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Published on June 17, 2023

Debugging React Native Apps: Best Practices and Essential Tools

Debugging is an integral part of the software development process, and when it comes to React Native apps, it can be particularly challenging. As React Native combines frontend and backend code, developers often face unique debugging hurdles. In this blog post, we'll explore best practices for debugging React Native apps, along with two essential tools: the React Native Debugger and the React Developer Tools browser extension. By following these practices, examining code snippets, and leveraging these tools, you'll be equipped to tackle any debugging issue that comes your way.

1. Understanding the Debugging Process in React Native

Before diving into the best practices, it's important to understand the debugging process in React Native. React Native uses JavaScript, so debugging follows a similar flow to debugging regular JavaScript code. However, due to the added complexity of cross-platform development and the interplay between frontend and backend code, React Native debugging can be more intricate.

2. Consistent Logging

One of the fundamental debugging techniques in any development environment is logging. In React Native, logging can be particularly helpful when dealing with state changes, API responses, and other important events. By strategically placing console.log statements throughout your codebase, you can gain valuable insights into the flow of your app and identify potential issues.


// Logging state changes in a React Native component class MyComponent extends React.Component { constructor(props) { super(props); this.state = { count: 0 }; } incrementCount() { this.setState((prevState) => { console.log("Previous count:", prevState.count); return { count: prevState.count + 1 }; }); } render() { console.log("Current count:", this.state.count); return ( <TouchableOpacity onPress={() => this.incrementCount()}> <Text>Increment Count</Text> </TouchableOpacity> ); } }

3. Leveraging the React Native Debugger

The React Native Debugger is a powerful tool specifically designed for debugging React Native applications. It provides a dedicated interface for inspecting and debugging your app, allowing you to examine the component hierarchy, view network requests, modify state in real-time, and much more. Integrating the React Native Debugger into your development workflow can significantly enhance your debugging capabilities.

Installing React Native Debugger

  1. To install the React Native Debugger, you'll need to have Homebrew installed on your macOS system. If you don't have it installed, you can do so by running the following command in your terminal:
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"
  1. Once Homebrew is installed, you can use it to install the React Native Debugger by running the following command in your terminal:
brew update && brew cask install react-native-debugger

Using React Native Debugger

  1. Launch your React Native app in the iOS or Android simulator or on a physical device.

  2. Open a new terminal window and run the following command to start the React Native Debugger:

open "rndebugger://set-debugger-loc?host=localhost&port=8081"

Note: If your React Native packager is running on a different port, adjust the port value accordingly.

  1. The React Native Debugger window should open with the app already connected and ready for debugging.

  2. In the React Native Debugger interface, you'll find various tabs and tools for debugging your app:

    • Elements: Allows you to inspect and interact with the component hierarchy of your app. You can

select components, view their props and state, and modify them in real-time.

  • Network: Provides a detailed view of the network requests made by your app. You can inspect request and response headers, preview request payloads, and debug any network-related issues.
  • Source: Displays the source code of your app, enabling you to set breakpoints, step through code execution, and analyze variables at different points in your app's execution.
  • Console: Shows the console output of your app. Any console.log statements or errors will be displayed here, allowing you to analyze and debug your app's behavior.
  • Redux: If your app uses Redux for state management, this tab provides tools to inspect the Redux store, view actions, and track state changes.
  1. Use the various tools provided by the React Native Debugger to debug your app effectively. For example, you can inspect the component hierarchy, modify state on the fly, and monitor network requests.

Example usage:

import React from "react"; import { View, Text } from "react-native"; const MyComponent = () => { const [count, setCount] = React.useState(0); const incrementCount = () => { setCount((prevCount) => prevCount + 1); }; return ( <View> <Text onPress={incrementCount}>Count: {count}</Text> </View> ); }; export default MyComponent;

In this example, you can use the React Native Debugger to:

  • Inspect the component hierarchy and view the MyComponent component.
  • Modify the count state in real-time and observe the changes.
  • Set breakpoints, step through the code, and analyze the component's behavior.

By using the React Native Debugger, you can gain deep insights into your app's behavior, identify bugs, and make necessary adjustments to ensure your React Native app performs optimally.

4. Utilizing the React Developer Tools Browser Extension

The React Developer Tools browser extension, available for Chrome and Firefox, is another invaluable debugging tool for React Native apps. It allows you to inspect and interact with React components in your application, view props and state, and understand how changes in one component affect the overall UI. This tool is particularly useful for debugging UI-related issues and understanding the component hierarchy.


  • Install the React Developer Tools extension in your browser.
  • Open your React Native app in the simulator or emulator.
  • Use the React Developer Tools extension to inspect components, view props and state, and analyze component interactions.

5. Remote Debugging

Sometimes, it's necessary to debug a React Native app running on a physical device or an emulator. Remote debugging allows you to connect the app to your development environment and inspect it using the debugging tools we've discussed. React Native provides detailed documentation on how to set up remote debugging for both iOS and Android, enabling you to troubleshoot issues specific to device or platform interactions.


  • Follow the instructions in the React Native documentation to enable remote debugging for iOS or Android.
  • Connect your physical device or emulator to your development environment.
  • Use the React Native Debugger or React Developer Tools extension to inspect and debug your app remotely.

6. React Native CLI and Platform-Specific Debugging

React Native CLI offers platform-specific debugging options that can be crucial when addressing issues related to a particular platform. Whether you're debugging on iOS or Android, knowing the platform-specific tools, commands, and techniques can save you significant time and effort. Familiarize yourself with the platform-specific debugging workflows to maximize your debugging efficiency.


  • For iOS, use Xcode's debugging tools to inspect and debug your React Native app.
  • For Android, utilize Android

Studio's debugging capabilities or run react-native log-android in your terminal to view device logs.

Certainly! Let's dive deeper into unit testing in React Native apps and provide examples of potential solutions and how to use them.

7. Unit Testing and Debugging

Unit testing plays a crucial role in ensuring the correctness and reliability of your React Native app's individual components and functions. By writing tests that focus on specific units of code, you can identify and fix issues early in the development process. Let's explore some key concepts and tools related to unit testing and how they can be used effectively in React Native.

7.1 Why Unit Testing?

Unit testing offers several benefits:

  • Bug Detection: Unit tests help catch bugs and errors early, ensuring that issues are addressed before they become critical.

  • Code Refactoring: Unit tests provide confidence when refactoring code by ensuring that existing functionality remains intact.

  • Documentation: Unit tests serve as executable documentation, describing the expected behavior of components and functions.

  • Collaboration: Well-written unit tests facilitate collaboration among team members, as they serve as a clear specification of expected functionality.

7.2 Testing Frameworks for React Native

There are various testing frameworks available for React Native, but one of the most popular choices is Jest. Jest is a powerful, easy-to-use testing framework that comes preconfigured with React Native projects.

To get started with Jest, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that you have Jest installed as a dependency in your project by running the following command in your project directory:

    npm install --save-dev jest
  2. Write your test cases in separate files with the .test.js or .spec.js extension, usually located in a __tests__ directory within your project.

  3. Run your tests using the following command:

    npm test

Jest provides a wide range of features, such as test runners, assertions, and mocking capabilities, making it a robust choice for testing React Native apps.

7.3 Testing React Native Components

When testing React Native components, you want to ensure that they render correctly and behave as expected. Let's consider an example of testing a simple component:

import React from "react"; import { Text } from "react-native"; const Greeting = ({ name }) => { return <Text>Hello, {name}!</Text>; }; export default Greeting;

To test the Greeting component, you can create a test file, Greeting.test.js, and write the following test case using Jest:

import React from "react"; import { render } from "@testing-library/react-native"; import Greeting from "../Greeting"; test("renders the greeting with the provided name", () => { const { getByText } = render(<Greeting name="John" />); const greetingElement = getByText("Hello, John!"); expect(greetingElement).toBeTruthy(); });

In this test case, we use the render function from @testing-library/react-native to render the Greeting component with a prop value of "John". We then use the getByText function to query for the presence of the greeting text and assert that it exists.

7.4 Testing React Native Functions

Apart from testing components, it's also important to test functions and utility modules that form the core logic of your React Native app. Let's consider an example of testing a simple utility function:

// mathUtils.js export const sum = (a, b) => a + b;

To test the sum function, create a test file, mathUtils.test.js, and write the following test case:

import { sum } from '../math Utils'; test('sums two numbers correctly', () => { const result = sum(2, 3); expect(result).toBe(5); });

In this test case, we import the sum function from mathUtils.js and invoke it with the values 2 and 3. We then use the expect function to assert that the result of the sum function is 5.

7.5 Mocking Dependencies

Unit tests often involve mocking dependencies to isolate the unit under test. In React Native, this can be particularly useful when dealing with API calls or external libraries.

For example, suppose you have a component that makes an API call using the axios library:

import React, { useEffect, useState } from "react"; import axios from "axios"; const UserList = () => { const [users, setUsers] = useState([]); useEffect(() => { const fetchUsers = async () => { const response = await axios.get("/users"); setUsers(; }; fetchUsers(); }, []); return ( <ul> { => ( <li key={}>{}</li> ))} </ul> ); }; export default UserList;

To test the UserList component without making actual network requests, you can mock the axios dependency using Jest's mocking capabilities:

import React from "react"; import { render, waitFor } from "@testing-library/react-native"; import axios from "axios"; import UserList from "../UserList"; jest.mock("axios"); test("renders the list of users", async () => { const mockResponse = { data: [ { id: 1, name: "John" }, { id: 2, name: "Jane" }, ], }; axios.get.mockResolvedValue(mockResponse); const { getByText } = render(<UserList />); await waitFor(() => expect(axios.get).toHaveBeenCalledTimes(1)); const johnElement = getByText("John"); const janeElement = getByText("Jane"); expect(johnElement).toBeTruthy(); expect(janeElement).toBeTruthy(); });

In this test case, we mock the axios.get function to return a predefined response. We then render the UserList component and use the waitFor function to wait for the API call to complete. Finally, we assert that the rendered component contains the expected user names.

Debugging a React Native app can be a complex endeavor, given the combined frontend and backend codebase. However, armed with the best practices outlined in this blog post and equipped with the React Native Debugger, React Developer Tools browser extension, and other debugging techniques, you'll be well-prepared to tackle any debugging challenge that comes your way. Remember to leverage consistent logging, explore the capabilities of the dedicated debugging tools, and make use of platform-specific debugging options. With these techniques and examples at your disposal, you'll be able to effectively debug your React Native apps and deliver high-quality, bug-free experiences to your users.

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