Building reactive websites with React - whats in a name


Roy de Jager




Here at Strangelove, we use React to build user interfaces. If we lost you already, let's explain a bit of the basics. Most of our coding is done in JavaScript (JS), a coding language. It's a pretty well known language, as the majority of websites use it. Webbrowsers all have JS engines to make sure the websites run smoothly. It's possible to use libraries: pre-written JavaScript which allows for easier development of JavaScript-based applications. Making our development lives a bit better. 


Now back to React, as this is one of those JS libraries. “React gives users an app-like experience”. But it's not only the user that get's all the action. Maintaining websites is also extremely simple, making the lives of content managers and editors a whole lot better.

In 2011, Facebook features were growing and growing, their developers needed a code upgrade to keep maintenance efficient and updates managable. Thankfully, there was Jordan Walke who introduced a prototype for the React librabry. Using React is useful for the development of SPA’s (Single Page Applications), as well as for mobile applications. This coding language is focused on simplicity, speed and the scalability of a website.


Another advantage is that websites built with React can be created via small, separated blocks. With the React Components small bits of code can be programmed as individual pieces. This makes it easier to quikcly add new components. The result: websites become extremely adaptable, as you can just add pieces on the go.

Dynamic user experience

Besides the ease in adjustment (for webdevelopers), the technique behind React is another advantage opposed to other systems. Because of the SPA, webpages are loaded dynamically. This means that whatever the user is interacting with, is loaded only when they need it. That way the user experience of React is fluent and dynamic, and creates the app-like feeling we already mentioned. 

Faster loading times

One of the reasons React can load so quickly, is that all components can be updated separately. Because of this, only one element is affected when you do an update. Thanks to this, pages load much faster. With other websites, entire pages usually need to be loaded in order to view them. And it's also great when you are working with a whole team on a project, it's easy for other developers to latch on. So React doesn't only lead to faster loading times, but a quicker development process is also possible. 

Time and effort

The learning curve for React is pretty shallow. So getting the first hang of it is quite easy. However, if you want to operate in React on a high level it will take time and effort. On that higher level other specifics are involved. Think of Virtual DOM, lifecycle events and the merging of other libraries such as Redux. But hey, that’s all just very exciting for us developers! 

Did reading about React get you all excited? Want to be part of our team? We’re always on the look-out for talented developers! Check our vacancies here.