What to Look for in a React Native Developer

By Nick Epson on July 15, 2020

It was Thomas Jefferson who penned the phrase “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence but this was well before the time of the React Native developer. Of course, we all turn out different because of our experiences, choices, and the amount of time and effort we put into the skills we pursue. This condition of human growth naturally makes a big difference when hiring developers or selecting an agency to complete your project.

React Native developers specialize in what we recognize as the ideal framework for developing native mobile applications for any platform. This JavaScript-centric tool provides developers with a platform that enables development for virtually every kind of device in circulation including iOS, Android, and the web, to name a few. React Native developers can use this framework to build truly native apps by leveraging components of the underlying system, whatever it might be.

For mobile development, React Native is the de facto standard for building cross-platform applications. However, the experience level of individual developers with this framework will inevitably change the final output of the application you develop. As such, it’s important to understand the different capabilities of developers at different points in their careers to get the best possible product for your budget.

A breakdown of developer capabilities by experience

Just like any profession, developers are assigned a prefix based depending on their experiences. The big question most ask is, “What are the real differences between a junior and senior developer?” aside from the fact a senior is most certainly done the job for a longer period.

Developing with React Native means having a comprehensive understanding of the framework itself as well as underlying components of the platform(s) for which you’re developing apps. Those early in their career often have an understanding of “how to code” but that’s only part of the equation to making a great app.

Let’s explore the differences between React Native Developers at different experience levels

A quick overview of junior through senior React Native developer?

At the time this is written, a junior developer will have experience in programming in JavaScript ES6 and later. Juniors are usually fresh out of school or have a little experience (roughly 2 years or less) programming in a professional setting. Ideally, this experience tier of developer will have some hands-on experience with React Native or at least a similar framework like Angular.

Your best off hiring a junior development if you’re augmenting existing staff with fresh faces. One of the best parts about those early in their career is that they’re malleable and often eager to learn. Unless you’re looking to complete a basic project, you’ll likely want to hire an individual or agency with much more experience for ambitious projects.

Next is the mid-level developer. After a few years of developing software professionally, a developer is usually considered to be mid-level. These individuals can often be turned loose to work with minimal supervision but may still need to spend time researching or consulting with more experienced developers when faced with a challenging task.

A mid-level developer can tackle somewhat complex projects at a price point that’s typically lower than their senior-level counterparts. The nice part about this experience level is that you still find adaptability and a willingness to master skills. These individuals are ideal when working among gifted leaders whose enthusiasm to teach matches an eagerness to learn.

A senior React Native developer is considered a master of the programming language with a comprehensive understanding of the many underlying components of the platforms on which they develop. Seniors lead the way in making critical development decisions for the app and should have a command in being a leader, especially in environments that take in those earlier in their career.

This highest echelon of React Native developer should have a complete understanding of app architecture and the capability to communicate such details to those at different proficiencies. Finally, your senior-level developers should act as leaders, especially in environments that employ less experienced developers.

React Native developers and their capabilities

React Native developers should be able to answer these must-ask interview questions or at least be in the ballpark – the further along in their career, the greater the depth they’ll be able to showcase at each talking point.

The following points cover a high-level view of some of the most pertinent skills developers should possess.

Understanding of APIs. They should have an understanding of how to interface with a variety of HTTP REST APIs to push and pull information between their app and different databases. Over time, this knowledge expands to include a mastery of interfacing with a variety of third-party APIs to take advantage of functions like payment processing, interfacing with other platforms, pushing and pulling data from authorized databases, among other tasks. Any React Native developer will need to know how to communicate with an HTTP service, pushing and pulling various types of data such as JSON, binary images, or other forms of data using common open-source HTTP plugins such as Axios.

Further, when building an eCommerce app, you’ll need someone who can interface payment processing systems with your platform at checkout. Knowing how to use the API for systems like Braintree or PayPal enable users to securely checkout after adding items to their cart. Once payment is completed, the necessary adjustments should be immediately made to the internal database that stores inventory, at least when selling physical goods.

Knowledge of Redux (or other state management frameworks). Developers, even those early in their career, need to have an understanding of how to effectively use Redux (or an equivalent technology like Mobux). These third-party state management libraries are core tools for managing React Native development projects and are essential for representing saved states of data within the app. Because some data will constantly change, this tool helps mandate consistency in different running environments.?

More complex apps will undergo multiple revisions with some bits of code changing frequently which can make debugging hairy when not using state management. This tool provides a system that helps developers test and debug in an environment that retains and appends to different iterations without destroying old bits of code that could still have application. This is especially important when multiple developers are working together and writing new code. You can learn more about the Redux Toolkit and how it interacts with React Native components here.

Capable of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD.) Over time, new versions of an app will need to be pushed out to different platforms. In conjunction with tools like Redux, CI/CD improves the stability for applications by essentially provisioning apps with required updates as needed.?

Staying organized is a major component of rolling out updates which further relies on being able to capably prioritize everything from dealing with bugs to pushing out new features. Developers need to be versed in this process as it’s key to the longevity of an app after its initial launch as a core part of app maintenance. At Blue Label, we’ve standardized our front end React Native CD pipeline on Bitrise and every React Native developer we have needs to be competent in setting up Bitrise for both Android and iOS for their projects, which is quite often as much of a challenge as writing the code itself!

Understand the limitations of React Native. A React Native developer should understand that this framework isn’t the right toolset for every job. Just as there’s a difference in roofing a house and rebuilding a combustion engine, there’s a difference in the tools used in software development. React Native is ideal for low-performance apps that need to run on multiple platforms. You can use it for building a variety of apps but you wouldn’t want to use it to build sophisticated, high-detail video games or an app that has very high requirements for performance as it does introduce a runtime layer in between the app and the native platform that is invariably slower than a pure native app.?

Have some knowledge of native programming. React Native has its limitations so quite often when you come up against a new 3rd party API or SDK that doesn’t have a React Native library, a developer will have to roll up their sleeves and write a “bridge” between React Native and the native platform to allow it to be accessed in React Native. In order to write bridge code, the developer will need to be able to write a small bit of Swift or JAVA/Kotlin. While it’s not necessary for a React Native developer to be an expert in pure native development, knowing how to write bridge code to the underlying platform is essential. In almost all of our React Native projects we come up against some library we want to use that requires a bridge to be built. For example in a project we just finished, our developers had to build a complete React Native bridge for the Bing Maps SDK.?

React Native development at Blue Label Labs

At Blue Label Labs, we employ the best-of-the-best to build software for everyone from the sole entrepreneur to the Fortune 500 company. While React Native is not the sole framework we use for development, it is perhaps our favorite because of the far-reaching capabilities it provides.?

Our team is primarily compromised of highly-skilled, senior-level developers of various disciplines. Our React Native developers work in unison to solve big problems – we’re here because every project we make aims to accommodate as many users as our clients desire. As such, our agency sticks to the cream of the crop to ensure our products remain as polished as possible throughout their lifecycles.

We are a top-tier React Native development team

Through big-picture analysis of the market and focused testing, our solutions-oriented teams of designers and engineers develop prototypes that fit the mosaic of digital marketplaces. Thankfully, React Native gives us the toolset we need to accomplish this feat. We are all ears for your project, so get in touch with us and let us know your idea.

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