Drupal and React

How the JavaScript Library React is Used With Drupal

We wrote before about the rising popularity of decoupled and headless Drupal, and what it means for website creation.

One of the reasons headless Drupal is becoming more popular is because there are now more sophisticated frameworks than the Javascript framework Drupal uses on its frontend to generate pages in HTML. One of these is React.

What is React?

React is a JavaScript library used to create interactive user interfaces. React is well received by developers for a number of reasons.

  1. It’s JavaScript, something that most developers already know very well. Working with React feels familiar, and only requires learning a simple API.
  2. React UI Components allow for code reuse and reduces development time.
  3. Front-end development can happen without having to consider the limitations or connections with the backend. There is no longer a cap on ingenuity and creativity, which leads to fantastic user interfaces and interesting interactive features.
  4. By separating the frontend from the website’s backend, any dramatic changes to design and the user interface can be done separately. This means that you can update your website’s look and feel without having to overhaul your entire system.

Why React is a Popular Choice for Drupal Websites

Although Drupal hasn’t committed itself to a new JavaScript framework yet, Dries Buytaert, the creator of Drupal, has expressed a particular interest in potentially adopting React to Drupal’s core in the future.

There are a few reasons for this, one of them being how enthusiastically React has been adopted by the developer community - which has always been a north star for Drupal.

React is described as a “JavaScript library for building user interfaces.” Creating unique user interfaces is one of the primary reasons that websites are choosing to pursue the headless route with Drupal. Additionally, React is fast. React uses JavaScript to write HTML, which is different from other frameworks that use JavaScript to enhance HTML. The crucial difference between the two methods is that React is able to move faster, generating quick responses to user interactions.

Here are some of the websites currently using React on certain pages:

One of the benefits of Drupal as a system is its flexibility - it actively tries to get out of the way of developers while supporting unique website builds. Drupal’s web service API’s are part of its headless capability and the reason why Drupal is so easy to integrate with other systems in general.

Additionally, Drupal as a content management system provides administrators with the ability to create, optimize, schedule, and organize content from an easy to use administrative interface. Coupled with, and yet independent of, React, the two are able to create experiences that users love, that frontend developers love to write, and that content editors and website administrators will find as straightforward as ever.