React, or React.js, is one of those libraries. What makes it stand out? Let’s look at it in more detail.
Many have fallen in love with React since it was open-sourced in 2013, and we are no exception. Below are our top ten reasons why React deserves to be praised over and over again.
In React, all UI elements, such as buttons, menus, headers, etc., exist as separate components, which is another important benefit of this library. You may think of them as building blocks used to compose an interface, brick by brick.
In the code, components can be represented by functions or classes depending on their purpose. For example, functional components are pretty simple and straightforward as they are used to simply present data, i.e. to accept properties and re-render the UI accordingly.
Unlike their functional counterparts, class-based components can manage data. For instance, they can hold the internal state (in other words, the history of how the component has been changed over time) — and this explains why you can open a web page and start from where you left off. The good news is that with the introduction of hooks, this feature will become available to functional components as well.
The true superpower of React components is that once created, they can be safely re-used further in the project. The variable parameters of a component, such as style, color, text, etc. might not necessarily be hardcoded — they can be passed to a certain class or function as properties. So, for example, if there are five buttons on a page, you simply need to create the Button class (or function) once and then pass different parameters to it to get five different buttons.
You can go as far as to create a shared library of components and then use it across various projects. Or you can leverage the existing libraries of React components, such as Material UI, Bootstrap, Bulma.io, etc.
Convenience is not the only advantage, though — using JSX for updating the DOM results in significant site performance improvements and development efficiency. How? It’s all due to the next React feature, the Virtual DOM.
It might be not really obvious, but rendering a web page requires a lot of work. All the HTML code, CSS files, and DOM creation — the major problem of most JS frameworks is that all these processes have to repeat with every page update. Yes, that can take a lot of time. When a change occurs in one object, the entire interface has to be re-rendered to implement the change. This can significantly slow down the performance.
Here, the problem is handled by the virtual DOM — one of the most prominent benefits of React.
To put it simply, the virtual DOM is a copy of the real DOM kept in the browser memory. When a user interacts with the interface, for example, presses a button, every virtual DOM object gets updated. Then, React compares the updated virtual DOM with its previous version and implements the changes only in those objects of the real DOM that have been changed in its virtual copy. So, if a user presses the “Subscribe” button, it’s the only element that changes on the page.
It might seem that these manipulations take a lot of time. However, because the virtual DOM can’t directly change the things displayed on the screen, its objects get updated much faster than the real ones.
Flux is an architectural pattern responsible for the smooth store operation in JS-powered applications. Using the MVC architecture terminology, React handles the View component, while Flux is responsible for the Model.
In the picture below, you can see the typical components of a Flux-enabled data layer structure.
The Flux architecture implements the concept of unidirectional data flow. Simply put, it makes the data inside an app move in a strictly defined order, where each component plays its role.
Actions react to user interactions with the interface and pass the received data to the Dispatcher, which further communicates the data to the Stores holding the relevant state. After the Stores get updated, the Views retrieve the relevant data from them, get updated themselves, and update the child Views.
Flux helps you build well-structured and easy-to-understand data layers in React-powered apps. Its main benefit lies in scalability — as the app grows bigger and more complex, the order described above remains stable and never breaks, thus minimizing errors in the data flow and facilitating bug-fixing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method of increasing traffic to a website by updating its content and structure and enhancing its visibility for search engines. It’s obvious that for better traffic and sales your website should have a strong SEO, and luckily, React and SEO are truly best friends.
React is created to work easily with other JS libraries and doesn’t limit the possibility of using other tools for website creation. It allows you to choose any suitable React extension that, with the help of outside controllers, will define the view layer of the page. Sometimes it’s enough to work with React on simple pages, but the more complex the page, the more libraries it requires for proper functioning. React is absolutely compatible with other libraries, such as:
Coupling React with third-party libraries makes building websites a breeze. Additionally, React works great with any back-end tech stack you need. It’s easy to build and deploy the necessary UI independent of server-side tools, so you can gradually integrate the interface during the back-end development.
React provides a lot of development tools and dependencies to help React developers. Among them are React Developer Tools and Redux Developer Tools, which are Chrome extensions that help detect errors in the code and fix bugs. It doesn’t require any additional skills: you just install them and start by clicking a button. Also, we’ve already mentioned the diverse libraries of React components that can be used freely across various projects. With a toolkit like this at hand, even newbies can jump on their first projects early enough, without having to learn the ins and outs of React.
One of its most astonishing benefits is that with React Native, you write one code for both platforms, iOS and Android. Some features can still work differently on iOS and Android, but React Native has a solution for it. You can easily choose which parts of your code will go to which platform. It helps you to not only apply code separately but also to create different stylings for iOS and Android, so all possible mobile displays are covered.
The best thing is that you don’t have to master any native frameworks as React has got you covered here. Nice, isn’t it?
In 2018, the library was updated and renamed to React 360. Now, it’s a whole framework for WebVR projects with enhanced performance, improved media support, and the opportunity for developers to reach an audience beyond VR.
These were the benefits that make us fall in love with React every day. This list is in no way complete and just reflects our vision. React is a flexible JS library that has addressed a lot of web and mobile development challenges since its creation. Its ecosystem and community are constantly growing and every year there are new updates, so who knows which other useful features will come up?
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