Building a Contaminated-Platform Net and Cell App from the Flooring Up

Building a Contaminated-Platform Net and Cell App from the Flooring Up

“Why can’t we factual write this code once and bag it factual work all the intention in which thru Net, Android and iOS?” As a cell engineer who has spent both a massive fragment of his occupation copying the particular identical product from iOS to Android, I’ve asked myself this query many instances.

At Ambrook, we’re fortunate to bag the different to methodology the scenario of supporting a few platforms with out the constraints of legacy engineering choices. Which capability, we’ve been in a situation to part code all the intention in which thru web and cell, allowing all of our entire engineering crew (at the second four engineers) to make contributions with runt overhead.

Ambrook is building a sequence of financial tools for farmers that needs to be consistent and fully-featured all the intention in which thru desktop and cell. So that farmers can spend our tools in the discipline, they need to work neatly on slower web connections and whereas offline. As an early stage firm, we’re prioritizing rapidly offer of original sides as we web suggestions from our users.

The Venture

When I first joined the Ambrook crew, I became tasked with figuring out how to translate our existing web app to cell. The on-line app became written in Typescript the utilization of React DOM and Subsequent.js, which made it a tempting goal to inspect the utilization of React Native. If winning, the utilization of React Native would mean that we could also part code between platforms, tremendously reducing both the associated fee of copying existing sides and (more importantly) the associated fee of every original feature we’d need to make going forward.

At the identical time, we wanted to be humble relating to the explanations why other corporations bag struggled to adopt corrupt-platform applied sciences. ​​A peculiar explain that we prevented is the need to work with existing native product code, a requirement that might severely suppose the productiveness advantages of the utilization of a corrupt-platform framework.

There had been three predominant questions that we location out to address from the origin:

  1. Build we account for most productive practices and patterns round cleanly isolating presentation and industry common sense to enable for the inevitable UI divergence between platforms?

  2. Build third-occasion libraries exist that veil peculiar app wants (ex. navigation, API access, graphing), and attain they work neatly all the intention in which thru platforms?

  3. Does working corrupt-platform severely bustle up vogue time when put next to factual writing the code twice? Is the machine easy for somebody mindful of our existing codebase to be productive in?

We determined to leverage React Native as a compatibility layer between the shared industry common sense from our existing React (Net) codebase and platform-recount APIs. React Native lets in us to bridge the diversities between the UI APIs on every platform: DOM on Net, UIKit on iOS, and Android’s Behold machine. We chose to adopt this corrupt-platform methodology because it lets us part industry common sense between platforms, leverage excessive tremendous open offer libraries, and impulsively create and QA original changes to the app.

We determined to leverage React Native as a compatibility layer between the shared industry common sense from our existing React (Net) codebase and platform-recount APIs.

Sharing Enterprise Good judgment

One of many key advantages of our corrupt-platform approach is that we’re in a situation to part industry common sense between web and cell. Truly, all predominant screens in our app part the identical industry common sense all the intention in which thru platforms; it became more uncomplicated to adapt the original Typescript-primarily based mostly industry common sense to be platform agnostic than to rewrite the identical industry common sense a few instances.

An house where we chose now not to part code is in the UI layer above the industry common sense. The guiding theory that we aged became to part as noteworthy code as practical (industry common sense and some views) whereas contemplating some level of divergence to enable for native-feeling Usaand to make spend of the APIs and applied sciences that felt most productive for every platform.

On the bag entrance, this means the utilization of CSS-primarily based mostly media queries to extinguish a responsive web page and the utilization of CSS for things esteem sticky headers. On cell, we add toughen for pull to refresh and double tapping on the navigation bar to scroll to the high of a display hide. For both platforms, the bottom level blueprint (esteem buttons, kinds, etc.) are utilized individually as section of our build machine, which we talked about in a outdated publish.

Leveraging Start Source Libraries

By the utilization of React Native, we’re also in a situation to tap staunch into a rich open offer ecosystem that has largely eradicated the need for us to write platform recount native code. Our experience has been that most peculiar app spend cases bag outmoded, neatly-maintained libraries.

Some of our favorite libraries in spend are:

  • Apollo Client, a GraphQL client implementation with toughen for optimistic mutations, cache normalization and persistence, and client-facet explain. Apollo scales neatly from a runt persistence web ambiance to an offline, stateful cell ambiance.

  • Victory, a charting library with toughen for many completely different chart types.

  • React Navigation, a cell navigation library with toughen for tabbed navigation, modals, and navigation stacks. It also has firstclass URL coping with, which makes bridging the gap with web very easy: factual spend URL-primarily based mostly navigation everywhere.

The spend of Victory as a charting library lets in us to render almost about equal charts all the intention in which thru assorted platforms with minimal effort.

Swiftly Native Construction

Making a limited code commerce and having or now not it be reflected on machine can put shut wherever from a number of seconds to several minutes in the key apps. Lowering this incremental make time pays dividends beyond easy time savings. Because the iteration time gets shorter, we’re in a situation to both extinguish more rapidly and isolated code changes, tremendously improving comprehension of the code that these changes are being utilized to.

Both our web app (by strategy of Subsequent.js) and our cell app (by strategy of React Native) toughen Swiftly Refresh, allowing changes to blueprint to be reflected in a matter of seconds with out losing either app or particular individual ingredient explain. Swiftly Refresh has been valuable. When I’m unsure of how a UI will survey, I will keep limited changes several instances in a row, tweaking one structure property till everything looks true. Continually, I retain a browser window and simulator open facet by facet to replicate dwell changes on two platforms concurrently.

Swiftly QA on Pull Requests

As an early-stage firm, we frequently ship original sides and fixes to our app. In express to forestall original bugs from being presented at some stage in this path of, we made it easy for developers to manually check changes as a peculiar section of their review circulate.

On web, we deploy every open pull demand to a special Google Cloud Creep URL so that opening the original version of the app is a single click on away.

On cell, we generate a QR code that might additionally be scanned by a cell phone working the Ambrook app to download and bustle essentially the newest Javascript bundle dwell on the cell phone. Native code changes can’t be previewed the utilization of this methodology, but it with out a doubt’s worked neatly for us because most of our changes attain now not involve native code. The technical methodology aged right here is equal to that of Shopify’s React Native app, which they’ve described in this weblog publish.

As a consequence of Expo for powering the experience proven right here.

Our Takeaways

For Ambrook, building a corrupt-platform web and cell app from a single codebase has saved us significant time and effort. Other groups angry by the same methodology can put shut a number of elements a ways from our experience:

  • That you can quiz come-tubby sharing of industry common sense between platforms, but having divergent UIs (either at a build machine level or at a whole display hide level) could also unbiased be most practical and preferable to extinguish an app that feels native on every platform.

  • Start offer libraries at the second veil most peculiar app wants and successfully summary away platform variations, elimination the need to write native code for feature vogue.

  • The developer experience enhancements in React Native (Swiftly Refresh and QA by strategy of QR codes) are significant and could be sophisticated to put in native due to its spend of statically compiled languages.

At final, as a like a flash take cling of-all, a number of bonus suggestions for adopting our stack:

  • We came all the intention in which thru it very helpful to make spend of boilerplate apps when starting, both to grab alternate choices for peculiar complications (global explain administration, i18n, etc) and to diminish initial setup time.

  • Even supposing most engineers on this stack don’t need to know relating to the underlying iOS / Android methods, you’ll peaceable need somebody with a working files of the native make methods and IDEs in prepare to debug make and configuration complications. Right here’s one thing that the Expo community is engaged on.

  • No longer all React libraries work neatly all the intention in which thru both native and web, so that you’ll need to be deliberate when selecting which to make spend of.


As a consequence of our lack of legacy code, we’ve been in a situation to resolve the best of breed tools for our scenario: React Native on Cell and React/Subsequent.js on Net. This expertise is instrumental in our capability to impulsively and successfully iterate on our mission of helping to extinguish farmers more winning and sustainable.

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Ava Chan

Ava Chan

I'm a researcher at Utokyo :) and a big fan of Ava Max