‘Learn once, write anywhere’ — that’s the philosophy behind React Native. It means that although Android and iOS differ a lot, React Native makes it possible to develop an application for multiple platforms at the same time. Once you’ve acquired this framework, you won’t need any other technologies to use because your only tool is JavaScript.

You may have already discovered the pros and cons of React Native and tipped the scales to the side of learning it. What’s more challenging now is trying to figure out where to start. Map out your journey to React Native by getting answers to these questions:

  • Why learn React Native?
  • Is it difficult to learn React Native?
  • What to start with?
  • What tools to use?
  • What resources to rely on?

Why Do Programmers Learn React Native?

Cross-platform development is popular because it helps make beautiful interactive UIs and is cost-friendly, so a programmer always has diverse and fascinating projects to work on. The 2018 comprehensive survey of the state of JS highlights other advantages of React Native. Most of all, developers value its package ecosystem, a neat programming style, and Facebook support. The Facebook team provides specialists with extensive documentation, which eases the learning process considerably. 

React Native Popularity- Statistics

Apart from what the last-year official statistics on JavaScript points out, React Native stays one of the most utilized mobile development frameworks in 2019 because it lets developers:

  • create interactive UIs for mainly simple applications,
  • build one app for iOS and Android simultaneously,
  • make an app faster – no recompiling needed,
  • use JavaScript as your core instrument instead of native languages,
  • install ready-made packages for a variety of tasks and native modules for specific issues,
  • work with simplified CSS and no HTML or DOM,
  • implement and share custom UI elements with ease,
  • become a part of an active React Native community.

Is It Difficult to Learn React Native?

The answer depends on your previous programming experience. If you start from scratch, you should master HTML, CSS, and JavaScript first. Some novice developers take up React Native in parallel with JavaScript and manage to write functional code. It’s often of poor quality though. As work gets more intricate, with insufficient knowledge of JS, more time goes on detecting and fixing bugs. 

If you are no stranger to React.js, you’ll find React Native easily approachable. The Facebook team structured React and React Native the same way, but the elements of the latter are slightly altered. So, when a more experienced developer gets a peek at React Native code for the first time, it will be no problem to make sense out of it because of the familiar component-based nature.

What to Start With?

Correct way to learn React

Know the Concepts

You should dig deeper into the basic concepts of React Native. The three core elements that you’ll be coming across all the way you work with this framework are:

  • Components – these are the main building elements of React Native. They include classes or functions added to your code with JavaScript; 
  • Modules roughly said, the packages containing necessary functionalities that you want to implement in an application;
  • Bridge   a principal element that ensures the communication between JavaScript and native code to implement a specific feature in an application.

Get a Basic Knowledge of HTML/CSS

Knowing web development first is a must, though you don’t have to dig too deep into it. Since React Native uses no HTML and CSS in their typical understanding, some would say knowing these web technologies isn’t necessary. However, as similar principles are the ground for all these technologies, knowing the basics of HTML/CSS will help dive in React Native development faster.

Master Your JavaScript Skills

If you aim at making exceptionally great UIs with React Native, a JavaScript manuals must become your handbook. React Native relies on the ES6+ JavaScript standard that contains detailed information on JavaScript syntax, namely:

  • modules,
  • arrow functions,
  • classes,
  • block-scoped functions,
  • default parameter values,
  • value expressions, etc. 

The challenge you might face here is that JavaScript changes dynamically. Each year there are new additions to existing JS standards, that’s why you must constantly follow updates on it. 

Optionally: You can also think of learning JSX. This is an extension to JavaScript that generates the elements of React and renders as HTML during compilation.

Get an Understanding of React.js

React Native is React-based that’s why they share the same idea of components building. The difference between React and React Native is the type of an app you can create with each technology. Developers use React for web applications while React Native lets them create a real mobile application that renders native elements and imitates native look and user experience.

What Tools to Use?

There’s an ecosystem of additional tools around React Native that allows programmers to work on an app and solve problems. To start your first React Native app, you’ll need to set up your programming environment and configure it correctly. So, the core list of tools for you would be:

  • MacOS. You can develop an Android application with any OS because Android development has a less strict approach to programming. In case of iOS development, you’ll avoid difficulties with setting up if you use the native OS. So, it’s better to use macOS for both platforms.
  • XCode and Android Studio. These are official programming environments used for creating and running applications on Android and iOS. The main principle lies in compiling React Native elements backed by Objective-C/Swift and Java/Kotlin.
  • Expo. Expo is a useful toolchain for beginners because it helps to understand how React Native works. You can write code in a browser via the Snack tool for Expo or download the Expo application on your phone and start working within seconds.
  • JavaScript editor. There’s a bunch of powerful instruments for coding like Visual Studio Code, WebStorm, Sublime Text, Atom, etc. Choose the one you are comfortable with and start programming.
  • Node.js. This is the runtime environment that lets developers work with JavaScript out of the browser.
  • Watchman. It’s a file watching service used to track changes and set actions when the issue of file matching arises.

What Resources to Rely On?

To start practicing, you need to gather some references to rely on first. There’s top 3 study materials compilation that can help you acquire solid programming skills of the web technologies, React, and React Native:

The 3 Best HTML, CSS, and JavaScript resources for learning:

  • ‘Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set’ by J. Duckett. The book has two parts that cover the basics of front-end development with HTML and CSS before acquiring JavaScript and jQuery.
  • ‘JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, 4th Edition’ by D. Flanagan. This is the three-part eBook that deals with all theoretical aspects of JavaScript development emphasizing its syntax – from statements to frames.
  • ‘You Don’t Know JS’ Book Series by K. Simpson. These six books cover JS scoping, object prototyping, grammar, ES6 explanation, and more. K. Simpson’s book series might be difficult for beginners, but as soon as you gain sufficient knowledge of JavaScript, they will be your best JS skill-booster. 

React Guidelines:

  • Official React tutorial for beginners.
  • ‘Learning React: Functional Web Development with React and Redux’ by A. Banks & 
  1. Porcello. This book teaches programmers how to create React UIs and websites without having to reload pages. It will let you understand how React works under the hood, acquire functional programming, and learn ES6 features.
  • ‘React Cookbook: Create dynamic web apps with React using Redux, Webpack, Node.js, and GraphQL’ by C. Santana Roldan. The author explains how to build efficient and scalable apps with React. The book also contains hacks and techniques to solve problems with React apps and describes the technologies that come along with this library. 

Sources to learn React Native:

  • React Native official documentation on Github.
  • React Native Express – a website entirely devoted to learning React Native.
  • React Native Cookbook: Bringing the Web to Native Platforms’ by J. Lebensold. The author prepared an extensive description of React Native with helpful code ‘ingredients‘ and examples. Before opening this book, you are supposed to know well the basics of JavaScript.

Learning a new cross-platform development framework seems time-consuming and challenging because it’s a complex process that requires previous knowledge of web technologies. It’s worth the time though. As soon as you master React Native, you’ll be able to create beautiful front-end part for both iOS and Android platforms at the same time. Hopefully, this article will be a helpful resource for you to begin moving towards your goal effectively.