React vs React Native — Which one to choose and when?

React (or React JS) and React Native share the name for a good reason: the latter is based on the former. Both introduced by Facebook, are open-sourced frameworks working with Javascript. Surprisingly, developers use each of them to vastly different ends. The bottom line is — if you’re planning to build a Web app, go with React and if you’re creating a mobile app, React Native would be your best bet.

But let’s dive deeper into how those two technologies differ and what you should know to make an informed decision.

What is React?

Where did React come from?

Fast forward two years- shortly after publication React quickly begins gathering devoted supporters who appreciate its usefulness and scalability. One of additional factors contributing to its popularity is licensing: open-source MIT license meant that React is free for personal or commercial use and every developer has the right to modify it as they see fit.

Why is React so popular?

Virtual DOM is a programming concept used in React. It’s an in-memory representation of a “real” Document Object Model (DOM) that’s lighter and faster. Developers also appreciate relatively easy testing, with prompts from React informing about every encountered error live.

In React, developers build components that can be composed together and reused to make complex UIs. This approach breaks the UI development into smaller pieces that are easier to manage.

JSX syntax, which is JavaScript combined with HTML/XML-like text, proves easy to read and extremely helpful when developing web apps.

Is React the pick for your next app?

Get an app available for iOS, Android, and the Web with nearly identical feature sets and very few design differences. Work with JavaScript experts who will push hard to understand your business and meet certain deadlines.

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Are there any issues with React?

If you’re looking for alternatives to React, Angular is a framework made by Google, considered to be its biggest competition. Read our comparison of React vs Angular to see which framework is best for you.

ReactJS examples

What is React Native?

Facebook quickly recognized the steady increase of mobile needs and in 2015 released the React Native framework. It’s been designed to make mobile apps work more seamlessly and streamline the development process.

Traditionally, Android and iOS apps would have to be created from the ground up in two separate programming languages. When developing apps using React Native the developer can use JavaScript to build versions for all platforms, changing only the bits responsible for evoking the native elements.

Why use React Native?

Developers who already know JavaScript, or even better — React — have an easier time learning React Native.

Sharing one codebase for iOS, Android and other platforms leads to faster development of multiple-platform apps.

Active community of developers working in React Native create quality informational content, easily available online. Developers can join a Facebook group with over 45,000 members or read through over 5,000 questions tagged [react-native] on Stack Overflow.

React Native concerns to consider

Understandably, not every programming tool will be right for every project. React Native is far from the only way to build mobile apps. Read our comparisons on React Native vs Flutter and vs NativeScript.

Who uses React Native?

React Vs React Native Comparison


  • is best when you want to build a fast and stable User Interface for your website,
  • saves developers’ time with reusable components and fast rendering,
  • is mainly used for web development
  • is a library.

React Native:

  • is best when you want to create a mobile app for various operating systems,
  • saves developers’ time with pre-built components and code reusable for various platforms,
  • is mainly used for mobile development,
  • is a framework.

Library vs Framework

Frameworks are generally more complex than libraries. React Native was built as as a framework. When using a it, the developer gets a set of rules and mechanisms ready to be built upon, serving as a sort of support structure.

What if you need both mobile and web?

But the tool specifically suited for this job is actually ReactXP, a library created by Microsoft for cross-platform development. It works with React and React Native to further streamline the process by allowing most of the code to be shared between the iOS, Android, Windows and the web version of an app.

Did you know?

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