React Native is a popular tool that is used to create apps. It’s being used in thousands of apps, so chances are you’re already familiar with some of them (if you happen to use Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest, they all use React Native). Let’s learn some more about it!
React Native is a framework created by Facebook. And what is a framework, you might wonder? Well, you could say that it’s kind of a base upon which you write the code to create your application. It provides some of the necessary code and makes writing it a bit more efficient. React Native is based on React and shares many similarities, with the main difference being that React is used to build web applications, and React Native is used for mobile applications. Both frameworks are open-source, so anyone can use them.
If you’re familiar with React, you will probably feel quite at home using React Native. To understand the basic structure of a React Native app, you need to understand some of the basic React concepts: JSX, state, and props. You can read more about that here.
One important concept in both React and React Native is the use of components, which means that we divide the code into smaller chunks that can be reused. This makes it possible to update (re-render) one or more components, without having to update the whole app. Here we use something called Core Components: there are Basic Components, like <View> (instead of the <div> tag), and <Text> (instead of <p>, the paragraph-tag), plus many others – for example, activity indicators and buttons. A magic thing about components in React Native is that they adapt to both Android and iOS, so the app gets the look and feel of any other app on that platform. Without it, we would have to create separate apps for each platform.
“One important concept in both React and React Native is the use of components, which means that we divide the code into smaller chunks that can be reused.”
If you want to start playing around with React Native, you can begin with having a “Snack” – an Expo Snack, that is. Expo is a platform that lets you develop, build and test your own applications in a very user-friendly environment, free of charge. You can create your own Snacks, which are like React Native playgrounds in your browser.
They also have a great guide on how to start using React Native.
Now, let’s go build some apps!