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Comparing the two leading frameworks for mobile app development

Flutter Vs React Native For Mobile App Development

Dhaval Sarvaiya
flutter
© Shutterstock / KaliAntye

According to a 2020 Statista report, 42% of developers prefer React, while Flutter is the choice framework for 39% of developers. Irrespective of their mutual rivalry and competition, it is extremely important to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and particular features that app developers may find helpful.

Flutter and React Native are two of the most popular frameworks that received widespread acclaim for their capabilities in building powerful native-looking and native-feeling cross-platform apps. No wonder, they are also subjected to frequent comparison and evaluation. Whether you should go for a React Native or Flutter app development company, for your next app project, needs meticulous consideration of several aspects.

According to a 2020 Statista report, 42% of developers prefer React, while Flutter is the choice framework for 39% of developers. Irrespective of their mutual rivalry and competition, it is extremely important to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and particular features that app developers may find helpful. Let us begin by introducing each framework and their key attributes.

SEE ALSO: Getting started with ReactPHP

What is Flutter?

Flutter comes as a robust and comprehensive Software Development Kit (SDK) furnished with UI widgets and tools. When it comes to the cost of app development, Futter offers a better value proposition as you need to rely less on third-party tools and APIs. Flutter is regarded to be one of the leading cross-platform frameworks used for developing powerful and natively compiled apps that can run simultaneously on iOS, Android, web, and desktop.

Pros of Flutter

  • The hot-reloading feature immediately reflects changes in app code while the app is still running
  • Comes with rich UI widgets to help developers follow design guidelines and the latest design principles of both iOS and Android platforms
  • Flutter code helps easy integration with Java for the Android platform and Objective C or Swift for the iOS platform
  • Known for fast-paced iteration cycles to save development time by restricting the testing needs to just one codebase
  • Allows easy and fast sharing of code across multiple platforms, making Flutter ideal for MVP app development

Cons of Flutter

  • Offers a fairly robust range of libraries and tools, though in comparison, far less than React Native
  • Doesn’t offer compatibility for emerging platforms such as tvOS, watchOS, Android Auto, CarPlay, and a few others
  • Needs to depend on standard releases and cannot offer instant updates and patches for apps

What is React Native?

React Native is a Javascript-based open-source mobile app development framework used widely for cross-platform mobile and native mobile app projects. Optimum code reusability, fast-paced development, robust tools, and plugins are some of the key positive attributes of React Native.

Pros of React Native

  • Allows nativel rendering of the APIs without involving HTML or CSS markup
  • In spite of creating authentic UI, ensures optimum app performance
  • Comes with a robust ecosystem of UI libraries to ensure smooth re-rendering of the app look and feel as per the target platform
  • Comes loaded with a rich set of debugging and error reporting tools.
  • Offers hot reloading features to help add codes directly into a new app while without interfering with the running app state.

Cons of React Native

  • In some cases, the native rendering of APIs in React Native projects may not offer comprehensive support to some native UI elements
  • React Native projects often do not support many third-party libraries for smooth implementation
  • Doesn’t offer support for parallel threading and multi-processing, causing a little slower performance for some apps
  • The debugging tool, Chrome debugger, is not convenient for many developers for editing, code inspecting, etc.

SEE ALSO: React Native vs Ionic: Which one is for you?

Evaluating Flutter Vs React Native across key criteria

Let us now review the two frameworks, Flutter and React Native across the top parameters and criteria.

Programming Language

Flutter uses the object-oriented and highly expressive Dart programming language. It can allow more expressive coding. React Native uses JavaScript which is known for dynamic coding. Since JavaScript has been in the development world for a longer period, React Native enjoys more popularity than Flutter among developers.

Architecture

Flutter offers all the UI components out of the box and doesn’t require a bridge for connecting with the native UI layer. By using the Skia engine, Flutter incorporates platform-specific Cupertino and Material Design UI elements. This ensures optimum stability for Flutter apps.

React Native needs to use the JavaScript bridge to establish communication with native UI modules. It facilitates communication with the Native UI through JSON messages and uses the Flux architecture created by Facebook.

Installation & Setup

Flutter installation is a bit more complicated and time consuming. The platform specific binary needs downloading. Though you don’t need any knowledge of JavaScript, the process takes a lot of steps. On the positive side, Flutter offers a detailed installation guide. It also offers a CLI tool called Flutter doctor to help smooth installation.

React Native allows easy installation without any prior JavaScript knowledge. It offers React Native CLI that requires global installation. In contrast to Flutter, React Native doesn’t offer any installation guide to the developers.

UI components and API

When it comes to UI development, Flutter has an edge. It offers a robust repository of API tools, and a lot of ready-to-use User Interface components. On top of all these, Flutter also offers UI rendering widgets for both Android and iOS.

In spite of connecting the Native environments of Android and iOS through JS bridge, React Native depends too much on the third-party libraries. React Native components, on the other hand, behave inconsistently across different platforms.

Community Support

Flutter started its journey only in 2017 and naturally, it has a relatively smaller community as of now. But since Flutter is increasingly becoming popular, it also has the fastest-growing community. On GitHub, it has 81,200 Stars, while React Native has 83,200 stars.

Since React Native has been around for a longer time period, it boasts of a bigger global community making continuous value additions. It is loved by the vast majority of mobile app developers and enjoys better community support than any other leading JavaScript framework.

QA Testing

Flutter offers a broad array of testing features. The best thing is, each of the Flutter testing features comes with proper documentation and out-of-the-box support. Flutter also offers a widget testing feature to facilitate unit testing for checking UIs.

Though JavaScript comes with a few unit testing features, the React Native framework lacks comprehensive support for UI testing or integration testing. For testing, React Native mostly depends on third-party testing tools. It also does not offer any official testing support.

Flutter vs React Native: What type of app projects are suitable for which framework?

As of now, we have understood that both frameworks have their own strengths and weaknesses for specific app projects. Flutter is mostly preferred for app projects with more focus on user interface and limited feature set. For typical, limited budget app projects that need to ensure consistent UI across the web and mobile platforms, you will find that Flutter is a more ideal framework.

React Native is the ideal framework for developers versed with JavaScript coding skills. Complicated and demanding app features can always be better shaped with React Native.

Conclusion

Both Flutter and React Native are equally robust, useful, and high-performance frameworks used across all types of mobile app projects. You can only make the right choice by carefully evaluating the necessities of your app project and the corresponding features and capabilities of these two platforms.

Author
Dhaval Sarvaiya
I am Dhaval Sarvaiya, one of the founders of Intelivita, a leading company having expertise in developing mobile apps using AI and ML technologies. I help Startups and Enterprises overcome their digital transformation and mobility challenges with the might of on-demand solutions powered by cutting-edge technology. Dhaval can be reached online at LinkedInTwitter & Facebook.

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