Starting with React Native and Expo

For some time I've wanted to experiment with React Native and mobile development outside native iOS but there has always been something on the way to get really started with it. Recently I had time to watch React Europe 2020 conference talks and "On Expo and React Native Web" by Evan Bacon got me inspired.

All the talks in React Europe 2020 can be found in their playlist on Youtube

Universal React with Expo

Expo is an open-source platform for making universal native apps for Android, iOS, and the web with JavaScript and React.

Expo

"Expo: Universal React" talk showed what Expo can do and after some hassling around with Expo init templates I got a React Native app running on iOS for reading news articles from REST API with theme-support and some navigation written with TypeScript. And it also worked on Android, Web and as a PWA.

Expo is a toolchain built around React Native to help you quickly start an app. It provides a set of tools that simplify the development and testing of React Native app and arms you with the components of users interface and services that are usually available in third-party native React Native components. With Expo you can find all of them in Expo SDK.

Understanding Expo for React Native

You can use the Expo Snack online editor to run you code in iOS, Android and Web platforms. And if you need vector icons, there's and app for searching them. Also Build icon app is crafty.

Expo has good documentation to get you started and following the documentation (and choosing the managed workflow when initing an app) you get things running on your device or on iOS and Android simulators. If you don't have a macOS or iPhone you can use their Snack playground to see how it looks on iOS.

Expo comes with a client which you can use to send the app to your device or to others for review which is very useful when testing as you can see all changes in code in Expo client without creating apk or ipa files.

One great feature of Expo is that you can quickly test and show examples of solutions with the Snack editor and run the code either on the integrated simulator or on your device.

I've previously quickly used Ignite which has a different approach to get you running and compared to that Expo is more of a platform than just tools which has it's good and not so good points. One of the main points of Expo is that it practically binds you to Expo and their platform where as if you use only tools you're "more free".

Drawbacks

The "Understanding Expo for React Native" post lists the following drawbacks in managed workflow. Some of those can be work aroud with bare workflow or with ejecting but then you lose the advantages of Expo workflow:

  1. Can't add native modules written in Objective-C, Swift, Java, Kotlin
  2. Can't use packages with native languages that require linking
  3. App has a big size as it is built with all Expo SDK solutions
  4. Often everything works well in Expo client but problems may occur in a standalone app.

Feelings

This far I've just started with Expo and getting more adjusted to React Native and writing Highlakka news client has been insightful and good experience when comparing the same app, "Highkara", written in Swift for iOS. My plan is to implement some of the features in Highlakka as in Highkara and see how it works as an universal app. Especially the PWA is interesting option and Over the Air updates with Expo as shown in React Europe 2020 talk.

The Hailakka app is now "usable" and iOS app builds nicely with Expo Turtle. The PWA runs on Netlify which is great.

Tools

What about tools to help you with React Native development? Basically you can just use VS Code and go on with it.

Flipper DevTool Platform for React Native talk at React Europe 2020 by Michel Weststrate and "Flipper — A React Native revolution" post shows one option. It's baked into React Native v0.62 but isn't yet available with Expo 41 (there's feature request for it and suggestions to use what Expo offers like React Native debugger and Redux devTools integration).

Build tools

Expo provides tools for building your application and Expo Dashboard shows your builds and their details. You can download the IPA packaged app when the build is ready and then upload it to App Store Connect.

You can build your application to different platforms with Expo cli. For example PWA with expo build:web and iOS with expo build:ios. And you can also do it from CI. Of course you still need Apple account for submitting the app to the App Store.

While your build is running you can check the queue from Turtle.

Getting ready for Fujitsu Forum 2013

In two weeks time it's again that time of the year when business- and IT decision-makers, experts and specialists, project managers and IT architects, consultants and users travel to Germany to visit Fujitsu's largest IT-event in Europe: Fujitsu Forum 2013. And that's also the destination where I'm going as I'm one of the bloggers invited by Fujitsu's Lifebook4Life campaign to visit the forum. This year the event is held 6th and 7th November at the ICM in Munich and there will probably be over 12,000 attendees around the world getting insights and looking for strategic and operative options for modernizing and developing their IT.

The motto this year, "Reshaping ICT, Reshaping Business and Society", highlights the key theme that is addressed by all aspects of the event: How to combine business processes and IT to form a stable basis that will ensure growth and success in the future. So what can you expect from Fujitsu Forum 2013? The event overview gives you some idea about the different topics covered but let’s look which events I’m looking forward to the most.

The presentations I picked from Keynotes and the list of 52 Breakout Sessions for my Fujitsu Forum 2013 agenda span all of the three conference tracks, "Create innovation through people", "Power Business and Society with information" and "Optimize ICT systems from end to end", and cover topics like cloud services, creating value from enabling innovative IT models with mobile technologies and information security and data protection. Overall I selected 10 sessions to my agenda but pruned it to one Keynote and four Breakouts as you don't have time for every interesting topic.

Defining Your Workplace Strategy: Our Recommendation to IT by Meinolf Althaus (Fujitsu), 6 November, 10:00, Room 13b

Adopting new computing devices and delivering concepts to provide optimized workplaces for the different user roles within a company present a new challenge. An optimized end-to-end selection, from back-end to workplace devices and a suitable combination of desktop delivery methods is essential to guarantee high availability, flexibility and user satisfaction. This session looks at the various ways to identify the ideal workplace strategy.

Leveraging Advanced ICT to Support Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision by Tatsuo Tomita (Fujitsu), 6 November, 13:00, Room 4

Leveraging ICT to generate New Value for society is essential to enable sustainable growth and advancement of societies. This session highlights how Fujitsu’s R&D is being leveraged toward realizing a Human Centric Intelligent Society envisioned by Fujitsu, by supporting the Fujitsu Technology and Service Vision, to be achieved through Three Actions: Create Innovation through People’s Activities; Power Business and Society with Information; and Optimize ICT Systems from End to End. We introduce how it will contribute to societal growth and realization of a prosperous society in which people can thrive.

Intelligent Workplace. Greater Efficiency. Here is the answer! by Anand Srivatsa (Intel) and Dieter Heiss (Fujitsu), 6 November, 16:00, Room 13a

There are fundamental changes taking place in society, new technology and changing demands are redesigning the workplace. The enterprise workplace will dramatically improve interactions across applications and between workers, driving productivity and improvements in work quality. This session will show you how new technologies support you at your workplace and how to ensure efficiency in and outside the office.

Keynote: The CIO Session by Dr. Joseph Reger (Fujitsu) and Ed Goldman (Intel), 7th November, 10:00

"All things considered" – How the internet of things changes our world

Powering Healthcare Information – improve and secure the healthcare data value chain by Lester Russel (Fujitsu), 7 November, 12:00, Room 5

Healthcare costs are rising and the burden of managing long term conditions threatens to destabilize whole economies. Clinical information has to flow smoothly to ensure a seamless patient journey through the healthcare system and the safe practice of medicine has special requirements in terms of the data value chain. The right information, in the right place, at the right time. This session will give examples of how IT can power healthcare in new and exciting ways and underpin the radically different processes we need to adopt, if we are to avoid meltdown in our healthcare systems.

And of course you should not forget the Exhibition with 250 highlights from the portfolio offered by Fujitsu and its partners which has always been interesting. I'm looking forward to get hands-on with Fujitsu's new LIFEBOOKs with IGZO display like the versatile T904 and the ultra-slim U904 and check out the semi-rugged STYLISTIC Q704 tablet.

And lest the whole two days be just about technical topics there's the Oktoberfest themed Evening Event on Wednesday. Excellent entertainment and networking opportunity with drinks together with special Bavarian dishes, such as crispy roast chicken (Hendl), spiced strips of pork belly (Hüttenspeck), bread and dripping (Schmalzbrot), chive bread, savory cheese spread with pretzels (Obatzda und Brezn). Hmmm, and now I'm hungry :)

Until then, read about my insights from last year's Fujitsu Forum 2012 where I was invited by Fujitsu's Lifebook4Life campaign and follow me on Twitter (@walokra) for upcoming insights from Fujitsu Forum 2013. See you all on 6th and 7th November at the ICM in Munich.

Fujitsu Forum 2012 has insights for the future of IT

Germany is known for it's technology expos like CeBIT but for more detailed and in depth view about the state of information technology you might want to go to Fujitsu Forum like I did a year ago invited by LIFEBOOK4Life. This year it's held November 7th and 8th at the ICM in Munich and enables you to get an insight what the Japanese multinational information technology equipment and services company and world's third-largest IT services provider thinks about information technology and where the IT is going.

Fujitsu Forum is the largest IT-event in Europe which is visited by professional users and IT decision-makers, as well as Fujitsu channel and technology partners. In 2011 more than 10,000 IT experts from around the world attended the Fujitsu Forum in Munich. And I was one of them invited by Fujitsu LIFEBOOK4Life campaign. As I'm a LIFEBOOK4Life Insider there's a chance to visit the Forum also this year so let's look what events I'm looking forward to the most and why I would want to visit those.

Fujitsu Forum 2012's motto is "Reshaping ICT – Reshaping Business": How to combine business processes and IT to form a stable basis that will ensure growth and success in the future. Kind of redefinition of last year's "Reshaping IT" theme. With keynotes, breakout sessions, exhibition area and expert talks there is plenty for everyone to see and listen. But as I last year got to experience the time is not enough for everything so you must choose your own agenda which is made easier with the Individual Agenda Builder.

My agenda contains mainly topics about how the workplace in changing and what new devices there is to expect and their use cases. As a software developer the technical development affects the software and provides new innovative ways to use software. So it's good to know which things are just around the corner or little further away. Here is my take of the events I look forward to the most (my Fujitsu Forum 2012 Agenda, pdf). I think the events' descriptions tell all the reasons to participate. It was hard to pick just three but managed to get it down to one Keynote and two Breakout Sessions.

Keynotes – strategic perspectives:

Keynotes are addressing the questions like "The direction of future IT developments?", "Which technologies will be on the CIO agenda?" and "What strategic factors will be of importance to decision-makers?" and although as working in a big corporation it would be interesting to know how the CIO thinks, as a tech geek more interesting one is the future IT development. From the Keynote sessions I would attend "Deriving Value from the Connected Economy".

"Deriving Value from the Connected Economy" by Benno Zollner, Fujitsu and Kim Stevenson, Intel:

The world is changing as new technologies enable information, opinions and idea sharing like never before. Such rapid evolution is breaking down the barriers for creating businesses and economic value. We see an opportunity to harness the knowledge and ideas of the world’s population as large- scale business potential. We have tools available to be ahead of the curve in supporting this transition; and more solutions become available. Having the right strategy to produce solutions customers want, leverage technology and enable employees is paramount. Inspiring examples of the strategies and tools that are needed to pace ahead of these transitions and enable value creation for company.

Breakout Sessions – IT perspectives:

There is around 50 breakout sessions which discuss technologies, best practices and innovative solutions that are relevant to the modernization and further development of IT so you can't attend every one of them. For more business oriented people there is "the benefits and threats of the cloud", "in-memory computing for "big data"" and "solutions for data centers that cut costs and increase IT flexibility" but for technology oriented geeks hearing about "new developments in IT mobility" and "behind-the-scenes looks at current IT-research" is something to look forward to. So "Tablets & More - Cool scenarios for hot devices" and "The War between Enduser Devices" are obvious choices.

"Tablets & More - Cool scenarios for hot devices" by Meinolf Althaus, Fujitsu

Media tablets and mobile centric applications are new top priorities for business users and IT. How can combinations of current and new technologies help you to securely and efficiently merge the opportunities offered by business and privately owned devices? Find out about the effective and secure blend of accessing business and private IT environments from new mobile devices.

"The War between Enduser Devices" by Thomas Meyer, IDC

New formats for enduser devices are appearing very quickly. Netbooks, Ultrabooks, Tablets, new types of thin clients and also operating systems such as Android are raining down on IT departments. This analyst presentation looks at what can be expected in the near future. Which device for which purpose and how to deal with such a complex range.

Expert Talks – specialist know-how transfer:

Sometimes a specific in-depth know-how is required and Expert Talks are the place to attend. They are focused on specific topics and supplement the strategic approaches outlined in the keynotes and the concrete information presented in the breakout sessions with specialist discussions in small groups. Expert Talks are ideal for those who want to exchange information, discuss specific issues in detail and share ideas with other specialists. There is many topics to choose like "How to mitigate the headache caused by BYOD?", "Secure your valuable data: Easy to use and scaleable security solution", "Android tablets in Business Environment - A challenge for CIOs?", "New LIFEBOOK notebooks meet trend of consumerization" and "Oracle Applications Strategy". Would like to go couple of those but my agenda is already full.

And between the events it's a must to visit the exhibition which holds 3,500 square meters of innovations and presents over 250 highlights from Fujitsu and its partners. For example I look forward to get hands-on with Fujitsu STYLISTIC Q702 hybrid tablet PC and Windows 8 running on new touch devices and hear about a brand new way of running desktop environments.

But there is also something more. On the Wednesday evening singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald takes the stage at the Fujitsu Intel Celebration Night. Not to forget the delicious bratwursts and weissbier which I hope are provided also this year :) Technology, entertainment and nourishment: what could a professional user wish more?

Fujitsu Forum holds many interesting keynotes, sessions, insights and experiences which I last year got to experience. The chance to do it again this year is open so let's hope I get to travel to Germany for Fujitsu Forum 2012 experience, meet other Insiders and see NDA devices like last year the Ultrabooks which Fujitsu released this Summer.