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React vs. JavaScript: Which Framework Suits Your Mobile and Web Development Project Needs?

React vs. JavaScript are leading language platforms and ecosystems among software developers worldwide, but what differentiates them, and which works better for your software project?

The TIOBE index shows that JavaScript was the sixth most popular programming language globally in 2024. React is a JavaScript package, making it another popular choice among developers.

The need for complex and dynamic web apps is rising. So, which framework will help you speed up development and result in higher performance and a better user experience?

Still, the two have key differences and work better for different development scenarios. Therefore, let’s help you find the better option between React native and JavaScript for your next software project.

React vs. JavaScript Basics

JavaScript is a globally popular programming language used to design web and mobile applications, whereas React is a JavaScript package used for similar projects. Still, know more differences to determine which is better for your software development process.

One primary difference is that React is a functional programming paradigm used to convert HTML into a virtual DOM for the rendering process in React. On the other hand, vanilla JavaScript requires no additional libraries or infrastructure, and browsers render what you tell them with JavaScript.

What Is JavaScript?

Plain JavaScript aka vanilla JavaScript refers to the framework and programming language used to design apps, user interfaces, and web pages with the extensive use of the JavaScript library and infrastructure. JavaScript is a scripting language commonly used on the browser or server side.

JavaScript doesn’t set rules that define data or how the UI components must be changed. It doesn’t rely on libraries, making it more customisable for software development. However, developers can code with JavaScript libraries, including jQuery, D3.js, React.js, Underscore, Algolia, and Lodash.

JavaScript Pros and Cons

Pure JavaScript has advantages and disadvantages, with some benefits including:

  • JavaScript is compatible with most browsers and platforms as a browser-based language
  • Plain JavaScript is much easier to use and learn without the need to use libraries
  • Developers don’t need to configure and change complex settings with JavaScript
  • Plain JavaScript can create server-side and client-side applications for web and mobile
  • JavaScript works well for serverless networking and development
  • A great community offers plenty of guides, support, documentation, and troubleshooting

Meanwhile, some disadvantages of JavaScript include:

  • Plain JavaScript lacks syntax and structure and requires more code
  • The browser dependency can result in code errors and incompatibilities
  • The high-level nature restricts control over hardware resources
  • Larger applications may contain more bugs and require more debugging
  • It doesn’t produce the best dynamic user interface features
  • It takes longer to develop than React applications

What Are React and React JS?

React is an open-source JavaScript library with tools and features to enhance user interfaces and develop user-friendly apps and web pages. React JS lets developers use programming languages for front-end development focused on user experience and user interactions.

The React JS library has specific rules for how user flows can be defined and ongoing changes in data will redefine the user interface (UI). React is purely concerned with state management and requires additional libraries for client-side functionality, including React Router, Ant Design, and Material UI.

React Pros and Cons

React JS has advantages and disadvantages, with some benefits including:

  • Developers can create interactive or dynamic user interfaces for better user interaction
  • Building user interfaces with reusable components leads to scalable improvements
  • Web developers can create reusable UI components with a component-based architecture
  • The document object model (DOM) defines the structure of components for processing efficiency
  • It uses declarative programming to control code flow and logic better
  • Developers can build innovative and interactive software with a single line of code

Meanwhile, some disadvantages of React JS include:

  • React has a steeper learning curve for creating user interfaces and other pages
  • Developers need Babel, JSX, or ES6+ to translate code into JavaScript to use React in browsers
  • It contains a lot of boiler rate code that isn’t necessary in many apps
  • It doesn’t support Internet Explorer 11+ or earlier versions
  • You can’t reuse all the code from web applications on mobile platforms
  • It lacks built-in features and requires a large bundle size

React vs. JavaScript Key Differences

Let’s discover some key differences between React JS and JavaScript, focusing on performance, components, languages, and security and testing variances before you pick one to design a web page or mobile application.

Popularity and Support

JavaScript has broad community support and is popular worldwide. The TIOBE index shows that plain JS, Java, Python, C, C++, and C# are the leading languages. Plain JS has even been a Hall of Fame winner and has a vast community for support, guidance, and troubleshooting.

On the other hand, React is a JavaScript library created by Meta with a growing community. Meanwhile, React JS statistics show that 29% of developers used React Native for mobile app development in 2023. The socially invented framework has a fast-growing community.

Learning Curve

Learning JavaScript and learning to create React apps have different learning curves. The learning curve for JavaScript development is shallow, and developers quickly grasp other libraries and frameworks once they master ordinary JavaScript code.

Meanwhile, React has a much steeper learning curve for developers of web and other UI-related functionalities. The component-based architecture and JSX syntax are difficult to master, but the growing support and documentation help developers grasp the code.

Performance Differences

React JS outshines JavaScript in UI/UX performance because it refreshes a virtual DOM to reduce needless rendering, speeding up performance in complicated UI mobile and web applications. A React app also organises and manages UI-related code more effectively than plain JavaScript.

However, JavaScript doesn’t rely on virtual DOMs and has greater overall speed by more easily manipulating standard DOMs. The single-threaded or browser-based approach has a high standard of code that determines how well it performs with JavaScript XML. Better overall performance goes to JS.

User Interface

React JS is more efficient for designing complex user interfaces (UIs) and components rendering with a virtual DOM. Its libraries and toolkits are designed to create complex user interfaces with interactive elements. The component-based approach enables developers to design better UIs.

Plain JavaScript uses an actual and not virtual DOM, complicating how developers design UIs and slowing performance speeds on built user interfaces. Developers must enter the DOM to change to the UI/UX interfaces. Plain JavaScript code also uses only the necessary components.

Security Comparison

JavaScript has common front-end flaws like cross-site scripting, which developers reduce with security techniques when creating apps. However, the plain JavaScript library already has built-in security measures with various middleman APIs, even including Vanilla JavaScript APIs.

React JS uses a single-directional data flow and virtual DOM simulation to reduce back-end or server-side security risks in web development projects. Still, the framework lacks security default settings and tools and requires developers to implement secure code.


Plain JavaScript has various testing models, platforms, and instruments to thoroughly test software in a web application or mobile app, which takes time and effort. Plain JavaScript uses Jasmine, Mocha, Cypress, Karma, Nightwatch, Puppeteer, and more, giving you a thorough testing stage.

React JS has comprehensive testing tools for web applications, including Jest, Enzyme, Jasmine, Chai, Mocha, and Cypress IO. Unit testing is also simpler with the component-based React JS framework. Ultimately, the testing phase is faster with React JS but more thorough with JavaScript.


Maintaining code with JavaScript can be challenging in larger projects because of the code administration when developers create web or mobile applications. JavaScript’s code organisation, administration, and regulation standards increase the time developers spend maintaining the code.

Meanwhile, maintenance is easier in React because of the reusable components of the code and virtual DOMs that don’t require developers to enter the actual DOM. As a result, React JS has faster, easier, and more affordable maintenance than plain JavaScript.

Well-Known Examples of React JS and JavaScript

Here are some well-known examples of companies using both programming languages:

10 Well-Known JavaScript Examples:

  • Beyond Communications
  • Capital One
  • eBay
  • Effect Digital
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
  • Terra
  • Walmart

10 Well-Known React Examples:

  • Airbnb
  • BBC
  • Cloudflare
  • Meta (formerly Facebook)
  • Netflix
  • PayPal
  • Product Hunt
  • Repeat
  • Shopify
  • Uber Eats

Should You Use JavaScript or React for Software Development?

Choosing React or basic JavaScript as a mobile or web developer depends on what you’re developing. You’ll choose different languages for building user interfaces, interactive user interfaces, single-page web development, progressive web apps, or dynamic web applications.

When to Use JavaScript:

  • To create web pages in a browser
  • For small web and mobile applications
  • To use the extensive JavaScript library features
  • For building web applications with a large amount of code
  • To build websites that support external applications
  • For building web applications or mobile apps for streaming, e-commerce, and browser usage

When to Use React:

  • To build single-page applications
  • For building apps with code reuse
  • To build high-performance user interfaces
  • For complex UIs on web and mobile apps
  • For scalable application development
  • To build social media feeds, e-learning platforms, and dashboard applications

How to Choose Between JavaScript vs. React for Your Next Project

Learn more about us to understand our passion and expertise related to basic JavaScript framework development or React JS development. Our clients and case studies show some of our work that led to the reputation of being one of the UK’s most trusted software development companies for 30+ years.

You can also Hire React JS Developers to support existing projects for a mid-to-long term which is worth considering. 

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Hire React JS developers from our team to create web apps or mobile applications suited to your needs. Alternatively, hire dedicated developers with a vast understanding of basic JavaScript if you have an online store, browser-based web app, or streaming service you’d like to develop.


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Summing Up React vs. JavaScript

The JavaScript vs. React debate can finally rest. You have a basic understanding of whether you need basic JavaScript or React for a web app or mobile development. The JavaScript framework has some advantages over React, while React is better at other aspects.

Feel free to speak to our digital strategy consultants if you still feel uncertain about the right framework for your development project. Alternatively, contact us today to discuss which framework will suit your project better, whether you need vanilla JavaScript or React JS.

React and JavaScript FAQs

How Is React Different From JavaScript?

React has reusable UI components and focuses more on user interface elements than JavaScript. Also, React is primarily used for front-end development while JavaScript works well for both or back-end development. However, JavaScript doesn’t have reusable UI components or code for your web app.

Can You Use React Without JavaScript Coding Experience?

JavaScript is a scripting code capable of writing without other libraries or frameworks. However, React JS writes code in pure JavaScript, React JSX, and HTML, which converts to the JavaScript language for rendering. You won’t need JavaScript experience to code with React JS but it would enhance the results.

Is React a Library or Framework, and What’s the Difference?

Only plain JavaScript is a complete framework with its own libraries and toolkits. On the other hand, React is a JavaScript library that integrates with other libraries and toolkits. The code reuse of React makes it more popular as a library, but JavaScript is an entire framework with multiple libraries.

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