Summary (TL;DR): In this article, we’ll talk about ten tools that make it easy to do hard things in React. We’ll cover component libraries, animation libraries, 3d libraries, frameworks (like Gatsby) that take care of server-side rendering and more. Ideally, you’ll learn about new tools that you can use in your next project.
Developer tooling, especially in the React ecosystem, moves so fast it’s nearly impossible to keep up. We know it’s tempting, once you’re comfortable in a workflow to snub your nose at anything new that comes along. Every team has that grey in the beard senior developer who vigorously opposes all suggestions to add “x package” to the project.
Don’t follow in their footsteps. Remember CSS before Bootstrap? Writing out millions of media queries when a simple <Row/> would do the exact same thing. Imagine if you’d never taken the plunge and tried “that” developer tool for the first time. Keeping up with new dev tools is how you ensure you’re writing modern code in the most efficient way possible year after year.
But who has the time? You do! Thanks to this article, you’re about to hear about 10 of the best tools for React development in 2022. Try some of these tools out for yourself. And with a little luck, you’ll find the next thing you don’t know how you used to live without.
What Is React?
React component lifecycle. Technically React is a library, however, it’s used like a Framework. In 2022, React is able to handle component rendering, state, effects, side effects, SSR, and more.
Another distinguishing feature of React development is you can write UI in HTML and behind the scenes React converts it all to HTML for the browser.
Types of Tools for React Developers
There are thousands and thousands, perhaps millions, of NPM packages that are compatible with React. There are tools for routing, state management, querying APIs, GraphQL, Web3, 3D animation, styling components, UI libraries of components, and much much more.
Redux is an entire state store with dispatchers and reducers. It’s an example of a large-scale tool for React. Other popular React tools are simple UI components like React Calendar or Stopwatch. They are smaller in scope, but no less significant and used by millions and millions of websites every single day.
Top 10 Tools for React Developers
1. React Three Fiber
2. React Bootstrap
3. React Spring
Very biased opinion incoming; React Spring is the best animation library for React. It uses spring-based physics, as you may have guessed, and it works with Styled Components to save an amazing amount of time. You write less code and can animate practically anything without needing a separate CSS style sheet and writing hundreds of transitions. To animate, properties are changed with a “from object” and a “to object” and you just …spread that object into a component’s style props. You can also add springs as hooks that depend on state or fire on synthetic events mouse over, mouse down, etc… It’s not the easiest animation library but once you understand how it works it’s very, very powerful.
4. Chakra UI
Chakra UI is a modular component library that gives you the building blocks you need to build your React applications. It’s based on Tailwind and uses a props-based system to let you style components in-line which many developers prefer. It’s also a very easy UI component library to use if you need a responsive design that can quickly adapt to different device screen sizes without writing page after page of media queries.
6. React Apollo
In the modern tech stack, GraphQL and React are used together extremely often. Libraries like React Apollo and Apollo Client are all extremely efficient ways to query and mutate data with React and a GraphQL server. The main advantage of GraphQL, for front end development, is that you only get the data back that you ask for, and you get to decide the shape of the response in the schema. With REST APIs, you get back all the data, and you need to sort it and arrange it yourself.
Web3 is a library that’s used to interact with the Ethereum blockchain and other blockchains that also run Ethereum Virtual Machines, notably Avalanche, Solana and Binance Smartchain. Web3-react is a React implementation of this library that uses hooks and components to make this data available on the frontend in a more React-friendly way.
Storybook provides a sandbox to build UIs in isolation so you can get at hard-to-reach states and edge cases. It’s good to test UI quickly and work on components without worrying about the business logic or the plumbing of the application. If you’re a believer in Component-Driven Development (CDD) methodology, Storybook is an essential time-saving tool, especially when working on larger codebases or across products.
9. React Query
React Query is a glorious way to manage cache without churning out reducers, caching logic, retry logic, and experiencing boilerplate hell. Caching is hard. You have to keep data up to date, handle changes that happen in the background, think about what to show a user while data is loading. React query takes care of most of this, and it is great for performance. Cached data leads to crazy fast reload times. React Query even prevents an unnecessary render on data load. You know how useEffect will fetch the data and then render the page again irrespective of whether the data has changed? React Query doesn’t do this. It fetches, compares and if nothing has changed there’s no additional render.
Improve Your Development Process With Powerful React Tools
React is an ecosystem of tools. As it’s now the most popular library/framework for web development, and it has spinoff frameworks that bring React to mobile and software development too, React is experiencing an incredible network effect. With all these developers continuing to use it day in and day out, there will always be new tools designed to make our jobs a little easier.