IDC: React Native changes the game for hybrid mobile app dev

The JavaScript framework from Facebook provides a native interface feel while retaining the Web's more agile model of development

IDC: React Native changes the game for hybrid mobile app dev

Facebook's React Native JavaScript framework is becoming a game-changer in hybrid development of mobile apps, according to a recent report from IDC.

"The Evolving State of Mobile Software Development," authored by IDC analyst Al Hilwa, cites React Native, Telerik's NativeScript, and Appcelerator's Titanium as examples of sophisticated approaches to using Web platform skills and developer workflows. Such hybrid development approaches, which integrate Web technologies around JavaScript and compiled or native device objects, could redefine hybrid Web-style apps, according to the report.

Having these solutions available via open source, in the case of React Native and NativScript, will be a big catalyst for developers. React Native is already gaining traction, the report states, because it has provided a native interface feel while retaining the Web's more agile model of development.

"IDC believes that React Native puts forward an important new paradigm for hybrid app development that liberates mobile developers from the confines of the WebView component, which is typically used with the Apache Cordova hybrid approach. By removing the dependency on WebView, React Native essentially delivers native performance and opens the entire capability of the native device platform to the Web developer," the report says. At this stage, however, React Native is immature and will likely be unsuitable for broad enterprise adoption until late 2016, IDC said.

Still, Web development has taken a backseat to native development in terms of functionality. "My sense is that native is still the most popular approach for mobile consumer and business-to-consumer engagement apps," Hilwa said in an email. "Web is making inroads as I explain in the report, with cross-platform approaches, including Web-based approaches, more popular for mobile employee apps." Native, the report notes, can result in significant inefficiencies in developer productivity and time-to-market agility.

IDC also sees HTML5 "finally taking off," with browser vendors supporting the standard more completely and restricting support for plug-ins.The report also noted that enterprises are increasingly taking a coordinated approach to front-end mobile development that encompasses the Web, mobile, and desktop. As such, Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform model will be an important target for enterprise software developers, along with Android and iOS, IDC said.

In other findings, IDC said microservices principles, in which complex systems are built independently while still forming a coherent, overall system, are being extended to mobile development. "First and foremost, most internal back-end services that present API surfaces can be leveraged by mobile devices directly," the report says. "While that may not be effective for high-scale mobile deployments, approaches where mobile API aggregation services are built to pre-integrate data and assets for mobile device consumption are increasingly being used as an integration pattern between front-end devices or IoT software and back-end systems."

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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