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William Dawson

Full Stack Developer

Flutter Vs React-Native is the constant ongoing tug of war between two hottest cross-platform app development technologies ever since Flutter arrived on the scene in December 2018. Google tried resolving the issue of cross-platform app development by introducing Flutter, which otherwise remains a major challenge for app developers.

We know Apple and Google have native tools and technologies to build apps, whereas iOS app developers build apps using Xcode and Swift, while Android developers use Android Studio and Kotlin/Java.

But, this requires developers to learn two different sets of technologies. And, developers are looking for an alternative to build mobile apps, especially for iOS and Android (with faster speed and less resources).

As a result, developers started adopting cross-platform solutions over the native solutions to build apps for both iOS and Android faster using a single language. And here comes the cross-platform app development to the rescue.

Cross-platform app development has gained popularity today, as it can develop mobile applications for multiple mobile platforms.

So, it is clash of the titans kinda battle here- where the opponents are Google’s Flutter and Facebook’s React-Native.

React-Native has been there done that! It is quite popular among bigger brands like Facebook, Instagram, Skype and Bloomberg etc. On the other hand, Flutter has a long way to go before it becomes everyone’s darling technology for app development. Nevertheless, many developers have already started considering Flutter as the future of mobile app development.

React-native is an open-source framework released on GitHub that unites both iOS and Android platform’s native APIs. Whereas, Google’s Flutter has been a revolutionary move, which allows you to create Android and iOS highly responsive native apps at the same time using the same code.

Let’s check their definitions separately here to know better:

What is Flutter and React-Native?

Flutter

Flutter

As per Wikipedia- Flutter is an open-source UI software development kit created by Google. It is used to develop applications for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Google Fuchsia and the web. The first version of Flutter was known as codename “Sky” and ran on the Android operating system.

Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for crafting beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. Flutter works with existing code, is used by developers and organizations around the world, and is free and open source.

React-Native

React-Native

As per Wikipedia- React Native is an open-source mobile application framework created by Facebook. It is used to develop applications for Android, iOS, web & UWP by enabling developers to use React along with native platform capabilities.

React Native helps developers reuse code across the web and on mobile, and they won’t have to build the same app for iOS and for Android from scratch – reusing the code across each operating system. And the speciality feature is that there is very little difference between a finished app built in Objective-C or Java and one built using React Native.

In this post, we will be giving a head-to-head face-off comparison between two leading cross-platform application technologies: Flutter Vs React-Native, to help you choose which framework is the best fit for your projects in 2020.

We hope at the end of the post, you will be easily able to decide for yourself-

  • Which framework best fits your project needs?
  • Which solution can provide the fastest time-to-market for your app?
  • Will your app be stable and user-friendly?
  • Which framework will save you money in the process?

Let’s get started-

Flutter Vs React-Native: Face-Off

Flutter Vs React-Native

CategoryFlutterReact-NativeFinal Analysis
Created by Google in December 2018, Google I/O

Facebook in March 2015, F8 Conference


NA
Free & Open-source YesYesNA
PerformanceSuperbSuperb
Top Apps built on the technologyXianyu app by Alibaba, Hamilton app for Hamilton Musical, Google Ads app

Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Ads, Skype, Tesla


NA
DefinitionA portable UI toolkit for building natively-compiled apps across mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase

A framework for building native applications using React


NA
Programming LanguageDartJavascriptJavaScript is widely used by most developers, so it’s swiftly adopted by the React Native framework. Dart also has great feature set, but it’s less used and still is not easier to adopt in the developer community. Henceforth, React-Native wins in language segment.

ArchitectureFlutter uses the Dart framework which mostly has inbuilt components, so it is bigger in size and does not require any bridge to communicate with native modules. Dart has many frameworks like- Material Design and Cupertino( packed inside) which provide all the required technologies to develop mobile apps.
The Dart framework uses Skia C++ engine which has all the protocols, compositions and channels. In short, Flutter has everything in flutter engine itself needed for app development process.
React Native architecture solely relies on JS runtime environment architecture( JavaScript bridge). The JavaScript code is compiled into native code at runtime.
React Native uses the Flux architecture from Facebook. In other words we can say, React Native uses the JavaScript bridge to communicate with the native modules.
Flutter engine has most of the native components in the framework itself and it doesn’t always need a bridge to communicate with the native components. React Native, uses the JavaScript bridge to communicate with native modules which results in poor performance.

InstallationFlutter can be installed by binary download from the source for a specific platform from Github. In the case of macOS, we have to download the flutter.zip  file and add it as a PATH variable.
Flutter must make the installation process easier by supporting package managers like Homebrew, MacPorts, APT, YUM etc.
The React Native framework is installed using the Node Package Manager(NPM). The node package manager can install the packages locally or globally.
For JavaScript background developers, installing React Native is simpler but others may find it difficult in the beginning ( they need to learn node package manager).
The developers need to figure out where binary is located. Whilst installing React Native on macOS, we need to have the HomeBrew package manager as well.

Both Flutter and React Native lack simpler installation with native package managers for a specific OS. But Flutter installation require extra steps for adding the binary to PATH and downloading it from the source code, which might be useful for the non-JavaScript developers.
However, React Native can be installed by just using NPM & without any download hassle.

UI Components & Development APIRICH IN COMPONENTS-
Flutter framework removes the need to use 3rd party libraries with its rich set of components. It is bundled with UI rendering components, device API access, navigation, testing, stateful management and loads of libraries.
When you have Flutter framework, you have everything needed for developing mobile apps. Flutter also has widgets for Material Design and Cupertino that allow easy rendering of UI on both iOS and Android platform.

LESS COMPONENTS-
The core React Native framework offers only UI rendering and device access APIs.
To access most of the native modules, React Native has to rely on third-party libraries.

Flutter is rich in developing APIs and UI components whereas React Native is too much dependent on third-party libraries.

Set up & Project ConfigurationThe getting started guide has detailed information on IDE setup and platform setup for both iOS and Android.
Also, Flutter has a CLI tool called flutter doctor which guide through the setup procedure. It inspects which tools are installed on the local machine and which tools need to be configured.
Once the flutter doctor command satisfies its conditions, we can start creating new Flutter app. Once all setup is done, we can create and run a new Flutter app from CLI.
There is no setup guide for Android projects in the React Native document, as the project initiate by assuming that the developer already has all the required setup for iOS and Android development.
There is very little information provided on the Xcode command line tools, which is not sufficient. The documentation directly jumps to the step of creating a new project. A new React Native project can be created and run on iOS simulator using few commands.
It is evident from these comparisons that Flutter gives better documentation and CLI support for setup and configuration.

Community SupportFlutter has gained a lot of attention when Google promoted it in the Google I/O conference in 2017.
The Flutter community is growing rapidly, many meetups and conferences are taking place online like the Flutter Live in the past. Still there are not enough resources for developers to solve common issues.

React Native launched in 2015 is very popular among the developer community.
A strong community of React Native developers on Github and lots of other meetups around the world shows how loved it is and is of great value to businesses.

The React Native community and resources are progressing each day with great success
Flutter is still fairly new, but it is often touted as the future of the mobile- app development.

Developer ProductivityFlutter has a hot reload feature and it’s quite simple to get started with the demo app.
However, as the complexity grows, developers need to learn and adopt the new Flutter concepts.
But, Dart is not a common programming language and there is a lack of support for it in many IDEs and text editors.

React Native too has a hot reload feature, which saves a lot of time while testing the changes in the UI.
If the developer is skilled in JavaScript, then it’s easy to use those skills for cross-platform app development.
In terms of IDE support, developers are free to use any text editor or IDE of their choice.

NA
Build & Release Automation supportFlutter has a strong command line interface. We can create a binary of the app by using the command line tools and following the instructions in Flutter documentation for building and releasing Android & iOS apps.
And, Flutter has officially documented the deployment process with fastlane.

The React Native official documentation doesn’t have any automated steps to deploy the iOS apps to App Store.
However, it provides a manual process for deploying the app from Xcode.
We can use third-party tools like fastlane to deploy iOS and Android apps written with React Native, which means that React Native has to rely on third-party libraries for build and release automation.

Flutter has a great build automation tooling and can be used to deploy apps from the command line. React Native apps lack support for the CLI tools that are officially supported for build automation.

Testing SupportIt provides a rich set of testing features to test apps at unit, widget and integration level. Flutter has a cool widget testing feature where we can create widget tests to test the UI and run them at the speed of unit tests.

React Native is a JavaScript framework and there are a few unit level testing frameworks available in JavaScript.
The tools like Jest can be used for snapshot testing. However, when it comes to integration or UI level testing, there is no official support from React Native. There are third-party tools like Appium and Detox that can be used for testing React Native apps but they are not officially supported.

The React Native community has no official support for integration and UI level testing, while Flutter has great documentation and a rich set of testing features.

DevOPs & CI/ CD SupportFlutter has a section on continuous integration and testing which includes links to external sources. However, Flutter’s rich command line interface allows us to set up CI/CD easily.

React Native doesn’t have any official documentation on setting up CI/CD. However, there are processes which describe CI/CD for React Native apps.

Flutter apps are easy and painless to set up on CI/CD services by using its strong CLI tools. React Native doesn’t provide any official instructions for CI/CD practices.

Advantages 1. Hot Reload- Allows fast coding
2. One codebase for the development of two mobile platforms.
3. Up to 50% less testing
4. Faster apps 
5. User-friendly design
6. Perfect for MVPs
7. Less Code 
1. Hot Reload- Provides fast coding
2. One code base for the development of two mobile platforms and more.
3. Uses a widely popular language – JavaScript
4. Freedom of choice for the developer which facilitates code reuse and cost-saving.
5. Relative maturity
6. An active vast community
7. Easy to learn for React developers.
8. Up to 50% less testing
9. Robust Performance
NA
Disadvantages 1. Size of the developer community/
Libraries & support is impressive but yet not as productive as native development.
2. Continuous Integration support
3. Platform risk
4. App’s size
1. It isn’t Native
2. Fewer components out of box
3. Developer freedom of choice
4. Lots of abandoned packages and libraries
5. Fragile UI
6. Apps are bigger than native ones.
 
NA
Learning curveQuite steep, you need to pick up Dart and reactive programming isn’t all intuitive
Easy to pick up, especially if you know React or Javascript before
NA
Ecosystem
Not yet mature, a fewer number of packages



Quite Mature, used in production in many big companies around the world, many packages available


NA
Components LibrarySmaller, non-inclusive


Very large inclusive library

NA
Hot ReloadYesYesNA
Popularity Graph (As of december 2019) 81,200 Stars on Github

83,200 stars on Github 


NA

Final Outcome:

After going through this Face-off comparison on Flutter Vs React-Native, we can easily say that it is very tough call here to pick one out of the two great technologies. But Flutter has come out stronger in this analysis report.

Although both have a fair share of advantages & disadvantages to their credits but the idea is to fill the gap between Android & iOS platforms. And Flutter seem to have an edge as Google recently announced the Flutter Beta 2 ( to combat its earlier alpha versions, which took longer to complete a project), that offers even better and improved developer tools and asset system.

Following are the points to be considered before making any final decision for your projects this 2020-

  • Some of the industry experts have predicted that Flutter is the future of mobile app development.
  • We must not forget that Flutter is fairly new technology in app development industry & React- Native is a seasoned player with a huge base of achievements to showcase its prowess.
  • React-Native takes lesser development time, which is a huge USP.
  • Although, many developers declare Flutter as the future of app development, the final choice has to be made by the developers based on their specific requirement

What is React-Native?

React Native is a framework that uses React to describe the user interface for native devices. With React Native you can build applications that run on iOS and Android devices using JavaScript.

Which is best between Flutter & React-Native?

It is hard to pick the winner at the end, as Flutter and React Native both have their own set of pros and cons. React Native is a more mature framework where Flutter is also getting positive feedback from the developers.


Can I use Flutter in my React-Native App?

In React Native, you would run npm run or yarn run from the project directory. You can run Flutter apps in a couple of ways: Use the “run” option in an IDE with the Flutter and Dart plugins. Use flutter run from the project’s root directory.

What is the Best IDE for React-Native?

1. Atom
2. Visual Studio Code
3. Nuclide
4. Sublime Text
5. GNU Emacs Editor

Will Flutter Replace React-Native?

It is wrong to predict the future, but Flutter has the potential to cross all the boundaries. Flutter makes a way to the bright future.

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About The Author

William is a CTO and a full-stack engineer with 10 years of experience. He has spent the past seven years doing web and mobile apps. He’s good at designing architecture and implementing agile development process. The technologies he’s worked with include: Node.js, Elixir, Rails, AngularJS, React, React Native, Objective-C, iOS, Java, Android. He’s also familiar with C++, Haskell, C#/.NET. He is an enthusiastic programmer and a great guy to know

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