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React Native vs Flutter: A Developer's Dilemma
calendar17 Mar 2024
read4 minute read

React Native vs Flutter: A Developer's Dilemma

Although it has a few limitations, cross-platform development is widely adopted. Instead of creating two separate native apps, you only need one framework and a few initiation steps to create an app for both iOS and Android. Two increasingly popular technologies used these days are React Native and Flutter. This comparison of React Native vs Flutter will help you understand their differences and choose the right one for your needs.

A brief history ūüďĖ

React Native

Facebook unveiled React Native in 2015 in an effort to get around the constraints of conventional app development methodologies. Enabling developers to create apps for both iOS and Android using a single codebase was the intuitive but ambitious goal. React Native, which makes use of JavaScript and React, a well-liked user interface package, enables the creation of fully native applications without sacrificing usability or performance.

Flutter

Google's 2017 release of Flutter brought a slightly different approach to the market, but it had the same objective of making cross-platform app development easier. Flutter leverages Dart, a Google-developed language that provides a rich framework with built-in widgets for building incredibly efficient and customisable apps.

Learning curve

React Native is built on React, which means it inherits a lot of the principles and practices from web development. One might think that React Native's upper hand over flutter is that it uses Javascript, but the fact is that Javascript isn't really the easiest and most thrilling programming language.

For developers already familiar with React and Javascript, the leap to React Native can be smooth. However for those new to Javascript or React, there can be a steeper learning curve.

Flutter introduces developers to Dart, a language developed by Google. This can represent an initial hurdle for those without proior Dart experience, however, Dart is designed to be easy to learn especially for developers with experience in object-oriented languages like Java and C#.

Biggest difference between React Native and Flutter

One of the biggest differences in React Native vs Flutter is how they render components. Every component is rendered by Flutter on its own canvas, while JavaScript components in React Native are converted into native ones. This means updates to component libraries affect React Native apps rather than Flutter apps.

Programming Language and Code Syntax

React Native employs JavaScript, a language familiar to many due to its extensive use in web development. Flutter, on the other hand, utilizes Dart, a language developed by Google that's optimized for building UIs and offers a smooth learning curve for Java developers.

Here's a simple example of creating a basic component in React Native:

import React from 'react';
import { Text, View } from 'react-native';

const HelloWorld = () => (
  <View>
    <Text>Hello, world!</Text>
  </View>
);

export default HelloWorld;

A basic component in Flutter looks like this:

import 'package:flutter/material.dart';

void main() => runApp(HelloWorld());

class HelloWorld extends StatelessWidget {
  @override
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return MaterialApp(
      home: Scaffold(
        body: Center(
          child: Text('Hello, world!'),
        ),
      ),
    );
  }
}

Performance

With a normal frame rate of 60 frames per second (fps), Flutter performs fairly well. This battle is lost by React Native since it initialises screens via JavaScript Bridge, which can make its performance a bit rough.

Hot Reload ūüĒ•

The hot reloading feature allows you to inject newly edited files at runtime without stopping the app. This way, you do not lose the state of the app that is especially useful when editing the UI.

Both React Native and Flutter support hot reloading, but Flutter's implementation is often cited as more robust and reliable, offering a smoother development experience.

Documentation and Support

Giants like Facebook, Instagram, and UberEats have embraced React Native since its earlier market launch, demonstrating its dependability and scalability. Despite being more recent, Flutter has gained popularity swiftly. Its robustness and efficiency have been demonstrated by noteworthy deployments like Alibaba and Google Ads.

The popularity and maturity of both frameworks are reflected in the documentation and community support. The large JavaScript community supports React Native, while Flutter's extensive documentation and expanding ecosystem provide developers with all the tools and support they need.

Conclusion

Choosing between React Native vs Flutter depends on project requirements, performance expectations, and developer familiarity with JavaScript or Dart. Both frameworks are capable of delivering high-quality mobile apps, with distinct advantages that cater to different development scenarios. Examine both to see which best suits your requirements.

You can find the React Native documentation here and Flutter Documentation here.

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