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Flutter vs React Native 2022: A Detailed Comparison
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Mobile app development is a growing industry, especially after COVID-19’s demand for specific lifestyle and communication apps. But building apps for both iOS and Android means having two different teams and skillsets.
The solution? Cross-platform mobile application solutions like Facebook’s React Native and Google’s Flutter. But which is better: Flutter or React Native?
Today we’ll walk you through popular apps made with each platform and compare Flutter and React Native based on their functionality and histories. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of Flutter vs React Native pros and cons.
What is Flutter? [Definition]
Flutter is a reactive, open-source, cross-platform mobile development framework that uses the Dart programming language. Google created Dart and Flutter and uses the framework for some of its biggest applications. Its initial alpha release was back in May 2017. When it comes to maturity with React Native vs Flutter, Flutter is much younger. However, Google has released new versions every few months, with the latest in May 2021.
Let’s dive into a few characteristics of Google’s Flutter, including reactive programming, development, installation, and more.
Famous Apps Created with Flutter
Flutter was the birthplace of many famous apps that we know and love today. Here’s a quick list:
1. Google Ads
With Google Ads, you can manage ad campaigns conveniently without looking away from your smartphone! Google ads help you keep track of your ads with live alerts and editing, real-time bidding, rich statistics, and app customer support.
Cryptograph is an app that lets you monitor thousands of cryptocurrencies and their performance, including Ethereum and Bitcoin. You can access rate maps and market history for every currency.
If you’re a social media or marketing professional, you’ve probably used Postmuse to take your content to the next professional level. This app lets you improve your content with unique image quality, calligraphy, story templates, and much more.
Still Learning Flutter? Check out These Courses!
Reactive Programming with Flutter
Flutter is a reactive framework: but what does that mean? Let’s talk about reactive programming and why it’s so useful for app development.
Let’s say you want to send a request to a server and perform an action depending on the response. If you take action before a response is back, i.e., before you have an object, you’d be taking an action that will result in the famous billion-dollar mistake, a null reference. If you come from the Android and Java world, you’d know that one of the main motives behind Kotlin was eliminating the null reference.
If your data comes asynchronously, with streams of user clicks and multiple requests, many program parts must respond to the incoming data. In other words? Chaos, without reactive programming.
This problem gave birth to reactive programming, which lies at the heart of the Dart language.
Flutter Development and Installation
AFlutter application’s main building block is a widget. Widgets are analogous to components in React Native. Flutter comes with several ready-to-use widgets, most of which implement material design concepts. There are two types of widgets: stateless and stateful widgets, just like class and functional components in React.
Unfortunately, Flutter’s widgets are not adaptive, so you have to make platform-specific adaptations manually.
It’s fairly easy to get started with Flutter. All you need to do is download the Flutter package, unzip it, and then create an environment variable pointing to a folder inside that unzipped folder. You might also need to download Android Studio and set up an emulator if you don’t want to use your phone.
Flutter supports the Hot Reload feature, enabling you to rerun your application with the adjustments you make while developing and speed up development. Flutter is currently officially supported on Android Studio, IntelliJ Idea, and Visual Studio Code.
Flutter UI Components
Flutter has a rich set of components, especially when compared to React Native. The framework comes with many UI rendering components, navigation, libraries, API access, and everything else to help you develop great apps. The program’s many widgets also make it easier to nurture UI on Android and iOS devices.
Flutter is certainly behind React Native when it comes to the Ecosystem. React Native has already been around for two years before Flutter was released, making it well established with tons of packages already. However, Flutter is catching up tremendously, with many mobile development core packages available for public use. And, the Flutter Ecosystem is driving a crazy momentum with an active and dedicated community. Right now, there are over 23,000 packages available for Flutter.
When it comes to performance, Flutter’s approach is quite different from that of React Native or even NativeScript. Flutter’s application is compiled using the arm C/C++ library. This makes it closer to a machine language and gives a better native performance. Unlike React Native, it doesn’t have just the UI components compiled; instead, the whole thing is compiled.
Dart is quite a high-performing language on its own, urging many to see Flutter as having the upper hand.
Not surprising, considering its smooth, 60 frames-per-second speed!
Flutter has fantastic documentation and an active sharing community. Moreover, Flutter’s team is quite helpful, making it relatively easy to get started with the platform. Keep in mind that while the documentation is thorough, it may prove difficult to understand if you don’t have programming experience. And, some users report documentation being insufficient in solving common issues.
Flutter is young, making some programmers uncertain about the best architecture to implement for your application. Here’s a popular architecture among the Flutter community:
BLoC architecture (Business Logic Component). Google depicted the architecture in the DartConf2018, and it states that the business logic should be taken out of the presentation layer and placed in the business logic components. The BLoC pattern heavily relies on streams and RxDart (Reactive Dart).
You might feel more comfortable using Redux/Flux, which is possible with certain Flutter packages. These will suffice if you’re interested in creating small applications and just trying out Flutter.
Pros of Flutter
- Quick development using the same codebase
- “Hot Reload” makes experimentation and bug resolution simple
- Layered architecture maximizes customization abilities and control
- Great documentation
- Separate UI prevents errors
- User-friendly designs
Cons of Flutter
- Young framework, with outstanding common issues that aren’t easily rectified
- Apps take longer to download and take up a lot of space
- Constantly updated programming language (Dart) and framework
- Libraries & support are impressive but not as productive as native development
When to Use Flutter
- Small budgets
- Short development timeline
- UI-centered apps
- Iteration (Hot Reload)
What is React Native?[Definition]
React Native started as an internal hackathon project at Facebook back in 2013, released to the public in 2015.
Famous Apps Created with React Native
Here are some popular apps created with React Native:
Instagram is the photo-sharing, story-taking, post-making social media giant we all know and use. Instagram integrated React Native with simple UI, starting with the Push Notification and Webviews. Since a whopping 85%-99% of the code was shared, development was quicker than usual.
Every month, 120 million people access Walmart’s popular app. The department store giant rewrote its mobile app code with React Native recently, citing benefits like improved speed and efficiency.
Tesla created an app for electric car enthusiasts and owners to help diagnose issues and identify characteristics. Shockingly, the app even partially controls the car’s movements!
Development and Installation
React Native uses components, but instead of web components like Div and H1, you use the set of components provided by the react-native library for mobile development. React Native also uses a virtual DOM to communicate with native UI elements.
React Native doesn’t offer as many widgets as Flutter, but it’s inclusive with adaptive components.
To get started with React Native, you must begin by installing the create-react-native-app package with npm, using it to create a new React Native application. One cool thing about development with React Native is its Expo integration provision. Expo lets you run your code on your mobile device without wiring it up. Instead, you just need to scan a QR code that appears on the console.
React Native has more years on the market, making it vastly supported by most editors. The platform also supports hot reload, like Flutter. When it comes to packages, React Native is the clear winner, with over five times the number of packages available as Flutter. The framework is also more mature and stable than Flutter.
React Native’s documentation is sufficient and more user-friendly than Flutter’s. Official documentation includes:
- Prop explanations
- Popular cross-platform development topics like installing native modules
React Native doesn’t have as rich a component set as Flutter. In contrast, it only provides UI rendering, relying on third-party libraries to access native modules. Some users find that React Native relies too heavily on these third parties.
There is some hope for React Native’s performance, though. Many optimization areas may increase performance like lazy requiring, lazy native modules loading, and incremental cache read.
There are two main patterns in building React/React to native applications: Flux and Redux.
Flux is the one created by the framework creators, Facebook, while Redux is the community’s most popular option.
These frameworks are about unidirectional data flow and storing your application’s state in one central place called Store. They also make your app components as stateless as possible. You can also use the Context API, a new React feature for state management.
Pros of React Native
- One codebase: Developers can develop an app for multiple devices simultaneously rather than individually
- Developer freedom of choice as facilitates code reuse and cost-saving
- Relative maturity
- An active and vast community
- Easy to learn for React developers
Cons of React Native
- Still needs native developers
- Poor performance compared to Flutter
- Debugging issues
- Fewer components out of box
- Lots of abandoned packages and libraries
- Fragile UI
- Apps are bigger than native ones
When to Use React Native
- Big budgets and complex projects
- Complicated cross-platform apps
- Reusing code for mobile and desktop apps
- Less experienced developers because of extensive documentation support
Flutter vs React Native: Head to Head Comparison
So, how do you decide between Google Flutter vs React Native? We put together an easy reference for you to compare the two below:
Large inclusive library
Some are adaptive automatically
Components aren’t adaptive. Need to be configured manually.
Quite steep, you need to pick up Dart, and reactive programming isn’t all intuitive
Flux and Redux
Quite Mature, used in production in many big companies around the world, many packages available
Not yet mature, a fewer number of packages
Flutter vs React Native both have pros and cons, but the idea is to fill the gap between two platforms(Android and iOS). Some industry experts predict Flutter as the future of mobile app development. But, React Native takes the cake with some of the most impressive apps on today’s market, like Facebook and Instagram. Bottom line? Each platform serves different purposes, so you should consider your needs before committing to one.
Interested in learning more about Flutter and React Native? Trying to get a job as a React developer? Check out our 2022 Flutter Guide and our round-up of the best React Native tutorials! and these React interview questions for additional help!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Flutter Better Than React Native?
The two have pros and cons. Flutter might be a better choice for you if you plan on creating small applications with modest budgets and value a rich component set.
2. Is Flutter Faster Than React Native?
3. Should I Learn React Native or Flutter in 2022?
You should learn React Native in 2022 if you plan on creating deeper projects and more complex apps. But, many programming experts recommend Flutter for its unparalleled performance. Check out our “When to Use Flutter” and “When to Use React Native” sections of this article for more clarity.
4. Does Flutter Have a Future?
With ever-growing features and market development, experts see Flutter as a big player in the future of mobile app development.
5. Is Flutter Ready for Production 2022?
Yes, Google recently announced that Flutter would be eligible for Microsoft’s IDE Visual Studio 2022 version.
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