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15 April

React Native vs. Flutter – Which Is Right for You?

They say competition brings out the best in people. Well, what’s true for people must be true for technology as well. Facebook and Google have gone toe-to-toe in advertising, social media and artificial intelligence – producing an array of incredible products.  Now, they’re looking to dominate mobile app development – React Native vs. Flutter.It’s a lucrative space. Mobile-first is a common strategy. And mobile app developers need a variety of platforms, frameworks, and tools to make the development process as quick and efficient as possible.

Both Flutter and React Native help – promising similar benefits:

  • One codebase for iOS & Android
  • Fast development
  • Native functionality, and
  • An unrivaled user experience

However, few CEOs know which approach best fits their product. The reality is, there’s a strong use case for each. Developers have built everything from e-commerce stores to interactive mobile experiences to social networks – using React Native and Flutter.

The following article will compare and contrast the two to help you make an informed decision.

React Native

“Build native mobile apps using JavaScript and React”–React GitHub

React Native is often referred to as the future of hybrid apps. Since its open source launch in 2013, the framework has become immensely popular. Aside from Facebook, companies who use React Native include:

  • Skype – Video Calling/Messaging (iOS, Android)
  • Walmart – eCommerce (iOS, Android)
  • Tesla – Vehicle Communication App (iOS, Android)
  • Airbnb – Accommodation Booking (iOS, Android)

It’s existed for a long time, and companies trust its reliability and scale.

Flutter

“Build beautiful native apps on iOS and Android from a single codebase”Flutter.dev

Flutter is Google’s open-source SDK. It’s relatively new (Google celebrated the first ‘stable’ Flutter 1.0 in December). However, the tech giant also announced the launch of a side project – Hummingbird: a programme that promises developers a ‘build once, run everywhere’ experience.

As such, Flutter is becoming increasingly popular, and you now can find many examples of the framework in the real world:

  • Alibaba – World’s Biggest eComms Platform (iOS, Android)
  • Reflectly  – Online Journals (iOS, Android)
  • Abbey Road Studios – Music Studio (iOS, Android)
  • Google Greentea – Customer Management (iOS, Android)

It’s less tried-and-tested than React Native – but many developers are turning to Flutter given recent progress.

Why Use Either?

First, let’s consider the benefits that both the frameworks deliver.

Each one provides developers with the tools to build mobile apps on both Android and iOS, using only one codebase. They allow you to mix code with Swift or Kotlin, which opens up the native functionalities usually reserved for a specific operating system.

This reduces both the time to market and the cost to build.

Equally, as both frameworks are the product of a tech giant, each has its own developer community to offer guidance and support at every step. Moreover, the frameworks are open source, free-to-use, and fast.

You’ll also enjoy a library of up-to-date documentation with the relevant API references to help your team develop rich-featured, native app experiences – with the added benefit of a ‘hot reloading’ function that allows more efficient development thanks to running new code while holding the application in-state (rather than recompiling).

Consider the Differences

The similarities are many, but so are the differences. So, let’s dive in – to find out which framework you prefer.

Programming Language

React Native uses JavaScript: an already popular programing language that many developers know well, which has undoubtedly driven the adoption of the framework given its simplicity to start using.

***

Flutter uses Dart: a relatively new language that fewer developers know. Flutter differs significantly from React Native in that there aren’t any JavaScript components or styling, nor separate templates, style or data files.

Dart suits developers with experience in C++ and Java and could require your team to learn a new language before starting development.

vscocam app - we wonder what would vsco choose React Native vs. Flutter

Reliability/Usability

React Native presents a seamless and stable user experience as it communicates directly with the native operating system. This allows the most dynamic capabilities based on native components for the best possible UX.

The framework is the product of the Facebook engineering team and has existed for almost seven years – making it as robust and reliable as any.

***

Flutter is still relatively new. However, as any Google product, it is high quality – and it’s increasingly stable following its latest release (though it still falls short of React on this front).

That said, it has a set of customizable proprietary widgets that help developers build compelling features for a dynamic experience you may not get with React. Regardless, Flutter lacks specific components – which can limit the UX.

Time-to-market

React Native remains one of the quickest ways to get an app to market. It can take longer to style platforms, but its library of third-party packages and readily-available components simplifies development of dynamic features.

***

Flutter has some catching up to do when it comes to development times. It takes longer to build a mobile app using Flutter – although the native usability of the framework and reusable code can make up for the upfront effort.

Performance

React Native’s popularity is a tremendous asset as the community has so much experience with the framework. While some developers stumble and question React Native’s performance, there’s always a solution to adjust an app for the native environment.

It’s arguably the most appropriate framework for large-scale applications – as you can see from the famous companies who use it.

***

Learning Dart is a hurdle for those new to Flutter, but many developers prefer the framework once they’ve mastered the syntax. Flutter makes it simple to reuse code, while the underlying C++ engine performs exceptionally well in mobile applications.

Still, the emerging platform is in its early years with only a handful of clients to showcase its prowess.

Toolkits/Documentation

React’s process is less organized than developers might like; plus, the framework lacks the components to smooth out development – this is one core weakness of React Native.

***

Flutter makes life easy by simplifying documentation, and this is a core strength. Extensive IDE’s, and compatibility with both studio code and android studio, add further value – meaning if you’re on the fence, this could tip Flutter in your favor.

The Verdict – React Native vs. Flutter

Both frameworks achieve their mission: to give developers the tools to build mobile apps on both Android and iOS using one codebase.

It’s difficult to claim one outperforms the other – it’s a matter of making a decision based on your specific needs, and your team’s preferences. React Native is proven and forms the basis of the world’s most-used social media network.

Flutter is less mature, which may give you pause for thought as it strives for stability. However, it has helped build some fantastic apps to get start-ups up-and-running very quickly.

Get in touch today to discuss the best framework for your business model.

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