Key skills to look out for when hiring React Native developers

React Native is a JavaScript framework that was released by Facebook in 2015 and is used by developers to create highly interactive cross-platform mobile applications that run on Android and iOS operating systems (OSs). It uses the same declarative programming style as React but with native interfaces and behavior that aligns more closely with platform-specific device characteristics.

React Native provides an intuitive bridge between JavaScript/HTML and native code, creating an experience where one codebase can reuse components across platforms. At the core of React Native mobile apps are components that use JavaScript to render custom user interfaces to fit the look and feel of each platform’s OS (i.e. iOS or Android UIs). Examples of major applications built with React Native (either partially or wholly) include Instagram, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber Eats, Skype, and Pinterest.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to hire skilled React Native developers, both within the framework and outside of it.

The benefits of React Native

The advantages of using React Native for cross-platform mobile application development include the following:

Large community support

As an open source JavaScript platform, React Native allows developers to contribute their skills and knowledge to the development of the framework.

On GitHub, React Native has an active community of more than 1 million users and more than 2,000 contributors who are willing to help fellow developers. In addition, on Stack Overflow, React Native has a large community and numerous solutions to various problems that a developer may encounter while using the framework. The official React Native repository on GitHub offers links to expert help, info on reporting bugs, the future of React Native, and forums of other developers.

Third-party plug-ins

There are various third-party plug-ins available for React Native that save developers the hassle of building applications from scratch, which is both hectic and expensive. Some of these plug-ins are JavaScript-based, while others are native modules. You can install these plug-ins from the React Native Directory or the npm Registry.

Cost efficiency

React Native code is reusable, meaning the same code can be used for iOS and Android applications. Reusing code means that you don’t have to hire two different teams (e.g. one to work on the iOS app and one on the Android app), which reduces development costs. React Native also has several third-party plug-ins, which increase the speed of the overall development process.

Live reload

React Native has a live reload feature that lets you see your real-time changes. Changing the source code triggers an automatic live reload, allowing you to see the results instantaneously. This helps the programmers save on compilation time, unlike in native programming languages, such as Java, which take a long time to reply.

Native look and feel

Even though React Native is not an Android/iOS native development language, it can access the native device APIs, such as the camera roll and location, without much hassle. Platform-specific component libraries, such as Material for Android and Cupertino for iOS, are available in React Native and can be used seamlessly. This means you don’t have to write separate code using the libraries for iOS and Android. This makes the application’s look and feel similar across both platforms.

Key skills to look for when hiring React Native developers

The following section details the specific skills you need to look for when hiring a React Native developer.

Knowledge of JavaScript ES6

Since React Native is based on JavaScript, a developer’s fundamental understanding of the programming language is vital in structuring the app’s logic as well as building interactive UI components at an infrastructural level.

In addition to having a fundamental understanding of JavaScript, a React Native developer should have a solid understanding of JavaScript ES6 principles.

Released in 2015, JavaScript ES6 was a major revision to JavaScript. A React Native developer should have knowledge of various ES6 concepts, such as the scope of variables, arrow functions, array methods, callback functions, and DOM manipulation.

Familiarity with React

React Native uses React to create responsive interfaces with the component-based approach, which makes it easy for developers to implement both simple and complex user interface designs.

A foundational understanding of React ensures that a developer will have a good grasp of concepts such as JSX, component lifecycle, virtual DOM, state management, routing, components and props, conditional rendering, events handling, and other essential React concepts. These same concepts are used in React Native, which means that the developer will be able to easily implement it if hired.

Experience with Native Android and iOS development

React Native developers should have rudimentary experience with native Android and iOS development. Implementing some application functionalities/features requires developers to use native Android and iOS languages, such as Java, Swift, and Objective-C. With this skill set, they can leverage each platform’s strengths while working within its limitations.

Moreover, developers with this experience will be able to simplify integration with different libraries or provide improved performance by leveraging features unique to the specific platform or device.

Understanding of Native modules and their integration with Native platforms

Your React Native app may sometimes need to access a native platform API that is, by default, not provided by JavaScript. For example, you may need to access the Google or Apple Pay API. In addition, there may be a need to reuse existing native libraries (*ie* Swift, Objective-C, and Java) without re-implementing them in JavaScript.

A competent React Native developer should be able to use the NativeModule system to expose the native modules/classes to JavaScript as JS objects and integrate them with native platforms. Your React Native developer should also be able to export a native API that your app needs if React Native does not export it by default.

Knowledge of versioning tools

Knowledge of versioning tools, such as Git, Mercurial, and Apache Subversion, is a must for every developer. These versioning tools enable a team to manage changes to a codebase over time. In this way, specific versions of the code can be recalled whenever needed. Additionally, versioning tools help maximize transparency and minimize conflicts on a team where everyone works individually on a common codebase. Transparency is maximized by showing who made changes to the codebase, and conflicts are minimized by ensuring that developers do not overwrite each other’s changes.

Clear communication

The next two points, while not specific to React Native developers, are important to keep in mind when hiring developers of any kind. Effective communication in a workplace is essential for sharing ideas and improving processes.

Clear communication essentially streamlines implementing changes requested by the client or the company. Clients can also cross-check with developers if they have questions about the initial brief and can collaborate if needed.

Organization and process tracking

Organizational skills help developers stay focused and manage their time efficiently and effectively.

Process tracking is an essential skill for every React Native developer. Process tracking spans can include managing code changes with version control systems and managing the backlog while working in a team. Developers familiar with relevant software, such as Jira and ClickUp, have an added advantage as these are the commonly used software in many organizations. Hiring developers that already know how to use these software reduces the time spent in training.

Final notes

In this article, we covered React Native, what it is and what it’s used for, as well as the benefits it brings to mobile application development. We also unpacked the skills an engineering leader should look for when hiring React Native developers. These skills include an understanding of JavaScript ES6, a good understanding of React, an experience with native Android and iOS development, and an understanding of native modules and their integration with native platforms.

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