What is React.js used for? What’s worth knowing?
What is React.js?
What are the React.js features?
Before we move on to the pros and cons of React.js, let’s focus on notable features of the technology.
A notable feature of React.js is the virtual Document Object Model, or shortly called the DOM. React.js creates a cache of the data structure in memory, computes the resulting differences, and then efficiently updates the browser DOM displayed, which we call the reconciliation process. This allows the developer to write code as if the entire page is rendered with each change, while the React libraries only render the subcomponents that change. This process of selective rendering provides a significant performance boost and also saves the effort of recalculating CSS style, page layout, and full-page rendering.
One-way data binding
ReactJS is designed to follow one-way data flows or one-way data binding. The one-way data binding process gives you greater control over the entire application. Since the components are to be immutable and the data they contain cannot be changed, if the data flow is in a different direction, it requires additional functionality.
To support this concept, the architecture called Flux was introduced to React.js. Flux is a pattern that helps keep your data unidirectional. This makes the application more flexible leading to increased performance.
Pros of React.js
We already know that React.js is a hugely liked technology, so check what makes it happen:
- Faster rendering and reliable performance – the launch of Virtual DOM by Facebook developers has made React JS one of the more effective and less impeded technological solutions for application development. The DOM (Document Object Model) has a large influence on the potential load on the application due to its structure. DOM methods allow programmatic access to the tree, and with them, you can change the structure, style or content of a document. Since the DOM of modern websites is huge, updates can take a long time, slowing the overall performance of the web application. The browser regularly checks for any changes to the DOM and updates it accordingly. The change may be caused by user input, inquiry, data receipt etc. The browser updates the DOM every time a change occurs. The use of a Virtual DOM, which is smaller and can be updated quickly, has a very positive effect on application performance. Only after interaction between the website and the virtual DOM is the actual DOM updated. The result is providing a better user experience, higher performance, and great facility.
- Code reusability – ReactJS supports building reusable components. Once created, such a UI element can be used in other parts of your code, in various other projects, sometimes with little or no modification. It is also combined with the possibility of using free libraries of ready-made components. It also positively influences the key business features, i.e. saving time and money thanks to the lack of the need to write everything from the very beginning.
- Downward data flow = more stable code – many ways to limit errors in your code are available, and framework and library developers are aware of it. When it comes to ReactJS, one of the processes that help with this is a one-way flow of data, also known as downward data flow. This means that data is transferred between items in ReactJS only one way. As a result, developers gain additional support in debugging and bug prevention.
- Extensively used and popular – ReactJS is a popular choice also among well-known global brands. Successfully implemented applications, or websites of companies such as Airbnb, Tesla, Netflix and others prove that you can achieve a lot with this technology.
Cons of React.js
Is it a perfect technology, without flaws? We wish so, but unfortunately no. There are some downsides to React.js:
- The high pace of development – it is both a disadvantage and an advantage depending on the project. However, because the library is constantly and rapidly changing, some developers may feel uncomfortable re-learning new ways to implement certain elements. It can be difficult for them to work with the ever-changing technology. After all, it requires them to always be up to date on their abilities and learn new ways of doing things.
- Poor documentation – a common problem when technology is constantly updated. React.js modernises and speeds up so quickly that there is no time to do documentation. To remedy this, developers write tutorials and instructions on their own as new versions develop.
- Not a full-stack tool – ReactJS only covers application UI layers, so technology is still needed to get a complete set of project development tools.
- Third-party libraries – when developing projects with React.js, you almost always need to use additional libraries. If someone likes to have all their tools at hand at once without having to look further, they may feel disappointed. The advantage of this situation is the lightness of the React library, which is designed for a small number of tasks but does them well.
What is React.js used for?
React.js is a very universal technology that is used to build interfaces, and therefore everything that allows users to interact with devices. Interfaces can be found everywhere, from mobile applications to websites, hence there are many use cases for this library.
Single Page Application
The flagship example of using Reactjs is a Single Page Application. React SPA works inside the browser and does not require the user to reload the page. Also, when a user navigates through a SPA, they will continue to interact with the same page without interacting with a completely new page. Many well-known applications that are used every day are SPAs, such as Gmail, Google Maps or Facebook.
Social applications are one of the common React.js use cases. Creating a social network is recommended almost always as a single page application, as HTML templates do not work well with dynamic page updates. This is how Facebook started as a regular website and gradually moved to a single page app. With rapid development, great user experience, and high responsiveness capabilities, React.js is a great choice for social networking.
The eCommerce sites are usually very complex, consisting of many different elements, filters, APIs, etc. These parts should be highly independent of each other. Reactjs helps developers implement all of these features by creating separate components. Additionally, they are easy to scale. The ability to reuse components, which is a feature of React, can positively affect the development time of such a platform.
Since the entire application can be neatly broken down into smaller reusable UI elements, many developers find React.js the most suitable for enterprise application development. React.js’ component-based architecture helps tackle legacy stack problems with very fast adaptation and implementation cycles. Of course, the speed of development, the stability of React.js supported and improved by Facebook, and the popularity of this technology among developers are also the reasons why companies decide to use React.js.
Cross-platform mobile apps
With the React Native framework, and therefore also using React.js, cross-platform mobile applications can be created. If Reactjs is already in use in a web app, it’s much easier to upgrade from the mobile version as well as migrate the web version entirely to React Native. The React Native mobile app works like a native app on IOS and Android. By employing Reactjs developers, you will also be able to create React Native mobile applications.
React.js App Examples
According to StackShare, 9243 companies use React in their technology stacks (in January 2020). They include very well-known global brands, so it is respected technology among market leaders, too. Below are some examples of a successful React.js implementation.
In the beginning, Airbnb was just a website with growing traffic on mobile platforms. After a while, the developers realized that to meet the needs of their mobile users, they have to invest additional resources in mobile platforms. Several years later, after transformation, the team decided on a solution whose core is ReactJS – the React Native cross-platform framework. This ended in fast development, as well as increased traffic and gaining new users.
Among the applications using ReactJS, its inventors’ products could not be lacking. Facebook is the most popular social network nowadays, and its mobile app is one of the commonly used apps in the world. To improve the mobile experience and meet Facebook’s high demands, they first created an open-source library, which is discussed by us, React JS, and then their cross-platform framework, React Native. Currently, it is one of the most widely used frameworks for developing Android and iOS applications.
An interesting example of React, js implementation is Graphiq. It is a platform that connects professionals wanting to hire designers with the right creative talent, helping to succeed in projects on time, on budget and deliver the highest quality product. We developed it from scratch in BinarApps, the platform combines several technologies, including React.js. It is currently a leader in the creative sector and provides customers with the highest value.
Choosing the right technology for developing digital products is not an easy thing. Hence, it is good to be familiar with them and know their advantages, disadvantages, and purpose, just like in the case of React.js. Undoubtedly, this library is worth the attention paid to it by the IT community. When considering the use of React.js, take into account that it is subject to further development and is strongly supported by Facebook. The community is continually working on developing options and adapting features to meet emerging needs. It can, therefore, be safely assumed that this is a library that will not stand still and, thanks to the efforts put in, will be constantly updated. It is also a premise that the future of React.js should be stable and that React.js itself will be a safe choice.