Facebook’s React Native iOS framework helps the social network keep its focus on the most important element of a mobile app: the user interface.
The user interface should inform every decision made when building a client application for the Web or a mobile platform, said Adam Wolff in his OpenAir 2015 presentation. Wolff is engineering director of product infrastructure at Facebook.
Wolff said that while this goal sounds obvious, many ideas about building applications are a holdover from a time when software applications didn’t put the user experience first. “We need to turn that around and build applications starting with the user interface,” he said.
Wolff showed examples of how Facebook used its React Native framework to display user profile pictures (go to 3:18 in the video to hear more) and comments (9:02 in the video).
React Native first showed up in Facebook’s iOS Groups application, Wolff said. Facebook used a conventional UI development kit to build some parts of the app and React Native to build others. “I challenge you to figure out which is which,” he told the audience. (18:32 in the video.)
Facebook also built its Ads Manager iOS app with React Native. A Web team built the app “without having to learn IOS,” Wolff said. He added that this enabled ad developers to write the Ads Manager app instead of people who are simply iOS or Android developers.