What Is React Native? A Beginner’s Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

The following guide is an introduction to React Native for all levels of technical expertise.

[Featured Image] Two React Native developers plan a project on a whiteboard.

Studies suggest no shortage of opportunities for those interested in mobile application development. The global revenue from mobile applications is expected to reach 613 billion US dollars by 2025 [1]. Whether you want to develop an application in your spare time or become employed as a developer, learning about React Native is an excellent starting point. Use the article below to find out what it is and how you can use it. 

What is React Native?

In software development, a framework serves as a platform for developing applications. React Native is an open-source framework, meaning it’s free for public use. It contains resources like pre-built components, libraries, and reference material. Like the framework of a home, React Native provides the basic structure of an application. Developers can then customize it to suit their needs rather than building the application from the ground up. 

What does “native” mean in React Native?

When an application or software is native, it’s written for the computer’s natural operating system (OS). For example, a Playstation 5 game can be run natively on a Playstation 5 because it was designed for that specific device and OS. Native-run applications and native code typically perform better and faster because they were created to suit their particular platforms. React Native enables you to render applications natively. In other words, your application will use the same programming platform as a native application, despite not being specially created for that device. 

React Native vs. React

React is a JavaScript library. It’s also referred to as ReactJS or React.js. Like React Native, it provides developers with building blocks for development, such as pre-written code and configurations. Unlike React Native, those building blocks are web components rather than native components. When used together, React.js and React Native complement one another. The chart below explores some similarities and differences between React and React Native.

ReactReact Native
JavaScript libraryJavaScript-based framework
Used for front-end web developmentUsed for mobile application development
Developed by the Facebook engineering teamDeveloped by the Facebook engineering team
A virtual representation of the user interface (UI) renders to the browser’s programming interface. This representation is also known as a virtual document object model (VDOM).The UI renders to the native platform’s programming interface rather than creating a web-based view.

Read more: Java vs. JavaScript: What’s the Difference?

What is React Native for?

React Native is most famous for its cross-platform development capabilities. Cross-platform development refers to the process of building software that is compatible with more than one type of device and OS. With React Native, developers can create platform-specific versions of components. Instead of building applications natively for each platform, developers can build their codebase just once and use it for both iOS and Android applications. Additional React Native features include

  • App performance. React Native enables applications to behave like native applications, which run faster and more efficiently than their non-native counterparts. 

  • Code reusability. Code reusability is a key advantage of React Native. In addition to cost efficiency, reusing large amounts of code allows for faster development overall. 

Examples of applications built with React Native

React Native is one of the most used frameworks among developers worldwide [2]. The list below compiles a few of the most popular applications that use React Native:

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Oculus

  • Salesforce

  • Airbnb

  • Coinbase

  • Shopify

Working with React Native

Thanks to the open-source nature of React Native anyone can use it to develop mobile applications. However, you can also seek employment as a React Native developer. React Native developers are software developers who specialize in using the React Native framework to build mobile apps. 

A mobile app developer’s typical day will likely involve writing and reviewing code, troubleshooting bugs and defects, and designing user interfaces (UIs). React Native developers typically focus on front-end development but may also work with other development teams to ensure quality across the entire application.

Read more: How to Become a React Developer in 3 Steps

Salary and job outlook for React Native developers

The average total pay for a React Native developer in the US is $106,824 per year [3]. As of June 2022, there are over 23,000 open React Native developer positions on LinkedIn. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates job growth of 22 percent for software developers between 2020-2030 [4]. Compared to the 8 percent median growth rate for all occupations, careers in this field are emerging much faster than average.

Read more: React Developer Salary Insights: From Entry-Level to Senior Engineer

Become a React Native Developer with Coursera

Learn programming fundamentals and skills for developing mobile apps from the experts at Meta with the Meta React Native Specialization. Consider also the Full-Stack Web Development with React Specialization from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

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Meta React Native

Become a cross-platform mobile app developer. Learn in-demand skills for developing reliable, scalable and user-friendly mobile apps for multiple operating systems, such as iOS and Android.

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Average time: 5 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

UI/UX design, Mobile Development, React, React (Javascript Library), JavaScript, Web Development, React (Web Framework), HTML and CSS, Test-Driven Development, Front-End Web Development, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), Linux, Bash (Unix Shell), Github, Version Control, Web Application, Application development, User Interface, Data Management, Web Design, User Experience (UX), Accessibility, Agile Software Development, app development, Product Lifecycle, Scrum Software Development, Project Management

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Full-Stack Web Development with React

Build Complete Web and Hybrid Mobile Solutions. Master front-end web, hybrid mobile app and server-side development in three comprehensive courses.

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Bootstrap (Front-End Framework), Node.Js, Jquery, SASS (Stylesheet Language), Authentication, Mongodb, Express.Js

Related articles

Article sources

1. Statista. “Revenue of mobile apps worldwide 2017-2025, by segment, https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1262892/mobile-app-revenue-worldwide-by-segment.” Accessed June 15, 2022. 

2. Statista. “Most used libraries and frameworks among developers, worldwide, as of 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/793840/worldwide-developer-survey-most-used-frameworks/.” Accessed June 15, 2022. 

3. Glassdoor. “How much does a React Native developer make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/react-native-developer-salary-SRCH_KO0,22.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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