- Aug 13, 2020
- by Alex Ali
Web development – and software development in general – has evolved so much in recent years. Today, there are so many options and solutions to consider when it comes to creating a website. If you’re thinking of building interactive elements on a site, and have coding knowledge, the React library is a particularly exciting option.
In this article, we’ll examine what React is, its origins, and how it compares with similar options in the web development ecosystem.
An Introduction to the React Framework (And Why You Need It)
At the core of every React app are components. A React component is a self-contained module that you can use to render a UI output. A typical component can include several other components in its output. In other words, React apps are created by writing components that correspond to different interface elements. An application structure is then defined by organizing the components within other higher-level components.
Why React Is So Popular
The major advantage React introduced over its predecessors was the introduction of a virtual Document Object Model (DOM). Though not particular to React, a virtual DOM lets the developer implement changes to the document’s data outside the browser. In other words, you can manipulate the document on a DOM built and run entirely in local memory.
Once you’re done with your changes, React intelligently inputs changes from the virtual DOM to the actual browser’s DOM. This in theory offers much better performance.
For a clearer picture, let’s list some reasons why millions of developers around the world choose React.
- React performs better. Over time, React has become very famous for its speed and performance. Thanks to its support for a virtual DOM, performance is significantly better and the applications’ workload is also well-optimized. Likewise, data flows only in one direction in React letting you control the project (and test components) easily.
- There’s a great supportive community. Thanks to the fact that it is open-source and widely adopted, React is backed by a great community. Apart from the availability of React Developer Tools, you can easily find help from other developers if you run into trouble as a newbie.
However, React would be nothing without its connectivity to the wider development community. Let’s find out more about how React achieves this.
How React Fits into the Web Development Ecosystem
Though originally launched for use with Facebook, React is now enjoying a great rate of adoption across several industries. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the majority of modern apps rely on reliable UI elements. Many also have a lot of dynamic components.
All these factors make a very good case for the incorporation of React. Let’s quickly take a look at some of the typical projects where you may employ React:
- Social networks. Other social apps such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and more now depend on React. With the help of Server-Side Rendering (SSR), social sharing and SEO takes on a completely new dynamic. React uses SSR to retrieve relevant information such as the title and author when you’re sharing a post. Being able to have a proper preview is an effective way of rendering your web app. React also offers a lot of benefits when it comes to SEO – a plus for virtually any industry.
- Ecommerce and retail. The reusability of React components makes it an ideal fit for web apps based in e-commerce. Once a developer builds a component on your site, they can reuse the component on a site-wide basis. This saves both time and money on your project. This also positively impacts code maintenance, as the reusability of components helps to avoid code duplicity.
- Cross-platform mobile apps. If you want to build mobile apps for use across different platforms such as Android and iOS, React Native offers a great opportunity. Mobile apps using React Native behave like any other native iOS or Android app. Upgrading a React-based web app to the mobile version is also very easy.
There are several other project types where the adoption of React has proven ideal. Sharing economy apps (Airbnb, Uber, Lyft), video platforms (Netflix), and SaaS tools (Zapier) all incorporate React.
If you’re looking forward to working as a front-end web developer, learning React is definitely a great idea. There are a lot of benefits to using the library, and it enjoys immense popularity only a few years after its release.
Image credit: React Plus.