There can be hardly any doubt about the fact that cross-platform app development helps businesses to reach a wider audience in less time. The gross cost of developing an app from start to finish and the cost for support will also be limited. As you don't need to build two separate apps and can build just one app for multiple platforms, this will save all the time to plan, build, test, and deploy the app.
On the other hand, the code used for cross-platform apps is always reusable which means that the code written by the developers can be used across both iOS and Android platforms as well as multiple app projects. Thanks to reusable code, the cost to make a Flutter app or React Native app is always lower than native apps. On top of everything, cross platform development frameworks continue to get better by incorporating native UI elements and they are more efficient in mimicking the behaviour of native OS platforms.
The biggest rivalry between two technologies that encompasses the app development world is between React Native and Flutter. While React Native has been the undisputed king of cross platform app development for years, a Flutter development company has found the framework to be more efficient for fast paced native and cross platform UI development.
Let us now compare these two leading mobile app development technologies and their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Pros and Cons of Flutter
Flutter is a robust UI development toolkit that can be equally great for building the frontend of apps on iOS and Android. It has been subjected to widespread buzz when it challenged the dominance of React Native for cross platform development in 2017. But despite all the buzz, attention and popularity it received, Flutter offers an equal range of pros and cons.
- When it comes to app performance Flutter leads the way as the most powerful and well-equipped cross platform development framework with everything a project needs.
- Flutter guarantees really faster development as it offers a whole array of ready to use UI widgets and toolkits.
- Apps built with Flutter unlike other apps developed with other cross platform frameworks can also run on web and desktop platforms besides the mobile OS platforms such as iOS and Android.
- Flutter comes with a modular development approach ensuring incremental development through MVP approach.
- Flutter apps get dual support of both Android Studio IDE and Firebase backend.
- Flutter uses Dart language, which is a low footprint, object oriented and functional language with clean and lean coding.
- Flutter comes with an array of ready to use testing tools for faster testing.
- Flutter offers hot reload feature to help developers evaluate app performance instantly after making code changes.
- Flutter, unlike other cross platform frameworks such as React Native, is not able to use more than 20% native code.
- Flutter comes with a heavy load of widgets making the framework size heavier and this despite low footprint Dart language can make the app performance suffer at times.
- Flutter has just come on the development scene in 2017 and hence it still lacks support of a robust developer community.
React Native and Its Pros and Cons
React Native appearing in the development scene way back in 2014 has become the developer's favourite technology for all kinds of mobile app projects, particularly the ones that need to be launched on both iOS and Android platforms. React Native development framework is basically a UI development library that can be used for apps across all platforms. In spite awesome features and ability to build apps faster and in less cost, the framework has equal range of pros and cons.
- React Native allows developers to reuse as much as 85% of the code codebase across platforms and this ensures lightning fast development output.
- React Native can bridge with the native or platform specific UI layers to deliver a truly native user experience for both iOS and Android mobile OS platforms.
- React Native comes with a large and powerful collection of out of the box templates and components for developing iOS and Android apps.
- React Native over the years has been used across a wide spectrum of app projects across leading business brands and it enjoys huge and unparalleled community support.
- React Native also provides a robust pool of debugging and testing tools to help app testing.
- React Native by offering hot reload feature helps developers to evaluate the code changes in real time and this helps in faster app maintenance and updates.
- React Native is still a UI library and hence it lacks the framework-like comprehensive guidance to help developers during development.
- React Native app projects depending upon the nature of the app and feature set may need to handle as much as 20% to 30% native code and so they require good knowledge of native development.
- React Native needs a bridge to make communication with the native UI layer. This may result in slower app performance and slower development speed.
- React Native relies heavily on several third party APIs to integrate different features and functions.
Now that we have a brief idea about the core strengths and weaknesses of both React Native and Flutter frameworks, now it becomes important to compare these two technologies in regard to key areas of app development. Let's begin.
- Dart as a general-purpose programming language follows a lean and clean coding convention. The language comes with features that fit well in all types of apps including web and mobile apps.
When it comes to architecture of these two frameworks, there are pros and cons on both sides.
- Flutter uses Dart which supports data architecture attributes such as abstraction, inheritance, encapsulation, and polymorphism. The Dart bridge architecture is used by Flutter to communicate with native layer and it ensures faster performance.
- React Native’s architecture is Flux which offers characteristics of MVC models. Another great attribute of Flutter is that it supports unidirectional data flow.
UI Component and Development API
Both offer a great set of ready to use UI components and APIs.
- React Native for accessing the native UI modules depends heavily on the third-party libraries.
- Flutter completely does away with all the third-party libraries as it comes loaded with a whole array of components for native modules.
Productivity of the Developers
As far as ease of development and productivity are considered, React Native seems to have an edge.
- Flutter uses Dart which is supported by a few IDEs and text editor tools. This can make things difficult and less flexible for some developers.
When it comes to community support React Native is ahead of others, but Flutter is fast picking up.
- React Native has been released earlier and continued to remain as the most preferred framework for several years. Naturally it has a robust community on all developer platforms.
- Flutter despite coming later quickly rose to fame and popularity and at present boasts of a rapidly increasing community of developers.
There are fundamental differences between these two technologies in regard to app testing.
- React Native relies heavily on third-party integration and testing tools for app projects.
- Flutter comes with its own testing feature and provides out of the box testing abilities at 3 levels such as unit test, widget test and integration test.
Development and Deployment Automation
In terms of automated development and deployment, React Native is less efficient than Flutter.
- React Native doesn't provide documentation to carry out automated deployment across any platform and so developers need to sort things out on their own.
- Flutter on the other hand offers ready deployment support through CLI and provides detailed documentation to help developers with the process of deployment.
DevOps and CI/CD Support
The DevOps approach and Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Development (CD) approaches are getting popular for app projects. In supporting these approaches, Flutter has a clear edge over React Native.
- React Native does not provide any official documentation for setting the CI/CD of app projects.
- Flutter offers a separate guideline on CI and app testing. Using Flutter CLI for the same setting is also very easy.
From the above comparison, it is clear that both Flutter and React Native has their own awesome advantages. The differences matter only based upon the type of app you are going to develop. Each is best in its own way when used for the appropriate app project.