What is React?
Who uses React?
Why developers like React?
Here are some stack decisions, common use cases and reviews by companies and developers who chose React in their tech stack.
I was building a personal project that I needed to store items in a real time database. I am more comfortable with my Frontend skills than my backend so I didn't want to spend time building out anything in Ruby or Go.
I stumbled on Firebase by #Google, and it was really all I needed. It had realtime data, an area for storing file uploads and best of all for the amount of data I needed it was free!
I built out my application using tools I was familiar with, React for the framework, Redux.js to manage my state across components, and styled-components for the styling.
Now as this was a project I was just working on in my free time for fun I didn't really want to pay for hosting. I did some research and I found Netlify. I had actually seen them at #ReactRally the year before and deployed a Gatsby site to Netlify already.
Netlify was very easy to setup and link to my GitHub account you select a repo and pretty much with very little configuration you have a live site that will deploy every time you push to master.
With the selection of these tools I was able to build out my application, connect it to a realtime database, and deploy to a live environment all with $0 spent.
If you're looking to build out a small app I suggest giving these tools a go as you can get your idea out into the real world for absolutely no cost.
When I joined NYT there was already broad dissatisfaction with the LAMP (Linux Apache HTTP Server MySQL PHP) Stack and the front end framework, in particular. So, I wasn't passing judgment on it. I mean, LAMP's fine, you can do good work in LAMP. It's a little dated at this point, but it's not ... I didn't want to rip it out for its own sake, but everyone else was like, "We don't like this, it's really inflexible." And I remember from being outside the company when that was called MIT FIVE when it had launched. And been observing it from the outside, and I was like, you guys took so long to do that and you did it so carefully, and yet you're not happy with your decisions. Why is that? That was more the impetus. If we're going to do this again, how are we going to do it in a way that we're gonna get a better result?
So we're moving quickly away from LAMP, I would say. So, right now, the new front end is React based and using Apollo. And we've been in a long, protracted, gradual rollout of the core experiences.
React is now talking to GraphQL as a primary API. There's a Node.js back end, to the front end, which is mainly for server-side rendering, as well.
Behind there, the main repository for the GraphQL server is a big table repository, that we call Bodega because it's a convenience store. And that reads off of a Kafka pipeline.
Simple controls over complex technologies, as we put it, wouldn't be possible without neat UIs for our user areas including start page, dashboard, settings, and docs.
Initially, there was Django. Back in 2011, considering our Python-centric approach, that was the best choice. Later, we realized we needed to iterate on our website more quickly. And this led us to detaching Django from our front end. That was when we decided to build an SPA.
For building user interfaces, we're currently using React as it provided the fastest rendering back when we were building our toolkit. It’s worth mentioning Uploadcare is not a front-end-focused SPA: we aren’t running at high levels of complexity. If it were, we’d go with Ember.js.
However, there's a chance we will shift to the faster Preact, with its motto of using as little code as possible, and because it makes more use of browser APIs. One of our future tasks for our front end is to configure our Webpack bundler to split up the code for different site sections. For styles, we use PostCSS along with its plugins such as cssnano which minifies all the code.
All that allows us to provide a great user experience and quickly implement changes where they are needed with as little code as possible.
But wowza, things have changed. Tooling is just way, way better. I'm primarily web-oriented, and using React and Apollo together the past few years really opened my eyes to building rich apps. And I deeply apologize for using the phrase rich apps; I don't think I've ever said such Enterprisey words before.
But yeah, things are different now. I still love Rails, and still use it for a lot of apps I build. But it's that silly rich apps phrase that's the problem. Users have way more comprehensive expectations than they did even five years ago, and the JS community does a good job at building tools and tech that tackle the problems of making heavy, complicated UI and frontend work.
The front end for Heap begun to grow unwieldy. The original jQuery pieces became difficult to maintain and scale, and a decision was made to introduce Backbone.js, Marionette, and TypeScript. Ultimately this ended up being a “detour” in the search for a scalable and maintainable front-end solution. The system did allow for developers to reuse components efficiently, but adding features was a difficult process, and it eventually became a bottleneck in advancing the product.
Today, the Heap product consists primarily of a customer-facing dashboard powered by React, MobX, and TypeScript on the front end. We wrote our migration to React and MobX in detail last year here.