ReactJS vs. React Native: Diving into the Differences and Similarities

For those venturing into the realm of web and mobile application development, you've likely come across ReactJS and React Native. Both technologies have a solid reputation for streamlining the development process and improving user experience. This blog will aim to explain what ReactJS and React Native are, their differences, similarities, and how they are used in the world of development.


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Before we dive deep into the comparison, let's begin with a brief introduction of each framework.


ReactJS, often simply known as React, was developed by Facebook in 2013. It is a popular JavaScript library used for creating interactive and complex user interfaces, particularly for single-page applications where you need a fast response and user-friendly navigation. It's all about components – reusable pieces of code that represent parts of the user interface.

React Native

On the other hand, React Native, also introduced by Facebook but in 2015, is a framework used to build mobile applications that run natively on iOS and Android devices. It allows developers to create applications using JavaScript and React, leveraging native components instead of using web components as building blocks.

Key Differences

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The following are the key differences between ReactJS and React Native.

ReactJS React Native
Performance Fast, due to virtual DOM that optimizes the rendering process. Faster, as it uses native components which run more efficiently.
Rendering ReactJS updates the virtual DOM which in turn updates the actual DOM in the browser. React Native communicates the changes to the native OS and the native OS updates the UI.
Community Support As ReactJS has been around longer, it has a larger community and hence more resources and libraries. React Native has a rapidly growing community, with more libraries being developed for mobile-specific functionalities.
3D and Graphics Supports 3D and high-end graphics via third-party libraries. Not as supportive of complex animations, 3D graphics, or high-end graphics.
Navigation Utilizes libraries like React-router for navigation within the application. Uses built-in navigators and additional libraries like react-navigation or react-native-navigation.
Testing Various tools available for end-to-end testing, unit testing, and integration testing. Limited testing frameworks as compared to ReactJS, but enough for most use cases.
Learning Curve Easier for beginners as it involves standard JavaScript and HTML. Slightly steeper learning curve due to the need for understanding mobile component structure and navigation.
Code Reusability Code can be reused in React Native through some adjustments, but not directly. Code can't be directly reused in ReactJS as mobile components don't map directly to web components.
Use Case Examples Used for web applications like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Web, Khan Academy, etc. Used for mobile applications like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Skype, Tesla, etc.
Development Environment Can be built in any text editor or IDE, runs in the browser for testing. Can be written in any text editor or IDE but needs emulators or real devices for testing.
Purpose ReactJS was designed for building dynamic and high-performing web applications. It uses a virtual DOM to improve app performance. React Native is intended for building native mobile apps that can run on multiple platforms (Android, iOS). It provides a near-native user experience and has direct access to native platform features.
Development Language ReactJS uses JavaScript as its main development language. Developers can write components using JavaScript and JSX, a syntax extension for JavaScript that allows you to write HTML-like code in your JavaScript. While React Native also uses JavaScript, it requires developers to be familiar with native languages such as Swift for iOS and Java for Android. This knowledge is needed especially when a certain functionality cannot be implemented using only JavaScript or when a native module that isn’t available in the React Native ecosystem is required.
Styling ReactJS allows developers to use standard CSS for styling their applications. This can include external CSS files, inline styles, CSS modules, or CSS-in-JS solutions like styled-components. React Native, on the other hand, uses a JavaScript-based styling approach. It employs a subset of CSS written as JavaScript objects. The CSS properties are camelCased, and selectors or pseudo-selectors are not used.
Components ReactJS uses HTML tags for components, and these components interact with the JavaScript DOM to dictate how the website behaves and appears. React Native components are written in JavaScript, but they correspond to native UI components. For example, instead of rendering as a browser's DOM elements like in ReactJS, React Native components translate to native mobile UI components.
Core Language The core language of ReactJS is JavaScript, and its primary syntax is JSX, which allows HTML and JavaScript to intermingle. React Native also uses JavaScript as its core language, but it interacts with native APIs for rendering components, hence JavaScript along with native language skills are preferred.
Architecture Both ReactJS and React Native follow a component-based architecture. This means the application’s UI is built using multiple isolated, reusable pieces (components), which simplifies the development process and enhances the maintainability of the code. Similarly, React Native follows the same component-based architecture as ReactJS. This consistent design pattern makes it easier for React developers to switch between ReactJS and React Native projects.
Reloading ReactJS supports both live reloading and hot reloading. Live reloading refreshes the entire app when a file is changed. Hot reloading only refreshes the files that were changed, without losing the current state of the app. React Native also supports live reloading and hot reloading, which allows developers to see the impact of their changes in real time without needing a complete rebuild of the app. This greatly improves the developer experience and productivity.


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In the world of web and mobile app development, both ReactJS and React Native hold significant places due to their unique features and capabilities. ReactJS is a fantastic choice for dynamic, high-performing web applications, while React Native is an excellent option for creating near-native mobile apps for multiple platforms.

Your choice between ReactJS and React Native should be guided by the specific needs and goals of your project. If you aim to develop a responsive web application, ReactJS is your go-to option. If you plan to create a cross-platform mobile application with a native feel, React Native would be more suitable.

Both frameworks have substantial community support and are continually evolving, making them a safe bet for future-proof applications.