When you’re learning to become a front-end web developer, there comes a time when you’ll want to gain experience building web apps using a popular library or framework. But there are many front-end web technologies to choose from — including Angular, Vue, and many others — so how do you know if React is worth learning?
In this post, we’ll discuss what React is and seven reasons it’s a good idea to learn. Read on to find out if React is worth learning during your coding journey.
What is React?
Facebook originally developed React because it was having challenges with code maintenance as its codebase and development team grew. The company eventually decided to release React as an open source project in 2013 and adoption steadily grew over the years. The most recent version of the library is React 18, which was released this year.
At its core, React is focused on dynamically rendering the user interface by manipulating the DOM (Document Object Model) based on the current state of different components. That means the UI updates automatically without requiring the user to refresh the page.
Since React has fewer requirements for the overall architecture of a web app, it’s actually considered a library and not a full-fledged framework. However, there are many additional libraries for routing, REST or GraphQL API clients, server-side rendering, and other web app functionality that are part of its open source ecosystem. That makes the broader React ecosystem comparable to web frameworks like Angular or Vue.
The primary advantage of React is the use of components. By dividing a large web app into many reusable parts, it’s easier for development teams to build and maintain an application over time. This helps large development teams work together as the codebase grows because they can make changes to an individual React component without breaking the overall web app.
7 Reasons to Learn React
Now that we’ve covered what React is, let’s look at seven reasons the web library is worth learning.
1. Learning Curve
Since the core of React is fairly limited compared to larger web frameworks like Angular or Vue, it’s much easier for new developers to learn. Front-end developers can quickly begin building dynamic web apps once they learn the basic React concepts like components, properties, state, and JSX. This makes React a great choice for new coders that want to quickly become proficient to land a front-end development role.
React is a library that’s much easier to add to existing web apps because it doesn’t require a very specific application architecture. Angular, for example, is a much more opinionated web framework, meaning you’ll likely create an Angular app architecture from the start rather than adopt it later on. Since React is lightweight and flexible, it can be adapted to many different projects.
Most front-end development teams use a web framework or library for their projects — and React is the most popular. In fact, about 43% of developers use React worldwide, while just 20% use Angular and 19% use Vue. That means there are likely more front-end React roles available now, and there will be a huge demand for web developers with React experience for the foreseeable future.
React improves developer productivity by breaking the user interface of a web app into smaller pieces. A React component is an individual and reusable bit of code that renders a part of your UI. By combining numerous React components, developers can create large web apps in a more efficient way. This can dramatically reduce the amount of code developers need to write — especially when compared to jQuery and other libraries — which saves organizations a lot of time and money when developing web apps.
An important business consideration when building a web app is ensuring that it’s easy for potential users to find on Google and other search engines. Many companies implement search engine optimization (SEO) to improve their rankings in search results, which in part involves the right web app architecture. React is generally considered SEO-friendly when developers use Gatsby.js or Next.s for server-side rendering because it makes the app faster and it’s easier for web crawlers to index.
7. Relevant for All Business Types
The React library is easy to adopt and improves developer productivity when building web apps of all sizes. It’s also much more flexible than many highly-opinionated web frameworks, so development teams can more easily adapt their projects to use React. That makes it suitable for nearly any business, from a small startup to a large enterprise. React is currently used by many popular apps and websites like Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, Netflix, and more.
What is Required to Learn React?
Here are some prerequisites to learning React:
- Building basic web pages using HTML and CSS
- Using a package manager like npm or Yarn
- Comfortable working with CLIs
Besides learning the basics of the React library itself, it’s important to gain experience with some related libraries to become a proficient React front-end web developer. For example, state management and routing are essential for modern web apps, but require libraries like Redux and React Router. This is essential for becoming a well-rounded front-end web developer with React expertise.
Learn React With Treehouse
As you can see, learning React is a great choice for aspiring front-end web developers. It allows development teams to build web apps faster and maintain them more easily as they grow over time. It’s also a common prerequisite for many front-end web development jobs.
Treehouse offers dozens of Tracks, including one to Learn React. This set of courses is designed to teach you the basics of React along with creating your first web app. For example, the beginner course introduces you to key concepts like components, properties, state, JSX, and more. Start your React web development journey with Treehouse!