As any mobile developer knows, cross platform development can be a soul-suckingly time consuming process. Yesterday, Facebook helped make the ordeal a little easier for some by officially launching React Native for Android – an open source JavaScript and React based software project.

The tool is used in various Facebook production apps, and by layering a layer of abstraction between the three platforms, helps improve developer efficiency across the trinity of web, iOS and Android. It’s not quite the write-once-run-anywhere dream, given that you’ll still need to jump to platform specific versions of React native, but it does mean you’re working with just one language and library (assuming you’re trained in React that is).

React was first open sourced back in 2013, followed this year by React Native at the Facebook F8 conference. With functionality for Android now in place, as of this week, developers have a complete multi-platform suite. Long-term, this could mean considerable man hours put aside for cross-platform optimisation can be slashed, freeing up resources for other projects. It could also in theory reduce the need for both in-house Android and iOS teams in the enterprise – something that Facebook was originally forced to do in the early days of transitioning to a mobile world.

According to the official React Native site, the React Native enables you to use all the standard platform components such as UITabBar on iOS and Drawer on Android, “giving apps a consistent look and feel across the platform ecosystem. Components can be incorporated into apps using their React component counterparts, such as TabBarIOS and DrawerLayoutAndroid.”

Operations between the JavaScript application code and native platform are performed asynchronously, and, “native modules can also make use of additional threads and communication is also fully serialisable, allowing devs to leverage Chrome Developer Tools to debug JavaScript while running the complete app, either in the simulator or on a physical device.”

As the team write, it’s still early days for React Native for Android, and there are a few glitches still to work out that rear their heads when you’re porting iOS apps to Android. The project leads comment that they intend to work with the community to reach platform parity with iOS.


Open Sourcing of React Native for Android Completes Cross Platform Trinity

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