React Native and Flutter are two of the most widely used frameworks to develop cross-platform mobile applications. These cross-platform app development technologies have always been a hot topic of discussion among app developers because both stand in a good position whenever a head-to-head comparison is made between the two. In this article, we will share our insights into the Flutter vs React Native debate, look at their pros and cons, and understand the differences between them based on some important factors. This will also help you choose the right framework for your project.

Due to the rising popularity of mobile apps and the fierce competition in the market, companies are looking to build their mobile apps for different platforms but with less time and resources. Now although Google and Apple do provide the native tools and technologies to build apps separately for their platform, this, however, involves two different teams; one for iOS and one for Android. To bridge the gap, companies have started adopting cross-platform solutions, and that’s where Flutter and React Native come into play.

Also Read: React vs Angular: Which is better and Why?

What is React Native?

React Native was created by Facebook in 2015. It’s an open-source mobile application framework that runs on JavaScript and helps develop applications for both Android and iOS using a single code base. As the name suggests, it is rendered with the native code and thus focuses on the native rendering of the mobile applications for Android and iOS. It is based on React but targets mobile platforms instead of browsers. Simply put, React Native is a framework for building native apps using React. Some of the popular apps that use React Native are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Skype.

Pros of React Native

Some of the advantages of using React Native for your project are-

1. Efficient

The “hot reloading” feature in React Native allows the code changes to immediately come into effect that helps reduce the waiting time for the changes to reflect and thereby saves development time as well.

2. High Performance

While interacting with the native components of a platform and rendering codes to native APIs, React Native uses a separate thread from UI. The UI components are compiled to the native equivalents that ultimately maximize the app’s performance.

3. Rich Ecosystem

React Native utilizes a rich ecosystem and UI libraries to render the app appearance automatically at every change in the state of the app.

Cons of React Native

Using React Native possesses a few disadvantages as well, such as-

1. User Interface Challenge

The native rendering of APIs may not support or be compatible with certain UI native elements, which may affect the UI quality.

2. Outdated Third-party tools

React native uses third-party library components which may often be outdated and contain bugs and glitches.

3. Debugging Issues

Developers may come across several issues with Debugging tools, and if they aren’t proficient in React Native, it might affect app development.

What is Flutter?

Younger to React Native, Flutter was created by Google in 2017 and is also an open-source framework that runs on Dart, a programming language also created by Google. Flutter is usually referred to as Google’s enhanced UI toolkit for building amazing, natively-combined applications for web, mobile, and desktop using a single code base. Some of the popular apps that use Flutter are Google Ads, Alibaba, eBay, and Tencent.

Pros of Flutter

Let’s now take a look at the benefits of using the Flutter framework.

1. Rich Widgets

Flutter provides you with a rich set of custom widgets that follow the guidelines of Material Design (Android) and Cupertino (iOS).

2. Perfect for MVP

Flutter is the perfect option if you are looking to build an MVP for your app as the code can be easily and quickly written and shared across platforms.

3. Flutter helps build faster Apps

Apps made with Flutter are fast and smooth- they never hang while scrolling. This is because Flutter uses the Skia Graphics Library; the UI is redrawn every time a view changes.

Cons of Flutter

A few disadvantages of using the Flutter framework are-

1. Libraries and Support

Even though Flutter has Google’s support, it is still quite new. Developers cannot always find the functionalities they need in existing libraries, so they might have to build the custom functionality themselves, which can be time-consuming.

2. Operating Platform

Flutter isn’t compatible to build apps for Android Auto, tvOS, watchOS, and CarPlay.

3. Continuous Integration Support

Flutter lacks support for CI platforms at the time of writing, so developers need to use and maintain custom scripts to execute automatic building, testing, and deployment.

Flutter vs React Comparison

We have defined a few important criteria for an apt comparison between Flutter and React Native. Let’s go through each briefly.

1. Technical Architecture

Technical Architecture is an important point to consider while picking a cross-platform app development framework. By having an idea of the framework’s internals, you can make an informed decision and select the one that is best suited for your project.

React Native makes use of the Flux architecture while Flutter uses Skia. React Native architecture depends on the JS runtime environment architecture, also referred to as JavaScript bridge, and uses it to communicate with the native modules. Flutter, on the other hand, runs on Dart and has most of the components in-built so unlike React Native, it doesn’t need the bridge to interact with the native modules. Dart comprises various inside frameworks such as Material Design and Cupertino, that provide all the necessary technologies required to build mobile apps. It uses the Skia C++ engine which contains all the protocols, compositions, and channels. Put simply, everything that is needed for application development, Flutter has it in its engine itself, which results in a rich performance, and thus it wins the race over React Native here.

2. UI Component and Development API

During cross-platform app development, support for the native component is highly component. In its absence, the app won’t give the feel of a native app. It’s imperative that the framework has an API to effortlessly access the native modules.

React Native framework involves fewer components. It issues only UI rendering and device access APIs and is heavily reliant on third-party libraries to access most of the native modules whereas the Flutter framework is piled-up with UI rendering elements, device API access, navigation, testing, stateful management and many libraries, which eliminates the need for third-party libraries.

So, in this case, Flutter again gets an edge over React Native.

3. Testing Support

Every mature technology comes with a testing framework that allows developers to test apps at the UI level, integration, and unit level. React Native comes with limited unit level testing frameworks and there is no official support as far as integration or UI level testing is concerned. Developers, therefore, have no choice except to rely on third-party tools such as Appium and Detox for testing React Native apps.

Flutter, on the other hand, offers a multitude of testing features at the unit, widget, and integration level and provides documentation as well to test Flutter apps. Flutter has also got an amazing widget testing feature where developers can create widget tests to test the UI and execute them at the speed of unit tests.

4. Build and Release Automation

Deploying an app to the app store is a challenging task and this gets even more painful in the case of cross-platform apps. React Native doesn’t offer any automated steps to deploy the iOS app at the App store, however, it does provide a manual process for the same using XCode. It relies on third-party libraries for build and release automation, and hence one can use third-party tools like fastlane to deploy Android and iOS apps coded with React Native.

Flutter possesses a powerful command-line interface. Developers can prepare a binary of the app by making use of the command-line tools and following the instructions in the documentation regarding the build and release of Android and iOS apps.

5. Code Maintenance

Upgrading and debugging the code in React Native is a painful experience. When you fork the code for app suitability, it interferes with the logic of the framework and thus slows down the development process. Furthermore, most of the native components might depend on third-party libraries which are usually outdated and contain too many issues, and hence cannot be maintained properly.

Talking about Flutter, code maintenance is relatively easy. The code simplicity in Flutter helps developers detect glitches, source external tools, and support third-party libraries. In addition to that, the hot reloading feature instantly resolves the spotted issues. The hot reloading capacity of React Native lacks at making instant changes and timely release of the quality updates.

6. Community Support

A strong community assists developers to look for the answers to the problems they are facing and provides them a platform to learn and share knowledge with their peers. Both React Native and Flutter have evolved as a community over the years with regular technological updates and have been successful in drawing the interest or attention of the developers.

The community of React Native has been continuously growing ever since its launch in 2015. On their official website, they have mentioned the different platforms where react native developers can seek help or get updates revolving around React Native.

Flutter got a major boost when Google promoted it at the Google I/O conference in 2017. Although the Flutter community is also growing rapidly, it lags behind React Native as far as the number of resources for developers is concerned.

Both React Native and Flutter are excellent technologies. They have already achieved immense popularity and enduring trust from their community. Ultimately, it depends on the type of application you want to build so choose the framework that best suits your requirements. You can seek help from the expert developers at Dew who will guide you with the right choice of framework. Reach out to us at info@dewsolutions.in or submit your queries here.

You May Also Like To Read:

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React Native vs Flutter: A Detailed Comparison

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