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What tools do you need to develop mobile applications using React Native? This article aims to answer that question by providing a comprehensive overview of crucial development tools for React Native. Utilizing the right tools can significantly enhance your productivity, help streamline your workflow, and ensure the best performance for your applications.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned developer, equipping yourself with these tools is vital. From code editors and debugging tools to libraries and performance optimization solutions, we cover everything you need to get started and excel in React Native development. For more detailed insight into React Native, you can explore this React Native guide.

Setting Up Your React Native Environment

System Requirements

Before diving into development, ensure your system meets the necessary hardware and software requirements. You will need a modern computer with at least 8 GB of RAM and a multi-core processor for efficient performance. Ensure you have the latest versions of macOS, Windows, or Linux, along with Android Studio and Xcode for Android and iOS development, respectively.

Installing Node.js and npm

Node.js and its package manager, npm, form the backbone of most React Native projects. To install them, you can download the Node.js installer from the official website and follow the straightforward setup process. npm comes bundled with Node.js, so you’ll have it ready as soon as Node.js is installed. With these tools, you’ll be prepared to install and manage the necessary packages and dependencies for your React Native project.

React Native CLI vs. Expo CLI

Choosing between React Native CLI and Expo CLI can be perplexing for beginners. React Native CLI offers greater flexibility and customization options, making it ideal for complex projects. In contrast, Expo CLI simplifies development with numerous built-in features, making it more beginner-friendly. However, it may limit customization in specific scenarios. Your choice depends on the particular needs and complexity of your project.

Functional Variations | React Native development tools

Core Development Tools for React Native

Code Editors

A reliable code editor is essential for productive development. Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a popular choice due to its vast array of extensions, such as ES7 React/Redux/GraphQL/React-Native snippets and Prettier for code formatting.

Visual Studio Code

VS Code offers a simple and intuitive interface while supporting advanced features like IntelliSense, debugging, and Git integration. Its extension marketplace provides numerous plugins tailored for React Native development, making it highly versatile.

Atom and Sublime Text

Alternative code editors such as Atom and Sublime Text also provide robust support for React Native development. Atom comes with built-in Git and GitHub integration, while Sublime Text is known for its performance and lightweight nature. Both editors support various plugins for enhanced functionality.

Debugging Tools

React Native Debugger

Debugging is a critical aspect of development, and React Native Debugger simplifies this process. It combines the power of Redux DevTools and Chrome DevTools into a single tool, allowing you to inspect and debug your applications effectively. Installation is straightforward, followed by configuration to work seamlessly with your React Native projects.


Flipper is another exceptional debugging tool that enhances your ability to debug and inspect React Native applications. It provides a comprehensive suite of features including log viewing, layout inspections, and network monitoring. Using Flipper can significantly speed up the debugging process.

Testing Tools


Jest is a delightful JavaScript testing framework with a focus on simplicity. It provides an all-in-one solution for unit testing and offers powerful mock capabilities. Setting up Jest in a React Native project is straightforward, ensuring you can start writing tests quickly.


For end-to-end testing, Detox is a robust choice. It enables automated testing of your React Native apps, ensuring they perform as expected in real-world scenarios. With Detox, you can simulate user interactions, such as taps and swipes, and verify the app’s response.

Essential Libraries and Frameworks

UI Libraries

React Native Elements

React Native Elements is a UI toolkit that comes with a set of customizable components. Whether you need buttons, icons, or form elements, this library offers pre-designed components that are easy to integrate into your application.


NativeBase is another UI library offering a rich set of cross-platform UI components for React Native. It ensures a consistent and native-like user experience across both iOS and Android platforms, making it an excellent choice for building high-quality applications.

Navigation Libraries

React Navigation

React Navigation is widely used for implementing navigation in React Native applications. It is highly customizable and integrates seamlessly with the React Native ecosystem. Setting up React Navigation is straightforward, enabling various navigation patterns, from basic stack navigation to complex tabs and drawers.

React Native Navigation (Wix)

For developers looking for a more native navigation experience, React Native Navigation by Wix is an excellent option. It provides a fully native navigation solution, which can lead to improved performance and a smoother user experience. Configuration is relatively more complex but well worth the investment for performance-critical applications.

Performance Optimization Tools

The Hermes engine is a JavaScript engine optimized for running React Native. It significantly reduces app startup times and optimizes memory usage. By integrating Hermes, you can achieve a smoother and faster performance in your React Native applications.

Reanimated and React Native Gesture Handler are powerful tools for enhancing the performance and responsiveness of animations and gestures in your app. Reanimated allows for more complex and high-performance animations, while Gesture Handler provides a robust system for handling gestures.

Functional Variations | React Native development tools

Continuous Integration and Deployment


Setting up Fastlane

Fastlane automates the tedious tasks associated with building and deploying apps. Setting up Fastlane involves configuring a set of scripts called lanes that define your workflow. These lanes can handle everything from code signing to uploading builds to app stores.

Bitrise and its Integrations

Another popular CI/CD tool is Bitrise. It offers integrations with numerous services and tools, making it a versatile solution for managing your React Native deployment pipeline. The setup is user-friendly, requiring minimal configuration.


CodePush enables seamless over-the-air updates for your React Native applications, allowing you to bypass the app store review process. This means you can push updates and bug fixes directly to your users, ensuring they always have the latest version of your app.

ToolPrimary UseNotable Features
Visual Studio CodeCode EditingIntelliSense, Debugging, Extensions
React Native DebuggerDebuggingInspection, Redux DevTools integration
JestUnit TestingMocking, Snapshot Testing
FastlaneCI/CDAutomation, Code Signing
CodePushDeploymentOTA Updates, Versioning


In conclusion, choosing the right set of tools for React Native development can vastly improve your efficiency and the quality of your applications. From setting up your environment and coding to debugging, testing, and continuous deployment, the tools mentioned in this guide cover all essential aspects. Always experiment with various tools and configurations to find what best suits your workflow and project. Investing time in mastering these tools will undoubtedly pay off in the long run, resulting in smoother development cycles and robust, high-performing applications.


What is the best code editor for React Native development?

The best code editor depends on personal preferences, but Visual Studio Code is highly recommended due to its extensive plugin support and versatility.

Do I need to use a CI/CD tool for React Native development?

Using a CI/CD tool like Fastlane or Bitrise isn’t mandatory, but it significantly simplifies the deployment process, making it more efficient and less error-prone.

How does the Hermes engine improve app performance?

Hermes reduces app startup time and optimizes memory usage, which can lead to a smoother experience for end-users.

Can I use Expo CLI and React Native CLI interchangeably?

While both CLI tools serve similar purposes, they have different use-cases and workflows. Expo CLI is more user-friendly for beginners, while React Native CLI offers more customization and flexibility for complex projects.

What makes CodePush unique in the context of React Native development?

CodePush offers the unique ability to send over-the-air updates to your React Native apps, allowing you to push updates without going through the app store approval process.