React Native is a cross-platform framework first introduced in 2015 by Facebook, which promised to become a one-size-fits-all solution for launching native-like apps that would run on several platforms and have a single codebase in their foundation. The original architecture met the developers’ needs, but it also had a set of flaws and vulnerabilities, which often caused challenges in the development process.
With strong community support and the rising popularity of React among web developers, React Native managed to gain momentum and become one of the most popular tools for building cost-efficient, scalable and appealing applications. To strengthen the framework’s position on the market, in 2018, Facebook announced React Native’s re-architecture that is expected to make the tech more robust and address the long-lasting issues software engineers were complaining about all these years.
Even though the architecture hasn’t been released yet, some details are already known. Thus, we decided to take a look at the React Native architecture, discover how it will impact the app performance, development process, timeframes, and the place of React Native on the app development market.
The Old React Native Architecture
React Native Components
In 2013, React Native appeared to unite a web-based technology, React, with a proprietary stack of native platforms, which was frequently disjoint and slow to iterate. Then in 2015, they came up with an idea to create two threads and unite them with the help of a Bridge and make these two sides communicate in a standard format.
The current React Native architecture is based on 3 major pillas:
- The Native Thread. This is the place where the native code is executed. This component handles the user’s interface and ensures seamless communication with the JS thread whenever the app needs to update the UI, run native functions, etc. All the native modules lie in the startup, which means they will always be bundled if the user wants to access them.
- The Shadow Thread. It is the place where the layout of your application is calculated. This cross-platform framework handles this task with the help of Facebook's own layout engine called Yoga. It transforms flexbox layouts, calculates them and sends them to the app’s interface.
Major Limitations of the Current React Native Architecture
React Native is a good solution if you’re looking for a way to build a scalable application that would run on several platforms fast. Thus, you can start with an MVP, attract the first users, and get to the market earlier than your competitors manage to do the same. As for now, it remains the core tech for building cross-platform software.
However, the React Native architecture is not perfect and requires further improvement. If you take a look at React Native layout, you’ll see that the framework uses a Bridge to communicate with native modules, which often creates a queue as these two sides are unaware of each other. Such a process might create performance limitations that negatively affect user experience.
To address these and other challenges of the React Native layout, the team introduces regular updates, aiming to streamline developers’ experience. The latest massive update took place on July 6, 2020, when the team at Facebook redesigned the entire error, warning, and log system by introducing an updated LogBox. Such updates are frequent to come. So, if you have React Native in your tech stack, be sure the framework will evolve and become more native and developer-friendly than it was before.
React Native Re-Architecture
The whole React Native community has been waiting for this big movement. The new React Native architecture is expected to bring a series of significant improvements that will streamline the development process and make it more convenient for all parties involved.
The Possibility to Use Any JS Engine
Depreciation of the Bridge
Direct Control over Native Modules
One more benefit the new React Native delivers to the community is the entire control over native modules. The application will use them only when it is required instead of starting all of them at the start.
Fabric is basically a re-architecture of the UI manager, which is expected to transform the rendering layer by eliminating the need in bridges. The new approach allows creating the Shadow Tree right in C++ that brings swiftness to the process and reduces the number of steps necessary to render a particular element.
To ensure seamless communication between React Native and Native parts, the team at Facebook is currently working on the tool called CodeGen. It is expected to automate the compatibility of two threads and make them synchronized. This generator will define the interface elements needed by TurboModules and Fabric and send messages to the realm with confidence. This upgrade will eliminate the need to duplicate the code for both threads and is expected to ensure smooth synchronization.
If you already have a project on React Native or are just mulling over the idea for building a React Native app, the good news is that you won’t need to rewrite the whole app when the new architecture appears. You’ll only need to update to a new version and the whole app will migrate automatically. Thus, we can conclude that the future of React Native looks pretty bright.
Strengths of React Native
Due to convenient React Native layout, the framework delivers a wide range of capabilities for building user-friendly apps. Its key strong points include:
This is probably one of the most significant advantages React Naive delivers to its community. Instead of building two separate apps for each platform, software engineers reuse 90% of code, which helps to save their time and your budget.
Live and Hot Reloading
These functions have been introduced to ease the work of React Native developers and make the process more agile. Live reloading helps to refresh the entire app when any changes are made to the code. For instance, if you had to add a few links into the foundation, live reloading will automatically reload the application and start it with the new changes.
Hot reloading only refreshes the app taking into account the changes made to the code. If you add a few links to the code, the entire app won’t refresh, but these changes will be reflected in the interface.
If you navigate the community, chances are you’ll find lots of pre-developed components that can be used for building your software. It means developers won’t need to spend extra time finding and building a custom solution. In most cases, they can use the parts of codes that are already written and integrate them into the product. What does it mean to your business? Faster development and shorter Time to Market!
This software design technique helps to separate program functions into independent and interchangeable blocks called modules. Such an approach makes the development process more adjustable, flexible, and ensures better collaboration between teams. Software developers can reuse modules while working on different projects or parts of the same app.
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React Native is a great choice when it comes to cross-platform development as it already demonstrates excellent performance and provides developers with a set of tools to build appealing mobile apps. But with the release of a new architecture, it is expected to transform by addressing existing limitations and making the development process more flexible and agile. If you’ve been looking for a complex solution to build an appealing cross-platform app, reach out to LITSLINK, a top React Native development company.
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