React.js: why the hype?

Custom software development and engineeringMVP & POC product and platform development

Today's websites are shifting to feature more dynamic content that parallels experiences users expect from mobile applications. Libraries like React.js are available to alleviate the challenges that come with developing highly interactive websites.

React.js is a JavaScript library built to address the unique needs of a dynamic user interface for a website. It provides a wealth of performance and ease-of-use benefits for developers. Facebook initially introduced the library to the programming community, which now is largely responsible for maintaining and documenting it as an open source project.


Reusable template-style content

Websites naturally split up into several interface components such as the navigation, a sidebar and main content. React.js embraces this concept and splits the page into individual components that can be reused and manipulated as needed. React.js employs templates for each component, and these are easy to build and convenient to reuse.

To make it easier to create the templates, the library uses JSX to allow the developer to write HTML in-line with JavaScript code. Using JSX is much easier than constructing complex HTML through JavaScript's standard capabilities. This can be very useful for actions such as changing a sidebar between holding some advertisements, a messaging client or user settings without having to load a new page.


Faster page reevaluation on changes

React.js utilizes a Virtual DOM to work around the need for the browser to re-evaluate the entire page whenever a component is updated through component isolation. Limiting how much work the browser needs to do helps pages run faster.

Additionally, the library makes it easy to run UI updates without having to make an HTTP/HTTPS call. The virtual DOM reduces dependency on the server calls to make page content adjustments.

Finally, component isolation means changes to one component won't have adverse effects on the others. The downward flow ensures changes to child components won't impact parent components that could break the page's layout.


Live variable storage

The virtual DOM makes it easy to pass data between components. With other methods such as AJAX, it can be very easy for important variables and values to get lost between the page construction, the first update call and subsequent updates.

However, with a Virtual DOM, these values stay in the browser's memory and are ready to be used again without requiring the developers to work with complex variable value-passing methods.


Is react.js the right choice for you?

React.js can make projects easier to manage and faster to operate. Additionally, React.js can be used for single-page/mobile web applications and has a native application framework for iOS and Android apps. The library simplifies the transition toward parity between mobile web and native applications.

If your website would benefit from implementing any of the React.js features, the library is worth checking out.

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