Why Has React.Js’s Popularity Grown So Dramatically?

In a 2016 StackOverflow developer survey, the data showed that React.Js’s popularity had recently increased by over 300%. This information stunned many — what benefits does this technology have over the JavaScript UI libraries already in circulation? How did it get so popular so quickly in the Stack Overflow community? The answers to those questions are provided below:

Perfect Timing

React’s dramatic rise in popularity came shortly after a surprising announcement about Angular 2 i.e. the popular framework was not going to be built with backwards compatibility. This news left a large number of developers stuck with a dying project and they were eager to jump ship. So, after hearing about the benefits (mainly performance) that React offered, it was a no-brainer that they should give it a try. I know that at our company, we dove into React immediately and began using it in place of Angular.

It’s Just A View Layer

One of the first things that naysayers like to spew is, React.Js is not a framework, it’s just a library. These individuals are overlooking the fact that you can implement React.Js instantly into your current project with nary a lag.

Data Flow is Unidirectional

Although React.Js is said to put the “V” in MVC, it isn’t structured like other similar programs i.e. it passes its data in a unidirectional manner versus the others that use two-way binding. Furthermore, the React.Js team also released Flux; a program that made handling the React.Js state easier and also helped them stay one step ahead of the curve. Dan Abrahamov took things one step further by building a program called Redux, which placed everything in one store and made it possible to subscribe to it through the application. What’s more, it comes with a time-traveling debugger as well.

React.Js Native

React.Js Native is the offspring of React.Js and this program was designed to turn Java and C# into compile targets for React JavaScript. Although this doesn’t meet the Write Once Run Anywhere promise of some hybrid applications, like Ionic and Cordova, it does offer native performance- a feature that can’t be beaten.

The Ecosystem

Once upon a time, the React.Js core library was linked to its DOM-oriented components, but this is no longer the case. Nowadays, React.Js can be considered more of an ecosystem with the capabilities to support a wide selection of various architectures and applications than a library that has a specific function. And when you look at the success of external libraries with integration capabilities, it becomes clear why developers are more willing to try building libraries around React.Js. Either that or they are inspired to check out React.Js’s influences, like Functional Reactive Programming — a reaction that has provided a lot of momentum for that particular community.

The Bottom Line

Although it’s clear that React.Js has a lot of benefits, it is by no means perfect. Because it is still relatively new, it’s continuously changing. At my company, we are actively looking for new ways of making the React.Js ecosystem more capable, accessible, vibrant, and even more powerful.