This article aims to introduce our perspective on React. We want to present some pros of this tech, which might also be its cons at the same time. Reading this you will learn:
- what makes React a developer-friendly technology;
- why React is neither over-hyped nor a fad;
- why some developers dislike React;
- what makes most of them still love it (by overcoming its drawbacks);
- and much more in our webinar that you can read about at the end of the article: “Frontend – should we React and what steps are Next?”
You must have heard about the Theory of Everything. This is a hypothetical framework. It’s a final conclusion that explains all physical phenomena in the universe. It’s the holy grail and the biggest theory of modern physics that unites the fundamental laws and existing theories in a single and concise description.
Hold on, but what about programming?
Imagine an ultimate technology that enables a single (and simple) production for all platforms. By using such a technology, you could quickly develop, for instance, an app that would work on nearly any device, regardless of the operating system.
While the Theory of Everything is still just a theory, some programmers have attempted to discover the existence of the holy grail of app development. Many tried to create such a perfect solution, but even more, failed. There are opinions that few came as close to the ideal solution as React. React is groundbreaking, paradigm busting and revolutionary. Or is it?
Cross-platform development is not a new idea, though recent years have clearly shown React’s huge rise in popularity. While some developers appreciate this technology, others react quite the opposite by wishing that React never existed.
We want to take a closer look at what makes React such a popular technology and put the spotlight on some of its drawbacks. First, let’s see why over 10 million developers decide to use React every day:
Keeping it simple:
React is highly appreciated for the JS base and JSX that makes developers comfortable while creating a rich and interactive user experience. React is also considered a developer-friendly technology as it is much easier to learn because of its simplicity in terms of syntax.
Since 2011, when React came into existence, its ecosystem has augmented significantly. It’s now possible to create a static site using React and Gatsby, develop a mobile app with React Native, or use Electron to build desktop apps.
The component architecture which makes React so unique and popular enables programmers to break down a complex UI. You can quickly develop the front-end of a mobile app without writing code from scratch or make a new UI feature and see it appear in real-time.
Components, just like LEGO bricks, can also be reused or implemented in the same app or across multiple applications. You can also use ready-to-go or earlier-designed components in future development.
There are many fully customizable and general-purpose components that you can use to build a React app. One example is Material-UI that gives you access to components for layouts, navigation, calendar, or many other widgets.
The migration between React’s versions is getting more convenient from one version to another. Since version 17.0, React has enabled a gradual migration that makes it possible to upgrade the app piece by piece. Compared to, for example, Angular, React doesn’t require many changes in your code when it comes to upgrading. It’s clearly less painful. Moreover, Facebook provides a collection of Codemod scripts that help to update React APIs seamlessly
Low entry threshold
Actually, the official documentation is a very good starting point to learn as it covers the basics very well. In fact, there is not even any need to go through tutorials because most of them simply duplicate the information from React’s official documentation.
React’s huge popularity gave rise to a vast and supportive community that grew organically. If you are struggling with something in React, you can certainly find the solution online. This leads us on to the next point.
Great technologies are never standalone projects. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, finding the right solution you need never takes long. There is a whole host of information available online on just about any topic in React. This definitely helps whenever you try to do something new or run into trouble. You can take advantage of GitHub repos (there are numerous ones dedicated to React) or you can simply find others with React experience who have come up against the same challenges.
React Core Team has released an alpha version of React 18 recently. But, aside from many of the upcoming features, for the first time ever they have invited and began working with members of the React community and brought them into the creative process.
The React 18 Working Group, limited to selected experts, developers, library authors, and educators, was involved in realising a new version. The React WG is hosted on GitHub Discussion and, as it’s public, you can check what goes on backstage.
React is always evolving so you have to stay up to date at all times. New updates, however, are a great stimulus to learn and grow. Each release of a new version is preceded by the community’s excitement and anticipation of further changes and new features developed by the React Core Team.
One of the reasons React gained such popularity is the fact that top corporations adopt this technology to solve some user interface related issues. For sure, their credibility has drawn a lot of developers to the framework and helped React dominate the market, proving it’s not just another over-hyped piece of software.
Both developers and businesses agree that React is the future of frontend technology and it’s well worth investing time and money in it. Facebook and the entire React Core Team have shown a commitment to enhancing React’s efficiency, which could very well be the decisive factor for both developers and entrepreneurs in the face of the fast-emerging competition from other frameworks.
Reacts drawbacks and how to work around them
As there is never a perfect solution, there are a variety of pros and cons to every technology. The same feature might be seen as an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the project or the requirement.
To achieve the best results means playing to the strengths of the technology that we use, while minimizing its drawbacks at the same time:
React is developing so rapidly that proper documentation simply cannot keep up. Without a systematic approach, it’s hard for beginners to define their development path. However, opinions are divided as some developers appreciate the available documentation. Moreover, some frameworks such as Gatsby and Next might seem helpful as they impose certain rules while maintaining quite a lot of freedom for the developer.
The trap of low entry threshold
As an open-source technology, programmers are creating their own educational documentation and tutorials delivering all too often low-quality resources. It might sound a bit cliché, but far and away the most important thing for you as a programmer is to have a problem-solving mindset. Making mistakes is a part of gaining experience and levelling up.
React does not have a strictly defined architecture so your team must have experience on how to write architecture. As the design scales and the number of complex components increases, it is easy to complicate the project and make it impossible to develop.
People respect people who make other people’s lives easier. Thus you don’t have to make components that all have complex logic built-in. They can be just visual. This improves code readability and testing and reduces further code bugs.
Developing futureproof skills
Software programming is no longer only about writing code. No matter your current experience level in programming, it’s essential to develop a set of agnostic skills that will give you much-needed freedom to develop apps in your preferred languages that fit best with your current project requirements.
Communication is the inherent skill required to complement your technical competencies. Perhaps it is no longer a surprise, but learning to code and learning good communication skills should actually go hand-in-hand. Communication is the factor that takes a junior staff member to a higher level of expertise, and so on.
This specific mix of hard and soft skills will pave a way for enhancing your programming skills and outstanding solutions, regardless of what technology is currently trendy.
- React is still the top choice for many developers to work with and is used pretty much everywhere.
- There are no signs that React will become obsolete in a couple of years. Big guys such as Facebook, AirBnb, Netflix, use and finance it.
- There is a strong market demand for people who are well versed in React that will fuel its further development.