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Do you want to understand the difference between React and React Native? Are you looking for an article to know precisely about React and React Native?

Reader! You’ve come to the right place.

Many times we get confused with two terms that sound similar and think that they are co-related or mean the same thing like React and React Native.

They both are application development technologies introduced by Facebook but are different in operationality and functionality.

If you are someone who often gets confused between React and React Native and thinks they are the same then this article will burst your doubt by providing a clear understanding of both application development technologies.

So. Let’s begin this informative ride.

Common Terminology related to React and React Native technologies:

The world of technology is filled with complex words. To gain a deeper and right understanding of the topic, we should know the meaning of some common terminologies related to React and React Native application development processes. 

These terms will help you to understand both technologies:

Document Object Model (DOM): It is a programming interface suitable for both documents i.e. HTML and XML. It represents an adjustable page on which programs can adjust the format, layout and content of the document. 

The document is nothing but a web page and DOM ensures that programming languages are connected to it by representing the document as nodes and objects.

It can be displayed as an HTML source or in the browser window. However, irrespective of the mode of viewing, the document will remain the same.

In simpler terms, DOM is the representation of a web page that is object-oriented and can be changed using scripting languages.

Virtual Document Object Model (VDOM): Virtual DOM is a concept of keeping the representation of an ideal and virtual UI in memory. It is synced with real DOM via a library like React DOM.

Virtual DOM objects in React have the same properties as their real DOM counterparts.

However, there are some differences between Virtual and Real DOM. For example, it is quicker to exploit Virtual DOM as compared to Real DOM, and also Virtual DOM can’t directly change what’s there on the screen.

Virtual DOM is like editing a blueprint for navigation.

Single-page Application: Single-page Application can be said to be a minimalist application. It looks like a single HTML page along with all the necessary assets required for the application to operate. 

As it is a single-page application, a round trip to the server is not required for any subsequent pages or interactions with the carrier which prevents the page from reloading.

You can comfortably build single-page applications in React and it is also useful in enhancing small parts of existing websites.

Compilers: Compilers mean JavaScript compilers in React and React Native. It takes JavaScript code and returns it in a different format post-transforming.

Babel compiler is mostly used with React and the common use is to take and transform ES6 syntax into syntax that is suitable for old browsers to interpret.

JavaScript extension (JSX): As the name suggests, it is an extension in React technology that helps in writing JavaScript. 

Elements and Transpiler: Elements can be termed as smaller building blocks of React apps that represent the UI at a specific point in time.

Elements tell what you want to see on the screen. They are plain objects and cheap to create.

Once you create an element, you can’t change or alter it post-creation.

While Transpiler helps transform the syntax of one type to another type. It is a compiler like JSX.

Components: They are small reusable pieces of code. Their work is to return a react element to the page. A plain JavaScript function is an example of the simplest React component.

One can break down them into pieces based on their functionality and can use them with other components.

If a particular part of the UI is complex or performs several functionalities like a Button, Avatar, or Panel, then it is a good choice for a reusable component. 

Keys: A “key” helps React identify changes like addition and deletion, in the item, and you would be required to include it when creating arrays of elements.

In the same array, the keys you are giving to elements for a stable identity need to be unique.

States and Props: In React, States are the parts of an app that can be changed. Components of react have already built-in states and they store the value of the properties in them.

In the React component, if we change the state input then the UI output will also change. You won’t require to update the change manually in React. The React mechanism will efficiently update DOM without human interference.

“Props” in React is a specific keyword that stands for properties and is used to transfer data from one component to another.

In React, Props are used to transfer data from one component to another and they are specific keywords that stand for properties. However, the main thing to notice is that data is moved in a unidirectional flow.

The Prop’s data is read-only. So, the data coming from child components remains the same.

Bundlers: Bundlers work as a combiner of codes. It takes hundreds of written codes of JavaScript and CSS and treats them as a separate module then converts them into a few files for better optimization for browsers by combining them.

Webpack and Browserify are examples of commonly used bundlers in React.

Package Managers and CDN: Tools to manage dependencies in a project are called Package managers in React. Popular developers used npm and Yarn, package managers.

Content Delivery Network (CDN) as the name suggests delivers catch and static content from a global network of servers.

Basic information about React:

As we have understood the meaning of some commonly used terms in React and React Native development technologies.

Now it’s time to gain a basic understanding of React/ReactJs to compare it with React Native:

React is a popular application development technology introduced by Facebook in 2013. It is used for developing single-page web applications. Facebook kept it as an open-source JavaScript library.

Developers can develop mobile and web applications in a quick, adaptive and intuitive manner. React facilitates the automatic designing process for developers resulting in savings in time.

ReactJs doesn’t have strict rules which allow developers to implement their imagination and build creative applications.

ReactJs works on JavaScript, which is an old and widely accepted scripting language. So, there are multiple plugins or library exits with codes which developers can integrate with the developing process to fast and efficient development.

One can satisfy clients’ needs and also surpass their expectations by effectively using ReactJs features and services and can develop static websites, single-page apps and web applications.

How does React work?

React Development Framework utilizes DOM and Virtual DOM to generate user experiences. Both DOM and Virtual DOM are explained in the terminologies section.

The usage of virtual DOM makes ReactJs efficient and fast. 

Let’s understand the process of React.

First, we will create components and our data will be stored in it. React creates Virtual DOM and components are kept in it.

Now the application or website will be showing UI-based components stored in Virtual DOM.

When we want to change any component, data or state.

React will create a new Virtual DOM containing that updated/new data then React will compare it with the old Virtual DOM.

Based on the comparison, React will identify changes and will update the changes in the old Virtual DOM,

It prevents reloading of the entire page and the other company’s data remains the same.

Only the updated component will change.

It saves time and fastens development and updating processes. 

In a nutshell, ReactJs creates Virtual DOM to save components, in which data is stored. To change any component, data and state, ReactJS creates a new Virtual DOM and compares it with the old original Virtual DOM.

Any identity changes will get automatically updated by ReactJs.

Basic information about React Native: 

After reading basic information about React, let’s understand what React Native is. And how does it work?

React Native is a cross-platform framework developed and introduced by Facebook. It is also an open-source and JavaScript-based mobile application development technology like ReactJs.

It solves a crucial problem for developers. React Native allows developers to develop mobile applications for both iOS and Android simultaneously with a single code base.

Yes, you read it right. Now, developers don’t require to frame codes and develop applications separately for platforms like iOS and Android.

Which makes it a hybrid mobile application development framework.

Moreover, React Native is like an upgraded version of the ReactJs framework. In React, you can develop mobile applications for a single operating platform at a time whereas React Native allows you to develop applications for multiple platforms like iOS, Android, and Windows.

We will do a detailed comparison of ReactJs vs React Native in upcoming paras.

Need of React Native platform

Before understanding how React Native works, it is important to understand why it was necessary to introduce a platform like React Native to build mobile applications.

React Native is introduced by Facebook to cater to the needs of the mobile phone boom. In the past few years, we have seen significant growth in the mobile phone industry in developed and developing countries.

With the increase of mobile phones, the need for different applications also arises. To encash the opportunity, many developers launched their applications.

Generally, all smartphones are based on two operating systems either Android or iOS.

So, developed applications can be listed on the play store or app store based on their operating system suitability.

To host an application on Apple’s app store application shall be written in objective-C or swift language.

Whereas to host an application on the play store application shall be written in Java or Kotlin language.

So, if a person wants that his application should be present on both platforms then he needs to develop that application two times to fulfill the requirements of both platforms.

To solve this problem of double development, Facebook launched React Native platform in 2015.

It allows developers to create cross-platform applications that work on both platforms resulting in saving both time and cost of the application development.

How does React Native work? 

In React Native, JavaScript language is used to write and react to build applications for iOS, Android and the web from a single codebase.

React Native uses Native components for the UI instead of using HTML and Dom as building blocks. You can find native components on iOS and Android.

It is based on the philosophy of learning once and writing anywhere. 

If you think that one can take its existing React web app and upload it to the app store, the answer is NO, but you can build native applications without even touching Java or Object-C language in React Native by using React skills.

One can import building block components like buttons and switch the scroll view. The most fundamental thing to import is “view”.

At runtime, React Native will use true native components on the corresponding platform like Android, Review, view or Div on the web.

React Native framework lets you develop three apps at the same cost as one. It saves time and money. However, there are cases where you want a different layout, features or user experience for the particular operating system.

For that, there is a module in React Native “Platform module”. It allows developers to implement changes according to a particular operating system by putting different components.

CSS is not here in React Native for visual purposes. Moreover, each core component takes a customizable style prop that can be customized with a stylesheet from JavaScript.

React Native platform fastens the development process by supporting fast refresh. It allows developers to see changes instantly when they update codes, irrespective of the operating system.

The device’s native features like camera, push notifications and geolocations are privacy sensitive. If any developer wants to tap on them then these concerns are handled by GitHub.

It is one of the most active open-source communities.

This platform has not-so-many in-built features, so you may require third-party open-source packages for a smooth development process.

Open-source packages are available for almost everything that can be installed with npm like any other JavaScript project.

There are frameworks like Expo that build on top of React native primitives to provide all the tooling required to ship your app to production.

React Native can be used to build a complete mobile application for different platforms simultaneously or for the integration of it with existing Android and iOS projects.

Difference between React Native and ReactJs

Till now we have discussed many things related to ReactJS and React Native. Now, it’s time to draw a comparison between these two technologies.

So, let’s start our discussion of ReactJs vs React Native:

  • Applicability 

The first difference between ReactJs and React Native can be drawn based on applicability.

ReactJS is a JavaScript library and we can develop front-end and back-end applications with the help of it.

You can only develop web applications through ReactJs and run them on the web server. 

Whereas React Native is a framework for building native applications. Native applications are specific for a platform like Android, iOS and Web. 

So, React Native allows developers to build applications for different operating platforms, while in ReactJS, developers are allowed to develop only web applications.

  • Component

ReactJs is a component-oriented process. While developing web applications via the ReactJs library you would require to develop and customize components as per your needs.

However, these components are reusable.

React Native is a framework which combines native app components. In the case of React Native, developers get pre-built components.

Although both application development technologies are introduced by Facebook and are open-source, completely available for free use.

  • Installation Process

The installation process is different between ReactJs and React Native.

Whereas in ReactJs you are only required to integrate React into an HTML page in <script> tag to start the process of creating React components.

If required you can use a bundler to create components in bulk for large projects.

In React Native, you would require a setup like Android Studio to develop an application. There are plenty of tools available like CLI and Node to ease the development process in React Native.

  • Animation

Earlier we mentioned that CSS is not there in React Native. So, to create UI components and animations you would require to use an animated API which will enable the animation for different components of the application interface.

Whereas in ReactJs, you can animate components using CSS and generally there are more options for animations available in ReactJs compared to React Native.

  • Security

Both ReactJs and React Native are open-source platforms for application building.

However, it is deemed that ReactJs provides better security than the React Native framework. It may be because React Native is primarily used for mobile application development and developers also build financial and banking applications through React Native.

These applications deal with confidential and sensitive data.

Since it is an open-source framework, which makes it vulnerable to certain threats due to its nature.

  • Costs and UI Rendering

There is a significant difference between the cost of development of React Native and the ReactJs development process.

Developing a web application in ReactJs requires downloading several libraries, which increases the cost.

On the other hand, React Native allows developers to develop applications by using its own cross-platform framework which results in saving money and reduction in overall cost.

It also saves time.

When it comes to UI rendering, both app development technologies are different from each other.

In React Native, API is used to render mobile components whereas in ReactJs, virtual DOM is used.

  • Compatibility

As we know through ReactJs you can create web applications and not mobile applications.

Its processes are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) oriented.

Whereas, React Native is designed and launched to develop mobile applications for different operating systems like iOS and Android.

  • Storage

Data from ReactJs is stored and managed in local storage. Since data is stored in local storage, it has no expiration date.

This means data will be saved even if the window is closed.

In contrast, React Native is based on the AsyncStorage system. However, there are some libraries in React Native which allow developers to save data in local storage.

The process of AsyncStorage is different for iOS and Android platforms, For iOS, it is backed by native code which facilitates storage of small values in a specific format and individual files for large values.

In Android, the AsyncStorage process is based on either SQlite or RocksDB depending on the availability.

  • Time-Saving

In React Native vs ReactJS comparison, React Native saves developer’s time by allowing them to develop applications for different operating systems at the same time.

And if you want to make changes in a particular version of an operating system, then you can do it with the help of certain libraries.

Also while developing any application via React Native, you can see live changes so wouldn’t require to refresh it.


ReactJs and React Native are two popular application development platforms. Many developers daily develop myriad applications using these two platforms.

In ReactJs, we can develop web applications whereas, in React Native, we can develop mobile applications for different operating systems and web applications.

New developers and freshers often face difficulty in precisely distinguishing these two platforms based on their functionality and features.

This article was an attempt by our team to help developers to understand the difference between React Native and ReactJs in simple words.

We hope you like reading this article and found it informative.

If you still have any doubt left about this React vs React Native topic then do let us know in the comment section.

Our team will try to solve your query as soon as possible.