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React Native: what is it, and why have we invested?

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Before starting work on any mobile application a decision has to be made – do you develop in ‘native’ or ‘hybrid’? Both technologies have their advantages: the fluid functionality of ‘native’, the practical efficiency of ‘hybrid’. But both also involve making compromises, not least the time-cost of going native and the technological limitations of hybrid development.

Existing software like Titanium, Unity or Cordova, have never quite matched our requirements. Today, React Native poses a solution that works. It’s the app technology answer we’ve been waiting for.

So, what is React Native and what does it mean for our clients?

 

What is React Native?

Created by Facebook, React Native is a mobile application development framework that maintains high performance across both iOS and Android platforms. Using JavaScript, the technology means engineers no longer have to build both Java Android and Swift/ObjC iOS apps from scratch, resulting in substantial cost savings for businesses.

Many previous attempts to build a platform for creating apps that work on both Android and iOS, usually by wrapping a web app in a webview, have failed when it comes to matching the look-and-feel synonymous of popular apps such as Uber, Facebook, or Instagram. Developing using the React Native framework, however, produces apps that maintain the speed and power of native with the ease of development of hybrid apps. This is more than just a shortcut or easy way into iOS development; it’s a simple, fast and powerful way to build apps.

React Native is based upon React JS, a wildly popular library for creating web apps developed by Facebook and released by GitHub in 2013. Facebook uses React Native in multiple production apps, including their Groups, Ads Manager and the Friends Day programs, and the social behemoth has committed to continuing its investment in the technology. As such, React is only going to get more powerful and will one day replace native mobile development as we know it.

 

Why have we invested in the technology?

Investing in React Native at this early stage will enable Calvium to stay at the forefront of native app development and reap the rewards of its continued growth.

As Calvium’s Technical Director Ben Clayton explains, “React Native maximises our team’s native and JavaScript skills. It allows the delivery of real native Android and iOS apps quickly, accurately and at a much lower cost than traditional native development, without the usual tradeoff in performance or look-and-feel of browser-based hybrid systems, such as Cordova.”

The competitive pricing that React Native enables us to offer customers continues beyond the development of an app, into its maintenance and the addition of new features in the future. Ben adds, that “as all our developers will be using it, we will have greater availability so we can get started on client projects earlier.”

 

How we’ve invested in the framework

As React Native uses JavaScript, we’ve decided to make this the default language for all our developers, investing in intensive training for all team members. Having all developers using a common language has many benefits. It makes it easier for workers to share knowledge and help one another. It also allows us to establish and maintain code standards and learn the same libraries and techniques. In short, it will make us smoother, faster and more unified.

We will still need specialists in iOS and Android native coding. But looking to the future, we believe our new focus on JavaScript and React Native will take our service offering and apps to the next level. We couldn’t be more excited.

 

Calvium build beautiful, intelligent apps for forward-thinking brands. Working closely with heritage, engineering and agency groups, we provide award-winning app development that drives customer engagement and boosts innovation in business.

If you’re interested in learning more about React Native or have questions about app development, get in touch. For more insight, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.