React Native

React Native is an opensource mobile application software development platform, made by the team who brought us Instagram and Facebook. It offers frameworks to develop iOS and Android applications using JavaScript. React Native is a newer javascript library, useful to rapidly build user interfaces. It has some technical hiccups as it is still new but has the financial and technical backing from one of the world’s most profitable corporations. One of the things that makes React Native so special is that is a kit to develop truly native apps for the leading mobile platforms. That means these are no piddly, web architectured apps running in an sandboxed browser, rather, they are full-on native apps.

Since over 51% (and growing) of those who go on-line do so from a mobile device, mobile app development is a key battleground to gain marketshare. There are many cross-platform mobile development platforms already, such as Inferno, but the realm is so new that there is still no clear indication as to who will be the main cross-platform SDK victor. There is still room for an ‘upsetter’ to change the situation and control marketshare.

React Native does seem to have a fantastic headstart, however. Among those who have adopted the React Native platform are are juggernaut commercial entities like Vogue and Walmart as well as Chinese behemoths, Baidu and Tencent. Naturally, Facebook also uses React Native.

There is a lot to like about this well-funded mobile development platform that seems to have ample support and adoption by some powerful players. Even if the players are not powerful, React Native is under the BSD license, which makes it readily available to software developers regardless of economic clout or lack thereof.

However, there are complications. For one, Facebook’s terms and conditions to use React Native. Among them, that you cannot compete with Facebook if you use this platform. Want to build a bigger and better Facebook? Great! Just don’t use React Native to do so. Moreover, you may not sue Facebook or anyone else using React Native otherwise your license to use it is null and void.

Because of this clause, a lot of the opensource development teams, such as Apache, shun React Native.

That said, Facebook has lots of terms and conditions for their own social media platform, such as any image, text, video uploaded to their site becomes their property. If you want to see how much of your life you hand over to mainstream social media platforms, see a documentary called ‘Terms and Conditions May Apply’ (2013) by Cullen Hoback. Just because Facebook has many outrageous terms and conditions, from their social media to their software development platform, does not make it legally binding. Even Facebook lawyers are aware of this. Trouble is, who will pay for the lawyers to test these cases in court?

For now, if you are looking for a mobile app, better make sure you check that the terms and conditions meet the project goals. You do not want to be put in a situation where the software needs to be rebuilt from scratch because you did not read the fine print.