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Flutter vs React Native - What's the Difference?

In this Flutter vs React Native comparison article, you get a chance to be familiar with the best and the worst of both technologies. The article covers programming language, technical architecture, setup and project configuration, UI components and development, along with testing support of both the technologies. Let’s find out more here. 

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Flutter vs React Native

Lately, the demand for mobile applications has increased to a great extent. With this in mind, almost every other company or organization is looking forward to hiring developers who are adept at a fast framework. 

Out of all the frameworks out there, Flutter and React Native are the two hot-shots. Here is a comprehensive comparison of Flutter vs React Native. Let’s find out which one would be an ideal choice for you. 

Table of Content - Flutter vs React Native
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Flutter vs React Native: A Developer's Perspective

Flutterby Google and React Native by Facebook are the two most considerable cross-platform app development technologies that are creating a buzz these days. Considering the ever-growing popularity of mobile applications, almost every other company requires apps to stay competitive. And, the need of the hour is apps that can run on Android and iOS with faster speed and fewer resources.

Sure, Google and Apple have offered native tools as well as technologies to develop apps. While iOS developers can use Swift and Xcode, Android developers can use Kotlin/Java and Android Studio. However, this needs engineers to learn two varying technologies. This has resulted in companies adopting cross-platform solutions rather than native solutions. 

What’s Flutter and React Native?

Flutter is a Google project that has been in use and promoted since I/O 2017. React Native is one such project that began by Facebook internally and was open-sourced back in 2015. On the other hand, 

Both the technologies help developers construct cross-platform apps quickly with the help of a single programming language. Reactive Native is one of the mature tools and has a large community. However, Flutter didn't lag behind and began getting hugely adopted after 2017.

Read these latest Flutter Interview Questions that help you grab the high-paying job

Programming Language

The primary advantage of using a cross-platform mobile app development technology is its ability to use one programming language to build apps for varying platforms. 

React Native — JavaScript

React Native makes use of JavaScript to develop cross-platform apps. JavaScript is quite a popular language at the moment and is commonly used with React as well as other JavaScript frameworks. Courtesy of React Native, developers can now develop mobile apps with only a bit of training. Having said that, companies go with React Native as they don’t have to spend a lot on it. JavaScript is a dynamic language that can be used for almost every task. 

Flutter — Dart

Flutter, on the contrary, makes use of the Dart programming language that was introduced in 2011 by Google. However, this language is rarely used by developers. Dart syntax can be understood easily as it supports a variety of object-oriented concepts. In comparison to JavaScript, it is extremely easy, to begin with Dart as it has easy-to-follow documentation.

Analysis & Result

Considering that JavaScript is extensively used by a lot of web developers, it is easier to work with the React Native framework. Although Dart is equipped with amazing features, it is used rarely and is less known in the community of developers. Keeping this in mind, React Native wins the programming language aspect. 

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Technical Architecture

When selecting a cross-platform mobile app development framework, it is important to comprehend the technical environment. By understanding the internals of the entire framework, you can effortlessly make an informed decision and select the one that suits your project the most. 

React Native — Flux

The architecture of React Native is heavily dependent on the JS runtime environment architecture, which is also called JavaScript bridge. The code of JavaScript is compiled into native code at its runtime. React Native makes use of the Flux architecture that comes from Facebook. 

Flutter — Skia

Flutter uses the Dart framework that comes with a majority of inbuilt components. Thus, it has a bigger size and often doesn’t need a bridge for communicating with the native modules. Dart also has a variety of frameworks, such as Material Design and Cupertino - all of which are packed inside, offering the needed technologies to develop mobile apps. The dart framework makes use of the Skia C++ engine that has all of the channels, compositions, and protocols. 

React Native — NPM

You can install the React Native framework with the help of Node Package Manager (NPM). For developers with JavaScript backgrounds, installing React Native will be nothing less than a child’s play. On the other hand, they will have to learn the node package manager. 

The node package manager is capable of installing the packages both locally and globally. The developers will have to understand the exact location of the binary. When installing React Native on macOS, you will need HomeBrew package manager too. 

In simple words, you will have to run the below mentioned commands to install React Native on the macOS:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

brew install node

brew install watchman

npm install -g react-native-cli

After running the command, you can then access react-native from the command line. 

Flutter — Binary Download from Source

You can install Flutterby downloading the binary for a certain platform. If you are using macOS, you will have to download the flutter.zip file and add the same as a PATH variable. This can be done through this command line: 

curl -O https://storage.googleapis.com/flutter_infra/releases/beta/macos/flutter_macos_v0.7.3-beta.zip

unzip flutter_macos_v0.7.3-beta.zip

export PATH=[PATH_TO_FLUTTER__DIRECTORY]/flutter/bin:$PATH

Flutter should be able to enhance the installation method by supporting package managers, such as APT, YUM, MacPorts, Homebrew, and more so that users will not have to perform additional steps during installation. 

Setup and Project Configuration

The entire process of setting up the developer machine to use the framework is time-consuming. It needs several configurations of software installations. Also, the technology should have adequate documentation as well. 

React Native

The React Native project has a getting started guide that is created with an assumption that the developer is already equipped with the needed setup for developing the app for Android and iOS. The Xcode command line tools have little information that may not be sufficient enough to get started. Also, the documentation directly jumps to the steps of creating a new project. If you want to create a new React Native project and run it on an iOS simulator, you can use the following commands:

react-native init MyProject

cd MyProject

react-native run-ios

As far as the Android projects are concerned, the React Native document doesn’t have a setup guide. 

UI Component and Development API

When developing cross-platform mobile applications, the support for the native component is highly important. Without this support, your application will not feel or look like a native app. Thus, it is essential that the framework does have an API to access the native modules without any hassles. 

React Native — Less Components

The core framework of React Native offers merely UI rendering as well as device access APIs. to access most of the native modules, this technology is too much dependent on third-party libraries. 

[ Also, know about: Flutter vs Ionic ]

Flutter — Rich in Components

The framework of Flutter is packed with UI rendering components, navigation, device API access, stateful management, testing, and several other libraries. It has a rich set of components that removes the need of any third-party library. If you are working on the Flutter framework, it means that you will get everything required to develop a mobile app. 

Developer Productivity

Developer productivity is essential in building apps much faster. Having said that, it is extremely important to concentrate on app development without any distractions or wait. 

Analysis & Result

With a mature framework, React Native comes with amazing developer support in terms of language features and IDEs. On the contrary, Flutter is quite new at this point; however, it does have the potential of catching up soon as the community grows. 

Testing Support

Writing tests is one of the best ways to get quick feedback on the code. There is a testing framework always associated with every technology that lets developers create a unit, UI, and integration tests for the apps. 

Flutter vs React Native: Major Difference

Let’s have a quick comparison between Flutter vs React Native to understand thoroughly:

Factors

Flutter

React Native

Developed by

Google

Facebook

Release

May 2017

June 2015

Programming Language

Dart

JavaScript

Architecture

Business Logic Component (BLoC)

Flux and Redux 

User Interface

Custom widgets to develop the app’s UI

Native UI controllers to develop app’s UI

Documentation

Good, more informative, and organized

Disorganized but user-friendly

performance

Fast 

Slow 

Testing

Rich set of testing features

Third-party tools 

Community Support

Less support

Strong support

Hot Reload

Supported

Supported 

Industry Adoption

  • Google Ads
  • Xianyu
  • Hamilton
  • Reflect
  • Facebook
  • Skype
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

Conclusion

Flutter and React Native - both have their own positive and negative points. However, Flutter turns out to be a winner in this comparison. In fact, some of the industry experts have predicted Flutter to be the future of mobile app development. Keeping this comparison in mind, which one will you choose?

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About Author
Madhuri Yerukala

Madhuri is a Senior Content Creator at MindMajix. She has written about a range of different topics on various technologies, which include, Splunk, Tensorflow, Selenium, and CEH. She spends most of her time researching on technology, and startups. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter .