Juan Cruz Martinez I'm an entrepreneur, developer, author, speaker, YouTuber, and doer of things.

So you think you should stop using React? Here’s why you’re wrong

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React Logo

React was created and open-sourced in 2013 by Facebook based upon the idea of having a JavaScript library for building web applications. Since then, it has grown significantly.

But now, the competition has changed significantly, thanks to the introduction of new libraries or versions of Angular, Vue, and others — which raises the question: should we still build products with React in 2021?

Personally, I believe that React has a great future, and that you should start (or continue using) it in your projects. Here’s why.

Building applications with React

I want to address why React is a great technology to build web applications and why you should consider it for your next project if you are not using it already.

  1. Development Efficiency: The introduction of React questioned how we code web applications. It was a massive shift from what we knew and what the best practices were at the time. It told us not to separate HTML, CSS, and JS, for example. It also taught us to build more modular components and connect them to build complex applications, which was not very common on the web. This created a super efficient library that facilitates developers’ tasks in small or large projects, allowing quick turnarounds and delivering fast without compromising quality.
  2. Flexibility and maintainability: The React mindset modularized the application in small, easy-to-maintain components that, when connected, sum up to a complex solution. As a result of this practice and by avoiding coupling components, React produces maintainable and scalable applications.
  3. Great for scalable prototypes: Because of its moldability and fast development times, React makes up for an excellent choice to build your prototypes and MVPs. It allows you to produce quick results without sacrificing the scalability of the final product.
  4. SEO friendly: SPA (single page applications) built with frameworks like React, Vue, Angular, etc., are questioned by many SEO experts because the initial load of the page contains only a basic structure, and everything else gets loaded with JavaScript. But React offers a solution to this problem with server-side rendering. If SEO is essential for you, React has you covered.
  5. React Native: React Native allows for the creation of native mobile applications using React. It is essential to understand that a web React application is different from a React Native application, and thus the code will differ. However, the transition from one to the other is easier than going for other native solutions.
  6. Availability of Resources: Any company that has been hiring developers knows how hard it is to attract talent. Specialized technologies require specialized skills that can be very hard to find. Utilizing popular tools in the job marketplace can be easy with this task, as many resources are available or can be trained on. As one of the most popular front-end skills today, many schools, websites, code camps are producing React developers every day, filling in the gap. Additionally, many skilled React developers are already in the market, and many more want to transition. React is still a hot technology right now, so developers want to jump in.
  7. Performance: Last but not least, React is fast! Though questioned in some articles, React is a fast library, and it offers tools and methods for developers to fine-tune their components. I’m not saying React is the most rapid library/framework for every use-case, but it is a very efficient solution for most. Here’s a comparison of benchmarks for many different frameworks and libraries for performing the same operations. You can select React, React with Hooks and Vue, Angular, or many others to compare them.

    Performance Comparison Capture
    Performance comparison capture, credits to js-framework-benchmark by Stefan Krause

React for developers

So far, we covered some of the elements that make React an excellent choice from a product perspective, but what does React mean for web developers?

  1. Technology developers can love: Developers are people with a great passion for what they do, and thus they are selective about the tools they use and what they like to build. Fortunately for React, the developer community loves the library, and in outstanding numbers. StackOverflow has proved this year after year by conducting its annual survey.
    StackOverflow Annual Survey
    Capture from StackOverflow’s annual survey

    As seen in the survey results, React sits on top as the second most loved and wanted web framework, and first as the most wanted and loved front-end framework. We also observed similar results on the Jetbrains’ State of Developer Ecosystem 2020, where React places as the number one JS framework for 2020.

  2. Job opportunities: Being the most popular and favorite framework out there should tell you a lot, but if you need confirmation that React is not only loved by developers but also by companies, try a simple LinkedIn Search for ReactJS, VueJS, Angular, and any other of the frameworks. I’ve compiled the following chart that indicates the number of job openings worldwide for each framework, right now, from LinkedIn. Notice the demand for React?Job Openings for Each Framework
  3. Learning Resources: From free documentation, articles, video trainings to paid courses, boot camps, and coaching, React has them all. There’s a fantastic variety of resources available for developers at all levels of their journeys. To be fair, all popular frameworks have a great collection of resources as well. This shouldn’t be underestimated, as resources are critical to success.
  4. React ecosystem: React is not a new library or framework, and with its popularity booming, many tools integrate with the library. There’s an endless collection of libraries and frameworks built on top and around React, ranging from libraries to perform simple tasks to complex solutions like GatsbyJS. By leveraging high-quality libraries built for React, developers can increase their applications’ efficiency and quality by focusing on the features.
  5. You are not alone: Unsurprisingly, React has a rich community of developers that help build, test, and design the library as well as the elements of its ecosystem. The community is also responsible for a vast portion of the learning resources and support. If you ever get stuck with a React issue, there’s probably already an answer to your question online or within the developer community. There are also Slack and Discord channels and many other ways you can reach out for support.

Special criticism against React

Although we have covered some of the most critical points already, there are some noteworthy criticisms I would like to address separately.

  1. React was created by Facebook: Strange as it sounds, many developers argue against React for being designed and built by Facebook. There are many reasons why this is considered a negative, involving anything from people disliking the company, being concerned about Facebook’s open-source policy, or even about its privacy issues. But because React is open-source, I like to separate the company from the product, as it has a life of its own. Yes, Facebook controls the design and development of React, but being open-source, at any point in time, it can be forked into a different direction if it comes to it.
  2. React is overhyped: Over the past few years, some have argued that React is slowing down and soon will decay. However, as seen in surveys like Jetbrains’ State of the Development Ecosystem, StackOverflow Development Survey, and many more, React is still a favorite among those who use it. It is also among the most wanted to learn, which indicates that developers still want to try and use React.

Conclusion

React still is a solid choice for 2021 and the future. The library, its ecosystem, and community continue to grow and evolve to stay relevant as web technologies advance. Other libraries will perhaps catch up with React in the next few years, but ultimately, React is still king.

Thanks for reading!

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Juan Cruz Martinez I'm an entrepreneur, developer, author, speaker, YouTuber, and doer of things.

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