Integration With Existing Apps

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Key Concepts

React Native is great when you are starting a new mobile app from scratch. However, it also works well for adding a single view or user flow to existing native applications. With a few steps, you can add new React Native based features, screens, views, etc.

The keys to integrating React Native components into your Android application are to:

  1. Understand what React Native components you want to integrate.
  2. Install react-native in your Android application root directory to create node_modules/directory.
  3. Create your actual React Native components in JavaScript.
  4. Add com.facebook.react:react-native:+ and a maven pointing to the react-native binaries in node_nodules/ to your build.gradle file.
  5. Create a custom React Native specific Activity that creates a ReactRootView.
  6. Start the React Native server and run your native application.
  7. Optionally add more React Native components.
  8. Debug.
  9. Prepare for deployment.
  10. Deploy and Profit!


The Android Getting Started guide will install the appropriate prerequisites (e.g., npm) for React Native on the Android target platform and your chosen development environment.

Add JS to your app

In your app’s root folder, run:

$ npm init $ npm install save reactnative $ curl o .flowconfig

This creates a node module for your app and adds the react-native npm dependency. Now open the newly created package.json file and add this under scripts:

“start”: “node node_modules/react-native/local-cli/cli.js start”

Copy & paste the following code to in your root folder — it’s a barebones React Native app:

‘use strict’; import React from ‘react’; import { AppRegistry, StyleSheet, Text, View } from ‘react-native’; class HelloWorld extends React.Component { render() { return ( <View style={styles.container}> <Text style={styles.hello}>Hello, World</Text> </View> ) } } var styles = StyleSheet.create({ container: { flex: 1, justifyContent: ‘center’, }, hello: { fontSize: 20, textAlign: ‘center’, margin: 10, }, }); AppRegistry.registerComponent(‘HelloWorld’, () => HelloWorld);

Prepare your current app

In your app’s build.gradle file add the React Native dependency:

compile “com.facebook.react:react-native:+” // From node_modules

In your project’s build.gradle file add an entry for the local React Native maven directory:

allprojects { repositories { ... maven { // All of React Native (JS, Android binaries) is installed from npm url “$rootDir/node_modules/react-native/android” } } ... }

Next, make sure you have the Internet permission in your AndroidManifest.xml:

<usespermission android:name=“android.permission.INTERNET” />

This is only really used in dev mode when reloading JavaScript from the development server, so you can strip this in release builds if you need to.

Add native code

You need to add some native code in order to start the React Native runtime and get it to render something. To do this, we’re going to create an Activity that creates a ReactRootView, starts a React application inside it and sets it as the main content view.

public class MyReactActivity extends Activity implements DefaultHardwareBackBtnHandler { private ReactRootView mReactRootView; private ReactInstanceManager mReactInstanceManager; @Override protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) { super.onCreate(savedInstanceState); mReactRootView = new ReactRootView(this); mReactInstanceManager = ReactInstanceManager.builder() .setApplication(getApplication()) .setBundleAssetName(“”) .setJSMainModuleName(“”) .addPackage(new MainReactPackage()) .setUseDeveloperSupport(BuildConfig.DEBUG) .setInitialLifecycleState(LifecycleState.RESUMED) .build(); mReactRootView.startReactApplication(mReactInstanceManager, “HelloWorld”, null); setContentView(mReactRootView); } @Override public void invokeDefaultOnBackPressed() { super.onBackPressed(); } }

A ReactInstanceManager can be shared amongst multiple activities and/or fragments. You will want to make your own ReactFragment or ReactActivity and have a singleton holder that holds a ReactInstanceManager. When you need the ReactInstanceManager (e.g., to hook up the ReactInstanceManager to the lifecycle of those Activities or Fragments) use the one provided by the singleton.

Next, we need to pass some activity lifecycle callbacks down to the ReactInstanceManager:

@Override protected void onPause() { super.onPause(); if (mReactInstanceManager != null) { mReactInstanceManager.onHostPause(); } } @Override protected void onResume() { super.onResume(); if (mReactInstanceManager != null) { mReactInstanceManager.onHostResume(this, this); } } @Override protected void onDestroy() { super.onDestroy(); if (mReactInstanceManager != null) { mReactInstanceManager.onHostDestroy(); } }

We also need to pass back button events to React Native:

@Override public void onBackPressed() { if (mReactInstanceManager != null) { mReactInstanceManager.onBackPressed(); } else { super.onBackPressed(); } }

This allows JavaScript to control what happens when the user presses the hardware back button (e.g. to implement navigation). When JavaScript doesn’t handle a back press, yourinvokeDefaultOnBackPressed method will be called. By default this simply finishes your Activity.

Finally, we need to hook up the dev menu. By default, this is activated by (rage) shaking the device, but this is not very useful in emulators. So we make it show when you press the hardware menu button:

@Override public boolean onKeyUp(int keyCode, KeyEvent event) { if (keyCode == KeyEvent.KEYCODE_MENU && mReactInstanceManager != null) { mReactInstanceManager.showDevOptionsDialog(); return true; } return super.onKeyUp(keyCode, event); }

That’s it, your activity is ready to run some JavaScript code.

Run your app

To run your app, you need to first start the development server. To do this, simply run the following command in your root folder:

$ npm start

Now build and run your Android app as normal (e.g. ./gradlew installDebug). Once you reach your React-powered activity inside the app, it should load the JavaScript code from the development server and display:



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