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Effective Single Page Applications with ReactJS

Developers often need to reconsider what users expectations are and how they can satisfy them. An approach to making the user experience more fluid and responsive on the web is the introduction of single page applications.

Unlike traditional dynamically served web pages, single page applications are rendered on the client devices, while the server is only responsible for providing the static templates and the requested data. This method allows for snappier user interactions and faster page loads. Single page apps feel more like a native app, since they allow changing the content without reloading the browser. Additionally, they can make the first user interaction happen sooner from visiting the page, which helps to avoid losing customers due to slow page loads.

For users, single page applications are a breeze to use and feel very convenient. For developers, however, they used to pose several problems. First of all, managing many components in the user browser meant dealing with a lot of state changes. Furthermore, because the content was rendered in the user browser, opting for a single page application took its toll on search engine optimization. That is due to Google and other bots not being very good at caching dynamic pages.

Luckily, those issues can be solved with some careful planning and the help of modern libraries like React.js. React is a javascript library developed in-house at Facebook that they use to make Facebook’s and Instagram’s robust single page applications easier to maintain and improve. React is used to define and manage UI elements and can plug into virtually any source of data and technology stack. Thankfully, the Facebook engineering team open sourced React, so we can make the best of the framework, too.

From Transition to Reconciliation

The most amazing feature of React is that it ends the hassle of managing state transitions altogether. Instead, components defined in React are rendered again each time they change. I know, it sounds like a waste. But the React solution is actually pretty clever and performs incredibly well.

First of all, whenever there is a state change in a React component, not the whole element is deleted and reinserted into the DOM. Instead, React compares the original and the new element, and only writes to the DOM what it actually needs to. Which in many cases may be nothing at all. And as it turns out, making comparisons between DOM elements in JavaScript is not much of a performance concern, since JavaScript itself is very fast. The slow part of interactive web pages is usually manipulating the DOM. And React helps avoiding that whenever possible.

Even better, almost all code that runs on the client side can run on the server, too. This allows developers to make sure Google bots are served pages that they can index properly. Therefore, SEO problems can be avoided easily.

In our experience, React allows for a shorter development cycle, faster page loads. In addition, it provides a better user experience without sacrificing good SEO scores.

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We are AZinec, an experienced NodeJS, Ruby on Rails and Javascript developer team. If you are interested in our services for your new project, please contact us.

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