Unbiased And Comprehensive Comparison Between React Native And Flutter. What To Choose For Development
Hey there! Ever found yourself sipping coffee at 2 AM, debugging that one issue that you may not have encountered if you had chosen the right app development framework? Actually, we've all faced that “Which roads (here, framework) to take” situation, questioning whether we should have opted for React native app development services or tried a different route. But, the answer to this question needs different parameters into consideration. To solve this, you don’t have to look anywhere else but this article to settle down all your doubts regarding the “Unbiased comparison between React Native and Flutter”.
What is React Native?
From mobile apps for Android and iOS to web apps and hybrid apps, React Native is the pick for most developers. Why?
- A cross-platform mobile app development framework that allows developers to write code shareable across different platforms- whether in terms of native or dynamic progressive web apps.
- Opens the gateway to a treasure of third-party libraries and components. Whether you want to add charts or sleek animations to your interface, it makes your development journey faster.
- You get the upper hand in regard to app performance as React Native opts for native components instead of the traditional CSS or HTML.
What is Flutter?
The Open-source app development framework Flutter, is introduced by the tech wizards at Google and lets you build cross-platform apps. Flutter speaks the language of Dart. It's all about reactive programming, a model that lets developers create apps with engaging user interfaces.
What sets Flutter apart is its declarative style of programming. You don’t have to drown in complex boilerplate code. Moreover, it equips you with tools that make designing and debugging a breeze.
Also, with Flutter, you don’t have to worry about the project’s responsiveness and its consistent performance. Since it's built using Dart, which compiles native code, your apps run faster and feel more responsive than ever.
A Quick Button Displaying “Hello World!” Message
Before going further comparing Flutter and React Native, let’s understand the development approach of both frameworks. Here, you learn creating a button that, when pressed, shows ‘Hello World’ to users.
On the flip side, Flutter uses Dart. You may find the code more lengthy. However, it offers a more structured approach using widgets. If you are acquainted with the OOP background, selecting Flutter may seem like a ‘home-like’ feel.
Hold on! If you are coming to a conclusion too early. The "ease of use" shown in the above comparison is subjective based on your programming background. So, providing a detailed context is key to making the right decision.
A Knowledge Checkpoint
How about getting more familiar with these two frameworks facilitating choice-making? Let’s do this in the form of a quiz session.
- Which framework is popularly associated with the phrase "Learn once, write anywhere," indicating a strong emphasis on native components and behavior?
- React Native
- If a team's core experience is in web development and they're looking for a mobile framework with a similar language. Which would be the most familiar choice?
- React Native
- You wish to integrate your app development with popular back-end services like Firebase, GraphQL, or RESTful APIs. Which framework can provide a more mature ecosystem?
- React Native
Comparison Based On Designed Checkpoint
Both React Native and Flutter have etched their unique spaces in the mobile app development spectrum.
Flutter promotes a "Write once, run anywhere" concept. However, React Native, with its unique emphasis on learning a framework, is easier for you to apply it across the board. With the offerings of React native app development services, even web developers find a familiar development environment in terms of backend service integrations. Meanwhile, Flutter emerges as a strong contender in the animation and visual design domain.
Development Ecosystem and Integrations
This section emphasizes the simplicity of initiating a project with both these frameworks. You get an idea of what it takes to start the coding journey individually with React Native and Flutter.
The ease of setup and learning about the Development Ecosystem is crucial, as it influences the speed at which you can launch a project.
Flutter offers a structured setup process. It is supplemented with a distinctive extension for VS Code, meant for the easy debugging of Dart applications. Additionally, Flutter provides extensive built-in tools and libraries, including the Material Design library and associated guidelines.
If you want to integrate Firebase into your Flutter app, official plugins are provided in its ecosystem. DartPad is one of a tool, an online playground designed for direct Dart experimentation within your web browser.
Significantly, Flutter is compatible with both VS code and Android Studio. That means you can access a universe of plugins available to these editors, amplifying your toolkit. This is further complemented by support for IntelliJ.
Here, given a brief code snippet illustrating the setup process, highlighting the VS Code extension installation for Dart development.
With React Native; you get a streamlined setup procedure complemented by a dedicated VS code extension specifically designed for development and debugging. Notably, this extension is the product of Microsoft rather than Facebook, the original developer of React Native. This framework, moreover, provides an array of APIs and fundamental components serving a vast spectrum of use cases. So, building a React native app gets much easier with the framework. Isn’t it?
Furthermore, React Native facilitates the integration of various third-party libraries and tools. Among these are the widely-recognized Redux toolkit, essential for state management, and Expo, valuable for swift prototyping. Note that React Native depends on Android Studio and Apple's Xcode for generating the respective mobile bundles.
Given are the command-line snippets related to the setup and utilization of React Native.
Both frameworks accelerate mobile development. Flutter leans heavily on its Dart-centric tools and broad IDE compatibility. In contrast, React Native shines with its extensive component libraries (NativeBase, React Native Material UI, and React Native Elements) and third-party integrations (OneSignal and Firebase).
Bundle Size Metrics
Flutter apps generally exhibit larger bundle sizes due to its ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation approach. In this method, all linked libraries are compiled directly into the native code in prior. Consequently, these libraries are integrated into the final app bundle, increasing file size.
Debug builds are typically larger due to additional debugging information. You may need to optimize the release builds for smaller-sized apps, requiring greater effort. Some projects may demand complex custom extensions or widgets, potentially making the app code heavy.
React Native and Flutter differ notably in their approach to bundle sizes. Those concerned about reducing bundle size might lean towards React Native mobile application, bypassing the Expo framework.
What Lies Ahead in the Landscape of Flutter and React Native
Whether you are building a React Native app or a Flutter app, respective frameworks have already reshaped the development approach. Moreover, their futures are compelling. Let’s explore the trajectories that each framework charts.
React Native's ability to blur the lines between native and hybrid development will only become more pronounced. As it evolves, it will continue to provide a seamless experience for developers seeking a balance between native performance and cross-platform development. While it is excellent for MVP development, a beginner may face challenges as apps grow more complex. However, a React native development expert can improve the build’s scalability as the vast open-source community continues extending its features and libraries.
Flutter, a relatively young framework, has gained momentum in terms of its high-performance capabilities and simplicity. Google's investment in the platform indicates its commitment to its development. Flutter's compiled-to-native-code approach is increasingly appreciated by developers and users alike. Hence, its emphasis on performance is notable.
Comparing Their Road Ahead
Both React Native and Flutter have bright futures ahead. The choice between them ultimately depends on your project requirements, team expertise, and development goals.
Curious to know more about the framework? This section provides detailed technical insight into these two frameworks.
What Goes Behind When You Launch Your App?
In Case of Flutter
When you launch an app with Flutter, it goes through a process involving platform-based embedder, its high-performing rendering engine, Dart's AOT compilation, and its widget system.
Embedder Initialization: The process begins with the platform-based embedder, which bridges the host platform (Android or iOS) OS and Flutter.
Flutter Engine Activation: The embedder provides the access point and sets up the Flutter engine. The engine is crucial for handling the Flutter runtime and Dart VM (Virtual Machine).
Dart VM and AOT Compilation: The Dart code of your Flutter app, rather than being interpreted at runtime like many other languages, is AOT compiled. This means the code is transformed into native instructions for the target architecture (x86 or ARM). This transition is evident before the app launch. What’s the advantage? AOT compilation results in highly optimized, high-performing native code, ensuring the app runs smoothly.
Rendering and Event Handling: Once the engine is up and running, the build enables the native library. Going forward, it delegates tasks like input processing, event handling, and rendering to the compiled code.
Widget Rendering: Flutter relies on its own widgets. These can be from Cupertino or Material Design. Since Flutter doesn't depend on platform-specific widgets, it ensures a consistent look and feel across different platforms.
Packaging App: Here, the AOT-compiled library is packaged into a ‘runner’ project. Depending on the platform, this entire package is built into a platform-specific format, like a .apk for Android or a .ipa for iOS.
Display on Your Device: Finally, the packaged app is launched on your device.
In Case of React Native
Native Thread Initialization: At the time of app launching, the OS assigns a Native thread to your app. This thread, known as the UI or Main Thread, handles UI-related tasks.
Setting Up Native Infrastructure: Before the JS code can run, perform native prerequisites and setups. The Native thread takes care of this, ensuring the consistency of platform-specific infrastructure.
Entry Point Invocation: As you know, every React Native mobile application has a primary component serving as its entry point. And this component is registered in the AppRegistry.
How does this component become a part of the app launch? The Native thread triggers the JS thread for processing this component, facilitating the app rendering. Hence, this establishes the bridge mechanism of React Native.
How Can You Access Platform-Specific (iOS or Android) Features If Framework Falls Short?"
Let’s consider you are using either of the frameworks for building a mobile app for a specified platform. However, the framework does not have the in-built support for the host OS. such a scenario needs different attention depending on the framework.
For React Native
Although in the past (older React Native version established on legacy architecture), you had to create Native modules to tap into the platform APIs, unavailable to JS. Build these Native modules either in your project or independently as an NPM package.
However, as things evolve within the framework, it introduces a new way of making these custom tools using Fabric Native Components and Turbo Native Module. It's about replacing Native modules based on legacy architecture.
Flutter also allows you to make your own tools if something's missing. Build plugin packages for both Android and iPhone. However, ensure you use Java or Kotlin for Android and Objective-C or Swift for iOS.
Moreover, you can go with another option if you want to establish communication between the Daart segment of your project and the non-Dart section. You have to frame the platform-oriented code using a platform channel. It's like conversing between two people speaking different languages, with a translator helping them understand each other. This is similar to how React Native creates a bridge facilitating message passage between phone’s features and the JS segment.
On one side, you have Flutter, the framework backed by Google, with its unique language, Dart, and smooth animation support. On the other crossroad stands React Native, backed by the social media giant Facebook.
While the technicalities (AOT compilation and self-rendering engine instead of depending on the platform’s native UI-based components) of Flutter are undeniable, the weightage of resources, developers, and community support around React Native makes it an appealing choice. This is pacific when aiming for broader adaptability across your projects.
However, it's essential to consider your specific requirements, available skills, and project diversity before settling on a framework.
A science graduate who has a keen interest to lean about new technologies and research area. With an experience in the field of data analytics and content writing, she aims to share her knowledge among passionate tech readers.