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Takeaways from ReactEurope 2016

8 Jul

Of all the new technologies and innovations around mobile development, React is one of the most exciting. A team from Screen Interaction went to the ReactEurope Conference in Paris last month to keep up with the latest news on this subject. From our Web Engineer José Granjo ‒ here is what those of you who missed the conference should really know.

React has recently been one of the most discussed topics in our various development teams. For those not familiar with React, it’s a JavaScript library for building user interfaces that makes code more predictable and easier to debug, but it also makes it easier for developers to share code between multiple platforms.

React Native is a framework that you can use to build native mobile applications with React. The framework does the mapping between native functionalities and JavaScript implementations, so the final product is a native application. We have also found that React Native is a good tool for making prototypes quickly. We’ve already been using React in some of our projects, and we look forward to take React Native from experimentation to more serious implementations during the fall.

The React Europe Conference

In early June, a team of five from Screen Interaction visited the ReactEurope 2016 Conference in Paris. The conference was a lot of fun, and it was truly inspirational to be among people from the React core team (React is maintained by Facebook, Instagram and a community of individual developers and corporations), who create and develop ideas and technologies that we use at the office.

Most of the presentations at the conference were quite captivating. The speakers were mainly Facebook employees or other developers with in-depth knowledge of React. As this was a conference for engineers, most of the speakers showcased the potential of using these technologies and spoke about what we can expect from them in the future. We were hoping to see actual products that have been developed by using them, and to hear about experiences from the development process of these products.

There were talks about React and React Native, but also other associated technologies like:

Some of the best speakers were Dan Abramov, Cheng Lou and Jonas Gebhardt. Dan Abramov spoke about the ride of Redux during the last year (one of the main concepts was that its set of well-defined Redux constraints worked as features rather than limitations). Cheng Lou reasoned on the spectrum of abstraction, the trade-offs between the benefits and the costs of creating abstractions. Jonas Gebhardt presented Nuclide, a package that turns Atom into a React IDE with the aid of Flow, and aims make Atom the chosen editor, because of its better web and mobile development experience.

All talks are available at the React Europe Youtube channel, by the way.

When you should consider React and React Native

The main impression I got from this conference is that React has a large and enthusiastic community. It’s backed by Facebook, but also used by many other high-profile organizations across the globe. It seems very likely that the technology will continue to grow, because it provoked a change in UI programming paradigms that aims to be more efficient. It’s a great  tool to prototype while also keeping the code ready for production.

The question of whether or not you should use the React Native in your next app project very much depends on your needs for sharing logic between platforms. If you have such a need, you should definitely consider it. React Native can also help promote collaboration between different teams, so keep that in mind. On the downside, React Native can create some entropy in development at the start, since it forces mobile developers to work with JavaScript and learn a new framework.

In any case, our development teams continue to closely monitor progress in these technologies. If you get confused or overwhelmed by these innovations, always feel free to contact us for questions on how to tackle your mobile strategy in the future.

By José Granjo