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he Frontend Companyteam, including thousands of other developers worldwide, shares the admiration for a cross-platform source code framework React Native (RN). Everything is excellent, from its motto «Learn once, write anywhere» to the features it offers coders.
True, programmers can implement platform-specific modules into mobile apps or customize stunning visuals. Still, that doesn't mean developers and businesses don't have any limits at all. Today, AVA.codes will share a list of React Native limitations that you probably won't know until getting started with this technology.
A little history of React Native and the reasons for its success
The cross-platform framework React Native comes to light almost two years after presenting the first version of React. The developer of this tool is Meta Platforms (ex-Facebook, Inc.). The launch of RN takes place at the end of March 2015.
Since its development, the technology has helped developers achieve one goal: to develop native apps for multiple platforms at once. While using this tool, coders have been able to build projects for iOS and Android, Android TV, macOS, Apple tvOS, and several other operating systems.
Although the creators and programmers call RN a mobile development tool for native applications, it is not entirely true. This framework only helps model native-like components, which gives the impression of using a native mobile app.
While there are many similarities between React Native and ReactJS, there is one crucial difference between these solutions. The mobile framework runs in the background and directly on the end-device. It provides DOM manipulation, not in the Virtual DOM, but directly on the native platform. DOM communicates last through the process of data structure translation (serialization) via batch and asynchronous bridging.
Now when we have learned a little about the pros of RN, we can move on to the topic of React Native limitations.
What can React Native not do? The list of React Native limitations
Currently, about 1900 well-known global companies use this cross-platform framework. It is an impressive figure, proving the incredible demand for this tool among coders and firms. Furthermore, RN-loyal firms are involved in a wide variety of industries:
- social media;
- entertainment and more.
Among the devotees of React Native, besides Facebook and Instagram, there are also giant companies like Walmart, Shopify, Bloomberg, and Pinterest. Still, even despite this loyalty and demand, there are many React Native limitations for programmers that you won't know about until you start working with this mobile framework.
It does not mean the tool is inefficient or inadequate. Like any other solution, it has disadvantages you should know about beforehand. Next, The Frontend Company team will tell you why React Native is not good and what limitations coders should be aware of.
Note: Here, we have focused on React Native limitations from the developers' point of view and the business one. It will allow you to create the most unbiased picture possible.
The cross-platform concept does not work the way you imagine
In theory, a cross-platform mobile framework should let developers write less code and get an application suitable for multiple platforms. It's not that easy. In one of our most popular articles, «Flutter vs React Native», our experts briefly answered why this one theory wouldn't work.
Every operating system has its own specifics, and you can't do without customization of certain components. Yes, programmers will indeed have to deal with less source code. However, React Native often will not allow using the same piece of code for different operating systems.
From this comes another specific feature of this technology. In some projects, companies have to turn to native devs for help. Usually, these are projects involving large mobile apps with extra complex functionality or unusual solutions. Consulting a native programmer will help prevent mistakes and long-lasting bug fixes.
Too flexible structure is often a hindrance in the mobile project development
RN gives coders flexibility, unlike frameworks with a stricter structure, such as Angular for web applications. On the one hand, it allows the implementation of incredible design and functionality; but on the other hand, this freedom becomes an uphill battle for some coders.
For a mobile app to function smoothly, the developer must have lots of experience. The person must have expertise with at least a few different platforms. Then they will be able to switch native code to JS-based one and then quickly switch it back. At the end of the day, everything must work without errors and not stretch the development time of a mobile product.
The behavior of some components varies depending on the platform
This issue can be classified as a React Native limitation, which is intertwined with the point above. The same RN component can show different behavior when interacting with other operating systems.
Often, this unpleasantness befalls projects targeting two mobile platforms at once, Android and iOS. Some developers, especially Juniors, expect RN components to behave the same on different platforms. It is not always the case, particularly for hybrid projects.
That's why you can't do without a skilled React dev on your team who can predict the complexity upfront or test the component to be sure. Then it will reduce the bugs and save the users of the application from unpleasant surprises.
This mobile technology has no official frameworks for testing
The absence of a framework for proper testing from the official team is also among React Native's limitations. It may not seem that way initially, but not having a good testing tool puts many constraints on programmers.
Experts have to spend more time testing, and they have to look for safe solutions. If an expert's list of tools does not include a good, proven tool, extra time is spent searching for it and setting up the framework for testing.
Specific React Native limitations for the abstract layer increase the dependence on other libraries
Since React Native does not develop native mobile apps but is used in the development of native-like ones, this limitation is understandable. To summarize the functionality of the framework from Meta Platforms, an abstract layer is formed over the native platform. So, it is essential not to make a single mistake.
If a specialist misses a bug in the abstract layer, errors and warnings will appear throughout the mobile application. You will be lucky if they are insignificant, and the programmer can easily detect them and then just as quickly fix them. Rather more often, identifying bugs in the abstract layer becomes a headache.
The solution to such React Native limitations for most experts is other libraries. They help specialists keep apps up to date with platform changes. That is, they can set things up in a way changes are made without affecting the source code in general.
The main thing is to make sure that the tools you use are safe so as not to compromise your users. If you choose third-party solutions, you will have to test them more thoroughly and make sure no library is abandoned.
The RN-created application has a bigger size than the native one
Despite the name of the framework, you have to accept the relatively large size of the developed applications. You will not be able to build a mobile project with this or any other technology which is smaller than native ones. You can get the feel of native-like apps, but RN-based applications will still be larger.
This point does not apply to the critical React Native limitations because the performance or user experience of the project is not affected by the size. This feature should be considered rather than put at the forefront of everything if it does.
No support for multiprocessing (parallel threading)
The list of React Native limitations also includes zero support for multiprocessing. Since this cross-platform mobile framework has no parallel threads feature, the user cannot perform multiple tasks at the same time.
Lack of modules and smooth navigation
The experts at The Frontend Company decided to combine these React Native limitations into one block for your clarity. In the case of custom modules, everything is easy. There is an opinion that custom modules will be enough for experts to develop hybrid mobile applications. Such a rule doesn't work for all cases in practice.
If we are talking about developing an application with unique or non-specific functionality, then built-in custom modules won't be enough. Programmers will need to put in extra work and build specific modules from scratch. In the most desperate situations, developers even hack into specific modules in certain apps to use them. These cases are not widespread; however, they still occur in the practice of some businesses.
As for navigation, the RN has a hot reload feature. It is a great option allowing you to make code changes without rebuilding the entire project. Sometimes this leads to difficulties with deployment or even leads to package compatibility.
Thus, professionals may encounter some React Native hot reload limitations from time to time. Experienced programmers and a company with React experience can cope with this quickly. And newcomers can have difficulties and delays in advancing mobile app development.
Our team believes these are the primary and most common limitations of React Native that programmers and firms experience. Fortunately, the large React community can help deal with each of the above issues fast for professionals and businesses. Sure, it may take some time to figure out the particular issues, but these are not critical numbers.
Do you plan to develop a cross-platform mobile application and need a trusted development crew? The Frontend Company team provides React Native development service and guarantees high-quality work. You can see some examples of our work in the Portfolio tab. For consultation or more details, please contact Viktoria Buchenko.