Understanding React Native as a Frontend Tool

React Native is a JavaScript library used to develop mobile apps for both iOS and Android.

React Native combines the advantages of native development with React and its best-in-class JavaScript library for building user interfaces. You can use React Native to build Android and iOS projects. For a beginner who knows React, it is very easy to learn React Native.

React Native primitives render to native platform UI, which means your app uses the same native platform APIs that other apps do.

There are two possible approaches to using modern JavaScript frameworks – client-side rendering, where the browser downloads the code and renders the UI, or server-side rendering, where the UI is rendered on the backend.

The main difference between JavaScript solutions (such as React.js) and older technologies is that JS requires a significant amount of logic and document manipulation, as if it was not server-rendered at all.

The React Native library is pretty similar to the React library, apart from the fact that React Native comes with a native components library that is used for mobile development.

React Native distinguishes itself from other popular JavaScript frameworks when it comes to flexibility. Not only can you grab a library and use it to display a simple page or a view, but you can also combine React Native with other tools and use it as a framework that will lay the foundation for a complex application.

Benefits of React Native

Development Time

React Native app development enables the developers to write the code once and use it everywhere. The code can easily run on multiple platforms like iOS and Android. This framework utilizes Facebook's UI library to make straightforward and easy code for the implementation and execution of ReactJS.

In order to develop a sound React Native app, you need a JavaScript developer proficient in native UI elements, APIs, and hybrid mobile app development design. The React Native JavaScript framework is famously known for its agility and scalability.

The framework facilitates a seamless development experience with highly performant apps for users. Using React Native, you can reduce the cost and time of development by almost 70%, without compromising on quality.

With the React Native framework, we can reuse existing code by making a single update for two platforms. The framework is quite modular and intuitive. Moreover, detecting bugs between codebases is easier.

All of these advantages help developers to save time when transforming web pages into a mobile app. MVPs can be developed faster with the React Native framework. In addition to this, the existence of a single codebase also speeds up the testing process.

Performance

The core of the framework offers a virtual DOM program and server-side rendering, which makes complex apps run extremely fast.

When you’re building a complex, high-load app, it becomes mandatory to define the structure of the app in the beginning, since it can impact the performance of your app.

In simple words, the DOM model is tree-structured. So, a minor modification at a higher-level layer can greatly impact the user interface of the entire application. To resolve this, Facebook has introduced a virtual DOM feature in React.

Virtual DOM, as the name suggests, is the virtual representation of DOM that allows testing all changes to the virtual DOM to calculate risks with each modification, before final deployment. This approach helps maintain high app performance and guarantees a better user experience.

A third-party plugin eradicates the need for specific Web View functions. The plugin can be linked with a native module through the React Native framework. The processes are linked with varied app options for smoother running, faster loading, and better memory management.

Support for custom components

React Native comes with JSX, an optional syntax extension, which makes it possible to write your own components. These components accept HTML quoting and make all subcomponent rendering a delightful experience for developers.

Strong community

React Native was created for internal use and later shared with the entire world. Developers can ask their questions on Stack Overflow, official React discussion forums, Reactiflux Chart, Freenode IRC, social media platforms, and many others.

React Native is used by both Fortune 500 companies and innovative startups

Thousands of companies worldwide have chosen React for their apps, sites, and internal projects. Companies like Airbnb, Walmart Labs, Tesla, Tencent QQ (with more than 829 million active accounts), Baidu Mobile (with more than 600 million users), Bloomberg, li.st, Gyroscope, Delivery.com, JD.com, GoDaddy, and many others have built mobile apps with React Native.

Web apps of companies like BBC, Netflix, Dropbox, Coursera, IMDb, PayPal, Dailymotion, Chrysler, American Express, Intuit, Khan Academy, Lyft, Atlassian, New York Times, Reddit and dozens of others also run on React.

Understanding Django as a Backend Tool

Django is a high-level framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Django helps with much of the hassle of web development so you can focus on writing your app without the need to reinvent the wheel. Moreover, it’s free and open source.

The major benefit of using Django for backend web development is its Representational State Transfer (REST) framework, which is a popular toolkit for building APIs.

When it comes to backend web development, it is easy to find a suitable Django web development company that offers Django development services at affordable cost. The popularity of Python is a major reason why web developers and business owners choose Django for web development.

It also has a highly scalable framework which developers can leverage for building small projects and then later move on to developing complex applications capable of handling heavy user traffic and large volumes.

One of the key advantages of a REST API is the great deal of flexibility. Thus, Django REST framework is a powerful, scalable, and versatile toolkit for constructing web APIs.

Why use Django REST framework?

The answer here is simple: Productivity!

You only need a few lines of code to have an endpoint running with Django. The level of abstraction that the Django REST Framework provides is high enough such that you only need to worry about one basic factor: resources.

Some of the key highlights of Django REST Framework are as follows:

●     ORM and NON-ORM Data Serialization

●     Large community

●     One of the best documentations among Python libraries

●     Pluggable authentication with OAuth, OAuth2 and Social Auth

●     Third-party libraries

Benefits of Django

Authentication

Django takes care of user authentication, content administration, site maps, RSS feeds, and many more tasks — right out of the box.

There are four main authentication methods by default:

  1. SessionAuthentication

It uses Django's default session backend for authentication. It is appropriate for AJAX clients that are running in the same session context as your website.

2. BasicAuthentication

It uses HTTP Basic Authentication, signed against a user’s username and password. Basic authentication is generally appropriate for testing.

3. TokenAuthentication

It uses a simple token-based HTTP Authentication scheme. It is appropriate for client-server setups, such as native desktop and mobile clients.

4. RemoteUserAuthentication

It allows you to delegate authentication to your web server, which sets the REMOTE_USER environment variable. The most common remote servers are NGINX and Apache

In the context of the application:

REST_FRAMEWORK = {
‘DEFAULT_AUTHENTICATION_CLASSES‘: (
‘rest_framework.authentication.BasicAuthentication‘,
‘rest_framework.authentication.SessionAuthentication‘ ,
)
}

Built-in Admin

The Django team was quite thoughtful when they created the framework, and they kept user and client satisfaction in mind. Thus, Django offers an administrative interface right out of the box that is both professional and versatile.

Scalability

Most developers, when thinking about picking up a framework, plan for the future. Picking a scalable framework is quite essential for many, and Django is just that. It allows you to take a lot of different actions regarding scalability, such as running separate servers for the database, the media, and the application itself, or even using clustering or load-balancing to distribute the application across multiple servers.

Some of the busiest sites on the planet use Django's ability to quickly and flexibly scale to meet the heaviest traffic demands:

  • Netflix
  • Instagram
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • Dropbox
  • Pinterest

To get started with a Django project, you can refer the link below:

https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/3.1/intro/tutorial01/

To get started with a React Native project, you can refer the link below:

https://reactnative.dev/docs/environment-setup

Key Architectural Considerations When Using React Native and Django

Both React Native and Python-Django are popular web frameworks used for developing scalable and maintainable web applications.

Backend engineering basically involves CRUD operations. For applications that require a database for storing records and logs, we need to first design the database. Django uses ORM (Object Relational Mapping) for generating database models, which eliminates the requirement for having knowledge about specific databases and query languages (i.e. no need to learn Oracle, PostgreSQL specifically) by using simple classes.

The next step would be to create API endpoints for HTTP Requests. For each API call from the client side, we will be writing class-based responses using Django Rest Framework.

Presenting the application using React Native and NativeBase

NativeBase is a React Native framework that provides an extensive set of components adhering to Google’s Material Design guidelines. It exposes an easy-to-use theming system, allowing you to customize each and every part of the provided components.

Here’s the list of things you need to set up in your machine to get started with a React Native + Django Project:

  • Python 3 (run python -v command to check)
  • pip (the default Python package installer)
  • NodeJS (in a version 10 or plus) and npm (6+)

React Native + Django Provides the Following Set of Added Advantages

Caching

Optimizing how browsers cache static assets is a performance-critical requirement.

The most reliable solution consists of:

  1. Inserting a hash of the contents of each file in the name of the file
  2. Telling the browser that it can cache static files forever

If the contents of a file change, then its name changes and the browser has to load a new version.

In practice, this is more complicated than hashing and renaming files. For example, when CSS references an image, inserting a hash in the name of the image changes the contents of the CSS, which changes its hash.

Django is able to parse and to modify CSS to handle dependencies implemented in ManifestStaticFilesStorage, which WhiteNoise’s CompressedManifestStaticFilesStorage builds upon.

Code splitting

Delivering the application gradually with code splitting is another performance-critical requirement.

When code splitting is enabled, a JS loader downloads chunks that define modules and imports them as needed.

It is unable to parse JS and understand dependencies between JS files. For this reason, the bundler needs to be responsible for inserting hashes in file names. Generally speaking, since the bundler is responsible for creating an optimized build of frontend assets, it makes sense to let it take care of inserting hashes in file names.

Putting it all together

Regardless of which system performs the hashing, a mapping from original file names to hashed file names is needed in order to substitute the hashed file name automatically, whenever the developer references a static asset by its original file name. For example, main.js must be replaced with main.a3b22bcc.js.

The crux of the issue is to transmit this mapping from the bundler, which creates it when it builds the frontend, to the backend, which needs it to reference static files in HTML pages. The mapping is already applied in frontend/build/index.html when Django loads it as a HTML template, so the backend doesn’t need to do anything. An alternative solution involves dumping the mapping in a JSON file with a webpack plugin, loading it and applying it with a Django storage engine. webpack-bundle-tracker and django-webpack-loader are used to implement this.

Let's see some sample code, ranging from ORM to React components.

from django.db import models
class Employee(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField("Name", max_length=240)
    email = models.EmailField()
    document = models.CharField("Document", max_length=20)
    phone = models.CharField(max_length=20)
    registrationDate = models.DateField("Registration Date", auto_now_add=True)
    def __str__(self):
        return self.name

Now, let’s export our models to the database using the migrations feature. Migrations are Django’s way of propagating changes you make to your models (adding a field, deleting a model, etc.) into your database schema. They’re designed to be automatic, but you’ll need to know when to make migrations, when to run them, and what common problems you may run into.

from django.db import migrations
def create_data(apps, schema_editor):
    Employee = apps.get_model(employees, 'Employee')
 Employee(name="Nakendra",email="nakendrakumar@email.com", document="22342342", phone="00000000").save()
 
class Migration(migrations.Migration):
 
    dependencies = [
        (‘employees’, '0001_initial'),
    ]
 
    operations = [
        migrations.RunPython(create_data),
    ]

In short, the create_data method recovers the Employee model object and creates initial data, so our database isn’t empty when the API starts. The dependencies property relates to other files to be considered into the migration process. The operations are basically actions that Django has to perform once migration is triggered. Serializers allow complex data such as querysets and model instances to be converted to native Python datatypes that can then be easily rendered into JSON. Let’s start there.

from rest_framework import serializers
from .models import Employee
 
class EmployeeSerializer(serializers.ModelSerializer):
 
    class Meta:
        model = Employee 
        fields = ('pk', 'name', 'email', 'document', 'phone', 'registrationDate')

The Meta class is important because it defines the metadata information that our model has (database) and must be converted to the Employee class.

List of URLs:

from django.contrib import admin
from django.urls import path, re_path
from employees import views
from django.conf.urls import url
 
urlpatterns = [
    re_path(r'^api/employees/$', views.employees_list)]

Now, let's go to the view.

from rest_framework.response import Response
from rest_framework.decorators import api_view
from rest_framework import status
 
from .models import Employee
from .serializers import *
 
@api_view(['GET', 'POST'])
def employees_list(request):
    if request.method == 'GET':
        data = Employee.objects.all()
 
        serializer = EmployeeSerializer(data, context={'request': request}, many=True)
 
        return Response(serializer.data)

The first thing is to get all the employees from our model through the Employee object. It provides an implicit object called object with a method to access the entire database: all().

That’s it!

Now, let's run our Django application in order to test these endpoints. Start by running the following command in the root folder:

python manage.py runserver

After you see the log showing our server is up and running, go to the browser and access http://localhost:8000/api/employees/.

Setting up a React Native App

Step 1: Install node and watchman by running the following commands on the terminal after installing Homebrew:

brew install node
brew install watchman

Step 2: Installing an iOS Simulator in Xcode

To install a simulator, open Xcode > Preferences... and select the Components tab. Select a simulator with the corresponding version of iOS you wish to use.

sudo gem install cocoapods

Step 3: Create the project folder

npx react-native init AwesomeProject

Once you run this command in the terminal, it will generate the project with folder structure for iOS and Android.

Step 4: Start the Metro JavaScript bundler.

npx react-native start

Step 5: To start the application in iOS simulator, type

npx react-native run-ios

Sample code:

import React, { useState } from "react";
import { Text, StyleSheet } from "react-native";

const onPressTitle = () => {
  console.log("title pressed");
};

const TextInANest = () => {
  const titleText = useState("Hello World!");
  const bodyText = useState("React-Native Begineer");

  return (
    <Text style={styles.baseText}>
      <Text style={styles.titleText} onPress={onPressTitle}>
        {titleText}
        {"\n"}
        {"\n"}
      </Text>
      <Text numberOfLines={5}>{bodyText}</Text>
    </Text>
  );
};

const styles = StyleSheet.create({
  baseText: {
    fontFamily: "Cochin"
  },
  titleText: {
    fontSize: 20,
    fontWeight: "bold"
  }
});

export default TextInANest;

Hiring Advantages of Using a React Native/Django Stack

The above code snippets have been included to convey that both React Native and Django are easily readable and understandable.

Here are a few other considerations that make React Native and Django a solid combination for most companies:

1. Django is well-established and supported by a massive community of users and advocates. It has several Slack channels, mailing lists and other online resources, meetups, and free workshops like Django Girls that aim to attract more people to the community. It is easier to start with Django, owing to such a huge support and community.

2. Django suits any project, be it mobile or web. You can tackle projects of any size and capacity, whether it’s a simple website or a high-load application, because it works with most major databases and allows the use of a database that is more suitable in a particular project, or even multiple databases at the same time. Actually, it’s equipped with an ORM (object-relational mapper), which provides a layer between a developer and database, making it possible to move or migrate applications to other databases with just a few lines of code change.

3. If you need to deploy fast (while making changes as you move forward) and you're concerned about finding solutions once you get stuck, then choose Django. Good documentation and supportive community will be great assets for you.

4. Another important reason to choose Django would be the developer's salary. According to available reports, Django developers earn an average salary of $80,000-$100,000 USD, which is low compared to Java or Node developers, who earn $120,000-$140,000 annually. Thus, it can be a significant cost reduction for a company.

5. Compared to other frontend frameworks, React Native comes with a large collection of high-quality, available open source libraries.

Your Most Flexible and Dependable Tech Stack

React Native and Django pair well due mostly to their ability to quickly generate cross-platform apps, the ease of hiring for each framework, and the large amount of institutional support that each enjoys. We're not just saying that, either: Crowdbotics uses React Native and Django as our core tech stack on all custom builds.

If you're looking for vetted, reliable React Native or Django development, Crowdbotics is here to help. Get in touch with a Crowdbotics expert today for a detailed quote.