React, also known as ReactJS, has become the most popular front-end library in the past few years. Even though this library, focused on developing user interfaces, was created by Facebook, nowadays you may also find it behind other platforms, such as Netflix, AirBnB and Discord, or media webpages, such as BBC and The New York Times.
Why has ReactJS become so popular? Will it still be relevant in 2021? In order to get to know this technology a little bit better, we interviewed Gonzalo Penovi, front-end developer.
- How long have you been working with React?
I started exploring React at the beginning of 2016, after reading that Netflix and AirBnB had adopted it for interface development. Since I was coming from Ruby on Rails, I had a hard time adapting to the change in paradigm.
At the beginning of 2017, the company I was working for decided to move all its development to React and, since then, I’ve been using it in my job.
- Are you part of the React community in the region? What’s your opinion about its growth?
I’m not really active in the local community. When I started exploring this world, there wasn’t much information about it, and everything you could read came from Europe or the US. Since then, I’ve been following conferences on related topics, and I’m always reading Medium to get an idea of the direction the world is taking.
Having said that, the local community is constantly growing, and you can clearly see that many developers are participating actively. Nowadays, it’s possible to learn React on your own and in Spanish. That wasn’t even a thing some years ago, and we definitely owe it to the regional community.
- In your opinion, what’s the most valuable aspect of this library?
It’s really difficult to choose just one valuable thing, but if I had to, it would definitely be its versatility and scalability.
Want to create a one page app? No problem, you can do so with Client Side Rendering out-of-the-box.
A client is asking for a website for their business? Combine it with Next.js and Server Side Rendering and you’ll be able to seamlessly solve all the SEO issues.
Do you need to add functionality to a legacy site in WordPress? Activate WordPress API, add React from CDN and you’ll be ready to work.
There are many React application examples, but its versatility, combined with such a big community, makes it possible to solve any front-end challenge just by knowing one library. It’s also worth mentioning that React is not the only front-end framework that allows us to work this way nowadays, but it’s definitely the most popular one and it also leads job hunts.
- As a developer, what do you look for in a project so that it’s appealing for you?
The thing I like the most in any project is the challenges it may bring and, consequently, its potential to scale. There are big challenges to rise to when you’re working on an app with many other developers, or when many people use the app (or both). And it’s even more challenging if this app has been running for many years.
Personally, I like to stay updated and to try and apply the new industry standards, but it’s virtually impossible to follow these trends for big apps, because they emerge quite fast. I believe the greatest challenge for any engineer is to work with an operational and profitable product whose current stack usage is outdated.
- Which are the most useful tools for you nowadays?
I don’t use a vast variety of tools or nothing too fancy, but I do need to mention a few that help my performance the most:
- Visual Studio Code
- Google Chrome
- Mail by Apple (managing many emails is a waste of time)
- Dashlane (safely managing many passwords is really difficult)
- What do you think React is missing that should be taken into account for the future?
To be honest, the things that React might me missing as a library have already been solved as additional packages provided by the community. Right now, I cannot think of anything, but if I could, I’d probably find a npm package in 5 minutes just by searching on Google.
- If you had to give a piece of advice to someone who’s just starting to work with this technology, what would you tell them?
If we manage to understand language’s inner workings and programming paradigms, learning new libraries or frameworks will only be a matter of learning syntax.
We’d like to thank Gonzalo for sharing his views with us. And what about you? Have you worked with React? We’d like you to share your experience with us.