I’ve seen a few posts in the React Native community mentioning how Expo shouldn’t be used and how it’s like “training wheels for React Native” and I wanted to share my understanding of what Expo is and is not…
Before the release of Expo EAS (more on that later), the Expo managed workflow could have been thought of as “training wheels for React Native”.
Here’s Expo’s documentation on the differences: https://docs.expo.dev/introduction/managed-vs-bare/
Now, here’s the important bit… before December-ish of 2021, the managed workflow was limited to what it could offer… if you wanted to run that sweet React Native tracking library, or install a specific React Native database, like Realm, that required low-level native code adjustments, it wasn’t possible. If you stop here, you’ll continue to think Expo is limited, and as I said, before December-ish of 2021 it was… BUT…
As of the release of a new Expo service called EAS (Expo Application Service), you can now add ANY react native libraries that you want while staying in the managed workflow. There are very very few limitations (I haven’t run into any myself, but I’m leaving this open as I haven’t tested every library).
At its core, EAS is a way to build your application.
Theres a lot more EAS can help with; different environments, code push, internal testing, etc, but at its core, EAS is a new powerful build tool that allows Expo bare workflow applications to do everything a traditional React Native application could do. Its limitless.
Expo and the team are awesome, and I really respect everything they are doing for the RN community. If you haven’t tried the managed workflow with EAS, you really should do a spike / get a demo up, and I think you’ll be impressed with how far Expo has come and how different the bare workflow with EAS is from the original Expo workflow that you might be familiar with.!
Although this post is in response to developers misunderstanding of Expo, I can’t fault these developers entirely. I think Expo could do a better job at naming and branding the differences between these offerings. It took me a while (longer than I would have liked) to understand all the differences between the bare & managed workflows and how EAS and the Go application all fit into the Expo ecosystem. That being said, the Expo team is incredible and I appreciate all their amazing work done for the React Native community!
Let me know your thoughts and if you’ve run into any challenges with EAS, (I’ve personally struggled with getting a good E2E/Detox integrated in a good way)!