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Why you should consider Reactive Programming

Jo Stephens
Executive JavaScript Specialist

Why you should consider Reactive Programming

If you have come across reactive programming before but aren't sure what it is, then I can help...

With the explosion in both the number of internet users and the technology powering websites over the years, reactive programming was born as a way of meeting these increased demands for developers. Of course, app development is just as important now and reactive programming is a vital component in that sphere too.

What is Reactive Programming?

Functional reactive programming (or FRP for short) is an asynchronous programming paradigm that allows data flows from one system component to propagate the same changes to other components that have been registered to accept them. Compared to previous programming paradigms, FRP makes it simple to express static or dynamic data flows via the programming language. It was born as a result of modern apps and websites needing a way of coding that provided fast, user-friendly results. 

The benefits of Reactive Programming

There are lots of great reasons why you should use reactive programming as a business or developer. 

Here are the major ones to think about...

1. Improves user experience - this is at the very heart of why you should be using reactive programming for your apps or websites. The asynchronous nature of FRP means that whatever you program with it will offer a smoother, more responsive product for your users to interact with. 

2. Easy to manage - one big bonus with reactive programming is that it is easy to manage as a developer. Blocks of code can be added or removed from individual data streams which means you can easily make any amendments needed via the stream concerned.

3. Simpler than regular threading - FRP is less hassle than regular threading due to the way it allows you to work on the data streams. Not only is this true for basic threading in an application but also for more complex threading operations you may need to undertake.

Challenges FRP can bring

While reactive programming is a great tool for developers to use, it does have a couple of challenges to overcome:

1. Hard to learn - compared to previous ways of working, FRP is quite different. This leads to a steep learning curve when you start using it which may be a shock to some.

2. Memory leak - when working in this way, it can be easy to handle subscriptions within an app or site incorrectly. This can lead to memory leakage which could end up seriously slowing things down for users.


Why are companies using reactive programming now? 

Many businesses are using this way of coding now and with good reason. As we have noted already, it builds their app or website in such a way that it offers a better user experience. Smoother, faster results come from programming in this manner and it makes user interaction much better. Naturally, this translates into happier customers and more sales for your business.