Are You Using AI In Your Job?

We want to understand the real-world applications of AL and ML in business and the impact it will have on all our jobs.

Want to help? Complete the survey, your insights could make a big difference. It will just take one minute.
You'll be the first to get access to the final report.-->

React Native & Firebase Change App Development

Natasha Singh | February 13, 2020

We at Blue Label Labs like to discuss these development tools – as do all good agencies – but there is a bit of a “language” barrier that truly illustrates why React Native and Firebase frameworks are the most efficient tools for mobile app development today. The art and science behind mobile app development have shifted over the last decade to more efficient systems, such as these frameworks, but it’s not well explained to entrepreneurs.

Granted, languages in the C-realm and other OO (Object-Oriented) are still highly applicable for software but its mobile ap development counterpart is a different animal. Let’s jump in and take a look at these frameworks and discuss why they’ve changed the face of mobile development for the better.

Why React Native and Firebase frameworks differ from last generation’s code

For a long time, OO languages dominated (and in some areas) still do the development world. This entry from StackShare does a good job of pointing out that React Native and C++ are really two different things. With that said, you could create the same software functionality, more or less, with either.

Being a true language, C++ interacts directly with a machine’s code, which is why apps have to be developed unique to different platforms. Think when you download software and you need to select between 32-bit or 64-bit Windows operating system, macOS, and Linux.

React Native is best described as a cross-platform mobile development framework. React uses JavaScript (an interpretive, “more open” language) to create higher-level code that works on top of various native platforms, most notably on both Android and iOS. 

Firebase provides a turnkey back-end-as-a-service (BaaS) on the web which takes care of the back end server and database components. Compared to React Native, Firebase greatly reduces development time. Previously, we had to build a native iOS app in Swift or Objective-C. Then, we also had to write a whole bunch of code for the backend server component using some combination of a database like SQL Server and web service code on top, typically written in NodeJS or .NET. Firebase provides an out-of-the-box backend that is already connected directly to the front end code used to build the app, saving a tremendous amount of time required to piece together a front-end app with its backend logic. 

Using React Native means more ROI for an application

Some swear that native development is inherently the best way to code apps. They will try to spin theory on, say, ‘why Android is better than React Native.’ If you are planning to stick to a platform like Android, native code is slightly better. It’s like outside furniture: if its position will be static, then it’s best to “bolt-down” and secure it in place to protect from severe weather and theft. However, these days it’s very hard to find anyone looking to launch a product who can confidently state they only want their product to run on Android for now and the future.

Moving this furniture to a new location – for example, from a deck to a lower patio – would be similar to creating code for the Android app that now needs to also run on iOS and the web through a browser like Chrome. React Native could be thought of as a “furniture duplicator” if there were such a thing. Rather than manually moving your furniture from one location to another, use React Native to pull off some sci-fi trickery and duplicates your five-figure Aman Dais.

For a business, the broader the distribution, the easier it is to exist as a competitor in the marketplace. Otherwise, you’re highly limiting yourself, essentially backing yourself into a corner that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

In the past, you’d need to use a clunky, ineffective web-hybrid app like PhoneGap or Cordova to port the code to another platform. In other cases, the same code would need to be written twice to accommodate a different system. This is why you should use React Native to develop innovative business apps. Doing so lets you write the code once and make minimal tweaks over time. These tweaks can allow you to accommodate new OSes, new form-factors for smart devices, or to run at other IoT endpoints.

React Native and Firebase: a gripping teamwork story

It’s like a fairy tale for mobile developers. The happy marriage of React Native and Firebase offers a great environment that allows a variety of platforms to offer synchronous applications. It’s kind of like knowing a married couple that is always hosting get-togethers in their beautiful home and they don’t fight in front of their company.

React Native integrates with Firebase after a little bit of work in the development environment. Once a machine is properly set up for React Native (Windows and Mac are slightly different), plugging Firebase into the mix is basically like signing a marriage certificate.

Google’s own cross-platform framework, Flutter, might be an easier integration with Firebase. However, this language is still in its infancy. React Native has rapidly grown to become the de facto standard in cross-platform mobile app development. In time, we’ll likely incorporate this into our development process once the framework proves to be more reliable.

Firebase works like a proxy and provides database services and cloud computing logic for Android, Windows, and the web. Compared to other popular solutions, for example, like MySQL that stores data in tables like an Excel-like spreadsheet, Firebase is a cloud-based service that stores data more efficiently as an object which can push and pull data independent of whatever platform where the React Native project is running.

Why React Native and Firebase app development are changing the mobile development game

When vetting agencies or vetting developers for your project, knowing the technologies they’ll be using will make a big difference in cost and time to market. These are the main selling points for why to use React Native app development in conjunction with Firebase.

They’re cross-platform solutions.

This is perhaps the most salient point of all. JavaScript is the de facto standard for mobile app development. This is why React Native or Angular frameworks are quite simply unmatched as far as power and compatibility. It makes it far easier for developers to port an application to a different platform than building true native apps for each individual platform. This also means fewer instances of “too many cooks in the kitchen” as one developer could theoretically handle all three tiers of development (i.e. Android, iOS and backend) with JavaScript via React Native and Firebase for the backend.

It’s much more efficient.

Quite simply, it’s faster a time to market for more than one system. Firebase is like a “magic bag” because it stores data in one large JSON object compared to other databases like MySQL and other popular databases that are more like Rolodexes. Granted, it’s not perfect as there are some shortcomings (like the NoSQL store), but the minimal development time this platform offers mostly makes up for it.

Two, it’s more efficient because it’s platform agnostic. This means it works the same with code-bases for both Android and iOS as a turnkey service. The JSON API does the work of moving data between the Firebase server and endpoints which cuts out a potentially huge amount of work that’s typically required to bring true native apps to life on either platform.

Firebase can bridge platforms with other coding projects.

Some development projects are truly best served with languages like C++, such as in Windows-centric enterprise environments. By using Firebase as the database, this makes it much easier to integrate information with mobile counterparts like Android and iOS which will (or should) be built with React Native

Blue Label Labs uses the most effective environments for client projects

Mobile apps are today’s pen and paper, calculator, and file cabinet. We use frameworks like React Native or whatever happens to provide the best value for each project. Our designers and developers hash this out during a design sprint to determine the best tools to get the job done.

When you reach out to us at Blue Label Labs, we will walk you through how our process works then iron-out and explain details that best suit your needs. We aim to make our software as interoperable as possible for our clients to maximize their results. 

Natasha Singh
+ posts

Senior iOS Developer at Blue Label Labs

Get the latest from the Blue Label Labs’ blog in your inbox


* indicates required