But let’s start by examining what React is, and exactly why it has become so popular.
What makes React special?
React was developed by a Facebook engineer and first used in the Facebook News Feed in 2011. After it was open sourced in 2013, it became a popular — standard, even — library for front-end devs building user interfaces. It’s intended to be used in tandem with other libraries, and it doesn’t assuming anything about what else is being used in your stack. So part of its success is its versatility.
There’s more to it than just that, though. React achieved popularity in part because it addresses one of the most frustrating things about building out complex UIs: dealing with the DOM API, which allows your applications to make changes to HTML and XML documents in effective and efficient ways.
React employs a Virtual DOM that achieves maximum efficiency by only re-rendering nodes on a need basis. It’s kind of like video compression over YouTube, where the only data transferred relates to pixels that change. This means much more efficient rendering, and it’s easier to work with on the fly.
There are other reasons React has become popular, like server-side rendering and the fact that you can essentially describe your UI in a declarative fashion.
React is one of the largest growth areas
So how popular is React? Well, let’s put it this way: Stack Overflow data on developer hiring trends in 2017 show demand for ReactJS skills as the fastest growing expertise.
And that’s only the beginning; React was previously primarily used in web apps, but we’ve now seen the release of React Native and React VR.
As you might guess, React VR allows you to build VR experiences for platforms like Facebook’s Oculus Rift using standard web tools. You can read more about it in Facebook’s announcement on the subject from this past April or on the project’s GitHub page.
- Learn React — a learning guide that explains all the essentials on React.
- Modern Web Apps With React and Redux — Our most popular and in-depth course that was recently updated with interactive code challenges using CodePen.
- Comparing Front-End Frameworks — A course designed to briefly introduce each major front-end framework.
Get ready for React Fiber
It’s worth it to invest your time in learning React now, but keep in mind that Facebook has already announced its successor. React Fiber, revealed at F8 2017, is a ground-up re-write of React — but it will be backwards compatible with existing React projects. The goal is to make UIs built in React more responsive, and developers will get their hands on Fiber later this year.
Resources to help you with your React project
Or if you’re more interested in React Native, extend your project with the React Native Search Filter Plugin or use React Native Bootstrap. You can even find full-featured applications like Tudu, a React Native to-do list.