Why Install React and What is it For?

If you’re finally ready to take the plunge to start your web developer business, you’re going to need two things: great web hosting and an in-depth knowledge of React.

Why use good web hosting to be a good developer?

You can’t be a good web developer without practice. And that means that when you’re just starting out, you’re going to run through a lot of websites getting familiar with all your developer duties. At this stage in your career, a good web host is crucial.

You’re going to want a web host that offers affordable hosting packages, a reliable customer support team, 99.9% uptime, and fast servers. Our developer clients love our web hosting, because we offer all these essential services and more. Dedicated servers are the end goal, but even our basic shared servers are great for web developers.

Once you have great web hosting in the bag, you’re going to want to install React.

What is React?

On some older websites, when you made comments under a blog post, you wouldn’t immediately see your comment on the web page. You had to refresh the page to see your comment, and you had to keep refreshing the page if you wanted to see new comments from other people.

React is the solution to this problem. React is a JavaScript library that web developers use to build interactive elements on websites.

Let’s break this down.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a dynamic programming language that web developers use to develop web applications and to create dynamic web content. (Dynamic web content means anything that changes, moves, or is automatically refreshed on a website without your needing to reload the web page. Things like animations, slideshows, and interactive forms are all dynamic web content.)

JavaScript is used to create dynamic features (usually animated or interactive) on top of the static structures created by HTML and CSS.

What’s a JavaScript library?

Sometimes, you need JavaScript to perform the same function over and over again; for example, when you’re creating animation effects. It would be annoying if you had to re-code these every single time you needed them. This is why you need a JavaScript library.

A JavaScript library is a collection of prewritten codes that you can use for common JavaScript tasks. Using JavaScript libraries means you don’t have to keep rewriting code by hand, and you can focus your energy on the parts of your tasks that are unique.

One of the most popular JavaScript libraries is React (also called React JS).

Why do successful web developers install React?

React is perfect for helping developers build User Interfaces (UIs). These include buttons, search bars, menus, and other features of a site (or app) that the users need to navigate.

React has lots of features that make it perfect for developers. Here are some of the best things about React:

  1. Low learning curve
  2. Webpages load faster
  3. JSX
  4. Virtual DOM

1. Low learning curve

React has a pretty low learning curve, compared to other JavaScript frameworks. With previous HTML and JavaScript, or basic programming knowledge you’ll be able to use React quickly.

2. Webpages load faster.

React offers Server-Side Rendering (SSR), which means you can pre-render the initial state of your React components exclusively at the server side. This means that your server responds to a browser with only the render-ready HTML of the page, so the browser doesn’t have to wait for all the JavaScript to be loaded and executed before it renders the webpage. Because of this, the webpage loads faster.

3. JSX

HTML documents are the core of any basic website. When a web browser reads these documents, the browser creates a Document Object Model (DOM), which is a kind of virtual tree that represents how the web page is arranged. When the developer wants to add dynamic content to the web page, the developer modifies the DOM using a language like JavaScript.

JSX (JavaScript eXtension) is a React-specific extension that makes it easy for web developers to modify their DOM using simple code in the style of HTML. Not only does JSX improve site performance, but it’s also compatible with any browser platform. 

4. Virtual DOM

For simple websites that have no dynamic features, it’s not really a hassle for your website to use HTML to update its DOM. But if you have a more complex website, it will be a pain if your entire DOM needs to reload every time the user makes a change to the website, e.g. by clicking a button.

With React’s virtual DOM, that doesn’t need to happen anymore. React boasts a virtual DOM, which is a copy of the site’s DOM. React uses this copy to see which DOM needs to change.

So, for example, if a user types in a comment, instead of the entire DOM having to be updated to reflect this change, React scans its virtual DOM and updates only the relevant section of the DOM. This leads to a much faster website and a smoother user experience.

Wrapping up

Any developer worth his or her salt has already installed and become familiar with React. You don’t need to be intimidated by it, either. React has one of the lowest learning curves of any JavaScript library. If you want to start making money from your web developer business, install React. For more tips on how to make money in tech, check out our guide to five programming languages developers need to know.