Introduction to React 360

Paul Halliday

React 360 (or React VR) is a library used to create virtual reality experiences with React and uses Three.js for rendering. As it is a React project, the API should be familiar to those that already know React.

Usage of React 360 is similar to that of React Native, it is a library that uses custom components and does not interface with the DOM as we know it.

Installing the React 360 CLI

Firstly, ensure that you have Node.js installed on your machine. Next, we’ll need to download the React 360 CLI from npm:

$ npm install -g react-360-cli

We’ll now be able to use react-360 globally on our machine.

Create a new project

Using the CLI, we can create a new project with the init command:

$ react-360 init hello-vr

$ cd hello-vr

$ code .

$ npm run start

This’ll create a new directory named hello-vr and scaffold a new project here. By running npm run start inside of this directory, we’re starting the Metro bundler and our application appears at http://localhost:8081/index.html

Screenshot: our starting app

You can hold down the left mouse button to pan around the screen. React 360 (as referenced by the name) is built to work with 180-360 degree equirectangular photos/videos, and the power of this can be seen with the starting project.

It also comes with a variety of inbuilt UI components that we can use. Examples of these are: View, Image, Entity, and VrButton.

Example

Let’s take a look at how this works by diving into client.js:

import { ReactInstance } from 'react-360-web';

function init (bundle, parent, options = {}) {
  const r360 = new ReactInstance(bundle, parent, {
    // Add custom options here
    fullScreen : true,
    ...options
  });

  // Render your app content to the default cylinder surface
  r360.renderToSurface(
    r360.createRoot(
      'hello_vr',
      {
        /* initial props */
      }
    ),
    r360.getDefaultSurface()
  );

  // Load the initial environment
  r360.compositor.setBackground(r360.getAssetURL('360_world.jpg'));
}

window.React360 = { init };

We’re setting the root with r360.createRoot to the hello_vr React component found in index.js, note how this is referenced by string name.

We can interact with the environment by using the VrButton component:

import React from 'react';
import { AppRegistry, StyleSheet, Text, View, VrButton } from 'react-360';

export default class hello_vr extends React.Component {
  state = {
    counter : 0
  };

  _incrementCounter = () => {
    this.setState({
      counter : (this.state.counter += 1)
    });
  };

  render () {
    return (
      <View style={styles.panel}>
        <View style={styles.greetingBox}>
          <VrButton onClick={this._incrementCounter}>
            <Text style={styles.greeting}>You've clicked me {this.state.counter} times.</Text>
          </VrButton>
        </View>
      </View>
    );
  }
}

const styles = StyleSheet.create({
  panel       : {
    // Fill the entire surface
    width           : 1000,
    height          : 600,
    backgroundColor : 'rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.4)',
    justifyContent  : 'center',
    alignItems      : 'center'
  },
  greetingBox : {
    padding         : 20,
    backgroundColor : '#000000',
    borderColor     : '#639dda',
    borderWidth     : 2
  },
  greeting    : {
    fontSize : 30
  }
});

AppRegistry.registerComponent('hello_vr', () => hello_vr);

Each time that we click the button, our counter is increased:

Screenshot: counter increased

Production

To generate a production build for our React 360 project, run the following in your terminal:

$ npm run bundle

You should then be able to access your newly build production files in ./build.

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