Chapter 1. Meeting React


This chapter covers

  • Understanding what React is
  • Solving problems with React
  • Fitting React into your web applications
  • Writing your first React app: Hello World

When I began working on web development in early 2000, all I needed was some HTML and a server-side language like Perl or PHP. Ah, the good old days of putting in alert() boxes just to debug your front-end code. It’s a fact that as the internet has evolved, the complexity of building websites has increased dramatically. Websites have become web applications with complex user interfaces, business logic, and data layers that require changes and updates over time—and often in real time.

Many JavaScript template libraries have been written to try to solve the problems of dealing with complex user interfaces (UIs). But they still require developers to adhere to the old separation of concerns—which splits style (CSS), data and structure (HTML), and dynamic interactions (JavaScript)—and they don’t meet modern-day needs. (Remember the term DHTML?)

In contrast, React offers a new approach that streamlines front-end development. React is a powerful UI library that offers an alternative that many big firms such as Facebook, Netflix, and Airbnb have adopted and see as the way forward. Instead of defining a one-off template for your UIs, React allows you to create reusable UI components in JavaScript that you can use again and again in your sites.

1.1. What is React?

1.2. The problem that React solves

1.3. Benefits of using React

1.4. Disadvantages of React

1.5. How React can fit into your web applications

1.6. Your first React code: Hello World

1.7. Quiz

1.8. Summary

1.9. Quiz answers