For Web developers, making the jump to building full-fledged smartphone apps can be daunting. Facebook could ease the transition with a newly open-sourced framework its engineers developed to build apps for Apple devices.
"What we've found is that when we build with React, our code is a lot more predictable. This predictability makes it so we can iterate more quickly with confidence, and our applications are a lot more reliable as a result," wrote Tom Occhino, Facebook software engineer in a post announcing the release during the company's F8 conference, ending Thursday.
React Native takes advantage of the native programming hooks offered by Apple devices and the iOS operating system. Using native hooks from the device's operating system can speed performance. It also opens up use of capabilities offered by the device itself or the OS, such as date pickers and mapping capabilities.
Building interfaces for native applications can be more difficult than building Web interfaces, Occhino explained. A program under development needs to be compiled each time it has to be tested, which slows the development process. The work is more labor-intensive. In some cases, sizes and positions of elements must be calculated by hand.
Facebook plans to release a version of React Native for building Android apps in the near future.