Remember that famous series of posts about Airbnb sunsetting their React Native experience in 2016? Or Udacity’s well-documented React Native retreat in 2018?
A lot of people found React Native too jarring. Build times can be too high, .apk sizes can be too large, and potentially complicated integrations can throw people off. But beneath the grime and dust, awaits a lithe, mean, and uber-adaptable language that rushes to deliver.
Consider, for a moment, Coinbase’s tremendous success with a transition to React Native. Their clear recognition of its pros, cons, and the context around React Native eliminated a lot of the early misconceptions and false steps.
Their experience helps us boil our questions down to something simple:
In a nutshell, developers see React Native as a faster and cleaner way to build flexible and responsive cross-platform apps that work and feel like native ones. So it should come as no surprise that many Fortune 1000 companies and fledgling startups alike have leveraged it.
So the promise of React Native is taking the accessibility and cross-platform boons of Cordova and marrying them with real native rendering.
In order to understand how React Native works, the natural confusion between React and React Native needs to be addressed: While close relatives, they’re NOT the same thing, although both come from Facebook developers.
It appeared first in 2011.
The React Native user experience is like a native app’s with a smooth and responsive interface. However, there’s no denying that it needs some workarounds and fixes.
For front-end web developers, React Native is easy to pick up and allows them to seamlessly switch to mobile app development. If they are aware of platform-specific APIs and design patterns, and familiar with native UI elements, they’re ready to go!
React Native doesn’t demand the cost and time required for maintaining separate Android and iOS code bases.
Compared with other hybrid app development tools, React Native offers higher performance, smoother animations, and sidesteps issues with browser compatibility.
Every platform has limitations. There are justifiable reasons for developers and companies to step away from React Native.
React Native apps will perform very closely to fully native apps’ levels. The difference is below the radar for most users and use cases, but can be noticed with heavy data crunching or graphically-intensive experiences, like 3D.
React Native is built on an open source foundation and uses a variety of different projects with different owners and licenses. This involvement may prompt additional scrutiny from your legal team.
React Native doesn’t always get access to the latest and greatest features right away, and developers may need to do some extra native engineering to access some iOS and Android platform capabilities.
Currently, RN does not currently offer support for devices beyond phones and tablets, like Apple TV or Apple Watch.
While backed by Facebook and its massive popularity offer some assurances, it’s impossible to say if React Native will still be maintained in 10 years.
Admissions of defeat by famous brands like Airbnb and Udacity stirs the pot. Their articles clearly talk about the problems they encountered with React Native, the less-than-streamlined integration with Android, and its problematic organizational gaps.
But there’s more to it.
Chances are some of the development teams within these companies are still enthusiastic about React Native’s potential in the grand scheme.
After all, trying out and learning from new tools is a common tactic when companies are looking to change or coin their own development approach.
When sitting down with a partner to define app strategy, here are a few questions you should consider:
Even generally speaking, React Native’s potential for quality cross platform development is far stronger than that of Cordova, Ionic, Xamarin, and even Native script (for native platforms).
Whether or not React Native is right for your app strategy depends on your internal goals and expectations.
For most companies, React Native is the balance they strike between accessibility and user experience. It’s almost like you could build native while avoiding the high costs of developing and maintaining separate codebases for Android and iOS.
Most companies try to approach React Native projects with an in-house team. As we’ve seen with Airbnb and Udacity, this isn’t always a great idea.
There can be many reasons. For instance, it’s not always possible to assemble an internal team that has the experience and skills to build you something in react native or to embellish an existing native platform with react components.
Native code may seem like the easier option internally but may not make the best business sense.
In almost every scenario, it makes more sense to work with an accomplished agency that has the stripes to prove their React Native experience.
Skilled developers who know how to navigate the unique challenges React Native throws up not only save you incredible amounts of money but shave away a lot of time in development.
So if you have an idea that you’d like to see materialize in React Native, we recommend you schedule a free consultation with a member of our team. They bring a lot of experience in building apps with React Native and could help you spot planning holes early on.
And in an industry that rewards early movers more than anything, this might be your safest bet.