Table of contents

What is React?

The textbook definition for React is that it is an open source frontend JavaScript library, which is created and maintained by the Facebook Developer Community. It is used to build User Interfaces or UI Components. 

However, this definition assumes that you already know some key terms mentioned over there. We have the perfect blog post which gives a detailed technical description of what React is, from the ground up which you can find over here.

React has also been a boon for both clients and programmers, allowing the developers to build an MVP quickly and easily enable cross platform development, helping programmers to become full-stack.

Why do we need design frameworks?

There are plenty of design languages, talking from a user interface point of view. A great example would be that of Material UI. When you have a specific design language, components are always reused and they have a certain predefined structure to them. Even if you aren’t strictly following a certain design language, there are a lot of components that are similar across applications. 

Try this software development cost calculator to determine the cost of creating an app.

A design framework gives developers a toolkit of commonly used UI components. This allows the developers to develop the project quickly as they don’t have to go on reinventing the wheel.

That being said, here are the top 5 React UI Design Frameworks:

1. Material UI

Material Design is one of the most popular design languages developed by Google. It uses more grid based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows.

Material UI is a React framework that makes use of Material Design. It means that it has components which make it easier to implement Material Design into your React project.

Some of its features are mentioned below:

  • Material UI is one of the most popular and actively maintained library with 2.1k contributors and 68.6k stars on GitHub
  • Defining a custom colour theme for your app and fonts can be done very easily using the <MuiThemeProvider> component. It also has a predefined colour palette
  • Not relying on any global style-sheets such as normalize.css, Material UI components are self-supporting, and will only inject the styles they need to display.
  • It has a large library of components such as app bars, data tables, sliders, tooltips, etc. which all have a similar design language so that your application looks cohesive, without much efforts

2. React Bootstrap

If you have even a vague idea of frontend development, you might have heard of Bootstrap. It is an open source CSS framework aimed at responsive, front-end web development which is mobile first. It contains a host of templates ranging from typography, forms to buttons, navigation and other interface components which are  CSS and JavaScript based.

Just as the name suggests, React Bootstrap replaces the Bootstrap JavaScript. Each component has been developed from scratch as a React component, without unneeded dependencies like jQuery.

Some of its features are mentioned below:

  • It has 19.5k stars and 406 contributors on GitHub.
  • React Bootstrap’s grid system uses a series of containers, rows, and columns to layout and align content. It’s built with flexbox and is fully responsive.
  • Bootstrap includes a few general use CSS transitions that can be applied to a number of components. React Bootstrap bundles them up into a few composable <Transition> components from react-transition-group, a commonly used animation wrapper for React.
  • Encapsulating animations into components has the added benefit of making them more broadly useful, as well as portable for using in other libraries. All React Bootstrap components that can be animated, support pluggable <Transition> components.

3. React – Admin

For every business centric software, an admin panel is very indispensable and almost all of them have a lot of similar kinds of functionality based on the domain of the business. Some examples of this could be looking up a user’s address, marking an order as refunded, resetting a password among others. 

React Admin is a framework that uses React, Material UI, React Router, Redux, and React-final-form. Using these, it provides a customizable unified admin framework that can be used to build dashboards.

Mentioned here are some of its features:

  • It has 17k stars and 425 contributors on GitHub.
  • React-Admin is a frontend framework. It is built to use existing REST / GraphQL APIs present in your project.
  • It enables creating frontend admin applications that interact with the backend in a standardized way through data providers.
  • It uses an adapter approach which is explained in brief as below:
    • The data provider acts as an interface between the framework and your backend. 
    • It handles the querying and response handling between the frontend & the respective backend APIs, allowing the focus to be in building the dashboard in modular steps.
  • Some of the things that React Admin provides are:
    • Relationship support
    • Conditional formatting
    • Full-featured data grids
    • Optimistic rendering

4. Ant Design

Just like Material UI for React follows Google’s Material Design principles, Ant Design for React follows the Ant Design principles. It is created by the Chinese conglomerate Alibaba, and is used by several big names such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, among many others.

As per their design values page, Ant Design focuses on these aspects:

  • Natural — an interaction which is natural to use, avoiding any complexity
  • Certain — creating design rules in such a way that it avoids low-efficiency & maintenance heavy products
  • Meaningful —  keeping the needs of the end users in mind and creating designs revolving around that
  • Growing — focused on the discoverability of functions and values of the product via design

Some of its features are:

  • Currently Ant Design has 72k stars and 1,423 contributors on GitHub
  • The Ant layout system consists of a 24-aliquot (which means parts of a whole) grid and a separate Layout component than you can choose to use.
    • The grid uses the familiar Row and Col system, but a prop called flex can also be specified which allows to harness Flexbox properties to define a responsive UI.
  • Being made by a Chinese conglomerate, the components include internationalization support for dozens of languages.
  • Using Less.js for its style language, the ability to customize the components to specific design specifications is also possible. 
  • It has components such as Layout, Grid, Form, Breadcrumb, Pagination among many others.

We at Creole Studios love using the Ant Design framework and have used it for numerous projects. One example is that of an online job posting and tracking portal connecting the employers and specialists for the completion of tasks, of which one of its screens is showcased below:

We have many experts working on Ant Design and Material UI among other design frameworks, and getting started with your idea is as easy as contacting us and we’ll do the heavy lifting of making your projects with impeccable design.

5. React Foundation

Foundation is a family of responsive front-end frameworks that aids in designing beautiful responsive websites, apps and emails that look amazing on any device.  Zurb, the organization behind Foundation, describe their frameworks to be semantic, readable, flexible, and completely customizable

It’s a CSS framework like bootstrap and React Foundation is basically the wrapping up of Foundation’s every part into reusable React components following the framework’s best practices. Some of its features are described below:

  • It has 579 GitHub stars and 21 contributors
  • React Foundation uses pure render components, also known as stateless components, whenever possible to keep the memory usage to a minimum
  • Stateful components are only used for larger components, such as ResponsiveNavigation, where the state is actually necessary.

There’s no ‘perfect’ React UI Design Framework that would be the best choice for all of your projects, however, there are some traits such as exhaustive documentation, large number of components, well maintained and constantly updated repositories and a large community forum to help you in every step of the web & mobile app development process that makes a framework easy to work with.

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Bhargav Bhanderi
Bhargav Bhanderi

Director - Web & Cloud Technologies

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