React JS

Everything about ReactJS

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Written by Christina Jones

ReactJS is a hot topic over the internet these days. This popular JavaScript framework or so-called framework is the versatile one currently in use. If you have still not injected it into any of your projects, it is the best time for you to do.

Primarily used for the development of SPA (Single Page Application), React is an opensource library for front-end and back-end web development. Even the resources that its community provide has the potential to make things easy and simple. There is a lot to know about ReactJS, from basics to the cutting-edge – Context API, CSS in JS, Suspense, and front-end UI library. The sea of React is so immense that it is impossible to keep on everything in just one article.

For the sake of simplicity, I have assembled all the key information about React. I am pretty sure; it will be helpful for beginners and developers as key information.

What is ReactJS?

ReactJS (also known as React or React.js) is a very popular open-source JavaScript framework for web development. The year 2020 is a boost to its popularity and unless you are developing things sitting inside a deep dug cave of an island, you have possibly missed this fact.

In React, everything is a component that is merged to display a full view web-page. The main feature of React is Virtual DOM, where one-way data-binding is present. That makes a clear difference with another popular framework AngularJS which has two-way data-binding. The two-way data binding is a little bit uneasy as any changes to view are also reflected in the data and vice-versa, while in the case of one-way in React DOM, it simply makes two copies of Virtual DOM instead of updating the previous DOM. This method helps in keeping the original and the updated version which can later be compared and the view will be directly updated if any changes occur. 

History of React

Let’s have a brief about the history of React.

Originally created by Facebook and released in 2013, React has built up a solid bar of growth since its introduction. If you look at the statistics, react is the most popular JavaScript framework today. The react is now handled by Facebook and a vast individual community. The stable version React JS 16.13.1 was released recently on March 19, 2020. This release is known to fix many types of bugs, especially in legacy mode suspense.

CDN Links for React and ReactDOM (Only for development Purpose)

<script crossorigin src="https://unpkg.com/react@16/umd/react.development.js"></script>

<script crossorigin src="https://unpkg.com/react-dom@16/umd/react-dom.development.js"></script>

Key Features of React

Let’s have a look at some of the key features that make it stand out from the others

Declarative

The capability to create a dynamic as well as an interactive interface for mobile as well as web applications makes it simply wonderful. With the change in data React can update and render the right components just on time. The declarative views help the code easy to debug.

Virtual DOM

In react, the DOM feature is extraordinary, there is always a corresponding “virtual Dom object for every DOM object. React creates a virtual copy of it. This one-way data binding helps the manipulation of virtual DOM a lot quicker rather than updating the original DOM

Event Handling

React can create its own event system which is fully compatible with W3C models. All native events of a browser are wrapped by an instance of a synthetic event providing a cross-browser interface to native elements. You don’t need to worry about incompatible events and fields in any case. Apart from all that React event system comprises a pool of event objects to condense memory

JSX

JSX very closely resembles HTML. You will find it likely to be the combination of JavaScript + XML. JSX helps a lot in building blocks of React UI writing components by making the syntax almost identical to the HTML that will be injected into the webpage later on. It’s an easy choice that is picked up and followed by most of the developers.

Performance

The one way-data binding with the help of Flux control helps react update the view for the user and control the application workflow. The virtual DOM is an added advantage as to how it compares the new data with original DOM automatically updating the view.

React Native

React Native is a framework for building native applications using React. It is just like React DOM on the web. It uses native components instead of web components like react as building blocks. To start with react native, you should be must familiar with react concepts, JSX, components, state, and props. Just learning React is not enough if you want to have good use of native and its components. React native also provides you one big advantage that is transforming React codes to work on iOS and Android.

Component-Based

In react, the webpage is divided into components to create a fully-fledged view. Every portion of a visual is wrapped inside a module called component. Components are much like a JavaScript function which lets you break the UI into independent, reusable pieces. Each broken out component has a basic structure. The structure includes some set of props and inputs then returns a react element. Components are very basic at the start but can be complex at the peak if required.

Props

The overall property of attributes and components comes from props. Dealing with attributes and passing the data into the components becomes easy with this context. Bypassing a prop in name, we can easily use it when rendering a component by using this.props.name

Lifecycle

React provides us a set of functions for mounting, unmounting, and updating so that we can have control over the complete lifecycle of each component.

State

Each component has a state that they manage well. The state can be extracted as well as set into the component. The developer is responsible for updating and dealing with components state.

Origin of React: Where did it come from?

React is designed to make the life of developers and organizations easier and productive. React includes several features that help in typical modern app development. It deals with millions of complexities to provide you a better experience for development.

Now everyone would want to know what was the basic idea to develop it. How it originated from the deep mind of Facebook. The first ides of React was a need to replace XHP and HTML component framework for PHP language used by Facebook. So, engineers at Facebook came forward to the precursor to React called FaxJs. GitHub has well preserved it for historical context. Today, react is still ran and by Facebook even though there is a vast open-source community. Facebook decided to open-source the project at JSConf in May 2013.

Next, version 3 was released in July 2013, version 12 in November 2014, version 14 in October 2015, version 15 in April 2016, version 16 in September 2016. These all are major releases and the minor ones are neglected. They released the final stable build however in March 2020, after which they concluded the product matured.

React doesn’t want to be a framework. Might be some people out there arguing over React not being a proper framework. However, react focuses on providing just a friendly and focused way for the development of the user interface.

React Controversy

The react was a part of major controversies before it reached the final stability on the GitHub. The initial release used the Apache 2.0 silence which was replaced in 2014 with a 3-clause BSD license by Facebook. There had been a lot of discussion about Facebook’s unacceptable amount of control over it. To be more permissive, Facebook changed the patent clause in 2015. However, the controversy continued on the Apache’s consideration of incompatibility with their licensing. In September 2017, Facebook concluded to move to an MIT License to meet the user’s concern. The react version 16 was finally released under MIT license.  

Over 10000 peoples are the author of React on the GitHub react page today.

What is trending with React?

  • Pointer Events

In order to keep an eye on the user’s interaction with the webpage, we certainly require something more than a mouse pointer in 2020. In this era, people are likely to use more thumb and stylus touch-based devices. So, there is a need for pointer events as a successor to mouse events to tract the inputs and add the ability to listen to every interaction. Thanks to React! Let’s look at the list of events available as per the latest release:

  1. onPointerDown
  2. onPointerMove
  3. onPointerUp
  4. onPointerCancel
  5. onGotPointerCapture
  6. onLostPointerCapture
  7. onPointerEnter
  8. onPointerLeave
  9. onPointerOver
  10. onPointerOut
  • Next steps for getDerivedStateFromProps

With the introduction of getDerivedStateFromProps in their latest release, react made some major bugfix and made the components more consistent. This is a great update for apps especially using anti-patterns.

  • Fixes and Experiments

The latest two releases fixed many bugs and came up with an improved React ready to bang the market. Also, they released a new experimental component in 16.4.0 Profiler. This component is very useful in collecting new times metrics. More new improvements are on the way. The React team’s work is really appreciable. They are keeping a steady pace with their ongoing releases. You can check their release page for more info.

Is react the best suit for my app?

That depends on you, every framework has its advantages and disadvantages. They solve your problems in different ways. Choosing a framework depends on various factors such as environment, preference, and experience. However, there are a number of reasons to pick React. Here are the top 4 things one should consider.

  • Learning Curve

React is very easy to learn and easy to use at the same time. It’s one of the best solution for view in MVC architecture. There is vast community support as well as easily understandable documentation, tutorial, and training. A developer from the JavaScript background can start using react in just 2-3 days of practice.

  • Reusable components

React is partly or wholly based on components which is a very wonderful thing about it. Each component has its controls and rendering. One can reuse then wherever they want. Code reusability keeps the development in the required maintenance. It also helps you implement consistency throughout the project.

  • The Virtual DOM

It is important to consider, how your application is going to impact the performance. Extensive DOM manipulation in JavaScript can be messy and may result in annoying user experience. But not with react. React solves this complication by the introducing virtual DOM. As the name suggests, it’s a virtual representation of DOM. Virtual DOM achieves any changes at first. It is then used to identify the changes that might be required in the original DOM. A powerful algorithm determines and applies changes in the real DOM.

  • Developer tools

Playing with new technology is a matter of fun. I love doing it. However, the real fun begins when you implement these tools in the developing environment. React has a variety of designing and debugging tools. React developer tools are also available for Chrome and Firefox as a browser extension. You can selectively examine and edit individual components. These tools are available on GitHub also.

Is react still popular?

There is a very active community that makes react easy to fit within our project if we want to enjoy support. Statics shows us how rapidly react is growing. The 2017 State of JavaScript, 2018 Stack Overflow Developer survey’s result talks around the same and that should be the reason why we should have a claw at it.

React as a functional programming framework

React incorporates the concepts from the functional programming. Concepts like proper handling of state change, using array iterator methods, composition over inheritance provides a functional approach to write a react app.

You might be developing an interest in functional programming as a learner to React. There comes “building a Visual Unit Teat for React”.

Conclusion

In such a fast-paced environment that we are facing, it is important to keep up with the latest tools and technology. React is a fast-paced development tool for single-page Web development. There is no denying that the facility it provides helps the developers to a great extent. In my case, I love to React and its versatility.

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About the author

Christina Jones

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