React Native, Building CANDDi’s iOS App

Published 05 Aug 2015 by Edoardo Moreni, CANDDi
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Since inception, CANDDi was built as a Software as a Service. Our customers were and are able to access the platform wherever they are from a web browser. However, in the past years, we have seen a change in trend in the way sales have been done. When a deal must be closed and there is the need for imminent information, a web application is not enough.

Login screen

For this reason, we have started to build an iOS application, which we are currently testing in a closed Beta, for our customers. The app takes several CANDDi’s features and sticks them together in a simple tool. Users can search, view contacts, assign them, add comments and even forward the profiles.

The biggest decision we have taken so far was at the beginning of the project. In the first week, we firstly built a native prototype in Android, then in Phonegap with the Ionic Framework and then we realised these weren’t the answers we were looking for. Although we could have opted for a more “standard” and straightforward path which consisted in building the app in native languages, we have decided to use React Native, a technology released by Facebook in March 2015.

As Facebook states: >“React Native enables you to build world-class application experiences on native platforms using a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React.”

In the past, with Phonegap and any other Framework which aimed at building one app for every platform, the common paradigm was: >“Write once, run anywhere.”

List view Facebook is using a different philosophy: >“Learn once, write anywhere.”

This technology has enabled us to use our current stack, without adding any other language, and build a fast native app, which uses iOS components, in Javascript. We have also been able to import and integrate several different Javascript libraries, such as Backbone, jQuery, Underscore and Marionette.

The best aspect of React Native is that we don’t have to compile the code over and over again. It lets you debug in Chrome and refresh in the simulator the code you have just written. This truly reflects Facebook’s motto: >“Move fast and break things”.

The app is almost finished and we are probably going to ship it in less than a month. Further if Facebook releases React Native for Android in September, as promised, this will give us a chance to ship the same product also for our customers who use Android, in a matter of weeks.


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