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What Is the Future of React Native?

Technology is marching forward at an unstoppable pace, and the explosive growth of the mobile app market in recent years is one of the best examples of the relentless speed of innovation developers have to deal with these days. In 2015, global mobile app revenues amounted to $69.7 billion, but they are projected to reach $188.9 billion by 2020.

To keep up with the increasing demand for polished mobile experiences, developers need tools and technology that allow them to leverage their existing web codebase and target multiple mobile platforms without developing and maintaining multiple mobile apps.

React Native emerged in 2015 as a compelling solution for building mobile apps that are indistinguishable from apps developed using platform-specific programming languages. This JavaScript framework uses the same design as React, a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces, and it’s backed by Facebook as well as the broader developer community.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the future of React Native to provide concrete answers to all developers who are asking if React Native is here to stay or if it could become just as irrelevant as so many other JavaScript frameworks before it.

Growing popularity

It’s completely understandable that developers don’t want to invest the little time they have to learn a technology that has a good chance of becoming obsolete in the near future. But it takes just one look at Google Trends to understand that the interest in React Native is as strong as ever.

See the trends for the future of React Native.

React Native is used by many Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, including, of course, Facebook, but also Instagram, Bloomberg, Pinterest, Skype, Tesla, Uber, Walmart, Wix.com, and others. React Native’s GitHub repository statistics reveal that nearly 2,000 contributors have committed 16,000 times in 72 branches with over 300 releases.

According to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2018, which surveyed the question and answer site’s developer community about everything from their favorite technologies to their job preferences, React is the framework developers say they most want to work with if they do not already. As such, it’s no wonder that so many developers are interested in React Native.

Plans to empower the React Native community

“Alongside the community inside Facebook, we’re happy to have a thriving population of React Native users and collaborators outside Facebook,” says Sophie Alpert, Engineering Manager on React at Facebook.

“We’d like to support the React Native community more, both by serving React Native users better and by making the project easier to contribute to.”

Even though Facebook has been encouraging developers to participate in the development of React Native right from the beginning, the company has big plans to step up its community support and empower it to shape the future of React Native.

In January 2018, Facebook created the react-native-releases repository, which allows everyone to keep up the new releases of React Native in a more collaborative manner and opens the conversation of what should be part of a certain release. The same year in July, Facebook created a repository dedicated solely to discussions and proposals, providing a safe environment for all members of the community to generate interesting conversations related to the main React Native repository.

The future of React Native is community.

Moving forward, React Native’s core contributors want to create a set of standards for all the packages/repos hosted in the project’s GitHub repository. “In early 2019, we will have this new set of guidelines in place,” says Lorenzo Sciandra, Core Maintainer and React Native Developer. “We are confident that with these changes, the community will become more collaborative so that when we reach 1.0, we will all continue to write (even more) awesome apps by leveraging this joint effort.”

The future of React Native is Fabric

“We’re working on a large-scale rearchitecture of React Native to make the framework more flexible and integrate better with native infrastructure in hybrid JavaScript/native apps,” says Alpert. The codename of this ongoing effort is Fabric, and you can learn more about it in the State of React Native 2018 blog post.

Essentially, Fabric boils down to three major internal changes, which will have a great impact on the future of React Native:

  • New threading model: With the current threading model, each UI update needs to perform work on three different threads. A new threading model will change that and make it possible to call synchronously into JavaScript on any thread, maintaining responsiveness while keeping low-priority work off the main thread.
  • Async rendering capabilities: To allow multiple rendering priorities and simplify asynchronous data handling, async rendering capabilities will be incorporated into React Native.
  • Simplified bridge: A new simplified bridge will make direct calls between native and JavaScript more efficient and make it easier to build various debugging tools.

“With this project, we’ll apply what we’ve learned over the last 5 years and incrementally bring our architecture to a more modern one,” Alpert summarizes the ongoing effort. The good news is that existing React Native apps will remain fully functional with no or just a few changes.

Conclusion

Everything indicates that the future of React Native is bright: from its thriving community to its momentum to the long-term plans of its core developers. Since its release in 2015, React Native has transformed into a go-to-framework for developers who want to create innovative apps and capture their fair share of the rapidly growing mobile market.

Resources

  • https://www.statista.com/statistics/269025/worldwide-mobile-app-revenue-forecast/
  • https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2018/
  • https://github.com/facebook/react-native
  • https://facebook.github.io/react-native/blog/2018/06/14/state-of-react-native-2018
  • https://facebook.github.io/react-native/blog/2019/01/07/state-of-react-native-community

Matt Warcholinski

Matt Warcholinski is the COO of Brainhub (a software house building awesome node.js web and mobile apps) who loves to build startups and play guitar.

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