Fast, flexible and versatile. Why is React.js a business-friendly technology? | KISS digital

Kamil

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Kamil

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Kamil

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Przemysław Ćwik

Senior Editor.

8 June 2020

Fast, flexible and versatile. Why is React.js a business-friendly technology?

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It provides a solution to every problem. Accelerates work on the project, helps to save time and money. If you plan to build an interactive web application, React.js provides the perfect answer to your needs.

The Internet relies primarily on interaction. New technologies are developed with a view to engaging the user – encouraging them to take specific actions and enabling them to achieve specific goals. User interfaces (UI) act as an intermediary in human-machine communication.

They can be found at every turn, also offline. For a food processor they appear as buttons on the housing, for a washing machine – as a programmer. In case of a web or mobile application, the UI is simply a set of graphic objects displayed on the screen.

Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) can be created using a variety of programming tools. Java, C++ or Python, along with some of their libraries and frameworks, are suitable for this. However, React.js has for years remained the most popular and effective technology for this type of applications.

React.js: library or framework?

What actually is React.js? As defined on the official website of the project – it is a “JavaScript library for building user interfaces”. Some people, however, call it a framework. This is a bit excessive but not entirely unreasonable.

Although React.js itself is not an application framework, it is a technology with a rich set of ready-made solutions available, e.g. in additional external libraries such as React Router, Redux or React Intl. When combined with this set of tools, React actually meets some of the framework criteria.

The current popularity of this technology relates to its genesis. React.js was created in 2011 by Jordan Walke, a Facebook engineer. It was first implemented the same year in the news feed of the portal. A year later it was applied in Instagram – just after Zuckerberg’s company acquired the platform.

Since May 2013, React is available in an open source version and remains hosted by Facebook. A large community of developers also contributes to its dynamic development. Moreover, its market position is influenced by the fact that apart from being supported by the largest social networking site in the world, it is also used by other IT giants such as Airbnb, Netflix, Uber, PayPal or Walmart.

Main advantages of React.js

React.js is applicable wherever online interaction occurs. However, it should be noted that it is designed for web applications. The “twin” technology dedicated to creating mobile solutions is React Native. It is hard to imagine today's Internet without these two React versions. What are the advantages that made this JavaScript tool so widely used?

1. It is light, fast and stable

React.js, apart from additional solutions, is a small library allowing for easy creation of user interfaces. It works quickly, smoothly and without problems. This is partly due to an unidirectional data flow. In practice, this means that child elements cannot influence parent elements. This ensures code stability, reduces the risk of errors and contributes to increased application performance.

2. It helps save time and money thanks to reusable components

React is a component-based library. These are code modules that form closed units and do not require the programmer to know their internal mechanics. They can be used as “blocks” to build an interface. A component is e.g. a button placed on a page or phone input function used to format a phone number. The possibility of using ready-made components significantly shortens the programmer's working time and, thus, the project costs. For example, an advanced solution that would take several hundred lines of code to develop in jQuery, another library for JavaScript, can be written with React.js in several dozen lines. As a result, using React makes the project cheaper and more profitable. Programming with components also translates into easier management of updates and modifications. Individual “blocks” are isolated – modification made on one of them does not cause changes in others.

3. It is a perfect library for developing SPA applications

React's main applications include the creation of the so-called Single-Page Application (SPA). These are single-page web applications that have only one HTML file. As a result, the page does not reload with every action, which translates into a much better user experience. Moreover, the advantages of SPA include higher website speed, lower server load and lower data consumption. React is not the only tool to create this type of apps, but it is one of the two most popular ones – next to Angular. The latter, however, is a framework that imposes specific solutions and poses higher challenges to programmers. Whereas React.js is more flexible and easier to use – it provides much more freedom in terms of plugin selection than Angular.

4. React.js is supported by a huge community

One of the fundamental advantages of React.js is a very large community involved in this project. This directly translates into availability of ready-made solutions. The abundance of additional libraries, the so-called third-party libraries, provides access to a wide range of components that we can use in projects, shortening the time of their implementation. In practice, it is difficult to find a problem related to programming in React.js which was not discussed on websites like Stack Overflow. Not without significance here is the continuous support from Facebook, which contributes both to increasing React's resources and its popularity.

5. It is easy to start coding with

React.js has a low entry threshold. All you need to know is JavaScript to learn coding with React.js in a short time. This makes it relatively easy to get React programmers and implement projects based on this technology smoothly. However, from the client's point of view, this is risky. When working with React, experience is very important - which is discussed below.

Does React have drawbacks? Well, it is tricky

Nothing is flawless in this imperfect world. This also refers to the React.js library. However, in this case the defects are “controversial”. The disadvantages of React, highlighted by some programmers, are advantages in the eyes of other developers. Some people say that React.js is just great, and pointing out its flaws is just nitpicking. But for the sake of fairness, we list the issues that are sometimes considered to be shortcomings of this library.

1. Risks associated with architectural flexibility

React.js, as mentioned before, is basically not a framework, but a library accompanied by numerous solutions. As a result, it does not impose a structure for the developed application and allows a lot of freedom of action. On one hand, it is an advantage. On the other hand, it might be a downside as it can generate chaos under conditions of poor work organisation or in the hands of less experienced programmers. Therefore, it is better to appoint a well-prepared, well-coordinated team to work with React.

2. “Too fast” development

Thanks to the patronage of Facebook and a large community of “supporters” React is developing very dynamically. This, of course, increases its potential as a programming tool, but requires developers to constantly update their knowledge. The pace of change means that solutions for specific problems can change almost overnight. In addition, constant editing of new tools forces programmers to create new documentation for specific projects.

3. Hybrid syntax

Some say React's weakness is the use of JSX, a hybrid JavaScript syntax extension that allows the use of HTML tags in the code. Eventually, the whole application is compiled into pure JavaScript code, but some developers consider this mechanism too complex. Nevertheless, there are plenty of programmers who consider JSX an advantage.

In practice, however, the disadvantages, either alleged or actual, of React.js fade in comparison with its capabilities. It is a library that offers a lot of possibilities, provides great flexibility, stability of solutions as well as the ability to easily modify and develop them in the future.

The perfect library (not only) for advanced systems

At KISS digital, we have worked and are still working with React in many projects. We have been supervising one of them for several years. It is a tool to manage the life cycle of a product – from the design stage to market launch. React.js has enabled us to develop many advanced UI solutions. It also allows for efficient and quick modifications and adding new modules to the system without the need for time-consuming and costly adjustments.

It is worth noting that React.js also works well in smaller projects. A great example is the Gatsby.js framework, a static page generator that uses the React library. It is a great tool for small and medium-sized web solutions, which provides the site with exceptional speed and performance as well as full SEO optimisation. Gatsby.js also allows the use of many data sources, both modern headless CMS and the client’s beloved WordPress.

Our experience clearly confirms that React.js is a technology worth recommending. It allows for flexible adaptation of solutions to the client's needs and works well in virtually any type of interactive web projects.

The easy way from web to mobile

What is also noteworthy is that if a client wants to create a browser application but is hesitant to extend it with a mobile application, React also provides an answer to this concern. The library allows to share elements with React Native, dedicated for mobile solutions, which improves the work on the mobile version of the application.

If you are looking for a partner who will carry out your project with care for work efficiency and cost-optimal solutions – let's talk!

Kamil

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Kamil

.

Kamil

.

Przemysław Ćwik

Senior Editor.