Before two weeks ago or so, it used to be Backbone views and models, and everything was on our main store app, and our mobile web app, but actually, we just switched our mobile web app to using ReactJS for the interface. So it’s using Backbone models but ReactJS front-end components. Really, it was borne out of the frustration with how the Backbone model-view bindings worked, and it wasn’t especially performant for large views, and we had to do lots of tricks to make it performant. But swapping that out with React views meant that it could be both simpler and faster without having to spend a lot of time on that.
One other interesting thing about that is, since React actually works okay with the Backbone models and the Backbone router and stuff like that, we didn’t have to rewrite the mobile web application and update it to ReactJS. Rewrites are almost always a bad idea. We were able to upgrade pieces of it at a time, move on to React, and now the entire thing is using React and just has the Backbone router and models and stuff like that that we already had, so it's a lot faster.
At the beginning of last year, Netflix UI engineers embarked on several ambitious projects to dramatically transform the user experience on our desktop and mobile platforms. Given a UI redesign of a scale similar to that undergone by TVs and game consoles, it was essential for us to re-evaluate our existing UI technology stack and to determine whether to explore new solutions. Do we have the right building blocks to create best-in-class single-page web applications? And what specific problems are we looking to solve? Much of our existing front-end infrastructure consists of hand-rolled components optimized for the current website and iOS application. Our decision to adopt React was influenced by a number of factors, most notably: 1) startup speed, 2) runtime performance, and 3) modularity.
React has exceeded our requirements and enabled us to build a tremendous foundation on which to innovate the Netflix experience.
React is amazing for applications that have a lot of moving pieces. The underlying abstraction makes it easy to keep track of highly stateful UIs while keeping code complexity down, so we don't spend as much time fixing bugs.
→ Yet Core
Our UI is built with Reagent, a ClojureScript wrapper around React, allowing us to build UI components that manage their own state instead of performing constant stateful DOM manipulations.
Web-frontend programming prior to React: like banging rocks together. With React: Like wearing fusion powered underwear. Gives you a nice warm feeling. Using React for Cloudcraft.co allowed us to create a beautiful UI in record time (1 month start to launch), with virtually no bugs popping up during development. The functional approach to just rendering your component given a state just makes so much sense, with React figuring out the delta between your current and desired representation. It's the future kids!