Why is React Such a Popular Tool for Frontend Development?
The front end is one of the most essential components of a website or an application. The front end or the GUI (Graphical User Interface) is what users see when they visit a website or use an app.
Foundationally, frontend web development deals with designing and building the UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience) of websites, however, with the help of libraries such as React, you can build dynamic web applications and even native applications. For example, with the help of React Native, you can build a cross-platform application that runs on both Android and iOS devices.
Front end development is also an essential part of full stack web development, as a full-stack developer builds both the frontend and the backend of websites and web applications. Front end development deals with the client-side of the web environment while the back-end deals with the server-side.
The client-side is the content view that is rendered by the browser-side. Now, the experience of the user must be interactive and smooth, without which, visitors can simply leave the platform.
Thus, front-end development is considered one of the most important parts of developing a website or an application. Libraries such as React simply make it easier to build dynamic single-page websites or full-scale platforms. However, knowing front-end languages such as HTML and CSS is also essential.
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language while CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and these two are crucial for designing the UI of any website. HTML is also the language clients or web browsers use to render the UI of a website. The Hypertext Markup Language defines the structure of a web page and is the foundational building block for any website.
Meanwhile, CSS helps in defining the layout and design of these web pages in more detail. CSS can do this with the help of style sheets, input triggers (resolution, screen size, etc.), and style rules. CSS can be externally embedded or internally embedded into HTML.
React is also a part of the MERN stack, one of the most powerful technology stacks for web development. Let us learn more about web development with ReactJS.
What is ReactJS?
Here is an example of using React to display “Hey, there!”:
What makes React so popular?
React has been used as a base for developing many popular platforms and services. The library works exceptionally well with applications that are rendered on the server. Also, React is extremely compatible with frameworks such as Next.js, making it a more reliable solution.
Also, React elements are plain objects and are simple to create, unlike client-side DOM elements. With props or inputs, you can return the React elements that will be defining the visual experience you wish to create. Also, React DOM matches the React elements much faster than traditional methods by automatically updating the DOM.
For example, you can create elements to represent the current state you want, and React will automatically update the UI to match these elements.
Here are some other reasons why React is popular:
- Simple to use components that return what to display (render) after taking input.
- Enhanced performance due to virtual DOM.
- Availability of a handy set of tools.
- Easy to test builds.
- Components retain internal state data and are reusable.
- Easy to produce applications using props (inputs) and states.
- You can use external plugins, libraries, and frameworks.
- Easy to learn for beginners.
Benefits of React
Other than the functionalities that React offers, the library also motivates you to visualize the application while building it. This helps you improve your builds and make better designs that provide the users with a seamless experience.
React boosts your thought process and provides you with the ability to logically interpret front-end experiences and understand how to render those experiences inside a website or application.
Other than the scope for creativity, here are some technical benefits of React:
1. Declarative Views: This helps in making your code much simpler to debug and collaborate with. Also, React helps in making your coding experience more predictive.
React automatically updates and renders the right components in an optimized manner when any data is changed. You simply need to design simple views for each state inside your application and the rest will be taken care of by React.
4. Flexibility: React follows the ‘Learn once, write anywhere.’ concept where you are given an ample amount of flexibility to work with other technology stacks and priorly written code. You can even develop new features or expand React based on your requirements.
5. Development-friendly: You can use React for rendering your UI on the server-side with the help of Node. Also, with the help of React Native, you can build native Android or iOS applications.
6. Frameworks and Libraries: There are an ample number of frameworks and libraries available for React. React has a huge developer community and this enables a steady flow of extensions and add-ons.
There are some extremely useful ones such as React Redux, React Router, React Suite, Material UI, React Bootstrap, PrimeReact, Blueprint UI, Grommet, and Fluent UI. React also works well with other technologies such as Nest.js or Node.
Disadvantages of React
Even though it is crucial to keep improving a library, many developers feel that is a disadvantage and they need to always keep up with the latest technologies. Due to the extensive support from Meta as well as the huge developer community, React’s environment changes drastically with time, thus making it hard for some developers to adapt to these continuous changes and updates.
There are also a few drawbacks such as having poor documentation as compared to Angular. Also, JSX can seem like a barrier to many as it is a different kind of syntax extension.
Angular comes with many templates and many consider JSX to be hard to learn. However, the learning curve for Angular is steeper as React’s component-based development is much simpler than Angular’s development process.
However, Angular 2.0 is slowly picking up the pace with its newer builds promising great responsiveness. Also, React only focuses on the UI (or the views) and you will always need other technologies, frameworks, and libraries to build the complete project.
Reasons to choose React over other front-end technologies
Firstly, React is much more than just a framework. It is an extremely powerful library capable of producing the UIs of full-blown platforms and large applications. Compared to other technologies, React is much more flexible and can be used for easily scaling up.
Yes, many other frameworks also offer unit reusability, but the component-based development process of React is extremely efficient in terms of debugging or reusing components. Also, with React, we are using a virtual DOM rather than an actual one, thus making rendering much faster. This does not just help give the end-user a fast experience but also speeds up development.
The advantages of React over Angular or other frameworks also lie in how fast React is in rendering what is being defined by React elements and input. This is partly due to the virtual DOM being used and also partly due to how the different layers of UI are foundationally just multiple components and views of states.
Here are some reasons why developers choose React over many other front-end technologies:
- Responsive component-based UI
- Modularity of applications
- Individual testing of components
- Problem-solving tools
- DOM manipulations
Things to consider before choosing React
There are three main things you should consider before choosing React.
- You should first think about the technology stack you wish to use. For example, if you wish to use a stack such as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), then React is probably not the right choice for you.
- The final factor you should consider is the kind of websites or applications you wish to build. React is amazing for building large applications and platforms, however, you might find it easy to build a simple website that is not too dynamic with other technologies.
How React fits in the scope of full stack development
In the MERN stack, React is used for state management and rendering these states to the DOM with the help of other libraries for client-side functionalities and routing. React is used for designing and building the front-end or end-user experience while Node and Express are used for backend functionalities.
React replaces Angular from the MEAN stack where the other three technologies are the same. The M stands for MongoDB. There is also the MEVN stack which comprises Vue instead of React or Angular.
React is one of the best technologies for front-end development and you should learn it to keep up with the recent trends. This powerful tool helps you develop dynamic modern applications and is easier to learn than alternatives such as Angular.
HeroVired’s Online Certification in Full-Stack Development covers React extensively alongside the other technologies in the MERN stack and essentials such as HTML and CSS.