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Why React?

There are so many JavaScript libraries and frameworks it is difficult to keep up and understand which are worth learning and how they might be valuable to your organization.

React is one of the most popular JavaScript libraries currently so in this overview we are going to step back and take a look at the big picture and examine:

  • Why you might want to consider adopting it as part of your technology stack
  • What problem React is solving
  • Compare React to similar technologies
  • Understand evolving web application architectures

Adoption 2021 Survey of 65,000 developers: 2020 Survey of 65,000 developers: 2019 Survey of 90,000 developers:

Looking at this chart from npm trends (npm is the most popular package manager for JavaScript) it becomes clear that both React has extremely strong adoption.

npm trends chart of javascript frameworks

View interactive chart online

In addition, lots of companies are using React in their technology stack including:

  • Facebook
  • Netflix
  • Uber
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Airbnb
  • Instagram
  • reddit
  • Instacart
  • and more...

Easy to Learn

The React library itself has a very low concept count and is subsequently easy to learn.

Ecosystem & Community

Not to worry though as React has an entire ecosystem of other tools and libraries...

After you begin building applications with the React library you quickly learn that it does one thing and does it well but you need a lot of other things to create a web application using it.

Not to worry though as React has an entire ecosystem of other tools and libraries to fill those gaps. Think of building a React app as being similar to buying best-of-breed software and integrating it. You integrate React with other best-of-breed libraries and tools to build an application. Here is a quick list of some of the more popular libraries and tools often used with React.

  • Babel: a JavaScript compiler that allows you to use the latest JavaScript language features today
  • TypeScript: TypeScript is a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript. Either the Babel or TypeScript compiler are used to get the features of a modern programming language today
  • webpack: efficiently bundles your JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and images for deployment
  • Create-React App: Creates a React project with best practices by running only one command
  • Next.js: the features you need for production: hybrid static & server rendering, TypeScript support, smart bundling, route pre-fetching, and more. No config needed.
  • State Management Libraries including Redux and MobX to architect and manage the data in your application
  • GraphQL: a query language for your data APIs
  • React Native: Create native apps for Android and iOS using React
  • Gatsby: framework based on React that helps developers build blazing fast websites and apps

Timeless Technology

React is built on top of timeless web standard technology including JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and the browser's Document Object Model (DOM).

Subsequently, learning and getting better at React is really just becoming better at web development. This includes deeply understanding web standards which are technologies that seem to never go out of style.