From Start to Finish: React Native Best Practices
As a mobile developer, you have plenty of tools at your disposal. React Native is one such tool. A tried and true mobile development framework, React Native has served us well over the years as a reliable means of leveraging web technologies to build native applications for both iOS and Android. We’ve learned a lot from our years of developing with this framework, and with that, we recommend these best practices for developing with it.
Test Often & Test Early
Any app that can potentially scale should have a testing framework. We employ Test-Driven Development to keep our React Native apps clean, organized, and less error-prone. Defining our test scripts early helps us avoid authoring excess code and modularize functionality. It also helps to save time by quickly identifying and resolving regression bugs. The Jest test runner coupled with the React-Native testing library and Detox is a suitable testing suite used in our CI/CD pipeline.
Use State Management
We utilize state management libraries in our React Native apps to maintain a single source of truth for all UI components. Passing properties from component to component (prop-drilling) can be forgiven for small, trivial apps, but it’s strongly discouraged if you want your apps to scale well. Individual components may have their own contextual data, but if multiple components rely on the same data, It is critical that the data be in sync for all of them. Otherwise, you run the risk of hindering the performance of your app and introducing logic bugs. There are several state management libraries in use today for React Native. Redux has served our needs.
Develop for both iOS and Android Simultaneously
Don’t be tempted to get one platform to the finish line well ahead of the other. Satisfying the preferred user base of the client can be costly from a budgeting perspective. Initial research may yield promising native modules that meet all of your feature requirements, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll function as expected with all of the OS versions you intend to support. That’s why it’s best to identify these compatibility issues early and discuss the options with the client as early as possible. This approach will help save time and minimize compatibility bugs late in the development phase of your project.
Be Mindful of Performance
As powerful as mobile devices are, they still have resource limitations. Keep in mind that your solutions will share these limited resources with other apps, so you’ll want to keep excess operations to a minimum to achieve the best user experience. Only render components that you need and avoid costly life cycle hooks like useEffect. If your application relies heavily on images, consider using a custom module that replaces the default image component. Doing so can mitigate that risk of image flickering and a drop in framerate.
These are just a few guidelines we follow to create responsive, performant, cross-platform solutions for our clients. We can cover much more here, but this should give you an idea of what you can expect from our team.