Have you fallen into the React Native vs Flutter dilemma before?
Which one between React Native and Flutter in best for building your cross platform mobile application in 2021?
Even a seasoned app developer like me often get caught up in this React Native vs Flutter comparison.
In this article we are going to look into a Flutter vs React Native comparison so that you can understand what these two frameworks are and what they’ve got for you. I also wrote a React Native vs Ionic technology stack comparison here.
By the end of this article I hope you will be better equipped to decide the best platform for your app between React Native vs Flutter.
We’ll also finish this article by looking at the 5 common reasons why most developers really like Flutter.
Note that my aim with this Flutter vs React Native comparison is NOT to declare a winner…
I just want to help you understand these platforms and what they can offer you.
Before we dive right into the comparison, let’s begin by defining what each platform.
In fact React Native, not to be confused with ReactJS, was initially started out as an internal hackathon project at Facebook before becoming public in 2015.
Flutter is a cross platform mobile app development framework developed by Google that uses the Dart programming language.
Although it’s quite younger than React Native, having been released in 2017, it has quickly gained popularity thanks to Google’s hard marketing.
Even though the Dart programming language is less popular, Flutter has seen very high adoption rates since 2017.
Now that we at least know what each of these cross platform frameworks are…
Let’s now take a deep dive into a Flutter vs React Native comparison and see what each framework has to offer.
React Native vs Flutter: Performance
Since I couldn’t find actual performance benchmarks published on the internet for React Native and Flutter apps…
I’ll base my comparison of the performance of React Native and Flutter on the theory behind their operations.
In theory, Flutter applications perform faster than RN apps.
Flutter on the other hand does not rely on native platform’s UI components. It creates its own widgets and uses the device GPU to render on screen.
Additionally, Flutter app code is compiled to native ARM code which is faster when run directly by the device’s CPU.
React Native vs Flutter: Development Environment
I believe that the process of installing and setting a development environment should be as easy as possible.
If the process it straightforward without complicated steps, it becomes easier for new developers to learn it.
Developing with React Native does not limit you to a particular IDE and you can do your development in any text editor of choice.
Flutter also is installed by downloading the binary for each particular platform from GitHub and then adding it as a PATH variable.
Just like React Native, you can also develop with Flutter on any IDE or text editor that you are already familiar with.
However, from my experience, setting a Flutter environment usually takes me longer.
React Native vs Flutter: Developer Productivity
A platform that enables great developer productivity leads to shorter development time which leads to a better developer experience.
Better developer experience leads to better software…
React Native has a hot reload feature that makes a developer more productive as you can view changes in your code in real time without recompiling.
Here are the best React Native tutorials on Udemy if you want to learn React Native today.
Flutter also offers the hot reload features which is really a modern software development capability that makes app development faster.
However, since Flutter is based on the Dart programming language, it would take you longer to get productive as you first have to learn a new programming language first.
But if you are already familiar with Java/C++, Dart will be easy to pick.
React Native vs Flutter: UI Components & API
When you are developing a cross platform mobile application the look and feel is key.
It is important that your framework supports easy access to native components so that your final app can have a native like appeal.
While both Flutter and React Native provide all the needed UI elements that you need, each of them approach this differently as I explain below…
React Native framework only provides UI rendering and device access APIs at the core, so it has to rely on, rather plenty, third party libraries to access native modules.
These third party libraries, while a good thing, are often problematic as some have bugs and UI inconsistencies for different platforms.
Flutter on the other hand has a lot of useful UI rendering widgets that come together with the platform.
With no dependence on third party libraries, Flutter technically gives you all you need to develop your mobile app in one place.
So Flutter leads to a more native feel app.
React Native vs Flutter: Popularity
Before you choose whether to develop your mobile with either React Native or Flutter frameworks, it is good to know who already uses them.
Generally, if a brand I already recognize embraces a software or a platform, it gives me the idea that it must be robust or dependable.
React Native is developed and maintained by Facebook, a big tech company, that has made this framework quite popular really fast.
Some of the companies that are already using React Native are Facebook, Instagram, Tesla & Blomberg…
Flutter on the other hand is also supported by Google, another tech giant, who has marketed this cross platform framework really hard.
It has also been used by other popular companies like Google, Alibaba and Hamilton Music.
React Native being older clearly has more apps than Flutter.
React Native vs Flutter: Community Support
Once a framework starts getting used by many people, there will always be bugs or let’s just say “problems” with it…
Having a dedicated community behind a project is key to helping you out when you are stuck.
This ranges from asking questions like:
- How actively is it used on GitHub?
- Does it have an active Stackoverflow community?
- Are there enough materials and documentation for the framework?
So let’s look at how React Native vs Flutter compare in terms of community support.
Apart from the React Native documentation being great, there are a lot of online courses, tutorials and blog posts for learning React Native online.
This is also clear from the highly active users on GitHub and Stackoverflow.
Flutter’s developer community started growing after Google started promoting it in 2017.
It might not have a developer community as big as React Native because it’s much younger, but for a framework of its age I think the growth is impressive.
Here are some of the best Flutter tutorials on Udemy to get you started.
So there you go…
We have looked into what a Flutter vs React Native comparison would look like in different aspects.
Even though Flutter is pretty much younger and I wouldn’t rush to embrace it…
… there are a lot of developers who swear by this framework.
So, what are the 5 reasons why developer love Flutter in 2021?
The 5 Reasons Developers Love Flutter
1. It delivers high performance mobile apps
Flutter enables you to create a high performance mobile application because your code is Ahead Of Time (AOT) compiled into machine binary executable.
This enables creating a truly cross platform app that has been the dream of many developers for a long time.
2. It ensures high developer productivity
Flutter comes out of the box with a super amazing hot reload feature that enables you to see instant changes in your code without recompiling.
This reduces development time by 30 – 40% because rebuild times that slow down app developers increase with every code modification you make.
3. It offers a full set of UI widgets
Flutter comes with a great catalog of built in UI components called widgets.
These widgets are divided into two components: Material Design for Android and Cupertino for iOS.
Through these amazing widgets you can implement anything on any platform and still achieve a native look and feel on both Android and iOS.
4. It has different themes for iOS/Android
One main differentiating factor between Android and iOS apps is that they will always look different in terms of colors, dimensions and style of widgets.
In Flutter, assigning the appropriate theme for a user’s platform is as easy as using an “if” operator to check which platform the user is running.
Through this you are able to load the correct UI theme at runtime.
5. It supports a variety of IDEs
How do you feel when you realize that a framework comes fixed with a particular IDE?
Well, you don’t have to feel that was anymore because when coding with Flutter you can choose from a wide variety of IDEs like VS Code, Android Studio, IntelliJ e.t.c…
A few years ago building an app for iOS or Android was a no brainer.
You simply had no choice but to use the native languages provided by the venders…
In this case Java/Kotlin for Android apps and Objective C/Swift for iOS.
Over time, however, startups found it hard to hire and keep two separate development teams to build for both applications.
This, coupled with the strong desire to be able to control both company applications from a single codebase, led to a strong desire to build cross platform apps.
React Native and Flutter have surfaced as some of the most popular products that fix this problem.
However, the best way to know which between Flutter vs React Native works for you is to build an app in one.
So pick one framework, React Native or Flutter and start building something today.
Have you used any of these frameworks before?
Please share your experience in the comments below.