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Understanding React Native Components, Templates, and Tools

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React Native is a powerful framework that can make developing mobile applications a breeze. Its ease of use has enabled developers to create a number of tools, kits, and templates to work with, each with its own specialized use.

Whether you’re looking for a framework for your next project or trying to expand your current toolkit when working with the framework, keep reading to see the best of what the web has to offer.

A Little Background on React Native

Since its release, React Native has quickly become one of the most popular frameworks for developing mobile applications. Created by Facebook and built using the JavaScript React library, this framework makes it simple to build native mobile apps for multiple platforms from a single code base.

This framework is incredibly powerful for three main reasons:

No Native Programming Required

The framework allows those with web development experience to create a native app with little or no need for native programming. This means that knowing languages such as Java, C#, Cocoa, or Swift isn’t necessary, and that anyone that is familiar with JavaScript can use the framework. 

Using JavaScript—widely regarded as one of the easiest languages to learn—as a base makes it easier to train developers, and since JavaScript is already widely used for other applications, it widens the pool of developers available for a project.

One Code Base to Rule Them All

React Native gives you the ability to build native apps for both Android and iOS from a single code base. It wasn’t long ago that the only possibility for having your app run on both operating systems was to build two completely separate apps. Using React Native, it is possible to create a single app that runs on both, even when you need to use native functionality.

Project Modularity 

The third key feature of React Native is its take on app architecture, which features highly modular layouts consisting of screens, components, and more. Each of these pieces can easily be built in a reusable manner, making it simple to create apps efficiently, share pieces between projects, and utilize external pieces.

If you’re new to React Native and want a comprehensive course on how to get started coding mobile apps, check out Get Started With React Native here on Envato Tuts+. Otherwise, let’s talk more about the extensive ecosystem built around this exciting framework.

Tools for Building With React Native

Because of React Native’s ease of use and its popularity with the development community, there are a ton of tools available that can make your projects significantly easier to build. From custom development environments to native code generators, there’s bound to be a new piece of software for your toolkit.

A Development Environment Built for React Native

Many developers have their own favorite Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to use when working on a project, but not all of these environments take advantage of the workflow that comes with React Native apps. Sometimes, they may even conflict with React’s workflow and end up creating more work for developers.

To combat this, Deco IDE is a key tool that helps you develop without having to constantly rebuild through terminals or repeatedly flip back and forth to Xcode. Built as a React Native IDE, this free and open-source editor will make your life much easier. Unfortunately for Windows users, this IDE is Mac only.

Here are some of the key features:

  • built-in simulator support
  • simplified control panel for adjusting CSS properties
  • live updating of CSS properties in the simulator
  • built-in component starter library

Use a React Native Generator to Get Started

New to React Native apps and not sure where to start? Or maybe you’re an advanced developer, but are looking for some variety in the way you build components? 

The React App Builder is a paid solution that makes it easy to generate React Native code from a number of ready-built templates and drag-and-drop modules. You can use it to create simple apps from start to finish, or to lay a solid foundation for more complicated apps.

React Native App Builder
The React Native App Builder in action.

Check the promo video for this tool, and keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of React Native tooling. 

There are a ton more great tools out there, covering workflow improvements, framework extensions, and more. For more information, here’s an extensive list of React Native tools.

React Native Templates

Because of its modular architecture, there is a rich ecosystem of templates and kits available to help with your React Native projects. Why use a template in your projects?

Simple: because building apps is tough enough as it is, and being able to start with a solid foundation in place can be a life saver. After all, reinventing the wheel will take much longer and use more resources than just building off a template. 

In addition to helping complete a large portion of your app right out of the gate, templates also reduce the tedious busy work that is common in every project. With the right templates in your toolkit, you can say goodbye to having to create an initial React Native project, building out authentication processes, and maybe even having to develop payment systems.

Let’s take a look at what’s available.

Universal Templates

At the core of the React Native template ecosystem are generic templates that cover large areas of functionality and that can apply to almost any app. These types of templates will often cover everything you need for a simple app, providing screens and components that serve as the entire user flow.

MStore Pro is one of these templates, providing everything you need to build an eCommerce app quickly and easily. With some minor changes, you can alter the app to fit your brand, and with a number of integrations, you can populate your products from sources such as WooCommerce.

MStore Pro Theming
Easily adapt your app's style with MStore Plus styling

Check out our tutorial to learn step by step how to create a React Native eCommerce app with Mstore Pro.

In a similar vein, BeoNews Pro aims to offer a one-size-fits-all solution, but focused around WordPress sites. Using this template, you can easily convert an existing WordPress site into a native app.

Finally, there are frameworks within frameworks, such as Pepperoni. This open-source blueprint for React Native apps helps developers working on any type of app by providing a number of common building blocks found in most apps.

While these general templates are great, sometimes you need something a bit more niche to get the job done. Luckily, React Native boasts a number other helpful tools and templates that can be used for highly specific projects.

If you want to get a head start on exploring all the templates that are available, check out this list of 10 of the best React Native templates, which pulls together some great general and niche template offerings available from CodeCanyon.

React Native Templates for Every Situation

Not every app is simple. Sometimes, you’ll need highly specific functionality. Fortunately, there are a number of niche templates for almost any situation. Need to allow for table reservations? Or a starter app for your school or church? There’s a solution out there for these scenarios and more.

If you’re building in the fitness market, the GoFit React Native template will help you finish your app quickly. With pre-built components for showing workouts, exercises, recipes, and more, this template can be used for gyms, trainers, or anyone else interested in helping people live a healthier life.

For realtors or anyone in real estate, the Myyaow Realtor template is a great place to start. With its focus on home listings and member follow-ups, it’ll give you a foundation for your app in the real estate sector.

If you have a more specific need that we haven’t touched on, try searching through the React Native section on CodeCanyon to see what other templates are available to help you out!

UI Kits and Material Packs

What if your app is too complex for a generic template, and you just need help with some building blocks? Or you want to use a template, but don’t want your app to look just like the others using that template?

Next, we’ll talk about the answer to these questions: component packs and UI kits.

These packs aren’t as robust as a fully fledged template, but they often contain a number of elements and components that can be used within your project. Because of this, they typically offer more freedom in their use, as long as you’re comfortable with putting all of the pieces together yourself.

One of the most prominent UI kits is Antiqueruby. This pack of React Native interface elements includes more than 250 completed screens and components, ready to be dropped into your project and customized. This specific kit includes tons of integrations that are more akin to what a template might offer, but that don't detract from the breadth and quality of components it provides.

AntiqueRuby Screen
A screen mockup showcasing Antiqueruby components

UI Kitten is another popular UI library that offers its own set of 50+ screens and components. There are plenty of options, so if you’re looking for a specific design style for your app, the solution is likely out there!

How Do You Extend React Native?

We’ve talked about tools, templates, and UI kits that help to make the React Native framework even more user friendly, efficient, and powerful. The ecosystem for this framework is so vast that summing it up in one place is no easy feat. How do you extend React Native for your own projects?

Let us know your favorite tools, workflows, templates, and more below!

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