Flutter or React Native: What to Choose for Cross-Platform Development

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Cross-platform apps are gaining popularity, thanks to their cost-effectiveness. Modern multi-platforms applications can look and act like native apps if they are made with the use of the right tools. The two best-known tools for this are React Native and Flutter. In our guide, we’ll try to reveal the strong and weak points of each one and decide why to use Flutter or React for reaching particular dev goals.

React Native vs Flutter: Productivity Issues

To assess the productivity of both tools we’ve selected five criteria. Then we compared Flutter and React Native using these criteria.

Hot Reload

Hot Reload is a very useful feature, which automatically refreshes the app with its previous state being preserved. In particular, it is reloaded every time after the code is changed. Programmers say this feature makes the development process much more convenient and has an overall positive impact on productivity. Both React Native and Flutter support Hot Reload.

Coding

React Native uses JavaScript as a programming language and has all its features and benefits. For example, it offers a convenient format of working with styles and stylesheets.

As for Flutter, it is based on the Dart language, which has much to be loved for. Firstly, it doesn’t require any visual tools or templating languages, such as XML. Secondly, it offers many customizable tools, such as interactive widgets, animations, controls, etc., which enhance UI development. Thirdly, it prevents you from the need of switching between the design and program modes, as everything is made in one place. Fourthly, such features as Outline View and Flutter Inspector, which simplify the development process.

Installation

Both React and Flutter are pretty simple to get started with. The first one requires the installation of the create-react-native-app package. Once it is installed, one can use it for new app creation. Moreover, it allows coding on mobile devices without wiring, by just scanning a QR-code.

To start working with Flutter one needs to unzip the starting package and choose a folder inside it. Flutter doctor is a convenient checker used to scan the system for problems.

IDEs Supported

One of the benefits of React is a larger number of IDEs to choose from. Flutter, in turn, supports just three of them – IntelliJ IDEA, Android Studio, and VS Code. As a rule, a larger selection provides more opportunities.

Hardware-Specific APIs

As of now, Flutter doesn’t provide all the needed APIs, though their number is consistently growing. Thus, there are solutions for Bluetooth and NFC. Also, it can interact with native APIs via special plugins or with the help of special code.

As for React, it has APIs for Bluetooth, NFC, and camera modules. Also, it offers programming interfaces for GPS and Wi-Fi.

Programming Languages

As we’ve already mentioned, the programming language of React is JavaScript. It is one of the most widely used languages ever. It is used for both frontend and backend development. Most web-browsers use JavaScript. Finally, it is a popular language for mobile development.

The programming language of Flutter is Dart. This is an open-source language from Google, which is used for backend and frontend development, as well as mobile development. Its syntax is simple enough for both native and JS developers.

Documentation

When it comes to documentation, Flutter is definitely a winner. Being a product by Google, it has excellent, well-structured documentation. Also, its Dart language has much in common with other popular programming languages, such as Java, JS, Swift, Kotlin, C#.

React Native, in turn, can’t boast good documentation. It is ill-structured and complicated, which is quite logical, as React is a huge open-source product.

Performance

Speaking about performance, both RN and Flutter deliver pretty good results. And still, Flutter tends to be speedier and closer to a native app. The fact is that React Native a “bridge” in the form of JavaScript to work with native components of the operating system, which slows it down. Flutter, in turn, doesn’t need to convert its code to JS to interact with the native elements of the platform.

User Interface Components

React Native always uses native UI components of the operating systems. This is why its apps look like native Android or iOS apps. Their design is automatically upgraded along with the OS upgrading.

Flutter, in turn, offers proprietary UI components, which are fully compatible with native OS components. They add flexibility and make the UI more customizable.

Community

React Native is two years older than Flutter – no surprise its community is larger. It was used for the development of some major cross-platform apps, including Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Walmart, etc. Meanwhile, the Flutter community is one of the most rapidly growing ones. Examples of large-scale apps developed with Flutter are Xianyu, Google Ads, and others.

To Sum It up

Over the years, Flutter has become a decent competitor to React Native, which is the most popular tool for cross-platform online development. In some respects, Flutter delivers even better results, while React still boasts the largest community. It’s up to you to decide what to choose in every particular case, as both tools offer many solutions that make the process of development as convenient and efficient as possible.

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