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React Native vs Flutter: Which Cross-Platform Development Framework is best?

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Flutter has emerged as one of the most credible alternatives to common and widely used programming languages for cross-platform app development. Flutter has come into the picture not so long ago. It was just introduced during the Google I/O Developer Conference in 2017 only two years after React Native was introduced by Facebook during 2015 F8 conference. Instantly after the launch, it grabbed the attention of the developers worldwide and in no time has become a highly appreciated language for building high-quality cross-platform apps.

React Native has also been a powerful language which is used by global giants like Facebook, Instagram, Skype and Bloomberg. While React Native has been the most preferred language for any leading mobile app development company, the emergence of Flutter gave React Native a tough competition.

While the competition between these two languages will continue to foster and grow, Flutter eventually may enjoy a lead in terms of output and ease of development. Here through the length of this post, we are going to explain this battle by finding out the pros and cons of these languages and comparing some of their key advantages.

React Native and Its Pros and Cons

React Native is a highly popular JavaScript framework which is well-equipped for coding and building highly responsive and powerful native mobile apps across multiple platforms. The best thing of the framework is that it allows reusing the same code for building apps for various platforms. The framework is smaller in size and allows building an app with a native look and feel without recompiling or rewriting the entire code.

Let’s have a look at the key pros and cons of the React Native.

Pros

  • React Native allows building robust platform-specific native apps that perform better than hybrid apps.
  • React Native through reusability of code and built-in templates helps faster and efficient development.
  • With React Native you can build multiple cross-platform apps having just a small team of developers.
  • React Native boasts of a large community of developers spread all over the globe.

Cons

  • Many developers still complain that React Native offers a small collection of ready to use components.
  • While building an app for a native platform with React Native, you need to have a solid grasp over native app development as well. Ideally, the ratio would be 70% cross-platform and 30% native code.
  • To a certain extent, a cross-platform app built with React Native framework lacks the kind of performance offered by a truly native app.

Flutter and Its Pros and Cons

In 2017, Google unearthed a complete and fully equipped mobile-centric Software Development Kit called Flutter. This cross-platform development language is unique in many respects. Most notably, it has its own rendering engine and offers a robust SDK built and supported by Google.

Let us have a look at the key pros and cons of this new programming language for cross-platform development.

Pros

  • Flutter allows building cross-platform apps that perform better than hybrid apps with respect to performance.
  • Flutter allows faster development not only because of code reusability but also thanks to the complete tool-kit it comes loaded with.
  • With Flutter even a small team of developers for building apps across multiple platforms is enough.
  • Flutter also allows rendering the same UI of the app across all devices including the latest flagships and older devices.
  • Developers working with Flutter also get the support of Android Studio.

Cons

  • Flutter in spite of offering an impressive library doesn’t provide all the rich attributes of native app development.
  • Though with Flutter you still a needless amount of native code compared to React Native, still it needs 20% native code.
  • The app performance of Flutter apps is not as good as the purely native apps built specifically for a mobile OS platform.
  • Flutter is a relatively new language and hence lacks a bursting global community of developers as we find with other popular frameworks.

Key Aspects of Comparison between React Native and Flutter

Both languages have their respective pros and cons. But both stand taller than most other cross-platform languages in terms of performance, ease of development and available tools. The so-called pros and cons apart, we must have a look at the key differences between these two languages.

Building UI with Blocks

This is a serious difference between the two frameworks. React Native allows using custom components from third parties for building iOS and Android OS specific user interface. On the other hand, Flutter allows creating the user interface with fully customisable widgets that come packed with the framework resources. Flutter in this respect has a slight edge when it comes to building a highly platform-specific user interface with blocks.

Comparing the Performance

Now, it is time to compare the two frameworks in terms of their performance. React Native comes as a completely native JavaScript engine that can deliver native look and feel of the platform. But Flutter coming equipped with a fast-paced language like Dart and having the JavaScript bridge to connect the native elements offer a faster performance compared to the React Native apps. Moreover, Flutter allows compiling into the native ARM code which does away with any issue corresponding to performance.

Fast-paced Development

React Native in spite of being an older framework with excellent code reusability takes longer than Flutter for building an app. On the other hand, just because Flutter uses a widget based development paradigm, it makes development much faster. Moreover, Flutter is more comfortable to use and involves fewer complexities. This simplicity and ease further boost the development speed.

Documentation

For efficient and error-free coding excellent documentation and IDE are a must. In that respect, React Native seems to lack behind Flutter. While React Native offers more complex documentation, Flutter provides a more well-organised and well-articulated document. The alarming thing is, though Flutter is compatible with a lower number of IDEs such as VS Code, Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, the IDEs available with React Native come with the paid version. So, in terms of documentation and IDE, Flutter seems to be better positioned compared to the React Native.

Conclusion

Though in many respects Flutter seems to be slightly ahead of the React Native, the latter being an older framework has still an edge. But over time, Flutter can pick up and become a more credible alternative for cross-platform development.

Author Bio:

Juned Ghanchi is CMO and proud co-founder of IndianAppDevelopers a leading mobile app development company in India. He loves to share his knowledge about mobile technologies on various blogs.

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