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React vs JavaScript: What are their Differences and Individual Advantages?

In today’s digital-first world, websites and apps are becoming increasingly dynamic and complex. As a result, new tools and libraries such as React have been built to speed up the process of developing apps.

After learning JavaScript, many developers turn to React. But what exactly is React? What is JSX, its associated language? And how does it compare to JavaScript?

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the differences between React and JavaScript.

A Closer Look at the Impact of React and JavaScript

Before we delve deeper into the React vs JavaScript comparisons, let’s look at how these tools manifest in our everyday lives.

Do you find yourself reaching for your phone the moment you wake up? And is your first instinct to browse through your social media? As it turns out, this behavior is almost universal. A study by the International Data Convention (IDC) found that 4 out of 5 smartphone users grab their phones before starting their day. And the most heightened activity is on social media and web browsers, after emailing platforms.

Social media is objectively addictive because of the connections we form and keep in that digital space. But aside from our human need to socialize, what lures us to keep going back is how easy it is to use and interact with the platform. The features in place allow us to easily update our status, communicate with friends, and consume information. It’s such an intuitive environment that using it has become second nature to most of us. And we can thank the design of social media for this.

But have you ever wondered why using social media sites is so automatic to us? What technologies are behind their sleek design? It all boils down to the user interface (UI), and in this article, we will discuss a popular UI framework that’s well-known for its capacity to build single-page applications (SPAs): ReactJS. We will also look into its mother framework, JavaScript, for comparison.

close up picture of website's codes on screen

React vs. JavaScript: What’s the Difference?

User interfaces are the direct link between a person and an application. In social media sites, you can easily spot the UI by looking at the text and navigation tools you interact with to perform the desired action. These are called graphical user interfaces, which are essentially a subset of UIs.

Because of the high demand — and even necessity — of UIs to make the user experience more seamless, tech companies created libraries to simplify UI development. One such library is ReactJS. But before we tackle this popular JavaScript library, we have to discuss its foundation first.

What Is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a client-side scripting language developed in 1995 by programmer and technologist Brendan Eich. It is one of the three main components that create the web pages we see every day, the other two components being HTML and CSS.

On its own, JavaScript can execute different types of dynamic features on websites. If you see real-time updates, animation, multimedia, and other complex elements on a web page, then you can bet JavaScript had a hand in it. But creating UIs with plain JavaScript involves complicated work and results in wasted time.

With plain JavaScript, developers who are assigned to maintain and update the code in large applications inevitably commit errors. Fortunately, as with most programming languages, the solution to this problem is a specialized framework. And when it comes to UIs, JavaScript’s saving grace is ReactJS.

What Is ReactJS?

ReactJS is a JavaScript library specifically made to help developers design UIs. Thanks to ReactJS, the process of UI development can be broken down into reusable and more manageable components. But did you know the idea for this JavaScript library came from the emergence of Facebook ads?

In 2012, Facebook needed a better way to manage the influx of ads and updates on the application. It was then that software engineer Jordan Walke developed ReactJS, leading to the success that the library is today.

Eventually, ReactJS became available to developers and tech companies. And many of the applications we use today are a result of ReactJS. But why do people love this library so much?

two female IT working in front of laptop and computer screens.
Image credits to Pexels

What is JSX, React’s Associated Language?

JSX is a syntax extension for JavaScript that’s similar to XML. In other words, it combines HTML with JavaScript, making it easier to visualize what your DOM will look like.

Aside from the visual aid, another benefit of JSX is that rather than separating the interactivity (logic) from the content (markup), JSX instead combines the two to separate the concerns. With JavaScript, you would need to build the element and manipulate it before appending it to the DOM. With JSX, all you need to do is write the HTML tag directly within the JavaScript code.

Advantages of React vs. JavaScript

The Best Features of React over JavaScript

ReactJS knows the importance of well-designed UIs in desktop apps, but what draws the attention of tech companies to this library is its immense regard for the development process.

Virtual Document Object Model (virtual DOM) vs. Real Document Object Model (real DOM)

User interfaces need regular updating, especially if the application is large. Developers using plain JavaScript rely solely on the real DOM to make any changes to an application, drastically affecting the code in place to make it work. And it will take more than a few steps to fix it. With only the code-ridden real DOM as their tool, developers have to update the UI manually. This means they must go through lines and lines of code and spend a large portion of time trying to find the anomaly to fix it. In consequence, your application’s performance will suffer.

This is one of the greatest advantages of ReactJS. With React’s virtual DOM, you can update the real DOM regularly without any fuss. It’s a feature that speeds up the real DOM’s operations, which tend to be slow. The virtual DOM’s task is to mirror your application’s real DOM so it can easily distinguish and update any changes you make to the code. ReactJS makes updating your software an effortless and time-saving task. So much so that your application’s performance will not at all be disturbed as you try to improve your digital product.

Reusable Components

Components are essentially the building blocks of a UI. They contain commands that render the desired output. Behind these components are multiple lines of code as well. If popular social media applications have at least 10,000 components, you can imagine just how much code developers need to write to produce a full-fledged application.

What is at stake is the time it takes to develop a single application. But the good news is this is quickly solved by making components reusable, another one of the main advantages of ReactJS. These reusable components can be duplicated if the developer needs different UIs with similar functions. They can also reuse a component to build upon it. Either way, you reduce the time it takes to develop your app with this productive ReactJS feature.

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Image credits to Pexels

Facilitation of Overall Process of Writing Components

One of the main advantages of React JS over JavaScript is that writing your own components is much easier with the JSK syntax extension. It makes subcomponent rendering easier and accepts HTML quoting. In fact, it’s composed of shortcuts for writing to make your source simpler and cleaner.

While JSX is often a matter of dispute within the React vs JavaScript debates, it proves itself useful in building custom components or high-volume apps, excluding typos in large tree structures. It also makes it easier for you to convert HTML mockups to ReactElement trees. Developers who use React instead of plain JavaScript are also provided with informative warning and error messages, as well as notifications to prevent code injections.

Ensures faster rendering

When building a high-load application, it’s essential to consider how the structure will impact the app’s overall performance. Even the latest engines and platforms can’t ensure the absence of annoying bottlenecks because DOM is tree-structured. Even small edits made at the upper layer can cause negative ripples to the interface. To solve these issues, the Virtual DOM was introduced and it’s currently one of the advantages of using React vs. JavaScript for dynamic and heavy loaded software solutions.

As its name suggests, the Virtual DOM is a visual representation of the DOM. All of the edits are first applied to the virtual DOM. Afterwards, the minimal scope of required DOM operations is calculated using a different algorithm. The real DOM tree is finally updated accordingly, ensuring minimal time consumed. This method guarantees higher app performance and better user experience.

Facilitates further maintenance and boosts productivity

Updates can often turn into a headache, especially when the application has a complex logic and changes in one component have a domino effect on others. To solve this issue, React was implemented with the ability to reuse system components. It is defined as one of the best features of React JS vs plain JavaScript.

Re-use of assets is fairly common among designers, who usually reemploy the same digital objects. You can start with the finest components (button, checkbox, etc.) before moving on to the wrapper components and then the main, root component. With React, it’s easier to manipulate and define the components, ensuring consistent app interface and facilitating codebase growth and maintenance.

Google website on laptop screen with smartphone beside it
Image credits to Pexels


Another advantage of React over JavaScript is its ability to deal with a common failure among search engines to read JavaScript-heavy apps. As a solution, React can run on the server, rendering and returning the virtual DOM as a regular webpage to the browser.

A helpful developer toolset

Learning new tools and technologies and using them in a project can be fun, more so if they can actually be applied to the development environment. It means that a library or framework should come with proper tools to ensure efficient performance. One of the benefits of React JS is its extensive coverage with design and debugging tools.

React Developer Tools is an extension available for browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. It enables developers to observe reactive component hierarchies, inspect their current state and props, and discover child and parent components.

React Native for mobile app development

React is often touted as a “learn once – write anywhere” library, since it follows the same design patterns in both web and mobile app development. While using both plain JavaScript and React, you’ll be able to build rich user interfaces for native apps, supported by both Android and iOS platforms.

Other advantages of React in mobile app development include its portability, real-time reload, ability to reuse components, open source, modular architecture and generous ecosystem. Mobile apps such as Skype, Instagram, and Facebook use React Native as their development platform.


React JS is easier to grasp vs. JavaScript. Its well-defined lifecycle, component-based approach, and use of plain JavaScript make React JS very easy to learn. You can easily build and support mobile apps and professional websites. React uses a special JSX syntax that lets you combine JavaScript and HTML. This is not a requirement as developers can still write in plain JavaScript but JSX is much easier to use.

Access to developers

As React is one of the developer community’s most common frameworks, it will be easier for you to find a React JS developer. Additionally, React is backed by a strong community and a library shared with the entire world. Currently, it is supported by the engineering teams of Facebook and Instagram.

For instance, the React Github repository has over 1,100 contributors, while users can ask questions or bring up concerns on the Stack Overflow Discussion forum.

two developers standing in front of white board and discussing website structure
Image credits to Pexels

The Advantages of ReactJS: What You Can Build

The idea for ReactJS stemmed from the very challenging task of building UIs efficiently. It’s the main library for creating UIs written in JavaScript, and its environment — although versatile — is optimized for single-page applications (SPAs). These are apps that render real-time updates as users scroll through their screens. Big companies such as Netflix and Reddit owe their sleek UI design to ReactJS.

The other types of software you can build with ReactJS include:

a woman sitting and choosing song on Spotify app
Image credits to Pexels

Do the Advantages of React Outweigh Those of Plain JavaScript?

Many people have asked what the differences are between ReactJS vs. JavaScript. Naturally, the same people have also wondered whether the former is significantly better than the latter.

However, both questions assume ReactJS and JavaScript are directly comparable technologies — when the truth is, they’re not. While ReactJS makes UI developers’ job much easier, it’s plain to see that at the core of ReactJS is JavaScript. The two are inextricably linked to each other.

JavaScript can execute anything you can conceive with ReactJS, including SPAs, multi-page websites, and dashboards. The only difference lies in the way an application is developed. Moreover, different projects call for different libraries. ReactJS is perfect for SPAs, but let’s say you want to create general web applications you need to test regularly. Then you might want to look into JavaScript’s Angular library.

There are tons of libraries that make coding with JavaScript easier, and each one caters to your product’s specific needs.

In Summary

The main difference between JavaScript and React is that the former is the scripting language used for the latter. ReactJS improves the development of JavaScript-based applications, especially SPAs.

Other types of software you can create with ReactJS include:

  • Messaging Applications
  • Mobile Applications (with React Native)
  • Data Visualization Projects
  • Documentation Applications
  • Multi-page Web Applications

The main features you can find on ReactJS are:

  • The Virtual Document Object Model, and
  • Reusable Components

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NarraSoft’s outsourcing services range from project development to business processes. You can expect services involving data entry, technical support, 3D art creation, software development, and so many more. Want to partner with NarraSoft? Send an email to sales@narrasoft.com!