Quick Summary:

The combination of React with Rails is the new dawn of web application development. The buzz around hints how the couple complements each other quite well. In this blog post, we will explore the 180-degree aspects of React with Ruby on Rails and understand how and when choosing React with Rails will benefit your web application development. Also, we will look at how you can integrate React with Ruby on Rails and the names of a few giants who have entrusted this combination.

Introduction

ReactJS is a popular Javascript library for developing a front for user-interactive web applications. It offers React Rails developers simplicity to easily create reusable React components. The primary goal of ReactJS is to allow delivering fast, highly scalable, and straightforward applications.

Ruby on Rails is an open-source MVC framework built in the Ruby language. It offers flexibility in development and saves time in developing scalable applications. It encourages using web standards, like JSON and XML, for data transfer and HTML, JavaScript, and CSS for UIs.

Moving forward, exploring the combination. Let us now look at the benefits of choosing React with Rails.

React with Ruby on Rails for Modern Web Application Development - Benefits

Modern web application development has changed a lot, and so is the case with the demands and requirements associated with it. Ruby on Rails with React conveniently supports modern web application development requirements and is also supported by many developers. Given below are a few reasons Why React with Ruby on Rails is supported by the developers:

Simple Learning Curve

Ruby on Rails React is comparatively simple to learn and understand, making the learning curve the foremost benefit of using React with Ruby on Rails. To develop a prototype in a limited timeframe, you can use React with Rails for MVP development with React as a View Component of the Rails MVC framework.

Community and Documentation

React and Ruby on Rails are both very popular among the developer community, readily and actively available, allowing excellent assistance if the development process is stuck. The community also involves many developers and experts who have already worked on the combination of React + Rails which hence delivers better and more trustworthy documentation, which is of great help for novice developers or those working on the combination for the first time.

Tools, Libraries, and Testing

Ruby on Rails React both present the heartiest support for third-party libraries and plugins for developers, with React having its most popular library, React Hook and npm packages like redux, react-router, material-UI, etc., on the other hand, Ruby on Rails delivering a tool for every functionality that you can think of as a ‘gem’ that you can implement in your project. The combination also presents a set of testing libraries that can be easily configured and used with the application.

User Experience

The combination of React and Ruby on Rails delivers an interface that is fast and easy. It offers simple integration for new features with many additional out-of-the-box features. React + Ruby on Rails collectively +work better than ever, reducing downtime. And with adequate speed, they are functional on all platforms like desktop, tablet, or mobile.

Providing you with the ability to create fascinating applications in terms of looks and functionality.

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Why Choose React with Ruby on Rails?

Below are a few reasons why React as a frontend and Ruby on Rails as the backend can bring extensive benefits to your web application development and deployment.

Quick Development Pace

if you’re looking to build a freemium model-based application, you can use the combination. Ruby on Rails has numerous built-in models and code libraries that save development time and effort and strengthen communication with React’s frontend libraries.

Reduced Server Request Time

The server response time affects user retention significantly. So, a lesser User response time gives you an edge over your competitors, and the React with Ruby on Rails combination solves this problem.

According to experts, a renowned company from the United States used the combination and observed a significant drop in the median response time from 1100ms to 200ms by shifting to React with Rails, which is a significant shift and a valid reason to go with this Ruby on Rails with React.

Modularity

Using more than one framework can initially sound and feel tedious to implement. But, the combination of React with Ruby on Rails is beneficial for your web application development as the traditional set of rules does not bind them; you can implement it at your convenience like when adding new pages to your site, you can use SPA for some and the traditional ones for others.

Maintainability

With React as the View Component of Rails MVC, it is easy to maintain the Javascript UI components separately from the controller & model layer of the application.

React with Ruby on Rails is easier and delivers more maintainability than other JS frameworks. It allows writing fewer codes, saving time in writing the unnecessary components and leading to lesser bugs in your application.

As React is widely used for single page applications, it comes with libraries like material-ui, semantic-ui which provides pre-built UI components like form fields, buttons, sliders, cards etc. which makes easy to use & fast development of UI that help eliminate the coding work enabling you to build engaging UIs and generate revenues.

Less Memory Usage and Increased Performance

Deploying your web applications using React with Rails API. can save much of your space which is generally occupied unnecessarily.

A company egghead.io suffered a significant number of issues because of unnecessary memory storage. Thus, it shifted to React with Rails, which significantly improved performance and freed them from the memory storage issue.

Top Companies using React with Ruby on Rails

React with Rails combination is not just appreciated by the extensive community they possess and product owners worldwide. However, many renowned companies have entrusted this combination for their web application development. Below are the names of a few globally prominent organizations using React + Rails.

🟠 Airbnb
The Francisco-based online marketplace that offers short-term homestays and experiences, Airbnb Inc. chose React with Ruby on Rails whereby they have used Ruby as the core programming language, Rails as the back-end or the server-side configuration, and React for the front-end or the User-Interface.

🟠 Taskrabbit
Taskrabbit is an online and mobile marketplace offering freelance labor for the local demands of consumers to find help with everyday chores. Taskrabbit says that React provides speed and maintains the quality of the project. And to facilitate the React with Ruby on Rails combination, they used the asset pipeline.

🟠 Gusto
Gusto is a US-based company offering cloud-based payroll, benefits, and human resource management software for businesses. Its main stack, Gusto, uses React with Ruby on Rails to process billions of dollars in online payroll. React is behind the speed with which they could roll out their product.

🟠 OpenDoor
OpenDoor is a San Francisco-based company that buys and sells real estate. Previously, the company used Ruby on Rails with Angular. As time passed and more and more options were available in terms of performance and UX, they shifted to React and observed constant and rapid growth every year, and it is safer for creating SPAs.

When to Use React with Ruby on Rails?

With all the advantages and why use Ruby on Rails with React, you might wonder when you should use the combination. To eliminate your confusion, I have backed up this section with some answers which might help you. You should go ReactJS with Ruby on Rails when you want to develop:

  • Applications with dynamic content
  • Complex Single-Page Applications
  • Applications dealing with a more extensive database
  • Applications to be scaled to mobile platforms: React Native with Ruby on Rails
  • Applications with higher performance speed

How to integrate React with Ruby on Rails

React-rails gem and webpacker gem

The react-rails gem is the simplest and most significant way to integrate React with Rails. It involves the default Rails asset management, and then the Babel transformer can convert JSX into the asset pipeline.

Webpacker gem presents a simple and standard integration via Webpack collector and package manager Yarn. Additional integrations with other frameworks and libraries like Angular, React, and Vue is also available.

For the Rails launch environment, another file exists in the config/webpack, a part of the shared.js configuration that is common for all environments. The configuration.js file here as well handles the processing settings from config/webpacker.yml.

The install scripts for starting the Webpacker installation process are

  • One-time Launching – bin/webpack
  • Launching with file change tracking and rebuild post-modification. – bin/webpack
  • Note: Continue after you have installed the latest version of Ruby and Rails.

    The first step is to add the gem to the gemfile via the command gem ‘react-rails’, then install the gem by running bundle install and react-rails installation script – rails g react:install

    This creates the app/javascript/components/ directory for storing your React components. It also sets up configuration for mounting components and server-side rendering.

    After this, you see below code in application.js file.

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    var componentRequireContext = require.context("components", true);
    var ReactRailsUJS = require("react_ujs");
    ReactRailsUJS.useContext(componentRequireContext);
    

    Now, you may create your own custom component in .jsx file formats & save it in the directory app/assets/javascripts/components and run the code:

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    var HelloMessage = React.createClass({
    render: function() {
    return (
    < h1>Hello {this.props.name}!< /h1>
    )
    }
    });

    Then, use the above component in the view via react_component helper:

    Inside our view file events/index.html.erb, we can replace the javascript_pack_tag with a call to react_component:

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    <%= react_component('HelloMessage', name: 'Bacancy') %>
    
    

    This adds a div having relevant classes and props that you can use later via react_ujs driver for component mounting and rendering.

    You can gradually start with React via this method and for testing everything by converting the individual views into React components. Afterward, you can shift to a more complex and powerful setup.

    The react-rails gem also provides a component generator to automatically create a basic component by passing it a component name and props (with their proptypes). It’s similar to Rails generators for creating models and scaffolds:

    $ rails generate react:component HelloWorld greeting:string

    react_on_rails gem

    The second way to integrate React with Ruby on Rails is via react-on-rails gem. The core difference between react-on-rails and react-rails is that it uses ECMAScript 6 and comprehensive tools along with Webpack by default, in place of depending on the Rails asset pipeline. Also, it has no dependency on jQuery.

    You can use NPM instead of manually downloading gems for JavaScript libraries installation, which allows you to have more installation options and manage a number of components.

    Initially, install node for using NPM to launch JavaScript dependencies. You can download the node from the website and install it via NVM. Then, you can add gems to the Rails app and run the bundle to install it.

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    gem "react_on_rails", "~> 6"
    
    

    You should commit to the below given Git branch to make the installation script work.

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    git init
    git add -A
    git commit -m "Initial commit"

    Then, run the gem’s generator and create package.json and Procfile.dev files:

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    rails generate react_on_rails:install

    Then, rerun the bundle to install exec.

    After that, relaunch the bundle (bundle && npm install) to install execjs and npm install for installing JS dependencies, then start the Rails server: foreman start -f Procfile.dev

    The gem also creates a custom directory to store client-side code. After completing the above steps, you can use the required React components.

    Ruby on Rails API with React Front-End

    The third method for integrating React with Ruby is making two separate apps, one for the server-side or backend and the other for the client-side or the frontend, whereby the API is written on Rails, and then an application on React connected to the Rails API which collectively presents the given below benefits:

    • The product owners working on the client side can use JS libraries without modifying the code as per the Rails standards.
    • Rails API communicates with Reactinterface using JSON files; hence, it is not necessary to share state to many servers, so scaling is easy.

    Now, let us move forward with connecting the Rails API to React front end.

    🟠 Initially, you must create a Rails application structure and initiate the Postgres server by launching the corresponding app on your machine. After this, you would get a welcome page and then can proceed with the other steps.

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    $ rails new backend-app
    

    🟠 Further, inside the application folder, you should create a client folder and React interface using the create-react-app client.

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    $ npm install -g create-react-app
    
    $ create-react-app frontend-app
    

    🟠 In order to run the Rails app with React simultaneously, we will utilize two different ports – port 3000 (Rails) & port 3001 (React) & connect them using proxy on the same server.

    Next, we will specify the React application on which port our Rails server is running on in development mode. To achieve this, we will edit the file ./package.json by adding the line of command below:

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    "proxy": "http://localhost:3000"
    

    The line above instructs the React application to communicate through a proxy in development mode to the backend using port 3000.

    Also, add the below line in the scripts of package.json:

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    "start": "set PORT=3001 && react-scripts start

    In this way, you can run the Rails + React app on the same server while creating API on Rails backend & UI on React separately.

    Now, you can also use Yarn in the folder for the following actions:
    To start the development server (you can access the React page at http://localhost:3000/). – Yarn start
    To bundle the application into static files for production. – Yarn build
    To start the test runner. – Yarn test

    Let’s now move forward with the proxy for API calls using the necessary port without swapping amid production and development and then the NPM server.

    Bacancy Case Study (React with Ruby on Rails)

    An existing Client of Bacancy came to us, working mainly in Digital Marketing, Sales Generation, and SEO. They mentioned that their existing website used PHP, which is not a good choice for a more extensive User-base. The client presented the intent of using the React with Ruby on Rails combination, where Ruby on Rails is used as the backend, and React will be used as the frontend. The client also wanted to ensure the development quality and wanted the web application to deliver a hassle-free user experience.

    Bacancy used the reactstrap library to manage and deliver a better user experience and used React.js for the frontend admin dashboard, which only the admin can access. Then, with Ruby on Rails, we managed the admin-dashboard API module and generated a dynamic website and UI for end customers/users of the client.

    The client is still working with us and is completely satisfied with the combination and the end product delivered.

    Conclusion

    This blog post entailed content regarding the benefits and implementations of React with Ruby on Rails. It is evident that it is not the universal solution to all your hustles. However, it is a good choice if you wish to develop a dynamic application with innumerable micro-interactions. Also, finding a skilled developer with React and Rails expertise is a tedious process, but to loosen your pressure, you can get in touch with our experts and hire Full-Stack developer from us who would help you get the most viable implementation and best possible solution for all your web application development needs.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Rails framework is used mainly for handling backend operations as it is a server-side web app framework. Rails is based on the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture. On the other hand, React is a popular client-side Javascript library used to build the dynamic front end. Unlink Rails, React isn’t based on MVC architecture but has developed its own architecture- Flux.

    Here are three simple ways by which you can integrate React with Rails or How to use React with Rails:

    • Using react-rails gem and webpacker gem
    • Using react_on_rails gem
    • Making two separate applications, one consisting of the backend and another frontend. One part will consist of the backend which will be the Rails API with a separate frontend react app which will be connected to the Rails API part.

    Since every coin has two sides, here are some of the disadvantages of using React with Rails:

    • Tightly coupled with Rails
    • As the application grows, it becomes quite complex to handle the app, so you might need skilled developers
    • Standalone React and Rails applications can be challenging to proceed

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