popular libraries from the React ecosystem can be used in React Native applications, there are also many libraries that are specifically designed for React Native.
These include libraries like React Navigation for handling navigation in mobile apps, AsyncStorage for local storage, and NativeBase for UI components, among others. The React Native ecosystem is also growing rapidly, with new libraries and tools being developed regularly to meet the unique requirements of mobile app development.
9. Community and Support: The community and support around React and React Native also have some differences. React has a larger and more mature community compared to React Native, as it has been around for longer and has been widely adopted by the web development community.
The React community is known for its active contribution to the development of libraries, tools, and best practices, making it a rich source of knowledge and support for developers.
On the other hand, React Native has a relatively smaller community compared to React, as it is a younger technology that has gained popularity in recent years. However, the React Native community is also growing rapidly, with a strong focus on improving the documentation, sharing knowledge, and building a supportive community.
There are also many online forums, communities, and conferences dedicated to React Native, where developers can seek help, share their experiences, and learn from others.
10. Documentation and Learning Curve: Documentation and learning curve are important factors to consider when comparing React and React Native.
React has extensive documentation, tutorials, and guides available, making it relatively easy for developers to learn and get started with the framework. The React documentation is well-organized, with a large community contributing to the documentation, making it a comprehensive resource for developers.
On the other hand, React Native documentation is relatively newer and may not be as extensive as React.
However, the documentation has improved significantly over the years, and there are now many tutorials and guides available online for learning React Native.
Nevertheless, the learning curve for React Native can be steeper compared to React, as it requires understanding the native mobile development concepts, such as navigation, animations, and platform-specific optimizations.
In conclusion, understanding the differences between React and React Native is essential for developers looking to build web or mobile applications using these frameworks.
While React is primarily used for creating user interfaces for web applications, React Native is specifically designed for building mobile applications for iOS and Android platforms. React utilizes virtual DOM and renders UI elements on the web, while React Native uses native components for mobile app development, resulting in performance benefits.
Although both frameworks share similarities in their syntax and design patterns, they have differences in components, styling, and navigation due to the nature of the platforms they target. React is ideal for web applications that need to be accessed through a browser, while React Native is preferred for developing cross-platform mobile apps with a native look and feel.
By understanding these distinctions, developers can make informed decisions when choosing between React and React Native based on the requirements and goals of their specific projects