ReactJS: Essential knowledge you need to know for your eCommerce website

Over the past few years, you may have come across ReactJS more, and more frequently. That’s not a coincidence: since the library was open-sourced and released to the public in 2013, adoption of React has been increasing rapidly. Moreover, ReactJS has a reputation for being a powerful tool (combination with others) for creating user interfaces. A user interface (UI) is one of the essential parts of a web application, and it’s the thing a user sees and interacts with on a website.

React is a great solution for building user interfaces, so no wonder that the biggest market players decide to implement it in their web applications. However, it’s important to understand what ReactJS is, what it’s actually capable of, and what its drawbacks are. In this article, we’re gonna take a closer look at React JS and its growing popularity among world-famous companies. Let’s go!

What is ReactJS?

ReactJS is a toolkit for building user interfaces that was first deployed by Facebook in 2011. At its core, React is a solution to a problem that developers faced when building user interfaces. It allows developers to build complex user interfaces which have components that will change frequently over time, without having to write a lot of very tricky JavaScript code. Technically, we can call it a user interface library. 

Why do JavaScript developers use ReactJS?

React is a JavaScript library that specializes in helping developers build user interfaces or UIs. In terms of websites and web applications, UIs are the collection of on-screen menus, search bars, buttons, and anything else someone interacts with to use a website or app.

Before ReactJS, developers were stuck building UIs by hand with “vanilla JavaScript” or with less UI-focused React predecessors like jQuery. That meant longer development times and plenty of opportunities for errors and bugs. So, in 2011, Facebook engineer Jordan Walke created React JS specifically to improve UI development. In addition to providing reusable React library code, React comes with two key features for developers:

  • JSX: a React extension that makes it easy for web developers to modify their DOM by using simple, HTML-style code. And—since React browser support extends to all modern web browsers—JSX is compatible with any browser platform you might be working with.
  • Virtual DOM: a copy of the site’s DOM. ReactJS uses this copy to see what parts of the actual DOM need to change when an event happens (like a user clicking a button).  Virtual DOM can help you see what changed after a user action and selectively updates that section of the actual DOM only.

This JavaScript’s ecosystem

ReactJS is sometimes mistaken for a full-blown framework since its robust ecosystem and extensibility make it such a versatile JavaScript library. Remember, when you use React JS to build a website and web application UIs, you have access to:

  • React code snippets and components (building blocks of React code used to create specific parts of a user interface)
  • The option to use JSX to directly manipulate your DOM
  • A Virtual DOM to improve your website’s performance
The ecosystem sample

But on top of all that, ReactJS is an open-source project, meaning anyone can download and modify its source code for free. This also means whatever specific UI function you’re hoping to address with React, there’s a React library to meet your needs. Your React library size can grow exponentially with React’s community curated library add-ons, ranging from collections of individual UI features to complete React JS templates.

The pros and cons of ReactJS

The pros and cons of this module

Pros

#1. High performance (Virtual DOM)

One of the vital things for any startup is making its web application fast and responsive to provide the best service to customers. In contrast to the real DOM, the virtual DOM is small and can be updated fast. This improves application performance. Using a virtual DOM also allows a page to immediately receive a response from the server and display updates. Facebook, as a result, uses virtual DOM technology to update users’ chats and feeds without reloading the page.

#2. Reusable components

ReactJS supports creating reusable components. Once a UI component is created, it can be used in other parts of code or even in different projects with little or no changes. While developing an application, it’s possible to use open-source libraries of prebuilt components. This helps to cut down the unnecessary for UI development, which is crucial for startups that need to save time and money.

#3. Downward data flow

The one-way data flow in ReactJS is one more feature developers consider beneficial. This data flow is also called top to bottom or parent to child. It means there’s only one-way data is transmitted between the elements in the application. Above all, a downward data flow prevents errors and facilitates debugging.

#4. Huge community

ReactJS community
ReactJS community

Facebook has invested a lot of effort into making ReactJS a powerful tool that can improve the UI of their web applications. Nowadays, they continue working to make it more efficient and pleasant to use. But this module wasn’t created only by Facebook. By making it open-source in 2013, Facebook encouraged developers to use and improve it. Today’s ReactJS is a result of joint efforts, and it’s flourishing day by day.

Cons

#1. Poor documentation

ReactJS is a relatively new technology, and it keeps growing with the help of developers that contribute to it and widen its possibilities. But documentation and its related libraries are often lacking. Developers tend to release updates to libraries without updating the documentation. This makes it hard for others, especially newcomers, to get acquainted with new features and integrate libraries.

#2. Confusing ReactJS extension

Confusing JSX extension

The module uses the JSX syntax extension for creating JavaScript objects with HTML syntax. This certainly simplifies the process of DOM modification and makes code more readable. Having HTML syntax in JavaScript code can seem confusing for young developers, so they’ll need time to get used to it. Junior developers, as a result, often find JSX to be a disadvantage of this module. 

#3. Complicated search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for a web application to get traffic and attract new customers. It’s challenging to make your ReactJS app SEO-friendly, because all dynamic JavaScript web applications, including those built with this module, must go through a more complicated indexing procedure than static web pages. Thus, your page may not be indexed properly or indexing may take too long forcing Google bots to leave the page.

#4. A huge focus of ReactJS on UI, but not enough

ReactJS is a JavaScript library that contains a collection of tools for creating web application UIs. But in contrast to frameworks, it is not an all-in-one tool for creating a whole application. Thus, if you use a model–view–controller (MVC) design pattern for your web application, this module will only be responsible for the view. So, if you use this module, you’ll need to integrate additional tools for routing, APIs, and other parts of your application. 

Final words

That should conclude the essential knowledge you need to know before using ReactJS to build your website’s user interfaces. This module has definitely grown in popularity for a reason. In the right situations, it can make building complex user interfaces a lot easier for you, but it isn’t going to be the right tool for every situation. So, you need to think carefully before integrate it into your site.

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