Introducing React Native Windows for cross-platform apps

Building on Facebook’s React, Microsoft is delivering tools for building cross-platform code for Windows, the web, and beyond

Building on Facebook’s React, Microsoft is delivering tools for building cross-platform code for Windows, the web, and beyond.

It’s not a big secret that Microsoft’s builds many of its own properties using TypeScript, its open source JavaScript alternative. With strong typing and a transpiler that converts code to pure JavaScript, it’s designed to deliver large projects on top of web projects. But a tool like TypeScript is only part of the development story.

There are a lot of tools needed to build applications on top of TypeScript, especially if you want to deliver a native user experience. While Electron works well as a host, with API calls that link your application to the Windows platform, it’s still only the foundations. TypeScript on top of Electron alone would just give you another console application, missing all the familiar elements of a modern user experience, from windows and controls to a canvas for your own user elements.

You’re also in a cross-platform world, where your code needs to run not just on Windows, but also on the web, iOS, Android, and MacOS. Users expect not just the same app on each platform, but the same user experience and the same level of functionality. They want to bring what they’ve learned on iOS to Windows and on Windows to Android. Controls don’t need to look the same on each platform, but they do need to behave the same way.

From React to React Native

While Microsoft has a large fleet of tools to bridge the cross-platform divide, it wasn’t the first company to realize it needed to solve this problem: building on a web platform to deliver native code. Facebook’s React UI framework and its React Native platform have become popular tools, so it’s not surprising that Microsoft is building on then for its own cross-platform web-based tools, used in applications like Skype, Teams, Visual Studio Code, Office 365—and now in your own code.

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