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Why Choose React for Front-End Development? Benefits in 2024

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      9 February 2024 (updated: 13 February 2024) by  Jacek Łudzik Jacek Łudzik

      Considering React for your next project? Learn the top reasons why teams choose React for front-end development.

      The year 2023 marked another milestone for React and solidified its position as the front-runner in front-end development solutions. A survey conducted by Stack Overflow in June 2023 revealed that over 40% of a group of more than 90,000 developers preferred React for crafting modern front-end applications. Why is that? What convinces developers to choose technology made by Facebook?

      What is ReactJS?

      React is an open-source JavaScript library that emerged as the preferred choice for contemporary web development, particularly for UI. Created and sustained by Meta, alongside a network of individual contributors and organizations, its main emphasis lies in the effective update and rendering of components as data changes, resulting in a smoother and more reactive user experience.

      Why choose React for frontend development?

      Huge community around

      When you’re just about to choose a framework to build your dream web app you’ll want to pick something which is widely used by other developers. That is because of social proof. None of the technologies are perfect and every solution has its drawbacks, but if many programmers use some particular tool or library you can assume that (at the very least) it's good and stable. A large community also means that if you encounter any problems, it's probable that someone else has faced and solved similar issues, ensuring you can find solutions relatively quickly.

      Plenty of libraries and ready-to-use solutions

      The power of community is also noticeable when it comes to libraries built around a framework (or UI library). When jumping into the React ecosystem you’ll quickly discover that there’s a library for almost everything you’ll ever need. Forms, communication with APIs over HTTP, handling canvas, animations, building email templates, charts… You name it.

      Easier design-to-code handover

      A successful web app needs a solid design, and most designers now use Figma to create UX/UI designs that developers then implement in code. With the strong community around React, finding plugins that allow you to convert Figma designs directly into React code is easy, which can significantly speed up the UI development process.

      Trusted by giants

      React was created by Facebook, but it's also trusted by major brands like Airbnb and Netflix. This adoption by large companies speaks to React's reliability and effectiveness in building high-quality web applications.

       

       

      Building custom UI has never been easier

      Calling React a UI library makes it pretty obvious but nowadays with tools such as Tailwind, crafting user interfaces is even easier and faster. I’m aware that Tailwind has pros and cons (as with every tool) but I think it’s undeniable that with Tailwind it is much faster to build simple UI (assuming you are familiar with its syntax). React also provides JSX which looks like pure HTML but it’s a bit more complex under the hood.

      Popularity and Accessibility

      For product owners looking to build a web app, choosing React can be a smart decision due to its popularity. It’ll be quite easy to build your developers’ team or extend it. React is also easy to learn, so even if you find it hard to find an experienced developer for your product, you could hire a Vue or even an Angular developer with a requirement to get familiar with React. The truth is that all frontend frameworks do kind of the same thing. The main difference is in some concepts, ways of writing, and approaches specific to each framework.

      Frameworks Built on React

      If you've been in the IT and frontend industry, you've likely heard of Next.js, Gatsby, or Remix. These frameworks are built on top of React and offer additional features like SSR and SSG. Another modern solution, Astro, allows combining React’s JSX with Vue. These frameworks help developers to efficiently build applications in the browser environment and beyond.

       

       

      Cross-platform abilities

      Originally designed as a UI library for web applications, React's utility has expanded well beyond web browsers. This evolution has enabled the development of both mobile and desktop applications using React.

      Mobile development is possible with React Native which takes Javascript code and links it with native iOS and Android programming languages. If you’re familiar with the syntax of React and you’re willing to code a mobile app without learning a new language - React Native might be your go-to solution. Of course, it might feel more comfortable for you to know mobile native languages at least a little bit, but even without this knowledge, you should be able to write a simple mobile app.

      If you’d like to build a desktop app you can do it with React as well. There are two most common tools you can use: Electron and Tauri.

      Electron is a framework based on Chromium and NodeJS while Tauri was written in Rust. Chromium-based solution was released in 2013 which makes it more mature than Tauri which was released in 2022. A longer time on the market doesn’t guarantee a higher-quality solution though. Developers often complain about Electron’s performance so that’s why I’d personally more likely choose Tauri. Especially because not only it’s written in Rust, but also provides API which allows the JS part to communicate with the system.

      Electron supports building applications for all major operating systems (Windows, Linux, macOS), while Tauri offers similar capabilities and has also announced a mobile version for iOS in the alpha stage.

      React Server Components

      React Server Components have emerged as a significant innovation in front-end development. RSCs operate on the server, preventing the use of client-side APIs like window or localStorage, but allowing interaction with databases and external APIs. Why are RSCs worth giving it a try?

      • Improved SEO
      • Reduced bundle size, as heavy computations are offloaded to the server.
      • The ability to use client-side components within server components, maintaining reactivity.

      Conclusion

      It's important to recognize that no single tool or solution is universally perfect for all software development projects. Everything has pros and cons so if React is the best choice for Project A that doesn’t mean it will also fit Project B perfectly. Despite some challenges with syntax and initial documentation, the flexibility and accessibility of React for developing both mobile and desktop applications make it a compelling choice for many developers.

      From my perspective, a huge benefit of React is its wide usage when you jump into the ecosystem.  I'm glad that, with the experience I've already gained using this UI library, I can build mobile or desktop apps with a much lower entry threshold than if I were learning, for example, Swift from scratch.

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