Why I'm disappointed in React Native
This week at React.js Conf 2015 React Native was introduced. You can see the two most important videos here:
This is amazing technology and I don’t think anyone was expecting this. As an Ember developer I’m jealous. After some reflection I realized I was also incredibly disappointed in Facebook for heading in this direction.
We are (supposed to be) all in this together
The web development Holy Grail right now is to compete directly with (perhaps someday replace) native mobile applications. With React Native the web has lost a huge partner in Facebook for helping make this a reality. What incentive does Facebook have for pushing forward mobile web now that they can just produce native applications with web technology? What incentive do the existing React developers (and the large number of developers that will move to React in the near future) have for building and proving out mobile web use-cases with React Native? None.
We are getting close
This year saw significant improvements in mobile web. We are so close. Check out this video from Google showing off the potential of mobile web:
Mobile web is a point of friction currently, and that friction existing is good because it will drive people and companies to pursue solutions to the problem. React Native is a work-around for mobile web. Some will think of it as a “best of both worlds” and perhaps they are correct. But the problem of mobile web will continue to exist.
Business needs trump ideological ones
Of course Facebook should do what is in its own best interest. In 2012 Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook bet too heavily on HTML5. He was correct then and he is correct now: mobile web feels like shit when compared to native. The User Experience is the primary concern for any product company. This, however, should not stop us from persuing mobile web and pushing the technology forward. I just hope that React Native doesn’t impede that progress in any way.