What Is React Native? A Beginner’s Guide

React Native is a popular open-source framework for developing cross-platform mobile applications. It was introduced by Facebook in 2015, and since then, it has gained immense popularity among developers worldwide. 

React Native uses JavaScript, a popular programming language used for web development, and it enables developers to build native mobile applications for iOS, Android, and other platforms. 

In this beginner's guide, we will discuss what React Native is, how it works, and how to get started.

How React Native Works

React Native uses a declarative programming approach that allows developers to write code that is easier to understand and maintain. 

The framework provides a set of pre-built components that can be used to create user interfaces. These components are similar to those used in web development, such as buttons, text boxes, and images. The difference is that React Native components are designed to work with native mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android.

When a developer creates a React Native application, the code is JavaScript. The code is then transformed into native code used to build the application. This process is known as "bridging" and is performed by the React Native runtime. The runtime includes a set of libraries that allow JavaScript code to interact with native code.

React Native uses the "virtual DOM" concept to manage the user interface. The virtual DOM is a lightweight representation of the actual DOM (Document Object Model). 

When the state of the application changes, React Native updates the virtual DOM and then calculates the necessary changes to update the actual DOM. This approach is faster than traditional mobile development because it minimises the number of updates needed to the user interface.

Advantages of React Native

Cross-Platform Development

One of the primary advantages of React Native is that it enables developers to create mobile applications that can run on multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. This approach saves time and resources because developers can write one codebase that can be used to build applications for both platforms.


React Native allows developers to reuse code between different applications. This approach saves time and resources because developers can create components used in multiple applications. Additionally, React Native allows developers to create modules that can be shared between different applications.


React Native applications are faster than traditional mobile applications because they use a virtual DOM to manage the user interface. This approach minimises the number of updates required to the actual DOM, resulting in faster performance.

Large Community

React Native has a large and active community of developers, which means many resources are available for learning and troubleshooting issues. Additionally, the community has created many pre-built components that can be used to speed up development.

Getting started with React Native

Before you start building your first React Native application, you need to set up your development environment. You must install Node.js, React Native CLI, and a suitable IDE or code editor. You can choose from popular options like Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, and Atom.

Once your development environment is set up, you can create a new React Native project using the CLI. Open your terminal or command prompt and enter the following commands:

npx react-native init myApp

cd myApp

npx react-native run-ios

These commands will create a new React Native project named myApp, change your working directory to the project folder, and start the iOS simulator to run your app.

React Native components

React Native provides a wide range of pre-built components that you can use to create your app's user interface. These components are similar to HTML tags and can be combined to create complex UIs. Some of the most commonly used React Native components include:

  • View: A container component that can hold other elements.
  • Text: A component for displaying text.
  • Image: A component for displaying images.
  • Button: A component for creating buttons.
  • TextInput: A component for capturing user input.

You can also create custom components by extending the built-in features or combining them in new ways.

Styling React Native components

React Native provides a powerful styling system that allows you to create beautiful and responsive UIs. You can apply styles to components using JavaScript objects that define various properties like colour, fontSize, backgroundColor, and padding.

Here's an example of how you can style a Text component in React Native:

import React from 'react';

import { Text, StyleSheet } from 'react-native';

const styles = StyleSheet.create({

  heading: {

    fontSize: 24,

    fontWeight: 'bold',

    color: 'blue',



const App = () => {

  return (

    Hello, world!



export default App;

In this example, we define a new style using the StyleSheet.create() method and apply it to the Text component using the style prop.

Handling user input

React Native provides several built-in components for handling user input, such as Button and TextInput. You can capture user input by defining event handlers for these components using the onPress and onChangeText props, respectively.

Here's an example of how you can capture user input in React Native:

import React, { useState } from 'react';

import { View, TextInput, Button } from 'react-native';

const App = () => {

  const [inputValue, setInputValue] = useState('');

 const handleInputChange = (text) => {



 const handleButtonClick = () => {

    console.log('Button clicked!');


return (







        title="Click me"






export default App;

In this example, we define a TextInput component and a Button component and define event handlers for each using the onChangeText and onPress props. We also use the useState hook to maintain the state of the inputValue variable, which stores the value entered by the user in the text input.

Using third-party libraries

React Native has a thriving ecosystem of third-party libraries that can help you add new functionality to your app or simplify complex tasks. You can install these libraries using npm and import them into your project like any other module.

Some popular React Native libraries include:

  • React-native-vector-icons: A library that provides a collection of customisable icons for React Native apps.
  • React-navigation: A library that helps you implement navigation between screens in your app.
  • Redux: A library that provides a state management solution for your React Native app.

Debugging your app

Debugging your React Native app can be challenging, especially if you are new to the framework. Fortunately, React Native provides several tools to help you diagnose and fix issues in your code.

One of the most useful debugging tools in React Native is the React Native Debugger. This standalone desktop application provides a dedicated interface for debugging your React Native app. It allows you to inspect your app's component hierarchy, view console logs, and modify your app's state in real time.

Another helpful tool is the React Native Inspector, built into the React Native Developer Menu. This tool provides a visual representation of your app's component hierarchy and allows you to inspect the properties and styles of each component.

Publishing your app

Once you have finished building your React Native app, you must publish it to the app store or distribute it to your users. The process for publishing your app varies depending on the platform you are targeting.

For iOS apps, you must create a developer account with Apple and submit your app to the App Store for review. After creating a developer account with Google for Android apps, you can publish your app to the Google Play Store.

React Native is a powerful and flexible framework for building native mobile apps using JavaScript and React. 

With its wide range of built-in components, powerful styling system, and a robust ecosystem of third-party libraries, React Native is an excellent choice for developing mobile apps that look and feel like native applications. 

Following the guidelines outlined in this beginner's guide, you can start building your first React Native app today.

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