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Comparison 9 MINUTE

React Native vs NativeScript: Which To Choose For Cross-Platform App Development

author

Thomas Wilfred

Thomas is a front-end Mobile Engineer with experience working for startups and multinationals across the world. As a certified Scrum Master, Thomas has worked with a team of 10 engineers located in three different countries for eBay.
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Cross-platform app development is the process of building mobile apps from a single codebase for Android, Apple OS, and Windows instead of creating separate applications for specific operating systems.

While this approach is cost-effective and saves tons of time, developers have had to sacrifice the quality of app performance and user experience previously. Even though the apps were built using the same codebase, the technology prohibited them from delivering the same level of service throughout.

With mobile app frameworks such as React Native and NativeScript, however, developers have broken free of the limitations that cross-platform app development brought on the table and no longer need to maintain excessive overhead in the form of two or more overheads.

They can conveniently build native-like apps with a single codebase — offering a seamless user experience across all operating systems. Here are three more benefits that they enjoy:

  • Shortened time-to-launch — Cross-platform app development is 50% faster than native development.
  • Low maintenance — Fixing the code of one application is cheaper than maintaining two separate apps. It does not burn a hole in the packet.
  • Serve to a larger audience — With a cross-platform app, they can serve users on Android, Apple OS, and Windows and do not have to choose between them, especially with a limited budget.
benefits of cross platform app development(React Native vs. NativeScript)

If you are also looking to build a cross-platform app but cannot decide between React Native and NativeScript, this article will help you make the right decision. Let us go!

An introduction to React Native

An open-source mobile application framework, React Native, is written combining JavaScript and XML-Esque markup and was developed by Facebook, Inc. It focuses on the native rendering of apps compatible with Android and iOS.

In other words, it is a UI component library consisting of React using JavaScript. These components convert the code for the chosen operating system as they can “talk” with native APIs. The developers work faster and can create on iOS versions faster, and also work on Android app development using React Native.

According to Statista, 42% of developers opted for React Native app development in 2020, and 11.5% prefer using the framework because of its reliable native tools and libraries.

Pros

1. Native rendering

In mobile app development with React Native, the latter uses the host platform to render APIs natively. There is no need for CSS or HTML markups in this process. The rendering process is fairly simple.

2. Rich ecosystem

React Native leverages its rich ecosystem of UI libraries and codebases to re-render app appearances automatically, with every state change. 

3. Hot-loading

Do you want to deploy a framework that can add new codes directly into a live application? React Native can do so. Two apps for two different platforms can be developed simultaneously, thereby saving time and effort for developers.

4. Easy debugging

It provides instant access to intelligent error reporting and debugging tools. That way, developers can build new, error-free apps for different operating systems without any hassle.

5. UI mimicry

The framework translates the markup of the application to “act” like the authentic UI elements. Even by doing so, the app can deliver a seamless performance across platforms and devices — which is the end goal of using cross-platform app development frameworks.

Cons

1. User interface

The app UI may look a little off or ill-formatted at times as the native rendering of APIs does not support certain native UI elements.

2. Slow performance

React Native does not support multi-processing and parallel threading, which can make the apps on a new operating system perform slightly slower.

3. Faulty Chrome debugger

This might make it inconvenient for developers to edit and inspect codes and UI elements properly.

4. Outdated tools

Sure, many third-party and external libraries can be used for implementing React Native. However, often, these resources turn out to be outdated or redundant.

How React Native has made a difference?

React Native is like a Swiss Army knife — it addresses developing and managing complex UI efficiently. When you think of React UI components, picture them as self-contained functionality blocks. Naturally, this framework has been used by many companies, namely:

1. Bloomberg

The Bloomberg developers created the app to ensure their users had a similar experience on mobile and desktop. React Native helped them accelerate iterations, automate code refreshes and enable quick feature upgrades. They streamlined simple-to-access, personalized content for users via the framework — in five months!

2. Walmart

The retail giant improved the user experience by building smooth in-app animations, including straightforward UI, identical to the native functionalities through React Native. Besides, they cut down on time frames and resources. Today, the mobile platforms share 95% of Walmart’s codebase.

3. Facebook

As the homeland of React Native, Facebook developers have significantly reduced the iterations occurring across all versions of the app. Their new Events dashboard delivers improved performance and UX on mobile. Plus, they have created supportive iOS and Android UIs, with simple navigation, two times faster.

4. Wix

Wix provides a library to its users for delivering a native experience on the app. It is called Wix React Native Navigation. The solutions offered by them can be adjusted to suit the user’s app requirements and help achieve high speed and agility in developing configurable navigations and screen options.

React Native is perfect for building quick prototype applications with simplified UI or that look nearly native with responsive UX or apps that operate with synchronous APIs.

An introduction to NativeScript

NativeScript is an open-source framework helpful in building cross-platform applications. Just like ReactNative, it also uses JavaScript for Android and iOS. It was initially conceived and developed by Progress. It was taken over by nStudio, a long-term Progress partner, in 2019.

With NativeScript, developers can reuse concepts and knowledge of existing frameworks such as AngularJS, TypeScript, or Vue.js to build applications traditionally having native elements, delivering native performance.

According to Statista, only 5% to 11% of developers use NativeScript for cross-platform application development. However, 27% are committed to using this framework for more than a year for various custom App development projects.

Pros

1. Cross-technology compatibility

NativeScript uses JavaScript, TypeScript, and AngularJS during the app development process, allowing efficient data binding and stronger component reusability.

2. Higher extensibility

The framework gives complete and direct access to all Android and iOS APIs and encourages developers to reuse free plugins, CocoaPods, and Android SDKs. This makes their job more uncomplicated and time-saving.

3. Programming language usability

NativeScript leverages an XML-Esque-based markup language such as HTML and CSS to develop cross-platform applications with personalized features.

4. Developer-friendly CLI

The command-line program of the framework enables developers to carry out a range of tasks, such as adding a platform to deploying apps on a specific device or platform. Thanks to the CLI, installing plugins and debugging apps is faster and more convenient.

5. Native functionality

The developers can access native device API services through native components, enabling a fine native app-like experience on other platforms.

Cons

1. More unverified plugins

Given the enormous volume of plugins, there is little assurance about the quality of plugins used in this framework. In fact, the number of verified plugins is significantly less.

2. UI limitation

HTML and DOM are not widely supported in NativeScript. That makes it necessary for developers to learn using different UI components, leading to an increased chunk of the project budget and time.

3. Slower testing

Given the native nature of the application, it can only be accurately tested on an actual device or an emulator. This factor often slows down the initial testing rate.

4. Steep learning curve

Developers working in NativeScript must have basic knowledge about native functionalities and APIs of both Android and iOS. Otherwise, they will not access any device’s hardware or work on any platform-specific elements.

How NativeScript has made a difference

This framework enables an improved ability to code iOS and Android app, with 100% element-sharing and 90% code-sharing capabilities. It has also proven to bring down the development rate by 40%. Here are a few brands that have used NativeScript:

1. PUMA

Using NativeScript, the sportswear brand built high-quality, simple-interface mobile apps in a short span. They could also integrate on-demand native features such as push notifications, messaging, and user authorization with cloud storage capabilities.

2. SAP

SAP used NativeScript to build its mobile development kit that enabled higher code abstraction levels without hampering the system network. SAP was able to render JavaScript codes into applicable native codes by applying sophisticated business logic.

3. Portable North Pole

Using NativeScript, the personalized Christmas video and call maker could enhance and diversify platform compatibility without affecting the user experience in any way. They developed a separate UI kit that functioned efficiently with native applications, equipped with ready-to-use mobile components, icons, and features.

4. Airbnb Design

The design wing of Airbnb used the framework along with Lottie to deliver native performance and built creative UI elements that quickly rendered After Effects animations in real-time. Besides, developers were able to manipulate code as per the native design.

NativeScript is apt for building apps with massive server connectivity, essential gaming apps, geolocation apps, and music or video streaming apps. If you want to develop an application which can function with the default apps of the device, NativeScript is the right option for you.

Parameters to consider while choosing between React Native and Native Script

parameter to consider while choosing between React Native  and NativeScript

1. Experience of development teams

React Native does not have a dedicated IDE. Instead, React Native developers have the liberty to choose whichever code editor they prefer. But since there is no official tool support, they would have to set up everything from scratch, including picking debugging tools independently.

On the other hand, the NativeScript developers can set up the environment through a single line of code. They also use a comfortable set of tools for easing the debugging pain-point. If you use Visual Studio Code, please use a free debugging plugin made especially for NativeScript.

2. Performance analysis

iOS mobile apps made with both frameworks run at 60fps at runtime. This speed is similar to apps built on Swift or C#. However, if we take the example of NativeScript, it uses a multi-threading model to offload long-running processes, optimizing front-end speed.

On Android, React Native used to take the cake until 2016, when it could load up to 1.5 times faster than NativeScript. Even today, there might be some differences depending on the type of platform, viewing device, and application used.

3. Flexibility in testing

React Native gives developers complete freedom when choosing the most efficient test automation framework, for instance, Appium, Espresso, UI Automation, Frank, Calabash, and so on. On the other hand, NativeScript allows developers to use their own QA workflow, and they can run tests straight from the framework’s CLI — through Quint, Mocha, and Jasmine. Both frameworks are flexible when testing but in their ways.

4. Code maintenance

The biggest reason businesses decide to go ahead with cross-platform frameworks is the ease with which mobile platforms and even web and mobile apps can share code amongst themselves.

Of course, the percentage of code that can be reshared on mobile and web heavily depends on the app functionalities, and this difference usually comes from the fact that every component is a piece of UI. Cross-platform development tools based on React Native can save you time and help in quick bug fixing. But only up to 70% of code can be reused.

Alternatively, NativeScript can reuse up to 90% of the code because it provides standard API services for all common functionalities in iOS and Android platforms. Moreover, there is no indifference between JavaScript and UI rendering. However, in the case of NativeScript, there is a possibility of the app getting stuck whenever intensive Java code is executed.

5. Size of the application

When it comes to app size, React Native wins big. Since it is without any framework-specific burden, its APK is light and small, which can be further used on applications of any size. However, NativeScript installers are enormous, even for apps with similar functionalities.

But when they are installed, both solutions are the same in size. The Vue implementation is the only case comparable with React Native in terms of file performance and app size.

6. Community support

Working on a specific framework or technology is easier when there is a large community base to back you. Since both React Native and NativeScript grew at a rapid pace, that is because of the many active contributors who were willing to share information on basically any question or issue you may have on cross-platform app development.

But if you compare the two, React Native certainly has a more extensive community support system than NativeScript. That is because Facebook’s development team was behind it — who are well known worldwide.

The former’s community is responsible for the framework’s vast repository of third-party plugins and libraries. Plus, it is also easier to find developers experienced in the framework, as the available dev pool is much larger.

That makes it easier for businesses to jumpstart a new project on React Native and quickly put together a team that can handle it.

7. Technologies used

React Native uses React JS for development purposes. On the other hand, NativeScript leverages AngularJS, Vue.js, and TypeScript for the job.

8. Development workflow

In both frameworks, developers create a new project, deploy components or widgets to build UIs, apply custom layouts and styling, add required functionalities, run tests on the emulator or simulator and debug the app.

The only difference is NativeScript can debug the app with Visual Studio Code to debug, whereas React Native developers use Reactotron or React Native Debugger to do the job.

Conclusion

As you would imagine, there will be no definite winner in this comparison because the decision is ultimately dependent on the availability of dependable and competent experts skilled in either framework.

When deciding between NativeScript and React Native, bear in mind that you can need some native-language adjustments during the development process to optimize the output and user experience of apps for a particular platform- more so if you’re creating a robust, feature-heavy application. That being said, make sure to hire developers with extensive knowledge and experience in the required field. Codersera always comes in handy to meet your hiring needs to the fullest.

Which is better NativeScript vs react native?

NativeScript is the wisest option for rendering Angular or Vue. js web apps to mobile versions. React Native is ideal for those who are just getting started in this field and have no previous experience with mobile development.

Is react-native worth learning in 2020?

If your app is UI/UX oriented, React Native is a great option because it has a plethora of libraries available. If you are acquainted with React, creating an app with React Native is simple. It offers a quick development tool and, yes, it has a great future.

Is NativeScript worth learning?

It is faster than a hybrid app and has no limitations in terms of development. The learning curve is typical. Nativescript gives you access to the underlying platform’s native APIs. It is unquestionably worthwhile to give Nativescript a shot.

Is react-native popular?

It is commonly used, and some of its popularity can be attributed to the success of React. React developers can quickly get on board and build React Native mobile applications. Today, React Native is used for mobile apps by products such as Facebook, Instagram, Uber Eats, Tesla, Bloomberg, and many others.

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About The Author

Thomas is a front-end Mobile Engineer with experience working for startups and multinationals across the world. As a certified Scrum Master, Thomas has worked with a team of 10 engineers located in three different countries for eBay.

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