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  • Writer's pictureLeanware Editorial Team

How is React Native Different From React JS?

Updated: Mar 5


Back in 2013, the creative minds at Facebook gifted the world with React JS, a brilliant solution designed to make web development a breeze. With its innovative virtual DOM and the magic of component-based architecture, React JS transformed how we build dynamic and vibrant web interfaces.


But why stop at the web? Inspired by ReactJS's roaring success, Facebook introduced React Native in 2015, carrying the torch into the mobile app development arena. React Native was a game-changer, enabling developers to craft beautiful, cross-platform mobile apps with the same beloved principles of React, but this time, using native components.


If you’re looking to build your own app, you might wonder what else separates React JS from its extension, React Native. At Leanware, our developers are experienced with both, and we're here to dissect all their differences and help you make an informed decision for your web and mobile app development projects for 2024.


React JS vs. React Native: Definitions

The terminology surrounding React JS and React Native can sometimes lead to confusion. Here are some definitions:


What is React JS?

React JS (often referred to as React.js or simply React) is a JavaScript library.


Developers use React JS to build user interfaces, primarily for web applications. React JS was developed by Facebook (now Meta) and is widely used for its component-based architecture, which helps developers create efficient, flexible user interfaces.


What is React Native?

React Native is an open-source framework built on the same component-based principles as React JS.


Developers use React Native, also developed by Facebook, to build cross-platform mobile applications that can be run directly on most native devices, such as Android and iOS devices, using native code and a single JavaScript codebase.


Similarities Between React JS and React Native

Both React JS and React Native:

  • Are created by Facebook, ensuring they receive strong support and regular updates.

  • Allow developers to use JavaScript and React, making it easier for web developers to transition into mobile app development and vice versa.

  • Have large, active communities, providing an abundance of resources, libraries, and frameworks to aid development.

  • Support the concept of reusable components, which accelerates the development process and enhances consistency across different parts of the application.


Differences Between React JS and React Native

 React JS:

  • Is primarily used for building web applications, offering high efficiency and flexibility for UI development.

  • Manages virtual DOM to optimize rendering and improve app performance.

  • Requires different approaches for sharing components and logic with mobile apps, usually through the use of additional libraries or frameworks like React Native.


React Native:

  • Focuses on mobile app development, allowing for native app performance with JavaScript and React.

  • Bridges JavaScript code to native components, providing a native-like user experience.

  • Enables sharing of logic between web and mobile platforms but requires platform-specific UI components.


Biggest Key Features

What truly sets React JS and React Native apart? They both have distinct key features:


React JS: The Virtual Dom

React JS uses something called the Virtual DOM to make web pages work faster. The real DOM is like a blueprint for web pages, showing how they're structured and letting programs change them. However, changing the real DOM directly can be slow. That's where the Virtual DOM comes in. It's a copy of the real DOM but exists in memory, not on the screen. When something in a React web page needs to change, React first updates this Virtual DOM. Then, it looks at what's different between the updated Virtual DOM and the original to figure out the quickest way to make those changes in the real DOM. This process, called "diffing," ensures that only what needs to be changed is changed, making the page faster and the user's experience smoother.


React Native: Live and Hot Reloading

React Native development is supercharged with live and hot reloading capabilities. Live reloading watches for any changes in your code and then refreshes the entire app to showcase these updates immediately. Hot reloading takes it a step further by injecting changes directly into the running app without losing its current state. This means developers can tweak the UI or logic and see the effects in real-time, all without restarting the app. This dramatically boosts productivity, enabling a swift, feedback-driven development cycle.


How React JS and React Native Are Used

In essence, React JS is a JavaScript library used to build user interfaces with component-based architecture, while React Native is a framework used to build cross-platform mobile applications that perform just like native mobile applications.


Here’s how different organizations use them:


Who Uses React JS?

React JS attracts developers and organizations aiming to utilize JavaScript for web app development while ensuring a high-quality user interface. Corporate titans such as Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, and Airbnb use React JS for their web applications.


Who Uses React Native?

React Native appeals to developers and companies seeking to leverage JavaScript for mobile app development without sacrificing the end-user's experience. React Native is used by industry giants like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Skype.


React JS vs. React Native: Side-by-Side

Let’s take an even closer look at React JS and React Native’s features side-by-side:


Performance

  • React JS: High performance in web applications is achieved through the virtual DOM, optimizing updates and rendering to support highly interactive web pages.

  • React Native: Delivers close-to-native performance by leveraging native components and the device's hardware, making it suitable for performance-critical mobile applications.


Development Timeline

  • React JS: Enables quicker development timelines for web applications with its component-based architecture, promoting code reusability and faster rendering.

  • React Native: Reduces development time for mobile apps by using a single codebase for iOS and Android, streamlining the development process compared to native development.


UX Design

  • React JS: Facilitates the creation of dynamic and responsive UX for web platforms, integrating smoothly with other libraries for enhanced functionality.

  • React Native: Focuses on native-like UX for mobile apps using platform-specific UI components, ensuring apps feel intuitive on each device.


Coding

  • React JS: Employs JSX, allowing HTML to be written within JavaScript for powerful web development.

  • React Native: Also uses JSX but translates components into native platform-specific components, supporting cross-platform mobile app development from a single JavaScript codebase.

Hardware Interaction/Integration Needs

  • React Native: Provides comprehensive APIs for direct interaction with hardware and integration of device-specific features, such as cameras and GPS.

  • React JS: Has limited access to hardware, primarily relying on the capabilities and permissions of web browsers.


Native Performance

  • React Native: Designed for native performance, compiling to native code and using native UI components to achieve high-quality mobile app experiences.

  • React JS: Optimized for web performance rather than mobile native performance, excelling in dynamic web applications.

Resource Availability

  • React JS: Boasts a vast ecosystem due to its extensive use in web development, offering a wide array of resources, libraries, and tools.

  • React Native: Also has a robust ecosystem, mainly growing for mobile app development, with resources tailored to mobile needs.


 Functions for Businesses

  • React JS: Ideal for businesses needing fast, scalable, and SEO-friendly web applications, suitable for e-commerce and enterprise-level applications.

  • React Native: Enables businesses to quickly enter the mobile market with apps that offer high-quality UX and access to device features, fitting a wide range of business applications.


Community Support

  • React JS: Has a slightly larger community due to its longer presence, providing extensive resources and support for web development.

  • React Native: Features a robust and growing community, offering significant support for mobile app development, including specialized libraries and plugins.


Costs

  • React JS & React Native: Both allow for cost-effective development compared to traditional methods, thanks to code reuse and faster development cycles. Costs can vary based on project complexity and platform requirements.


Maintenance

  • React JS & React Native: Benefit from easy maintenance due to their component-based structure. However, React Native apps may require additional effort to ensure compatibility with the latest mobile OS versions.


Future Outlook

  • React JS: Continues to be a popular choice for web development, with ongoing improvements and updates keeping it relevant.

  • React Native: Gaining continuous traction in mobile development and evolving to support new features and capabilities, promising a bright future in creating high-quality mobile applications.


React JS and React Native Features: A Quick Look


React JS

React Native

Performance

High performance in web applications through virtual DOM

Close-to-native performance with native components

Development Timeline

Quicker development timelines with component-based architecture

Reduces mobile app development time using a single codebase for iOS and Android

UX Design

Facilitates dynamic and responsive UX for web platforms

Native-like UX with platform-specific UI components

Coding

Employs JSX, integrating HTML with JavaScript

Uses JSX, translates to native platform components

Hardware Interaction/Integration Needs

Limited access to hardware, relies on web browser capabilities

Comprehensive APIs for hardware interaction and device features

Native Performance

Optimized for web performance, not mobile native

Designed for native performance, using native UI components

Resource Availability

Vast ecosystem with extensive resources for web development

Robust ecosystem for mobile app development

Features for Businesses

Ideal for fast, scalable, SEO-friendly web applications

Quick mobile market entry, high-quality UX, and device feature access

Community Support

Slightly larger community with extensive web development support

Robust, growing community with mobile app development support

Costs

Cost-effective development, varies by project complexity

Cost-effective development, varies by project complexity

Maintenance

Easy maintenance, component-based structure

Easy maintenance but may need extra effort for OS compatibility

Future Outlook

Popular for web development, continuous updates

Evolving for new features, promising future in mobile apps




Pros and Cons: React JS vs. React Native

Both React JS and React Native have their unique advantages and disadvantages:


React JS

Pros:

  • Single Codebase for Web Development: Similar to React Native's approach for mobile, React JS allows for a unified codebase for web applications, streamlining development across different web platforms.

  • Optimized for Complex UIs: React JS is designed to handle complex user interfaces with efficiency, ensuring smooth and responsive web experiences.

  • Rich Ecosystem and Community Support: Boasts a vast array of libraries and tools for web development, backed by a strong community and corporate support from Facebook.

  • Component-Based Architecture: Facilitates modular and reusable code, enabling rapid web development and maintenance with a clear structure.

  • Developer Experience: Offers features like hot reloading for web development, which enhances productivity and accelerates the development cycle.


Cons:

  • Learning Curve for New Developers: While JavaScript is widely used, React JS's unique concepts, such as JSX and component lifecycle, can present a learning curve for new developers versus an experienced software development team.

  • SEO Challenges: Single-page applications built with React JS may face difficulties with search engine optimization, requiring additional configurations for optimal indexing.

  • Size and Performance: Web apps built with React JS might become large and less performant as the application grows, necessitating optimization strategies to maintain speed and efficiency.


React Native

Pros:

  • Uses JavaScript: Leverages JavaScript, one of the most popular programming languages, making it easily accessible to a vast number of web developers and facilitating the sharing of code between web and mobile platforms.

  • Strong Integration with Native Features: The React Native framework allows for the use of native code when necessary, ensuring that apps can fully access and utilize the device's capabilities and features like NFC, Bluetooth, camera, etc.

  • Large Ecosystem of Libraries: React native benefits from the extensive ecosystem of the React and JavaScript libraries, making it easier to add complex functionalities to apps without starting from scratch.

  • Community and Corporate Support: Supported by Facebook and a large community, React Native enjoys robust development, regular updates, and a plethora of learning resources.

  • Live and Hot Reloading: React Native supports live and hot reloading, which enhances developer productivity by allowing instant feedback on changes without having to fully restart the app.


Cons:

  • Performance Can Be Slightly Worse: While generally performant, React Native apps may experience slower performance compared to native apps, especially in graphics-intensive applications or those requiring complex animations.

  • Dependency on Third-Party Libraries for Advanced Features: React Native often relies on third-party libraries for more sophisticated functionality, which can introduce compatibility issues or instability if these libraries are not well-maintained.

  • Navigation Complexity: Implementing navigation that feels truly native can be more challenging in React Native compared to native development, requiring additional effort to achieve the desired user experience.


Make an Informed Choice for Your 2024 Projects

While React JS excels in creating dynamic and high-performance web applications, React Native is unparalleled in its ability to produce cross-platform mobile apps with a native feel. To decide if either one is right for your web or mobile application development, chat with Leanware’s expert developers. As your partner, we’ll provide an in-depth consultation process to help you make the most informed decisions for your 2024 projects.