React Native: a brief history

React Native: a brief history

A while ago our colleague Anthony introduced you to React Native and the five key advantages. And there’s still so much more to say about React Native. We thought it might be a good idea to share our experiences, the lessons learned and some tips in a couple of blog posts. First one up: since we started experimenting with React Native, how has the framework itself evolved and what have we learned along the way?

One year: a world of difference

A little over a year ago, we started looking into React Native. In the summer I built my first app in React Native and a couple of months later we started a Proof of Concept for one of our customers. Soon there were several other customers interested in discovering React Native, and the possibilities for their mobile apps.

Since we started working with it, React Native has evolved immensely. There’s a new version almost every month. On the development platform Github it is one of the most popular languages and thousands of developers across the world are collaborating on the open-source code. There truly is a market for React Native, and knowing that it is still only a beta version, the potential will only increase.

How has React Native evolved?

It’s impossible to list all the improvements that have been made this past year, but we’ll highlight a couple of them that stand out for us.

  • The navigation has improved a lot over time. Last year it was quite challenging to get it right, but now it requires very little effort to get a good navigation.

  • List renderings are much smoother, even for long lists and live updates.

  • Finally the animations are much more performant. Before this, the moment the code became a little more complex, animations were jerky. By writing just one extra line of code, the animation is rendered in the native layer, making it smooth as silk.

How have we evolved?

Just like React Native has changed a lot in one year time, we as well have changed. It might be good to know that ‘we’ is in this case the web team. And one of the biggest challenges for us was - is - thinking like a mobile developer.

We have gained a lot of experience by sparring with native devs. How are they building things, how are they fixing things? By doing this, we are gradually learning to think ‘mobile’ as well, which is essential when coding in React Native. A big tip here is to make sure always to work with ‘mixed’ teams. You will be able to deliver much more qualitative work in a shorter period of time. We will later on be writing a blog on what the right background is for a ‘React Native developer’, web or native. Coming soon! Another tip to finish this blog post: make sure to use two smartphones. Yes, you are reading this correctly. The only way to build and design an app in the right way, is by knowing exactly how they behave on both Android and iOS. And the only way to know this, is by actively using both operating systems. Hence, using two smartphones!

 

Read more: React Native and the five key advantages