React Native CLI vs Expo CLI

React Native CLI vs Expo CLI Banner image's picture

React native app has been in high demand among developers for its synchronous API, fast performance, and constant development in its architecture. If you are confused between expo CLI and react native CLI, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will get detailed insight into what to choose for the next react native app and why.

Overview

React Native has proven to be a competent framework for developing cross platform apps. While discussing cross platform apps, it is important to point out their utility. With the option to operate these apps on multi-platforms, you can get a native look experience. With an agile approach, you can also build an interactive UX.

But, why should you choose the React native framework? Due to the usefulness of React.js, developers have considered React Native as their go-to framework for developing native apps.

There are two methods in which devs can develop react native applications. You can either hire react native developers or can choose from react native CLI and expo CLI.

Are you confused between two of these options? Let us first know what exactly React native CLI and expo CLI is.


React Native CLI?

React Native is the open source cross platform app development framework. It acts as the bridge that combines React with the much-required parts of native development for creating easily accessible UIs.

What is React native CLI? React Native CLI is referred to as the built-in feature that allows users to take control of the project management locally. You can build and run bare-bones React native applications using react native CLI. It gives complete control over your project but for that developers have to put in manual efforts. They have to look after the independent native modules and link all the required libraries. The following command can be used to create the desired project.

npx react-native init <ProjectName>

However, to run the desired project, developers have to run the below-mentioned codes


1 2 3 4 5 6 // run on all platforms npx react-native start // run on android npx react-native run-android // run on iod npx react-native run-ios

Expo CLI

Expo is a platform and a framework for universal React apps. It can also be defined as a set of services and tools built around native platforms and React Native. It can help developers to build, quickly iterate, develop and deploy Android, web, and iOS-based apps. This requires the same TypeScript or JavaScript codebase.

Is Expo built by the Facebook community? No, it is not built but acknowledged by them as the potential tool to build react native applications. Developers often face challenges in building apps. Expo is developed to provide developers with a managed workflow.

Now, what is Expo CLI? The Expo CLI is a layer around the bare React native. It makes tasks easy for developers. It allows developers to quickly start building their native apps for web, android, and iOS platforms using the same code base.

It is easy to learn for programmers who have limited experience in the mobile app development field. Developers do not need to link external libraries to their iOS and Android separately. In the backend, Expo does all the heavy work. Compared to the bare React Native CLI, expo CLI does not offer complete control over iOS and Android separately.

Features of React Native CLI?

Let us now discuss the features of React Native CLI which are found beneficial by developers. In this section, we shall also discuss the pitfalls of the React Native CLI.

Advantages

The upside of React native CLI are as follows:

  • You can use modular architecture. You can get entire control over the components and look of your react native apps. React native CLI can offer you to write native modules and use independent components. This will help you to build personalized app interfaces. With modular architecture, you can learn the functionalities of different app interfaces. You will get access to advanced techniques such as module splitting.
  • React native CLI has third-party plugin support With third-party plugins, you can play with the designs, themes, and templates of your apps. However, you need to be aware of the security issues that may be compromised.
  • Developing .ipa and.apk files are easier Are apk and ipa files the same? No, you cannot say that .apk and .ipa files are the same. They are the .zip files with distinct extensions. IPA files are compatible with iOS apps and APK files are compatible with android OS. Since you can easily build .apk and .ipa files with react native CLI, you can store all the software program’s assets and codes.
  • Developers can use native modules written in Objective-C and JavaIf you want to build creative UIs, you can do it with native modules of react native CLI. You can execute multi-thread native codes for image processing.

Disadvantages

The downside of React native CLI are as follows:

  • It needs XCode and Android Studio to run projectsYou have to install Android Studio and XCode, which requires a heavy lifting manual task such as linking third-party libraries. This flexibility is not so beneficial for the one who doesn't know about either of the android studio and XCode.
  • iOS-based apps cannot be built without a Mac. If you don’t have a Mac system, you have to compromise on developing iOS apps. You should also be aware of fundamental knowledge of the iOS folder setup. I don’t think arranging a Mac system would either help you much.
  • Sharing apps to others requires you to send the entire .ipa or .apk file. You may want to execute tasks in a single click or just by dragging and dropping. This will not be possible with react native CLI. For testing and sharing the react native CLI apps, you have to provide the users with the entire .apk or .ipa file.
  • Needs a complex configuration. Since building apps with react native CLI requires manual tasks, the tool must have a complicated configuration. It is your responsibility to look after the nature modules, create .apk or .ipa files separately and use the third-party plug-in in the correct place. This may seem like a flexible option to prefer, but is not.


What are the pros and cons of Expo CLI?

Pros

The upside of Expo CLI are as follows:

  • Running applications do not require the phone to be plugged into the computer. It easily synchronizes between different phones. The app on phones gets a quick update as soon as developers make changes on their computers.
  • Hassle-free deploy to Google or Apple Store. Expo CLI simplifies things with quick signing credentials and easy handling of keys. You only need to get a paid account for Google Play and TestFlight separately. You have to run eas submit -p ios or eas submit -p android toupload the app to the proper app stores.
  • It is easier to view projects on iPhone and Android using barcode scanning.
  • If you want hassle-free accessibility to project views, you have to generate a QR code. If you want to show your app to your friends and colleagues, you can simply share the QR code with them. Online Android and iPhone simulators can also be used.
  • Expo apps integrate with Expo SDK. Expo SDK opens up various features like ImagePicker, MapView, and Barcode Scanner. That way, you get an easy implementation of APIs to your app.
  • Easy ejection with Expo CLI.This feature allows developers to unpack the native code in Android and iOS folders. It implies disintegrating the App.js file into index.js and App.js.

Cons

The downside of Expo CLI are as follows

  • You cannot add native code to Expo Go. Since Expo CLI is based on managed workflow, you cannot add any dependencies you like. For instance, you cannot use easy configuration and build service with app.json. Expo CLI also doesn't support the use of third-party libraries. Even though you can make app-building tasks automatic, you cannot use the libraries that are not supported on the Expo platform.
  • Not all Android and iOS APIs are accessible. The team is working to add new APIs. If you want to use APIs like In-App purchases and Bluetooth, you should not go for Expo CLI. You can access APIs like GPS location, gyroscope, camera, and contacts. Before selecting Expo CLI, you have to check whether the APIs or services you are looking for are supported or not.
  • The app size built with Expo CLI is about 20MB on iOS and approximately 15MB on Android. The size of the app is large because numerous APIs are available irrespective of their use. This allows you to publish the updated version with newly introduced APIs. This eventually increases the binary size of the app.
  • Freebuilds are often queued. While developing apps with expo CLI, you may need to wait for more than an hour to reload the freebuilds. There can be cases where the builds may never start. You may think that dropping the build may work but it will not.
  • The minimum OS versions supported are iOS 10+ and Android 5+. If you want to support the previous version, you cannot use expo build:android or expo build:iod.


7 facts of comparisons between Expo CLI and React native CLI

react native Cli vs Expo Cli banner image

ParameterReact Native CLIExpo Cli
Environment setupFor the React Naive Cli, you need to install android studio for android and install Xcode for iOS. After installing these two tools, you can install the React Native Cli inside your system. This is quite a complicated task for beginners. Continuing with Expo is much easier. You have to install the expo-cli as a global npm package in your system.
System configuration You can do iOS development inside Windows. If you want to code iOS and Android development, you need to have Apple computers. For React Native Cli, users need to have a system with more than 8 GB RAM and a graphic card installed in it. This is needed to install Android studio. For the Expo, users do not need fancy computers, they can start with basic windows or apple computers.
App testingYou need to connect your physical device through a USB cable. You can also run inside an emulator.While working with expo, you can run your app directly inside your physical devices. It has the QR code scanning code sharing options. You need to scan the code to run the developed application inside your devices. You need to use the app provided by Expo named ‘Expo Go’
Sharing For sharing apps, you have to share the complete .ipa or .apk file. You only need to upload the built project on Expo. Anyone can view this project with the application Expo Go. You have to download it from the app store or the play store.
Libraries React Native Cli gives access to a wide range of libraries separately for Android and iOS. This makes the app development process much more flexible. With expo, you cannot use core libraries specifically built for iOS and Android . However, you can use Expo SDK libraries. In this, you can use system functionality and devices such as barcode scanning, contacts, calendar, video, camera, audio and others.
Size Apps built with React Native cli are comparatively smaller. This is approximately 8MBApps built with Expo Cli are large. These are approximately 20 MB for iOS and nearly 15 MB for Android
Auto linkingFor most of the libraries, you need to link manually. This gives you a control on the project appearance.While using third-party libraries in your project, you can use the auto-linking feature of expo

Final suggestions

It can be said from this discussion that both React Native and Expo are potential tools. It depends on your preference and your project requirements.

If you are a beginner to the concept of app development, you should choose expo CLI. Developers can add a wide variety of features. This makes the application scalable.

If you are already familiar with app development and want complete control of your application, you should go for React Native CLI. it can also offer you applications with native experience.

Still in doubt? You can hire react native developers from 4 Way Technologies.


Tanushree Pal's picture
Tanushree Pal

A science graduate who has a keen interest to lean about new technologies and research area. With an experience in the field of data analytics and content writing, she aims to share her knowledge among passionate tech readers.

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Page Content

Overview

React Native CLI?

Expo CLI

Features of React Native CLI?

Advantages

Disadvantages

What are the pros and cons of Expo CLI?

Pros

Cons

7 facts of comparisons between Expo CLI and React native CLI

Final suggestions