The past few years ushered us into the era of mobile applications, where mobile apps have become an integral part of our everyday life. Be it Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Uber, Skype, or more mobile applications are trending excessively in this day and age. However, with this increasing dependency on mobile applications, the need for niche technologies, frameworks, and platforms is also rapidly increasing, giving way to the advent of new frameworks and platforms that allow developers to create cross-platform apps that are suitable for all platforms. Moreover, these two frameworks are competing against each other to prove their worth, making Flutter Vs React Native the most trending topics of the year.
From simplifying the app development process to making them efficient, these frameworks are helping reduce the complexity of mobile application development and are hence trending among developers. Among these, Flutter and React Native are the two most popular Cross-platform Mobile App Development Frameworks that are enabling developers to create cross-platform mobile applications that work seamlessly across various platforms and devices.
So, let’s try to determine, “What is the difference between Flutter and React Native?” and answer the important question, “Will Flutter replace React Native?”. But before we delve deep into this discussion on React Native vs Flutter, it is important that we understand the need for cross-platform development frameworks.
The Need for Cross-Platform Mobile Development Framework:
Nowadays, Android and iOS are two of the most widely used mobile platforms, with a completely different application development process. Android requires developers with extensive knowledge of Java or Kotlin, whereas iOS needs developers well versed in Swift programming language, making the development process expensive and time-consuming.
Cross-platform app development came into the inception to overcome this drawback and has become the need of the hour. Industries are using frameworks like React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, PhoneGap, and more, to create cross-platform applications, as they enable a single team to create apps with a single code base that works on multiple operating systems (OS), like iOS and Android. Due to this, most of the applications developed today are either cross-platform or hybrid and can run seamlessly on iOS and Android. Other advantages offered by cross-platform mobile application development frameworks are:
- It offers UX uniformity.
- Ideal for prototyping.
- Requires one team to create one product for two or more platforms.
- The code can be reused across platforms.
- Quicker Development.
- Easier Implementation.
Now that we know the reason for the shift from native app development to cross-platform and hybrid app development, let’s compare the two important cross-platform mobile app development technology.
React Native: Understanding the Basics:
Used by Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, Skype, Tesla, Walmart, etc. and backed up by a huge developer community, React Native popularity is tremendous due to its ability to build applications efficiently, in less time as well as its use of Node Package Manager (NPM) for installation, excellent UI rendering, GPU oriented application development, seamless integration and quick load time, etc. Additionally, its features like platform-specific code and hot reload make it a common choice for developers for mobile application development.
What is Flutter App Development?
Flutter, one of the biggest React Native competitors, is a free and open-source mobile UI framework created by Google and released in 2017. Though new to the spectrum of mobile application development, it is gaining popularity and momentum among web and mobile developers for creating native applications, with a single codebase. In short, with Flutter, developers can use one programming language and codebase to create two different apps for different platforms.
Difference between Flutter and React native: What to Choose?
From being open-sourced, fast and free to offering excellent UI support and native-like experience, React Native and Flutter, two major competitors offering cross-platform solutions, share various similarities. However, there are certain aspects of these two frameworks that make one framework superior from the other, which will be highlighted in the following comparison:
A major advantage of using cross-platform mobile app development frameworks is it allows developers to create applications for both iOS and Android using a single programming language.
- Flutter uses Dart programming language to create a Flutter app. Though new for mobile application developers, Dart is easy-to-use for developers experienced in different OOP languages such as Java and C++.
As React Native is purely focused on UI design, it has a large number of React UI components that are more extensive than that of Flutter. This is because application development with React Native is highly based on native components, whereas Flutter works flawlessly with the owner widget sets. One advantage of these widgets is that they prevent the developer from being dependent on third-party UI libraries.
Development time and process are the two most critical aspects that need consideration during mobile application development. Flutter, prominently known for fast and simple development, is lauded for its hot reload feature, which enables developers to instantly view changes and implement modifications. Moreover, it provides a full suite of extensible components that are built from scratch. Whereas, React Native, though popular, relies heavily on third-party libraries, which becomes makes the process comparatively slower.
React Native, though popular for providing high-quality user experience, is considered less suitable for application development because of its architecture, which impacts its performance and makes it slower. Whereas, Flutter’s ability to reuse the same code for creating applications for different platforms as well as its use of widgets and GPU to render it on apps on the screen helps create apps with best-in-class performance and speed.
Google, like always, provides clear, structured, and in-depth documentation for their products, with Flutter being no exception. From installation to widgets, testing, more Flutter offers proper documentation for all and is backed by the Flutter team. React Native lags behind in this aspect, as it has a poorly maintained and unclear documentation, with not much explained like installation and configuration setup. Moreover, it lacks official documentation for Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery (CI/CD).
Another important aspect that needs consideration when comparing React Native and Flutter is technical architecture.
- Flux Architecture:
To ensure an application receives continuous feedback and is not released with bugs, it crucial to adopt Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery practices. This is ensured by Flutter, in its section on Continuous Integration and Testing, where its rich Command Line Interface (CLI) allows easy set up on CI/CD services strong CLI tools, whereas, React Native does not provide any instructions on CI/CD practices.
The installation process with Flutter is more straightforward, with the added advantage of automated checkup of system problems. On the other hand, react-native lacks a streamlining setup and configuration.
Some of the tools used in both React Native and Flutter mobile application development are:
- Flutter SDK.
- Hot Reload.
- React Navigation.
React Native is currently ruling the spectrum of cross-platform mobile application development, however, there is no doubt that Flutter is working hard to prove its worth and is slowly taking over the future mobile application development, by making the development more streamlined, introduction of new features and functionalities, as well as by saving the developer time and effort. However, it is still too soon to answer to questions like “Is Flutter better than React Native?”, as Flutter is still climbing the ladder to achieve the popularity and reliability that React Native is currently enjoying.