React was created by Facebook in 2013 to help with creating user interfaces. It quickly became a popular framework and many companies use it for their own web development needs. It is often used to create single-page applications.
React is used most in conjunction with the react router to create single-page web-applications that feel like multi-page websites. This can make websites feel very fast when a user does not have to wait for different pages to load. It can also reduce strain on the server by having the client render the requested web page for you.
React is not only limited to the web. React Native can be used to develop cross-platform mobile applications with the same languages you are familiar within the web browser.
A note about Redux:
When reading about the React framework, one might hear the term ‘redux’ thrown around. Redux is not exactly a part of React and can be used separately from it. Redux is a way to manage the state of an application. While React containers, (a type of React component), have state themselves: redux handles the state of the entire application by using a single point of truth, making the application easier to manage for a developer. If you don’t know if you need redux, you probably don’t, as stated on their website. If you choose to go deep in learning React you will eventually want to learn Redux as well. However it is best to learn vanilla React first.
Facebook has made getting started with React really easy. They have developed a tool that takes care of configuring webpack and babel and provides some boilerplate to get you started. This tool is called
create-react-app and many tutorials will start with this application. To install, run
npm install -g create-react-app. Since this is a utility to create, and download the needed components of a react app, it is a good idea to install this globally. Next you can run
create-react-app my-app to have the tool setup the application for you. When the utility is done running, you should see some information on the screen on how to run the application. Follow these directions and your browser should open with a page saying “Welcome to React”. You’re ready to start hacking!
create-react-appto get you started. In general the official React docs are a great way to learn. They are clearly written and will stay up to date much more reliably than 3rd party tutorials.