Learn React: Importance, Skills, and Training Paths

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Mobile and web applications make day-to-day activities such as banking, ordering groceries, and listening to music easier and more convenient. With these benefits comes an increasing consumer and business demand for new apps, creating opportunities for developers looking to enhance their programming language toolkit.

One language in particular, the JavaScript library React (also known as React.js and ReactJS), has a track record of popularity among web and mobile app developers. In 2013, Facebook developers created React to facilitate development of innovative, easy-to-use web and mobile applications without starting from scratch every time.

Programmers often use frameworks and libraries like React.js to improve the efficiency of mobile and web development while helping ensure seamless experiences. Other popular languages, such as Angular, help improve web and mobile app development. So why learn React?

Ranking second only to ASP.NET as a favorite web framework according to a 2020 Stack Overflow survey, React provides rich features for fast, flexible, and simple web and mobile app development. React allows programmers to develop flexible user interface designs that are easy to use and responsive.

Salary is also often a key consideration for individuals interested in learning a new tech skill, and compensation for those with React.js expertise is quite competitive. According to Payscale, the median annual salary for experienced individuals with React skills was approximately $94,000 as of May 2022.

Why Learn React

Developers learn React for different reasons. For some, it’s the ability to develop cross-platform applications that look and feel native. From a business perspective, organizations and agencies may ask their programmers to learn React because it’s fast, scalable, and easy to use, allowing businesses to build intuitive mobile apps. Among the primary advantages of React are its reusable components, which optimize the app development process through time savings, improved productivity, and reduced cost.

Here are a few other reasons why programmers should consider learning React:

Easy to Learn and Use

Programmers with basic knowledge of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript will find React relatively easy to learn, as it uses the same concepts and syntax. This means they can quickly use React for multiple platforms without learning new languages from the ground up. Through the use of a special syntax in React known as JavaScript Syntax Extension (JSX), developers can use a mix of JavaScript and HTML.

Simplified Customization

React houses many ready-to-use components so that programmers can develop fully functional web and mobile apps without learning a new framework. It includes an extensive set of library functions that developers can assemble to build custom functions and features and flexible user interface (UI) designs. When it comes time to customize, programmers can build upon existing templates and features.

Fast Start

A programmer who develops a web app may also need to develop similar functionality for mobile devices. Frameworks like React provide developers with tools, code libraries, and a foundational structure to port a web app to mobile without starting from scratch ― no need to reinvent the wheel every time, which saves time.

React Skills

With React, developers can be engaged throughout the entire UI component design process, from project launch to final testing. Therefore, understanding the software development process is helpful. Soft skills such as communication and collaboration are also critical competencies for React JS developers, as they often work in team settings. And because issues can arise, problem-solving and analytical thinking skills are necessary for coming up with effective solutions.

React developers can also benefit from having a command of different languages, knowledge of key development tools, and an understanding of basic and advanced React features and functions.

Basic React Topics

From a technical perspective, knowledge of JavaScript basics is essential, as React is a JavaScript library. Other important skills include knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Git. As developers use React, they will also be exposed to JSX. These are basic React topics every developer should know:

JavaScript + ES6

Programmers use JavaScript written directly into the HTML to build programs called scripts, which run automatically in a browser as a page loads without having to be compiled like other languages. JavaScript can also run on a server or other device with a JavaScript engine. JavaScript ES6, introduced in 2015, offers new syntax and features that enable less writing of code while making it more readable.

HTML + CSS

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the language used to structure webpages. It works with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), a language that defines how a webpage will look, including colors, layouts, and fonts. These two languages are separate, but together, they form the basis of webpages and web applications.

Git

Throughout the development process, software code changes as different programmers work on it. To help keep track of these changes, programmers use Git, an open-source system for version control developed in 2005. Version control means tracking and managing software code changes. Through Git, programmers can identify changes in code and more easily collaborate with others to collect, approve, alter, or merge the code into a single source.

JSX

JavaScript XML, more commonly known as JSX, is a syntax extension for JavaScript that converts HTML into React elements. While JSX is not a requirement for React developers, it can make creating applications easier, as well as make it easier to debug and fix errors.

Components

Components allow developers to break up an entire UI into manageable pieces. Components are independent, reusable pieces that work like JavaScript functions. When all of the components are ready to be merged into the final UI design, React helps make the process straightforward.

Props and Functions

How do components communicate? A special object in React called a prop (short for property) transports data from a parent component to a child component. In other words, a prop is a one-way flow type of communication. A type of prop called a function allows a child component to transport data to the parent component.

React Advanced Topics

With a fundamental understanding of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, individuals can pursue additional insights about React advanced topics, such as the following:

Virtual DOM

A breakdown of the software code in web or mobile apps reveals a logical structure of documents that must be accessed and manipulated so that users can see the intended content in the UI. A Document Object Model (DOM), an application programming interface (API), is the software element that establishes the logical structure of documents and how they’re accessed and manipulated.

A key challenge with using a regular DOM is rerendering the logical structure when changes are made to the code. A developer must manually manipulate the attributes of DOM elements and then update the DOM. React’s virtual DOM represents the actual DOM in the UI’s memory, and syncing is more automated, helping to address inefficient rerendering processes.

Error Boundaries

In earlier versions of React, JavaScript errors in the code would corrupt the rendering process, potentially breaking the whole app. After the error boundary concept was introduced in React 16, development teams could better handle these errors. If there is an error in the child component tree in React, error boundaries will catch it during rendering. It will then display an alternate UI instead to eliminate its crashing.

Web Workers

JavaScript script typically comprises a single thread. This means that it can’t execute two tasks at the same time. In the case of a really long thread, freezing may occur because only one instruction at a time can be executed.

Web workers were developed to help solve this problem, running in the background to allow the running of multiple scripts without hindering the primary script from completing its tasks. This results in a responsive, high-performing UI.

Steps to Learn React

Not every React programmer will take the same educational path, but there are two common steps every individual typically takes to learn React and develop their skills.

First, understanding the purpose of React is important. This information, including the history of the language and case study examples, is available throughout the web.

With a foundational knowledge of React, its purpose, and its benefits, the next step is to learn the language. No single approach works for all aspiring React programmers. Some may wind up in a formal setting, such as a college classroom. Others may enroll in a shorter skills training program, or engage in self-education at their own pace.

The educational approach is influenced by an individual’s existing technical skill level, experience in the field, and familiarity with programming concepts. For some, especially those with strong knowledge of JavaScript, learning React can be relatively quick. Others may need more time and guidance from knowledgeable professionals.

The following options can help aspiring programmers learn React, depending on their career goals and time frame.

Tutorials and Videos

Self-teaching via various React tutorials, exercises, and videos available on the web can work for individuals who thrive in self-paced education without guidance, but grasping concepts without hands-on support can be time-consuming and difficult. For individuals without the time and focus to commit to learning React on their own, this learning path may be less effective.

Formal Education

Formal education from universities, private schools, and paid courses can offer the structure and schedule to help programmers learn React and begin writing code. These options can be expensive and lengthy, however, and working professionals may struggle to achieve a healthy work-life balance while learning React in a full-time classroom setting.

Technology Training Organization

Technology talent organizations offer another path. They provide training and connect candidates with employers with open programmer positions. Revature’s hire-train-deploy model can help people looking to break into a tech career get trained on in-demand skills such as React. Revature pays associates during training and offers employment opportunities at the end of the process.

React Exercises and Quizzes

A key way to develop and strengthen one’s skills is through React exercises and quizzes. Individuals can advance their knowledge or familiarize themselves with React concepts, syntax, and language with these tutorial exercises and quizzes.

React Syllabus

If part of your skills development is learning how to build responsive web and mobile apps that users love, understanding React can help set you apart and propel your career. React fundamentals may involve knowing other languages, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This foundational knowledge combined with the flexibility of React can allow you to build webpages and web applications that run on different types of browsers and devices, from Android to iOS.

In addition to knowing React basic concepts, learning how components work is important. For example, React enables developers to create dynamic websites with reusable components to create effective UIs while greatly reducing development time. Understanding components also means enabling them to communicate with each other, which requires knowledge of the role of props and functions.

JSX, components, and the role of behind-the-scenes elements such as virtual DOM are other areas developers should learn. Another key topic is the role of Git for tracking changes and managing source code in webpages and web apps.

Enhance Your Skills to Establish a Promising Career

In researching how to learn React, individuals will find that it’s an extensive and versatile JavaScript library that allows developers ― whether beginning or experienced ― to apply flexible user interface designs to modern mobile and web applications that users find easy to use and responsive.

To prepare the next generation of tech professionals and help close the technology skills gap, Revature focuses on creating career pathways for candidates with diverse experiences and educational backgrounds. Revature offers associates paid training on in-demand skills and then helps them start their careers with corporate partners such as CapitalOne, Salesforce, and Bank of America. Find out how Revature can help you blaze a new path.

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Sources:
C# Corner, “What and Why React.js”
Flatlogic, “What Is React?”
freeCodeCamp, “The Complete React Tutorial for 2021 — Learn Major React Concepts by Building a Project”
freeCodeCamp, “React Functional Components, Props, and JSX – React.js Tutorial for Beginners”
IEEE Computer Society, “These 7 Skills Will Get You Hired as a React Developer”
Javascript.info, “An Introduction to JavaScript”
MDN Web Docs, “Getting Started With React”
Payscale, Salary for Skill: React.js
Progress Telerik, “What Is React Used For?”
React Resource, “Advanced React Concepts”
RootStack, “Skills That a React Developer Must Have to Be Efficient”
Simplilearn, “The Best Guide to Know What Is React”
Stack Overflow, “2020 Developer Survey”
TatvaSoft, “Top 10 React Developer Skills to Get You Hired”
TutorialsPoint, “ReactJS — Overview”
W3C, “HTML & CSS”

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