Walmart is placing a big bet on React Native. With Electrode, the company’s Walmart Labs division open sourced the React-based framework that powers Walmart.com’s frontend and today the same group is also launching Electrode Native, its tool for bringing React Native to existing native apps on iOS and Android.
Typically, developers who want to move their apps to React Native would have to either rewrite their app from the ground, build a quick and dirty integration that’ll cost them later, or build a new platform and tooling for integrating React Native into their apps. Walmart went with the last option.
This approach also means developers can write their code for iOS and Android once (Walmart currently develops an iOS and Android app for all of its main brands) and maybe most importantly, that React Native code inside the app can be updated over the air without forcing users to download a new version of the native app.
Walmart’s developers first used Electrode Native to update the shopping cart section of the Walmart mobile app. Originally, these were actually responsive web apps that were served in an embedded browser. The team also converted the Thank You page that appears when you complete your purchase and is now working on the checkout page.
Grigoryan also stressed that Walmart Labs is no stranger to open source at this point. The company features 151 projects on its GitHub page. “We strongly believe that the return on our open source investment benefits the company and the community,” he said. Grigoryan also added that this helps to motive engineers inside the company who want to make their contributions public and participate in the community, as well as engineers outside of the company who want to understand Walmart’s cultural and technical directions, “which leads to much more interesting conversations during hiring.”