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The Whys & Hows of React: How It Impacts Modern Tech - Photo 0

In 2023, Meta’s React powered an impressive 13,441,975 live websites,  including 155,670 of the top 1 million websites ranked by traffic. These staggering figures highlight React’s vast popularity and underscore its enduring presence in the web development landscape. It’s clear: React isn’t just a fleeting trend—it’s a foundational technology that continues to shape the future of web applications.

This article will delve into some of the most frequently asked questions about React, covering everything from its practical applications and optimal use cases to a deeper understanding of its use in current development projects. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or new to tech, keep reading to uncover information about one of today’s most influential development tools.

What is React?

​​React, also known as React.js or ReactJS, is a popular open-source JavaScript library primarily used for building user interfaces, particularly for single-page applications. Developed and maintained by Meta, React was first released in 2013 and has since become a cornerstone in modern web development. But what is React in software development, and why use React? This section explains what ReactJS is, what it’s used for, and why the program is a favorite in web development.

Core Features

  • Component-based architecture

React’s component-based architecture allows developers to break down the user interface into small, reusable components. Each component encapsulates its structure, style, and behavior, making the code more modular and manageable. This architecture particularly benefits large-scale applications, as it promotes reusability and maintainability. For example, a simple button component can be created once and used throughout the application wherever a button is needed. This modular approach reduces redundancy and speeds up the development process by allowing developers to focus on individual components without worrying about the entire application.


  • JSX (JavaScript XML)

JSX, or JavaScript XML, is a syntax extension that allows developers to write HTML-like code within JavaScript. This integration of HTML and JavaScript makes the code more readable and expressive. For instance, a greeting component written in JSX looks similar to HTML but has the power of JavaScript embedded within it. This seamless blending of technologies enhances the developer experience by providing a more intuitive way to create dynamic user interfaces. JSX also benefits from excellent tooling support, including syntax highlighting, autocomplete, and error-checking in modern integrated development environments (IDEs), further simplifying the development process.


  • Virtual DOM

The virtual DOM is one of React’s most powerful features. It is a lightweight, in-memory representation of the actual DOM. When the state of a component changes, React updates the virtual DOM first, calculates the most efficient way to apply these changes to the actual DOM, and then updates the real DOM accordingly. This process minimizes direct manipulation of the DOM, resulting in faster and more efficient updates. For example, updating the state in a React component only triggers necessary changes in the DOM, enhancing overall application performance and providing a smoother user experience.


  • Hooks

Hooks, introduced in React 16.8, are functions that allow developers to use state and other React features in functional components. This innovation simplifies code by avoiding the complexity of class components and lifecycle methods. Hooks like useState and useEffect enable developers to handle state and side effects directly within functional components. For instance, a timer component can easily be constructed using these hooks to manage state and intervals. Hooks not only streamline the code but also improve its readability and maintainability. Custom hooks can also be created to encapsulate and reuse stateful logic, making the codebase more modular and easier to manage.


  • React Server Components & Server Actions

React Server Components and Server Actions are advanced features that enable server-side rendering and logic execution. These features allow developers to build applications that fetch data and execute logic on the server, sending pre-rendered HTML to the client. This approach significantly reduces initial load times and enhances the user experience by providing fully rendered HTML. Server-side rendering also improves SEO by making the content more accessible to search engine crawlers. Additionally, server components and actions help build scalable applications by offloading intensive operations to the server, thus enhancing performance and scalability.

Current Usage

React has become a cornerstone of modern web development, widely adopted by various organizations, from startups to tech giants. Its versatility and robust feature set make it an excellent choice for building user interfaces, leading to its extensive use across the tech industry.


  • Adoption by Major Companies

Numerous major companies and organizations use React to build their web applications. Meta, the creator of React, utilizes it extensively across its platforms, including the main Meta website and Instagram. Other tech giants like Netflix, Airbnb, and Uber have integrated React into their development stacks. Netflix, for example, leverages React to enhance user experiences on its platform by providing fast and responsive interfaces. Similarly, Airbnb uses React to manage its complex UI components, ensuring a seamless experience for users searching for accommodations.


  • Popularity in the Developer Community

The developer community has widely embraced React, making it one of the most popular libraries for front-end development. According to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, React consistently ranks among the top frameworks developers want to work with and learn. This popularity is reflected in the vast number of tutorials, courses, and documentation available, making it easier for new developers to get started with React. The large community also means a wealth of third-party libraries and tools that extend React’s functionality, further solidifying its position as a go-to solution for web development.


  • Ecosystem and Tooling

React’s ecosystem is rich and continuously growing, providing developers with numerous tools and libraries to enhance their workflow. For example, Vite enhances the development experience by offering a faster setup and build time for React projects, allowing developers to kickstart their projects with minimal configuration and immediate feedback. Other tools, like Redux, MobX, Zustand, and React Query for state management, integrate seamlessly with React, providing robust solutions for common development needs. Additionally, React Native extends React’s capabilities to mobile app development, enabling developers to build native mobile applications using the same principles and syntax.


  • Use Cases and Applications

React’s flexibility allows it to be used in various applications. It is particularly well-suited for single-page applications (SPAs), where maintaining a smooth and responsive user experience is crucial. For this reason, e-commerce sites, social media platforms, and online dashboards often utilize React. For example, e-commerce platforms like Shopify use React to create dynamic and interactive shopping experiences, ensuring fast load times and a responsive interface. Social media platforms benefit from React’s efficient rendering, providing users with real-time updates and seamless interactions.

React is popular in developing content management systems (CMS) and static site generators (SSG) like Gatsby and Astro. These tools leverage React to build fast, SEO-friendly websites that are easy to manage and update. Gatsby, in particular, uses React to generate static HTML files for each website page at build time, resulting in highly optimized and performant sites.


  • Continuous Evolution and Support

The continuous evolution of React ensures that it remains relevant and powerful in the ever-changing landscape of web development. The React team at Meta regularly releases updates and improvements, such as introducing hooks and concurrent mode, which enhance React’s capabilities and performance. The strong backing from Meta and the active open-source community provides a stable foundation and continuous innovation, ensuring React adapts to the latest trends and requirements in web development.

The Whys & Hows of React: How It Impacts Modern Tech - Photo 1

Why React?

React has emerged as a leading library for front-end development due to its ease of learning, performance improvements, and scalability. Let’s explore these reasons in more detail.


  • Ease of Learning and Use

One of the primary reasons why React is so popular is its ease of learning and use. React’s syntax, especially with JSX, is simple and intuitive. JSX, or JavaScript XML, allows developers to write HTML-like code within JavaScript, making the development process more straightforward and less error-prone.

Moreover, React boasts extensive documentation and a supportive community. The official React documentation is comprehensive and well-organized, providing clear explanations and examples for all features. The React community is vast and active, offering countless tutorials, forums, and third-party libraries. This extensive support network ensures that developers can quickly find solutions to problems and stay up-to-date with best practices and new developments.


  • Performance Improvements

React is designed with performance in mind. One of its key performance features is the Virtual DOM. The Virtual DOM is a lightweight copy of the actual DOM that React uses to manage changes efficiently. When a component’s state changes, React updates the Virtual DOM first and then calculates the minimal changes required to update the actual DOM. This process, known as reconciliation, significantly reduces the number of direct manipulations to the DOM, which can be slow and resource-intensive. As a result, React ensures fast rendering capabilities and smooth user experiences, even in complex applications.

This efficiency makes React particularly well-suited for dynamic and interactive web applications, where frequent updates and high responsiveness are critical. For example, React can quickly update the chat window with new messages in a real-time chat application without reloading the entire page, providing a seamless user experience.

By the way, did you know that React has open-sourced a new, experimental feature

The React Compiler is a new experimental tool designed to optimize React applications at build time. It operates on plain JavaScript and adheres to the standard Rules of React, allowing developers to enhance app performance without altering existing code. Additionally, the compiler includes an eslint plugin that provides real-time feedback in your editor, analyzing code quality independently of the compiler’s use. This plugin is recommended for all React developers to improve the quality of their codebase.


  • Scalability

React’s architecture is inherently scalable, making it suitable for small and large-scale applications. For smaller projects, React’s component-based structure allows for the rapid development of clean and maintainable code. Developers can create reusable components that encapsulate specific functionalities, which can be assembled to build the complete application. This modular approach reduces redundancy and makes the codebase easier to manage and understand.

For larger applications, React’s modular nature shines even more. React’s components can be easily organized and managed as applications grow, allowing teams to work on different application parts concurrently without causing conflicts. This modularity also simplifies updating and maintaining the application, as changes in one component do not necessarily impact others. The ability to manage state efficiently with tools like Redux or the Context API further enhances React’s suitability for complex applications.

Additionally, React integrates well with state management libraries like Redux, Zustand, MobX state management libraries, and React Query, providing robust solutions for managing complex states in large applications. This capability ensures its performance and maintainability remain high even as an application scales. React’s consistency and predictability make refactoring and updating the codebase easier as new features are added or existing ones are modified.

React Ecosystem

The React ecosystem is extensive and robust, providing developers with many tools and libraries to enhance their development process. These tools cover many functionalities, from meta frameworks to state management and styling. Here’s an overview of some of the key components in the React ecosystem.


  • Meta Frameworks

Meta frameworks like Next.js, Remix, and Astro simplify building complex applications by offering higher-level abstractions and best practices. Next.js is renowned for server-side rendering, static site generation, and API routes, making it ideal for high-performance, SEO-optimized web applications. Remix focuses on developer productivity and performance with progressive enhancement and robust routing features. Astro enables fast websites using React and other JavaScript frameworks, rendering most components to static HTML at build time for optimal performance.


  • Routing

Effective routing is crucial for single-page applications. React Router DOM provides a declarative approach to routing with support for nested routes and extensive community backing. TanStack Router offers advanced features like route-based code splitting and flexible control over routing behavior, making it suitable for complex applications.


  • Asynchronous State Management

Managing asynchronous state is essential for applications that interact with APIs or real-time data. TanStack Query (formerly React Query) simplifies data fetching, caching, and synchronization, ensuring responsive and up-to-date applications. Apollo Client is tailored for GraphQL applications, efficiently handling data fetching and caching. SWR (stale-while-revalidate) focuses on simplicity and performance, providing hooks for real-time data fetching and consistency.


  • State Management

State management is key for complex React applications. Redux is widely used for its predictable state container and unidirectional data flow, which simplify state changes and debugging. Zustand offers a lightweight, scalable solution with a simple API suitable for smaller applications. MobX uses observable data to update the UI reactively, providing an intuitive approach for managing complex state interactions.


  • UI/Component Libraries

UI and component libraries accelerate development and ensure design consistency. Material UI follows Google’s Material Design guidelines, offering a comprehensive set of customizable components. Radix UI provides accessible, unstyled components for building high-quality interfaces, focusing on performance and customization. Shadcn UI offers highly customizable components that integrate seamlessly with design systems and theming solutions.


  • Styling

Styling is crucial for creating visually appealing applications. CSS Modules allow for modular and reusable CSS with local scope, preventing style leakage and naming conflicts. Styled components enable CSS-in-JS, allowing dynamic styling and theming with tagged template literals. This component-centric approach simplifies managing and maintaining styles in large applications.

The Whys & Hows of React: How It Impacts Modern Tech - Photo 1

React in Modern Tech

React has become a cornerstone in modern web development, widely adopted by industry leaders like Meta, Instagram, and Netflix. These companies leverage React to build dynamic and high-performing user interfaces. The library’s ability to efficiently manage UI components has significantly influenced web development trends, popularizing the use of component-based architecture and hooks. React’s introduction of server components has further pushed the boundaries, allowing for improved performance and scalability in web applications.


The integration of React with other cutting-edge technologies, such as GraphQL and TypeScript, has enhanced its versatility and capability. GraphQL enables efficient data fetching, while TypeScript adds robust type-checking to JavaScript, improving code quality and maintainability. The extensive community and support surrounding React contribute to its continuous evolution, providing developers with a rich ecosystem of tools, libraries, and resources. This strong community support ensures React remains at the forefront of web development innovation.

Advantages and Disadvantages

React offers several compelling advantages that have made it a favorite among developers. One of its most notable benefits is the reusability of components. This component-based architecture allows developers to create modular, maintainable, consistent code, significantly speeding up the development process. Strong community support further enhances React’s appeal. With an extensive range of tutorials, libraries, and tools, developers can easily find solutions to their problems and stay abreast of the latest advancements. Performance optimizations, particularly through the Virtual DOM, enable React to update and render components efficiently, resulting in fast and responsive applications. Additionally, React’s cross-platform development capabilities, especially through React Native, allow developers to build both web and mobile applications using the same framework, enhancing productivity and reducing the learning curve.


However, React also has its disadvantages. One major drawback is the initial steep learning curve, particularly for beginners who may not be familiar with JavaScript ES6 and JSX. Furthermore, the rapid pace of changes and updates in the React ecosystem can be challenging to keep up with as new tools and libraries frequently emerge. This constant evolution requires developers to learn and adapt continuously. React can sometimes be over-engineered for small projects, introducing unnecessary complexity. For simpler applications, the overhead of setting up and managing React might outweigh its benefits. Despite these challenges, React’s strengths make it a powerful tool for building modern, scalable applications.


Hopefully, the article helped you answer all your questions concerning React. At Phenomenon, we strongly believe that this JavaScrip Library is super effective for building user interfaces and more. If you want to learn more about what Phenomenon Studio offers for customers seeking design and/or development services, contact us and become one of many satisfied customers.

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Here are questions we are often asked by our clients, but if you have any other queries, don't be shy — drop us a line!
What is the main purpose of React?

React is a JavaScript library developed by Meta for building dynamic user interfaces, especially for web applications where content needs to change frequently without reloading the page.

What are the core features of React?

React’s core features include JSX, which allows developers to write their markup language directly in JavaScript, and a virtual DOM that optimizes browser document structure updates.

How does React compare with other frameworks like Angular, Svelte, Solid.js, and Vue?

React primarily differs from other frameworks like Angular, Svelte, Solid.js, and Vue in its flexibility and ecosystem. Angular offers a more opinionated, full-framework solution that includes built-in solutions for state management and routing, making it more rigid but also more comprehensive out of the box. On the other hand, Svelte and Solid.js focus on compile-time optimizations for faster runtime performance and less boilerplate. Vue provides a middle ground with a gentle learning curve and an intuitive API, similar to React’s component-based architecture but with different reactivity and integration patterns.

How is React used in mobile development?

React can be used in mobile development through React Native, a framework that allows developers to build mobile apps using the same React components but with native platform capabilities.

What is the future of React in the tech industry?

React’s future looks promising due to its widespread adoption, continuous development by Meta, and a strong community of developers creating reusable components and improving the ecosystem.

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