Editor’s note: This article was last updated 15 December 2022 to include newer, more popular libraries.
When building a React Native app, best practice involves taking advantage of isolated UI components to accelerate your development time. This idea is not unique to React Native; it is actually a React philosophy, one that the mobile framework is heavily based upon.
Just like how React allows developers to use native HTML elements, like divs, text inputs, buttons, etc., the React Native framework lets developers use platform-specific native GUI elements, which we can use to develop mobile apps along with our custom styles. But, in some scenarios, these inbuilt components can’t satisfy our design and development goals, meaning we either have to build custom components from scratch or use a component library.
Component libraries offer pre-developed components that help us deliver our React Native projects faster. For example, we can create icon buttons with react-native-vector-icons. Suppose you use a React Native component library that offers a complete UI kit. In this case, you don’t need to write custom styles for inbuilt UI elements or install many third-party, pre-implemented components. Component libraries typically offer a collection of pre-developed, customizable UI elements for building any modern app.
With so many great options available, deciding which component library to use for your new React Native app can be challenging. But, once you understand each component library’s available components, features, limitations, and developer support, it’s easier to select one based on your design goals.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best open source React Native component libraries. Not only will they help you use a robust approach and boost your project delivery time, but they also offer quality support for platforms like iOS and Android:
With each component library, I’ll provide a summary, some highlighted features, and helpful links, so you can select one based on your design goals. Let’s get started!
React Native Paper is a cross-platform React Native UI library that is based on Google’s Material Design. Developed by the official React Native development partner, Callstack, React Native Paper has theming support and offers customizable and production-ready components.
When using this library, you can reduce its bundle size by using a Babel plugin that allows you to optionally require modules. This will exclude all the modules that your app doesn’t use and rewrite the import statements to include only those that are imported in the app’s component files.
Applying themes to a particular component is easy; React Native Paper comes with two default themes, namely
dark, which you can extend. It also uses the
react-native-vector-icons library to support and use icons correctly in buttons, floating action buttons, lists, and more.
One of the oldest and easiest libraries to start with, React Native Elements is a cross-platform UI toolkit that implements Material Design. Instead of following an opinionated design system, this toolkit library offers a more basic structure through its generalized inbuilt components, meaning you‘ll have more control over how you want to customize components. Customization of any component in this library will include a mixture of some custom props, as well as props from the React Native core API.
That said, when using this library, I’ve found that I can write much less boilerplate code than I do when using some of the other libraries covered in this post. The applications built using this UI toolkit also look and feel universal across both iOS and Android platforms.
ThemeProvider offers support for theming. Unlike some of the other libraries, which give you light and dark themes, you’ll have to define your themes to make them work. You can also use React Native Elements in web projects by using React Native Web.
NativeBase is another library that has existed since the early days of React Native. It supports a long, rich list of cross-platform UI components that also come production-ready, providing not only basic support for each regular component, but also predefined configurations for many components that cover almost all possible use cases.
For example, the Select component renders a cross-platform dropdown UI element and also supports custom styling, like:
The Select component has support for themes and offers paid templates based on the NativeBase component library, which you can consume to save development time. However, the whole UI library is free and open source.
NativeBase also offers a comprehensive demo app called KitchenSink where you can explore all of the components via your web browser.
UI Kitten is another open source library that supports React Native apps. It is based on the Eva Design System and has over 480 icons of its own. It provides support for creating customized themes, but it also allows you to use or extend two default visual themes as well.
There are more than 20 essential UI components that you can use, and it is also one of the few UI libraries that offers support for the right-to-left writing system for all of its components, a fact to be noted for global apps. It has support for the web as well.
If you setup this UI library for an existing project, you’ll have to go through some configuration steps. For new projects, you can easily use a pre-developed app template. Make sure to give its design system a read to understand the design principles first.
Well-maintained and used by Wix, the RNUI library is a toolset for building amazing React Native apps. It supports both older and the latest React Native versions, and it provides more than 20 customized components, some of which, like
Drawer, can be easily integrated for building modern swipeable lists, like the Gmail app’s inbox. It also has custom animated components, like an animated scanner, which is useful for indicating progress for a card, like an uploading status, as well as an animated image.
RNUI is another UI library that supports the right-to-left writing system, and it includes full accessibility support.
Teaset is a UI library that provides over 20 pure components that have a minimal approach to design. The goal of this library is for you and your users to stay more focused on the content of the app instead of its design. It supports some typical components like
CheckBox, but then, at the same time, it provides more uncommon components, like
At the time of writing, support for the web is not yet available for Teaset.
If you’re in the market for a professional-looking UI for your React Native iOS or Android apps, then the Shoutem UI kit is a great choice. Shoutem UI is an open source library that is a part of the Shoutem UI toolkit.
Shoutem UI consists of more than 25 composable and customizable UI components that come with pre-defined styles that support other components. You can build complex UIs by combining them. You can also apply custom CSS-like stying using the Shoutem themes library and animations using the animation components library, like
Lottie is an excellent open source animated graphic library developed by Airbnb for creating beautiful animations. The Lottie community provides featured animations that you can use freely for React Native iOS or Android applications.
You can also create custom animations using Adobe After Effects. Lottie then uses the Bodymovin extension to export the custom animations to JSON format and render it in the native mobile app. Because of the JSON export format, your app will have a great performance.
lottie-react-native package includes the
Lottie component, which you can use to add Lottie animations in React Native apps. Internally, it uses
lottie-ios to render Lottie-formatted files natively on Android and iOS, respectively.
React Native Maps is another useful library that provides customizable map components for your iOS and Android apps. The components in this library include:
Using these components, you can offer your users different experiences on the map. Additionally, you can combine the components with the Animated API to give an animated effect for the components. For example, you can animate the zoom, marker views, and marker coordinates, and also render polygons and polylines on the map.
However, React Native Maps is compatible only with React Native ≥v0.64.3. Be sure to update your React Native version if you plan to use React Native Maps with a project that uses an older React Native version.
In some development scenarios, React Native developers add chat screens to their mobile apps. For example, situations like integrating a chatbot or implementing an inter-user chat system require developing a chat component that includes incoming and outgoing messages with avatars, a text input for typing a message, and a send button.
The react-native-gifted-chat library offers a pre-developed customizable chat component that you can use without having to write one from scratch.
This chat component library comes with the following highlighted features:
onInputTextChanged, and more
To answer this question, you’ll have to consider your own unique project. If multiple component libraries suit your design or development goals, selecting the one with good developer support, active development timeline, and well-written documentation is a good decision.
The component libraries included in the list are actively maintained. These libraries exist to make your development faster and provide a robust way to build apps so that you’re not reinventing the wheel every time you create a new React Native app. As long as you know what you’re looking to achieve in your UI design, any of these libraries should do the trick.
You can find more third-party, open source UI component libraries from the
awesome-react-native GitHub repository. Do you have a favorite React Native component library? Let us know in the comments!
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