In 2011, as Facebook’s Ad app began to pick up major momentum, their code began seeing a myriad of new updates and team members which became overwhelming and hard to manage after a while. In an attempt to help remedy this problem, Jordan Walke created FaxJS, a prototype which made this process more efficient. This was the birth of what would later evolve into the version of React that we all currently know and love today.
In 2012, Facebook bought a little company called Instagram, who had just 13 employees at the time, for $1 Billion. After its acquisition, Instagram wanted to adopt much of Facebook’s new technology. This put pressure on the parent company to decouple React from Facebook and make it open-source, which is exactly what was done. In late May 2013, Jordan Walke finally introduced what was now called ‘React’ and open-sourced the material. Throughout the rest of the year React began to be used and experimented with across the industry. In 2014, React really began to pick up significant steam as important new features such as the React Developer Tools were added as an extension of the Chrome Developer Tools. 2014 also saw the introduction of React Hot Loader which was a plugin that allows React components to be live reloaded without the loss of state.
In 2015, React reached a point where it was now considered ‘Stable’. This year saw a bunch of new and significant milestones that helped push React even further into the mainstream. In January 2015, Netflix came out with this article in support of React. Airbnb also began using React shortly after. These already significant developments were followed up by React Native for iOS becoming open and available on Github by March and then React Native for Android rolling out in September of that same year. As a large and very engaged community was formed around React, it saw many other improvements and optimizations made throughout the years which have only further contributed to its rise as an integral part of many modern software products and companies.
Some notable features which have helped make React so beloved by developers are its use of Components, the Virtual DOM, Lifecycle Methods, JSX, and React hooks. Diving into the pros, cons, and use cases of each of these specific features deserve to (and will) be explored in their own deep diving articles. But on a surface level they all combine to give React three main advantages which helped build and now sustain its immense success. Those three advantages are: clean programming, fast performance, and a strong community. By clean programming we mean that React gives us the ability to write code that is very easy to read and easy to reuse when compared to its competitors. By fast performance we mean that React provides a very quick response time which is optimal when aiming to create popular user interfaces and experiences. By strong community we mean that if you have a potential need for a package while using React , you can bet that the vast majority of the time theres already one out there available for you to use. With over 13,500 commits on Github and over 231,000 related questions on Stack Overflow, the list of resources to remedy potential road blocks faced while using React is almost endless.
Some of the major companies that currently use React include: Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, Reddit, Dropbox, and Postmates. The use of React by these economic and cultural behemoths is only further proof of the value and demand that React holds in the current employment marketplace. In an ever evolving landscape of software development tools, React seems poised to maintain its wide use and relevance well into to foreseeable future.