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Introducing Create React Native App · React Native

Introducing Create React Native App

· 2 min read

Today we’re announcing Create React Native App: a new tool that makes it significantly easier to get started with a React Native project! It’s heavily inspired by the design of Create React App and is the product of a collaboration between Facebook and Expo (formerly Exponent).

Many developers struggle with installing and configuring React Native’s current native build dependencies, especially for Android. With Create React Native App, there’s no need to use Xcode or Android Studio, and you can develop for your iOS device using Linux or Windows. This is accomplished using the Expo app, which loads and runs CRNA projects written in pure JavaScript without compiling any native code.

Try creating a new project (replace with suitable yarn commands if you have it installed):

$ npm i -g create-react-native-app
$ create-react-native-app my-project
$ cd my-project
$ npm start

This will start the React Native packager and print a QR code. Open it in the Expo app to load your JavaScript. Calls to console.log are forwarded to your terminal. You can make use of any standard React Native APIs as well as the Expo SDK.

What about native code?​

Many React Native projects have Java or Objective-C/Swift dependencies that need to be compiled. The Expo app does include APIs for camera, video, contacts, and more, and bundles popular libraries like Airbnb’s react-native-maps, or Facebook authentication. However if you need a native code dependency that Expo doesn’t bundle then you’ll probably need to have your own build configuration for it. Just like Create React App, “ejecting” is supported by CRNA.

You can run npm run eject to get a project very similar to what react-native init would generate. At that point you’ll need Xcode and/or Android Studio just as you would if you started with react-native init , adding libraries with react-native link will work, and you’ll have full control over the native code compilation process.

Questions? Feedback?​

Create React Native App is now stable enough for general use, which means we’re very eager to hear about your experience using it! You can find me on Twitter or open an issue on the GitHub repository. Pull requests are very welcome!

  • engineering
React Native Monthly #1 · React Native

React Native Monthly #1

· 6 min read

At Shoutem, we've been fortunate enough to work with React Native from its very beginnings. We decided we wanted to be part of the amazing community from day one. Soon enough, we realized it's almost impossible to keep up with the pace the community was growing and improving. That's why we decided to organize a monthly meeting where all major React Native contributors can briefly present what their efforts and plans are.

Monthly meetings​

We had our first session of the monthly meeting on June 14, 2017. The mission for React Native Monthly is simple and straightforward: improve the React Native community . Presenting teams' efforts eases collaboration between teams done offline.


On the first meeting, we had 8 teams join us:

  • Airbnb
  • Callstack
  • Expo
  • Facebook
  • GeekyAnts
  • Microsoft
  • Shoutem
  • Wix

We hope to have more core contributors join the upcoming sessions!


As teams' plans might be of interest to a broader audience, we'll be sharing them here, on the React Native blog. So, here they are:


  • Plans to add some A11y (accessibility) APIs to View and the AccessibilityInfo native module.
  • Will be investigating adding some APIs to native modules on Android to allow for specifying threads for them to run on.
  • Have been investigating potential initialization performance improvements.
  • Have been investigating some more sophisticated bundling strategies to use on top of "unbundle".


  • Looking into improving the release process by using Detox for E2E testing. Pull request should land soon.
  • Blob pull request they have been working on has been merged, subsequent pull requests coming up.
  • Increasing Haul adoption across internal projects to see how it performs compared to Metro Bundler. Working on better multi-threaded performance with the Webpack team.
  • Internally, they have implemented a better infrastructure to manage open source projects. Plans to be getting more stuff out in upcoming weeks.
  • The React Native Europe conference is coming along, nothing interesting yet, but y'all invited!
  • Stepped back from react-navigation for a while to investigate alternatives (especially native navigations).


  • Working on making it possible to install npm modules in Snack, will be useful for libraries to add examples to documentation.
  • Working with Krzysztof and other people at Software Mansion on a JSC update on Android and a gesture handling library.
  • Adam Miskiewicz is transitioning his focus towards react-navigation.
  • Create React Native App is in the Getting Started guide in the docs. Expo wants to encourage library authors to explain clearly whether their lib works with CRNA or not, and if so, explain how to set it up.


  • React Native's packager is now Metro Bundler, in an independent repo. The Metro Bundler team in London is excited to address the needs of the community, improve modularity for additional use-cases beyond React Native, and increase responsiveness on issues and PRs.
  • In the coming months, the React Native team will work on refining the APIs of primitive components. Expect improvements in layout quirks, accessibility, and flow typing.
  • The React Native team also plans on improving core modularity this year, by refactoring to fully support 3rd party platforms such as Windows and macOS.


  • The team is working on a UI/UX design app (codename: Builder) which directly works with .js files. Right now, it supports only React Native. It’s similar to Adobe XD and Sketch.
  • The team is working hard so that you can load up an existing React Native app in the editor, make changes (visually, as a designer) and save the changes directly to the JS file.
  • Folks are trying to bridge the gap between Designers and Developers and bring them on the same repo.
  • Also, NativeBase recently reached 5,000 GitHub stars.


  • CodePush has now been integrated into Mobile Center. This is the first step in providing a much more integrated experience with distribution, analytics and other services. See their announcement here.
  • VS Code has a bug with debugging, they are working on fixing that right now and will have a new build.
  • Investigating Detox for Integration testing, looking at JSC Context to get variables alongside crash reports.


  • Making it easier to work on Shoutem apps with tools from the React Native community. You will be able to use all the React Native commands to run the apps created on Shoutem.
  • Investigating profiling tools for React Native. They had a lot of problems setting it up and they will write some of the insights they discovered along the way.
  • Shoutem is working on making it easier to integrate React Native with existing native apps. They will document the concept that they developed internally in the company, in order to get the feedback from the community.


  • Working internally to adopt Detox to move significant parts of the Wix app to "zero manual QA". As a result, Detox is being used heavily in a production setting by dozens of developers and maturing rapidly.
  • Working to add support to the Metro Bundler for overriding any file extension during the build. Instead of just "ios" and "android", it would support any custom extension like "e2e" or "detox". Plans to use this for E2E mocking. There's already a library out called react-native-repackager, now working on a PR.
  • Investigating automation of performance tests. This is a new repo called DetoxInstruments. You can take a look, it's being developed open source.
  • Working with a contributor from KPN on Detox for Android and supporting real devices.
  • Thinking about "Detox as a platform" to allow building other tools that need to automate the simulator/device. An example is Storybook for React Native or Ram's idea for integration testing.

Next session​

Meetings will be held every four weeks. The next session is scheduled for July 12, 2017. As we just started with this meeting, we'd like to know how do these notes benefit the React Native community. Feel free to ping me on Twitter if you have any suggestion on what we should cover in the following sessions, or how we should improve the output of the meeting.

  • engineering
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React Native Monthly #2 · React Native

React Native Monthly #2

· 8 min read

The React Native monthly meeting continues! On this session, we were joined by Infinite Red, great minds behind Chain React, the React Native Conference. As most of the people here were presenting talks at Chain React, we pushed the meeting to a week later. Talks from the conference have been posted online and I encourage you to check them out. So, let's see what our teams are up to.


On this second meeting, we had 9 teams join us:

  • Airbnb
  • Callstack
  • Expo
  • Facebook
  • GeekyAnts
  • Infinite Red
  • Microsoft
  • Shoutem
  • Wix


Here are the notes from each team:


  • Check out the Airbnb repository for React Native related projects.


  • Mike Grabowski has been managing React Native's monthly releases as always, including a few betas that were pushed out. In particular, working on getting a v0.43.5 build published to npm since it unblocks Windows users!
  • Slow but consistent work is happening on Haul. There is a pull request that adds HMR, and other improvements have shipped. Recently got a few industry leaders to adopt it. Possibly planning to start a full-time paid work in that area.
  • Michał Pierzchała from the Jest team has joined us at Callstack this month. He will help maintain Haul and possibly work on Metro Bundler and Jest.
  • Satyajit Sahoo is now with us, yay!
  • Got a bunch of cool stuff coming up from our OSS department. In particular, working on bringing Material Palette API to React Native. Planning to finally release our native iOS kit which is aimed to provide 1:1 look & feel of native components.


  • Recently launched Native Directory to help with discoverability and evaluation of libraries in React Native ecosystem. The problem: lots of libraries, hard to test, need to manually apply heuristics and not immediately obvious which ones are just the best ones that you should use. It's also hard to know if something is compatible with CRNA/Expo. So Native Directory tries to solve these problems. Check it out and add your library to it. The list of libraries is in here. This is just our first pass of it, and we want this to be owned and run by the community, not just Expo folks. So please pitch in if you think this is valuable and want to make it better!
  • Added initial support for installing npm packages in Snack with Expo SDK 19. Let us know if you run into any issues with it, we are still working through some bugs. Along with Native Directory, this should make it easy to test libraries that have only JS dependencies, or dependencies included in Expo SDK. Try it out:
    • react-native-modal
    • react-native-animatable
    • react-native-calendars
  • Released Expo SDK19 with a bunch of improvements across the board, and we're now using the updated Android JSC.
  • Working on a guide in docs with Alexander Kotliarskyi with a list of tips on how to improve the user experience of your app. Please join in and add to the list or help write some of it!
    • Issue: #14979
    • Initial pull request: #14993
  • Continuing to work on: audio/video, camera, gestures (with Software Mansion, react-native-gesture-handler ), GL camera integration and hoping to land some of these for the first time in SDK20 (August), and significant improvements to others by then as well. We're just getting started on building infrastructure into the Expo client for background work (geolocation, audio, handling notifications, etc.).
  • Adam Miskiewicz has made some nice progress on imitating the transitions from UINavigationController in react-navigation. Check out an earlier version of it in his tweet - release coming with it soon. Also check out MaskedViewIOS which he upstreamed. If you have the skills and desire to implement MaskedView for Android that would be awesome!


  • Facebook is internally exploring being able to embed native ComponentKit and Litho components inside of React Native.
  • Contributions to React Native are very welcome! If you are wondering how you can contribute, the "How to Contribute" guide describes our development process and lays out the steps to send your first pull request. There are other ways to contribute that do not require writing code, such as by triaging issues or updating the docs.
    • At the time of writing, React Native has 635 open issues and 249 open pull requests. This is overwhelming for our maintainers, and when things get fixed internally, it is difficult to ensure the relevant tasks are updated.
    • We are unsure what the best approach is to handle this while keeping the community satisfied. Some (but not all!) options include closing stale issues, giving significantly more people permissions to manage issues, and automatically closing issues that do not follow the issue template. We wrote a "What to Expect from Maintainers" guide to set expectations and avoid surprises. If you have ideas on how we can make this experience better for maintainers as well as ensuring people opening issues and pull requests feel heard and valued, please let us know!


  • We demoed the Designer Tool which works with React Native files on Chain React. Many attendees signed up for the waiting list.
  • We are also looking at other cross-platform solutions like Google Flutter (a major comparison coming along), Kotlin Native, and Apache Weex to understand the architectural differences and what we can learn from them to improve the overall performance of React Native.
  • Switched to react-navigation for most of our apps, which has improved the overall performance.
  • Also, announced NativeBase Market - A marketplace for React Native components and apps (for and by the developers).

Infinite Red​

  • We want to introduce the Reactotron. Check out the introductory video. We'll be adding more features very soon!
  • Organised Chain React Conference. It was awesome, thanks all for coming! The videos are now online!


  • CodePush has now been integrated into Mobile Center. Existing users will have no change in their workflow.
    • Some people have reported an issue with duplicate apps - they already had an app on Mobile Center. We are working on resolving them, but if you have two apps, let us know, and we can merge them for you.
  • Mobile Center now supports Push Notifications for CodePush. We also showed how a combination of Notifications and CodePush could be used for A/B testing apps - something unique to the ReactNative architecture.
  • VS Code has a known debugging issue with ReactNative - the next release of the extension in a couple of days will be fixing the issue.
  • Since there are many other teams also working on React Native inside Microsoft, we will work on getting better representation from all the groups for the next meeting.


  • Finished the process of making the React Native development easier on Shoutem. You can use all the standard react-native commands when developing apps on Shoutem.
  • We did a lot of work trying to figure out how to best approach the profiling on React Native. A big chunk of documentation is outdated, and we'll do our best to create a pull request on the official docs or at least write some of our conclusions in a blog post.
  • Switching our navigation solution to react-navigation, so we might have some feedback soon.
  • We released a new HTML component in our toolkit which transforms the raw HTML to the React Native components tree.


  • We started working on a pull request to Metro Bundler with react-native-repackager capabilities. We updated react-native-repackager to support RN 44 (which we use in production). We are using it for our mocking infrastructure for detox.
  • We have been covering the Wix app in detox tests for the last three weeks. It's an amazing learning experience of how to reduce manual QA in an app of this scale (over 40 engineers). We have resolved several issues with detox as a result, a new version was just published. I am happy to report that we are living up to the "zero flakiness policy" and the tests are passing consistently so far.
  • Detox for Android is moving forward nicely. We are getting significant help from the community. We are expecting an initial version in about two weeks.
  • DetoxInstruments, our performance testing tool, is getting a little bigger than we originally intended. We are now planning to turn it into a standalone tool that will not be tightly coupled to detox. It will allow investigating the performance of iOS apps in general. It will also be integrated with detox so we can run automated tests on performance metrics.

Next session​

The next session is scheduled for August 16, 2017. As this was only our second meeting, we'd like to know how do these notes benefit the React Native community. Feel free to ping me on Twitter if you have any suggestion on how we should improve the output of the meeting.

  • engineering
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React Native Performance in Marketplace · React Native

React Native Performance in Marketplace

· 5 min read

React Native is used in multiple places across multiple apps in the Facebook family including a top level tab in the main Facebook apps. Our focus for this post is a highly visible product, Marketplace. It is available in a dozen or so countries and enables users to discover products and services provided by other users.

In the first half of 2017, through the joint effort of the Relay Team, the Marketplace team, the Mobile JS Platform team, and the React Native team, we cut Marketplace Time to Interaction (TTI) in half for Android Year Class 2010-11 devices. Facebook has historically considered these devices as low-end Android devices, and they have the slowest TTIs on any platform or device type.

A typical React Native startup looks something like this:

Disclaimer: ratios aren't representative and will vary depending on how React Native is configured and used.

We first initialize the React Native core (aka the “Bridge”) before running the product specific JavaScript which determines what native views React Native will render in the Native Processing Time.

A different approach​

One of the earlier mistakes that we made was to let Systrace and CTScan drive our performance efforts. These tools helped us find a lot of low-hanging fruit in 2016, but we discovered that both Systrace and CTScan are not representative of production scenarios and cannot emulate what happens in the wild. Ratios of time spent in the breakdowns are often incorrect and, wildly off-base at times. At the extreme, some things that we expected to take a few milliseconds actually take hundreds or thousands of milliseconds. That said, CTScan is useful and we've found it catches a third of regressions before they hit production.

On Android, we attribute the shortcomings of these tools to the fact that 1) React Native is a multithreaded framework, 2) Marketplace is co-located with a multitude of complex views such as Newsfeed and other top-level tabs, and 3) computation times vary wildly. Thus, this half, we let production measurements and breakdowns drive almost all of our decision making and prioritization.

Down the path of production instrumentation​

Instrumenting production may sound simple on the surface, but it turned out to be quite a complex process. It took multiple iteration cycles of 2-3 weeks each; due to the latency of landing a commit in master, to pushing the app to the Play Store, to gathering sufficient production samples to have confidence in our work. Each iteration cycle involved discovering if our breakdowns were accurate, if they had the right level of granularity, and if they properly added up to the whole time span. We could not rely on alpha and beta releases because they are not representative of the general population. In essence, we very tediously built a very accurate production trace based on the aggregate of millions of samples.

One of the reasons we meticulously verified that every millisecond in breakdowns properly added up to their parent metrics was that we realized early on there were gaps in our instrumentation. It turned out that our initial breakdowns did not account for stalls caused by thread jumps. Thread jumps themselves aren't expensive, but thread jumps to busy threads already doing work are very expensive. We eventually reproduced these blockages locally by sprinkling Thread.sleep() calls at the right moments, and we managed to fix them by:

  1. removing our dependency on AsyncTask,
  2. undoing the forced initialization of ReactContext and NativeModules on the UI thread, and
  3. removing the dependency on measuring the ReactRootView at initialization time.

Together, removing these thread blockage issues reduced the startup time by over 25%.

Production metrics also challenged some of our prior assumptions. For example, we used to pre-load many JavaScript modules on the startup path under the assumption that co-locating modules in one bundle would reduce their initialization cost. However, the cost of pre-loading and co-locating these modules far outweighed the benefits. By re-configuring our inline require blacklists and removing JavaScript modules from the startup path, we were able to avoid loading unnecessary modules such as Relay Classic (when only Relay Modern was necessary). Today, our RUN_JS_BUNDLE breakdown is over 75% faster.

We also found wins by investigating product-specific native modules. For example, by lazily injecting a native module's dependencies, we reduced that native module's cost by 98%. By removing the contention of Marketplace startup with other products, we reduced startup by an equivalent interval.

The best part is that many of these improvements are broadly applicable to all screens built with React Native.


People assume that React Native startup performance problems are caused by JavaScript being slow or exceedingly high network times. While speeding up things like JavaScript would bring down TTI by a non-trivial sum, each of these contribute a much smaller percentage of TTI than was previously believed.

The lesson so far has been to measure, measure, measure! Some wins come from moving run-time costs to build time, such as Relay Modern and Lazy NativeModules. Other wins come from avoiding work by being smarter about parallelizing code or removing dead code. And some wins come from large architectural changes to React Native, such as cleaning up thread blockages. There is no grand solution to performance, and longer-term performance wins will come from incremental instrumentation and improvements. Do not let cognitive bias influence your decisions. Instead, carefully gather and interpret production data to guide future work.

Future plans​

In the long term, we want Marketplace TTI to be comparable to similar products built with Native, and, in general, have React Native performance on par with native performance. Further more, although this half we drastically reduced the bridge startup cost by about 80%, we plan to bring the cost of the React Native bridge close to zero via projects like Prepack and more build time processing.

  • engineering
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React Native Monthly #3 · React Native

React Native Monthly #3

· 5 min read

The React Native monthly meeting continues! This month's meeting was a bit shorter as most of our teams were busy shipping. Next month, we are at React Native EU conference in Wroclaw, Poland. Make sure to grab a ticket and see you there in person! Meanwhile, let's see what our teams are up to.


On this third meeting, we had 5 teams join us:

  • Callstack
  • Expo
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Shoutem


Here are the notes from each team:


  • Recently open sourced react-native-material-palette . It extracts prominent colors from images to help you create visually engaging apps. It's Android only at the moment, but we are looking into adding support for iOS in the future.
  • We have landed HMR support into haul and a bunch of other, cool stuff! Check out latest releases.
  • React Native EU 2017 is coming! Next month is all about React Native and Poland! Make sure to grab last tickets available here.


  • Released support for installing npm packages on Snack. Usual Expo restrictions apply -- packages can't depend on custom native APIs that aren't already included in Expo. We are also working on supporting multiple files and uploading assets in Snack. Satyajit will talk about Snack at React Native Europe.
  • Released SDK20 with camera, payments, secure storage, magnetometer, pause/resume fs downloads, and improved splash/loading screen.
  • Continuing to work with Krzysztof on react-native-gesture-handler. Please give it a try, rebuild some gesture that you have previously built using PanResponder or native gesture recognizers and let us know what issues you encounter.
  • Experimenting with JSC debugging protocol, working on a bunch of feature requests on Canny.


  • Last month we discussed management of the GitHub issue tracker and that we would try to make improvements to address the maintainability of the project.
  • Currently, the number of open issues is holding steady at around 600, and it seems like it may stay that way for a while. In the past month, we have closed 690 issues due to lack of activity (defined as no comments in the last 60 days). Out of those 690 issues, 58 were re-opened for a variety of reasons (a maintainer committed to providing a fix, or a contributor made a great case for keeping the issue open).
  • We plan to continue with the automated closing of stale issues for the foreseeable future. We’d like to be in a state where every impactful issue opened in the tracker is acted upon, but we’re not there yet. We need all the help we can from maintainers to triage issues and make sure we don't miss issues that introduce regressions or introduce breaking changes, especially those that affect newly created projects. People interested in helping out can use the Facebook GitHub Bot to triage issues and pull requests. The new Maintainers Guide contains more information on triage and use of the GitHub Bot. Please add yourself to the issue task force and encourage other active community members to do the same!


  • The new Skype app is built on top of React Native in order to facilitate sharing as much code between platforms as possible. The React Native-based Skype app is currently available in the Android and iOS app stores.
  • While building the Skype app on React Native, we send pull requests to React Native in order to address bugs and missing features that we come across. So far, we've gotten about 70 pull requests merged.
  • React Native enabled us to power both the Android and iOS Skype apps from the same codebase. We also want to use that codebase to power the Skype web app. To help us achieve that goal, we built and open sourced a thin layer on top of React/React Native called ReactXP. ReactXP provides a set of cross platform components that get mapped to React Native when targeting iOS/Android and to react-dom when targeting the web. ReactXP's goals are similar to another open source library called React Native for Web. There's a brief description of how the approaches of these libraries differ in the ReactXP FAQ.


  • We are continuing our efforts on improving and simplifying the developer experience when building apps using Shoutem.
  • Started migrating all our apps to react-navigation, but we ended postponing this until a more stable version is released, or one of the native navigation solutions becomes stable.
  • Updating all our extensions and most of our open source libraries (animation, theme, ui) to React Native 0.47.1.

Next session​

The next session is scheduled for Wednesday 13, September 2017. As this was only our third meeting, we'd like to know how do these notes benefit the React Native community. Feel free to ping me on Twitter if you have any suggestion on how we should improve the output of the meeting.

  • engineering
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React Native Monthly #4 · React Native

React Native Monthly #4

· 3 min read

The React Native monthly meeting continues! Here are the notes from each team:


  • React Native EU is over. More than 300 participants from 33 countries have visited Wroclaw. Talks can be found on YouTube.
  • We are slowly getting back to our open source schedule after the conference. One thing worth mentioning is that we are working on a next release of react-native-opentok that fixes most of the existing issues.


Trying to lower the entry barrier for the developers embracing React Native with the following things:

  • Announced BuilderX.io at React Native EU. BuilderX is a design tool that directly works with JavaScript files (only React Native is supported at the moment) to generate beautiful, readable, and editable code.
  • Launched ReactNativeSeed.com which provides a set of boilerplates for your next React Native project. It comes with a variety of options that include TypeScript & Flow for data-types, MobX, Redux, and mobx-state-tree for state-management with CRNA and plain React-Native as the stack.


  • Will release SDK 21 shortly, which adds support for react-native 0.48.3 and a bunch of bugfixes/reliability improvements/new features in the Expo SDK, including video recording, a new splash screen API, support for react-native-gesture-handler , and improved error handling.
  • Re: react-native-gesture-handler, Krzysztof Magiera of Software Mansion continues pushing this forward and we've been helping him with testing it and funding part of his development time. Having this integrated in Expo in SDK21 will allow people to play with it easily in Snack, so we're excited to see what people come up with.
  • Re: improved error logging / handling - see this gist of an internal Expo PR for details on logging, (in particular, "Problem 2"), and this commit for a change that handles failed attempts to import npm standard library modules. There is plenty of opportunity to improve error messages upstream in React Native in this way and we will work on follow up upstream PRs. It would be great for the community to get involved too.
  • native.directory continues to grow, you can add your projects from the GitHub repo.
  • Visit hackathons around North America, including PennApps, Hack The North, HackMIT, and soon MHacks.


  • Working on improving <Text> and <TextInput> components on Android. (Native auto-growing for <TextInput> ; deeply nested <Text> components layout issues; better code structure; performance optimizations).
  • We're still looking for additional contributors who would like to help triage issues and pull requests.


  • Released Code Signing feature for CodePush. React Native developers are now able to sign their application bundles in CodePush. The announcement can be found here
  • Working on completing integration of CodePush to Mobile Center. Considering test/crash integration as well.

Next session​

The next session is scheduled for Wednesday 10, October 2017. As this was only our fourth meeting, we'd like to know how do these notes benefit the React Native community. Feel free to ping me on Twitter if you have any suggestion on how we should improve the output of the meeting.

  • engineering
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