Framework? Library? Which one React actually is has been an ongoing discussion for web developers. Although you may hear React be compared to and talked about along with framework programs like Angular or Vue; React is actually a library.

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WHAT IS REACT?

React is an open-source JavaScript library that developers use to build user interfaces for single-page applications. React enables web developers to create web applications that can edit data without reloading the page. Developers love to React because it is simple, fast, and scalable.

WHY IS IT A LIBRARY?

On the React Website homepage, we can see that developers define React as, “a JavaScript library for building user interfaces.” React was designed to build web applications, which is why it is commonly associated with framework programs and other tools developers use to develop apps. Programs like Angular have all the tools to create a fully complete large app, React doesn’t necessarily have these same types of tools. React doesn’t house built-in tools that help you create forms, run tests, make network request, and many others.

HISTORY OF REACT

When Facebook grew too large for their existing platform solutions, they built their own front-end framework (library). In 2011 Jordan Wake created React, and in 2013 it was open-source and had become increasingly popular.

WHY IS IT POPULAR?

React has been around for a while and used by many big-name companies like Netflix, Instagram, Airbnb, and of course, Facebook. Compared to Angular, it is a more lightweight solution and more performant. React also gives developers more freedom when deciding how they want to do things. There are tons of libraries you can select from to accomplish whatever you want. React makes it easy to build your own stack to serve your individual needs.

FLEXIBLE

React can be used for creating client-side single-page applications, and it can also be rendered on the server-side. What does this mean?

Server-side Rendering (SSR): With SSR, all pages are first rendered on the server, then only sent to you. This means you get a reload every time you do something.

Client-side Rendering: With the CSR approach, the server receives the whole package and sends it to you at one time.

Whichever approach you want to take, React can accommodate. In addition, you can also take a hybrid approach, where the initial render is made on the server then the functionality is gradually transferred to the user as the browser loads the components.

JAVASCRIPT DEVELOPERS AND REACT JS

JavaScript developers use React to build user interfaces. Before React, developers had to build their UIs manually with the raw JavaScript language. Development times were far longer, and there was more potential for bugs and errors. With React, there are multiple library codes and two exciting features that JavaScript developers love, JSX and Virtual DOM.

JSX: JSX stands for JavaScript eXtension. This extension makes it simple for developers to modify their Document Object Model (DOM) with simple HTML-style code. Using JSX to update your DOM helps with site performance and development efficiency.

Virtual DOM: If a developer uses JSX to edit and update its DOM, a virtual DOM is created. This is essentially a copy of the site’s DOM. React uses the copy to figure out which parts of the actual DOM need to change when a user triggers an event. Using this type of updating takes less loading time and computing power.

WordPress & React

WordPress Rest API makes it possible for front-end developers to combine WordPress with React. WP REST API allows for the front-end and back-end interfaces to be separated, which opens up a world of possibilities. WordPress can now be used as a headless CMS which allows it to work with React quite effectively! Combining React with WordPress makes it easy for a single-page application to read, create, edit, and delete WordPress data.

Finding the right tools to make your code effective and efficient is key to successful web development. For building user interfaces, React is definitely a helpful tool. React is a developer-friendly, flexible, fast library. It is continuously developed and improved and is used by many large, trusted organizations. Whether you are a large corporation, startup, freelancer, or anything else really, React is an excellent tool for creating user interfaces.

WE CAN HELP!

If you are interested in starting a project with React, reach out to us! Here at New Target, we can provide you with a web application that will allow you to deliver the best content to your users seamlessly.

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.