The Why and When of React Application Development

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The open-source JavaScript library React JS was first created and implemented internally at Facebook in 2011. Since then, it’s dominated other libraries and frameworks like Angular JS and Vue JS in popularity with a current average of 10 million monthly downloads.

At MercuryWorks, we use React regularly in front-end development. Sophisticated JavaScript libraries are critical to delivering powerful modern web and mobile applications with optimal UX/UI, and React checks the boxes that we need to create the mission-critical applications our clients depend on. React is the dominant front-end framework because it offers modern benefits both on the developer and the user side. Here’s why and when we opt for it, and why we recommend that companies consider React when they’re in the market for a web development solution.

React's Key Benefits

Ease of use and maintenance

Any front-end developer familiar with JavaScript can easily learn and use the React library. As a collection of reusable UI components, React reduces technical debt and opportunity for coding errors while delivering beautiful, lightweight user experiences. There’s been some healthy—if pedantic—debate over whether React is a library or a framework, and the answer is… yes. As a library of components, React is architecture agnostic; it can be built on top of any backend. But it’s also positioned as an interface-only framework as it’s “a way of doing things” in front-end development with a prescribed structure and requires some inversion of control.

React is flexible, nimble, and fast loading, and its colocation of content, logic, styling, and state control greatly simplifies the maintenance load and keeps code interdependencies to a minimum. Upgrading and building components is easy in React’s modular structure, which minimizes the possibility of disrupting your code base and maximizes stability. This translates to application development and maintenance consistently coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Beautiful, extensive UI resources

Mission-critical applications depend on a smooth, highly interactive interface, which is precisely what React is designed to deliver. The prevalence of resources such as third-party developer tools and literally hundreds of UI libraries makes finding components for application use incredibly easy—and prevents teams from having to reinvent the wheel when it comes to common interactive components such as buttons, menus, dropdowns, graphs, and more.

Strong, robust performance

Power and speed are essential to a great user experience, and React’s simple rendering logic allows developers to create more without weighing down the application. When implemented with server-side rendering, React significantly decreases both perceived and actual load time and allows the application to be crawled by search engines. Both of these outcomes contribute to better UX and better results in technical SEO.

What’s more, React’s innovative Virtual DOM (VDOM) makes it a game changer for front-end development and for a better, faster user experience on highly interactive web applications. React JS uses the Virtual DOM to monitor which parts of the DOM to update selectively based on user interaction, rather than requiring the entire page to reload. Not only does this provide a smoother UX for users, but updating the Virtual DOM is faster and more efficient than manipulating the DOM itself. This translates into less computing power and better memory optimization, as well as simpler code.

When We Recommend React Application Development

The benefits above make React a go-to solution for many different types of applications, but there are a few where it’s objectively the strongest contender. Typically, those use cases are where high interactivity is the nature of the application, and thus where the Virtual DOM and/or React’s server-side rendering are essential to providing the best user experience:

  • Data management. Heavy data management applications such as CRMs, resource management, and analytics platforms that contain a large amount of data that users may need to manipulate (such as filtering, sorting, and adjusting views) very quickly.
  • Single-page applications (SPAs). The “classic” manifestation of a single-page application is a social network—hence Facebook’s development of React as a framework and the fact that it currently uses more than 50,000 React components. Today, however, many web applications rely on native-like interactivity without the cumbersome UX and extra time and power required to load additional pages. Many popular SPAs were built with React, including Netflix, DropBox, and PayPal.
  • Cross-platform applications. React is also a flexible option for situations where you need both a native mobile application and a web app. While React JS is a library and React Native is a mobile framework, much of their architecture is the same. Developers can easily shift to React Native while designing and building a mobile application, and it’s used for both Android and iOS.

Choosing a React Application Development Partner

Ultimately, React JS is an incredible tool that helps web development teams deliver quality code faster—without setting themselves up for increased cost or avoidable technical debt. React JS comes up frequently in the discovery and consultation conversations we hold with our clients, particularly when their mission-critical applications require high interactivity and powerful performance.

Interested in React development services for your organization? We use React regularly to build applications with quick response times, smooth interfaces, and native-like performance. Learn more or call us today at (813) 933-9800.

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