When it comes to building mobile applications, the first question one might ask is: what is the best way to create an app that can reach as many users as possible? With the recent improvements in mobile application development, there has been an increase in cross-platform frameworks that allow developers to make apps that can be released on multiple platforms using the same codebase. Although the list is pretty extensive, the two most popular frameworks are Flutter and React Native. Both frameworks have their advantages and disadvantages and, as such, you need to consider all the differences to make an informed decision about which to use on your application.
In this article, we are going to take a look at the key differences between Flutter and React Native and compare the two on various factors, such as performance, development tools, architecture, platform support, and so on. We will start by defining both frameworks, and compare each across different aspects, such as architecture and performance.
What are cross-platform frameworks?
Cross-platform development frameworks are software tools that enable developers to create applications that run seamlessly across multiple operating systems and platforms.
These frameworks allow developers to write code once, and then deploy it to different platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows, and the web. This approach saves time and resources by eliminating the need to write additional code for each platform.
These frameworks also work by using a set of libraries and tools that abstract away the differences between platforms. These libraries allow developers to write platform-independent code, meaning it can run on any platform without modification.
One of the main benefits of cross-platform development frameworks is that they provide a consistent user experience across different devices and platforms. They also make it easier for developers to maintain and update their applications, since they only need to make changes to one code base.
There are several cross-platform development frameworks available, including React Native, Xamarin, Flutter, and Ionic. Each framework has its features and advantages, and developers must choose the one that best suits their needs. For this article, we’re only focusing on Flutter and React Native.
Flutter and React Native
Flutter and React Native are the most popular cross-platform development frameworks used by developers to build mobile applications. Both frameworks have revolutionised mobile app development by enabling developers to build powerful, visually-stunning, and fully-featured apps that work seamlessly across platforms. They are two of the most actively worked on GitHub repositories in the world.
Google created Flutter in 2017, and it has become a popular choice among developers due to its high performance, ease of use, and extensive library of pre-built widgets. Flutter uses the Dart programming language, which is easy to learn and use. Additionally, Flutter’s hot reload feature allows developers to make code changes and see the changes immediately in the application, making the development process faster and more efficient.
Flutter is known for its high performance and ease of use, making it an excellent choice for building complex applications. React Native provides a more native experience to users and is perfect for building apps that require lots of animations and complex interactions. Both have their unique strengths and impact on the mobile development scene.
Flutter vs React Native
React Native, just like React for the web, is designed to be minimal. It provides some base components but leaves everything else to be maintained by the open-source community, meaning a React Native project generally requires lots of third-party dependencies. Flutter, however, comes with an extensive widget library right out the gate, and the Google team maintains many plugins for common use, like the camera. Both frameworks have a package manager, and also have extensive communities to make mobile app development easier to understand and execute.
Flutter, on the contrary, has its own high-performance rendering engine called Skia built with C++ which allows it to render custom pixels to the screen with smooth animations and high frame rates. This allows for rendering components without the use of the bridge, although there is an option to communicate with the native system for native features.
When compiling, Flutter uses ahead-of-time compilation, meaning that the startup times are faster and the overall performance improves. React Native uses just-in-time compilation, compiling the code at run time, and therefore increasing the startup time.
Overall, even though Flutter may have an advantage over React Native in terms of performance due to its use of customizable UI widgets and the Skia rendering engine, both frameworks offer high performance and smooth user experiences. The performance varies depending on the requirements and complexity of the final application. To select one option over the other, developers must consider their project-specific requirements, personal preferences, available resources, and, ultimately, their developers’ knowledge of the specific languages.
Daniel Brinzei is a mobile software developer, with 5+ years of experience in the field. He is specialized in Android and iOS Native development, as well as Flutter. Daniel has a passion for creating performant systems and applications, rich in design.