In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic - OPTASY would like to offer DRUPAL website support for any Health Care, Government, Education and Non-Profit Organization(s) with critical crisis communication websites or organizations directly providing relief. Stay Safe and Stay Well.

React Native vs Flutter: Which One to Use to Build Your Cross-Platform App With? And Why?

React Native vs Flutter: Which One to Use to Build Your Cross-Platform App With? And Why?

by Silviu Serdaru on Nov 06 2019

They're both open-source and some highly popular options for cross-platform app development. They're both backed by huge tech communities... so your struggle is real: "React Native vs Flutter: which one should I go with?"

On one hand, you have Flutter, which has gained momentum incredibly fast this year, putting the same question on most developers' lips:

Will Flutter replace React Native?

On the other hand, you have React Native, which has been around for +4 years now and uses "good old" JavaScript.

Should you place your bid on "familiarity" and reliability or should you take the leap and go with a newer, but so promising platform instead?

Speaking of which:

What are Flutter's selling points more precisely? Those that have instantly propelled it in developers' radar so quickly?

Why would you choose Flutter over React Native? And when is the latter the best option?

 

1. Why Choose Cross-Platform App Development in the First Place?

Why would you go with this approach to mobile app development instead of taking the "native" path?

Here are the most powerful reasons:

 

  • you get to write (most of) your code once and use it on multiple platforms
  • you get to tap into the features of your cross-platform framework of choice to develop various types of mobile apps: social apps, eCommerce apps, interactive apps
  • you get to build a native-like app without getting tangled up in Android, iOS or Java development

     

Notes: 

 

  • optimizing your cross-platform app might get discouraging if you're not prepared for it
  • expect it to be less performant than its native counterpart
  • your platform of choice might not ship with all the functionalities that you need (Bluetooth, GPS...), so consider creating new plugins or opting for 3rd party ones to compensate for the lack of certain native features

     

2. React Native Is an...

... open-source JavaScript framework — or a new version of React, if you wish — launched by Facebook, used for building Android and iOS mobile apps.

React Native vs Flutter: What Is React Native?

Source: Facebook.Github.io

How does it work? What kind of "witchcraft" does happen under its hood that enables you to build a hybrid app? One that works both on iOS and Android?

React Native uses a JavaScript bridge which... bridges your UI code to native components.

 

3. Reasons Why You Would Choose React Native over Flutter: Top 3

 

React Native vs Flutter 2019 in Google Trends

Source: Google Trends

So, going back to our "React Native vs Flutter" dilemma: why would you go with Facebook's "prodigy"?

 

  1. because it's written in JavaScript (entirely) and so it's much easier to find experienced JS developers for your app project
  2. because it's more... mature: it's been around for +4 years, which translates into reliability and a high level of popularity among developers
  3. because it streamlines the app's development cycle: it's faster (just think "ready-to-use components") to build app-like experiences with React Native than with Flutter

     

4. Flutter Is...

... Google's open-source SDK, written in Dart, used for building cross-platform apps.

How does it work?

It leverages the skia rendering engine to render Dart-based UI in both Android and iOS.

React Native vs Flutter: What Is Flutter?

Source: Flutter.dev

4 Key Features of Flutter:

 

  1. design-specific features
  2. entirely customized environment
  3. platform-specific SDKs
  4. native-like performance

     

5. Flutter: Biggest Selling Points and Main Weaknesses

What makes this "new kid on the block" so tempting among developers?

React Native vs Flutter in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019

Source: Stack Overflow

What does it bring to the table that React Native can't provide?

 

  • it's easier to install it: when using React Native, many developers choose to use Expo precisely for this purpose; there's no way of automating the whole process and you bump into errors pretty often

     
  • it's easier to test it compared to the complicated setup that you need to do for testing a React Native app

     
  • it uses proprietary UI widget sets (by comparison, React Native uses native components), which give you more freedom to customize your UI block components

     
  • it benefits from first-party support for its iOS-style and material design widgets

     
  • it uses object-oriented design (due to Dart)

     
  • it performs better: Flutter's slightly faster since it depends on a JavaScript bridge, like React Native, for interacting with native components

     
  • it speeds up the UI designing process (React Native uses native components, while Flutter uses owner widgets)

     

And this last one is Flutter's most "seductive" feature: 

It allows you to create a new custom layout in no time.

"And why would I be hesitant to choose Flutter over React Native?" you might also ask yourself.

Here are some of the aspects that might discourage you from using Flutter for building your cross-platform app:

 

  • there aren't so many developers working in Dart, the language used for writing Flutter, compared to the deep pool of JS professionals 
  • the development process is a bit lengthier
  • it's still relatively a young platform: you might not have a library for every functionality that you want to implement; not just yet...

     

6. React Native vs Flutter: You'd Be Better Off With...

... Flutter if:

 

  • you need to have your app running on both Android and iOS
  • you're already an experienced C++/Java developer (or developers in your team are), since it'll then be easier for you to learn Dart 
  • high performance is on top of your priority list
  • you want a visually-appealing UI for your cross-platform app

     

And opt for React Native if:

 

  • you're already an experienced JavaScript developer 
  • you put a high value on the support of a giant, mature tech community

     

The END!

How do the scores look like on your evaluation list?

Which of the 2 cross-platform solutions would you go with and why? Let us know in the comments below:

Photo by Coffee Geek on Unsplash 

 

Development

We do Web development

Go to our Web development page!

Visit page!

Recommended Stories

What’s the Fundamental Difference Between Gatsby and Next.js? How Do You Choose?
You're building a React website/application. You have your bulky list of functionalities all set, you know how you want it to look, but can't decide on the React framework to build it on: What's the main difference between Gatsby and Next.js, after all? And what's the difference between server-side rendering and static site rendering? Since both frameworks seem to be serving your main goals:   not to get tangled up in config or routing to generate a fast, fully accessible and SEO-friendly website to provide you with boilerplate application   So, what's the fundamental differentiator between Gatsby and Next? The one(s) that'll help you identify the framework that best covers your specific use case. Or, are there several of them (differentiators)? Just keep on reading:   1. But First: What Do Gatsby and Next.js Have in Common? How are they similar?    they're both React frameworks they're both great options for SEO purposes they're both great options if you need a high performance React app/website they both provide entirely formed HTML pages they both provide boilerplate application they both simplify and speed up the React app/website development cycle  they both generate SPA out-of-the-box they both provide great developer experience   In short: both Next.js and Gatsby score well in categories like speed and SEO; they're both awesome solutions to streamline app/website development in React. But the way they go about it... that's where these frameworks are fundamentally different.   2. How Does GatsbyJS Work? It builds HTML code on build time. That would be the short(est) answer to your question. But if we were to elaborate upon it: GatsbyJS is a static site generator that... generates (static) HTML code during the “build” process. How? It fetches data from external sources — APIs, Contentful, WordPress, markdown files —  and uses GraphQL to render it. Example: say you have a blog. In this case, you could use Gatsby to fetch your blog posts from... Contentful. Or any other repository where you might be storing your content (e.g. WordPress or Drupal).   3. What's Next.js? A tool for rendering pages on the server-side. And a more detailed answer would be: It's a React framework that supports server-side rendering. Meaning that it generates the needed HTML code dynamically, from the server, each time a request is being sent through. In short: your browser's provided with pre-rendered HTML code instead of empty “div”. Now, how does its distinctive way of going about building a React app/website suit you? It enables you to develop multi-page applications using static rendering and serving dynamic data from a back-end.   4. What Are They Used For? Specific Use Cases for Gatbsy and for Next.js What's the difference between Gatsby and Next.js in terms of use case? In other words: when should you choose one over the other?   4.1. Specific Use Cases for GatsbyJS 1. Blogs and small-scaled websites And I'm talking here about a particular scenario: When you have no comments section on your blog or, at least, not a very “busy” one. So, a use case where you don't need to render content every 5-10 minutes. Since blogs are static and their content doesn't change that frequently, Gatbsy's ecosystem makes the perfect fit for them.  And you have 2 options for your blog post creation and publishing process:   you write a blog post and the npm build will generate a corresponding HTML page you write a blog post in Contentful (or a CMS of your choice), publish it and recompile your blog in Netfly   2. Landing pages Again, since they use static content, landing pages make an ideal use case for GatsbyJS.  Where do you add that Gatsby “spoils” you with such a wide collection of plugins to choose from and to boost your landing page with: PWA, inline critical CSS, AMP...   4.2. Specific Use Cases for Next.js 1. Content-packed websites Dealing with lots of content? Or are you expecting your site's content load to grow, over time?  Then Next.js should be your first choice.  The reason is simple: Just imagine your Gatsby framework overstrained to rebuild all that content over and over again. Not precisely the most time-effective solution to go with, don't you think? 2. When you need more freedom for accessing your data Do you want to empower your content team to publish content on their own? Then you might want to consider Next.js.   3. To-Do Apps They make the perfect use case for server-side rendering: Next.js retrieves the content for your list, from the server, and displays the to-do's upfront.   5. The Fundamental Difference Between Gatsby and Next.js Is... … that Gatsby's a statically generator, while Next.js generates HTML dynamically.  Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay The first creates JS/HTML/CSS at build time, while the second generates it at run time. Or, if you wish to put it this way: Gatsby doesn't depend on a server, while Next can't function without one.   6.4 Other Main Areas Where They Differ For the “Gatsby vs Next” debate doesn't end at the “static vs dynamic” comparison.  There are other factors, as well, that set these 2 React frameworks apart. And we'll outline the 4 most obvious ones:   6.1. Data Handling In case of Gatsby, the framework's the one “deciding” how you should handle data in your app. It needs to know where your data, your images and other types of content will be handled.  What's in it your for? Why would you accept this... “compromise”: to be told how to handle data in your own app? Because: Gatsby, through its rich collection of plugins, enables you to hook up your site to various data sources. This way, you gain external control over your data... By comparison, Next's totally unopinionated. Is gives you the freedom to decide your own data architecture. In short: it doesn't “tie” you to a specific technology. You're free to handle data your own way.   6.2. Deployment You can deploy Gatsby anywhere you need to, with no special configurations, since it's no more than compiled CSS, JS, and HTML. And things are equally straightforward with Next.js, as well. Since it's a Node application, you can host it anywhere you want to...   6.3. Routing With Gatsby, you have a pages directory where you're free to create all the HTML pages needed for your app/website.  Moreover, they provide you an API, as well, for creating routes dynamically. With Next.js you get a “pages” folder, as well, where you can set up your new pages and get your app running, with no routing to config.   6.4. Plugins “What's the main difference between Gatsby and Next.js?” Plugins sure are a powerful differentiator. Gatsby comes “loaded” with an entire ecosystem of plugins.  So, do you need to have your JS minified, you CSS compiled, your...? There must be a Gatsby plugin for it. Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay   Next.js, on the other hand, doesn't “tempt” you with plugins, since its smaller scope doesn't justify the usage of plugins... The END! These are the key differences between Next.js and Gatsby, along with their common points and specific use cases. Have you had your “Aha!” moment(s) reading through our post? Have you managed to identify the right framework for your own use case? Photo by Charles ?￰゚ヌᆳ on Unsplash ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 12'2019
What Is Next.js Used For? Is It a Good Fit for Your Project? 2 Clues that You Should Use It
It sure is “the thing” these days. But does that make it “the perfect... thing” for your project, as well? For your specific project needs and priorities? What is Next.js used for more precisely? Can it handle both portfolio sites, let's say, and... particularly large web projects? Is it the best fit for both rarely and frequently updating websites? For both websites depending on a rich third-party ecosystem and those that don't use so many libraries? Let's dig up some answers on:   when (and when not to) why … to use Next.js.   1. But First: What Is Next.js? It's a lightweight React framework used for server-rendered and static web applications.  Now, if we were to highlight some of its main features, any shortlist would have to include:   (default) server-side rendering ecosystem compatibility prefetching HMR and Error reporting automatic code-splitting   Note: since it resembles PHP development so much, many developers find it easy to “jump on the Next.js bandwagon”.   2. And How Does It Work? Next.js renders your React app/website on a server (as opposed to being rendered on the client-side). Source: GoogleDevelopers So, do keep in mind that you'll need to have a server... somewhere. The main gain here is that it supports scenarios where data has to be updated in real-time. As for the drawbacks of server-rendering:   higher level of complexity: expect to write more code to get everything working properly it's a bit more challenging when dealing with third-party services a bit more difficult to deploy (compared to client-side rendering and HTML)   3. What Is Next.js Used for? What Types of Projects Would You Use It For? Now, back to the question that generated this blog post in the first place: When should you consider Next.js? When is it the best choice? Does it serve your... specific use case, for instance? In this respect, we've identified 3 types of projects that Next.js makes the best fit for:   3.1. When SEO is your top priority Do you need SSR (server-side rendering) to ensure SEO-friendly pages on your website? Then Next.js is your only option. It's built to serve precisely this type of project, where good SEO is a crucial objective.    3.2. When content gets updated particularly often Let's say that new and new data gets uploaded on your website and that the content on your web pages needs to get updated within... 3 minutes, maximum. Source: When Should You Use Gatsby? And I'm thinking here: news sites large eCommerce websites property listing websites where new comments get added and descriptions updated on a regular basis   In short: if you expect content on your future website to get updated often, then it writes Next.js all over your project.   4. Final Word Now, would you care for a piece of advice? When trying to answer questions such as:   “What is Next.js used for?” “Should I use it on my project or should I go with static?”   … make sure you evaluate both your short-term and long-term needs. In other words: your website might not need to update its content frequently right NOW, but maybe you're considering scaling it up in the future... For in that case, build performance and SEO will become some key requirements and your client-side or static architecture won't serve your goals anymore. Just make sure you coordinate your final choice with your future goals, as well. Image by Lynn Neo from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 04'2019
When to Use GatsbyJS? What Are Its Strongest Use Cases? Top 10
It's fast, it's secure, it boosts SEO and it provides a great developer experience, but does it fit your use case? For it all comes down to one key question: “When to use GatsbyJS?” Is it suitable for both a portfolio or documentation site and an app with a large content base? Or a large-scale enterprise website, for instance? Should you use GatsbyJS irrespective of your/your team's JavaScript experience?  What are the obvious and some of the... less expected use cases for GatsbyJS? Key benefits that would make you want to choose it over a framework like... NextJS, for instance? Now, let me break down the strongest use cases of Gatsby for you. See for yourself whether your own use case has made it to the list or not:   1. When to Use GatsbyJS? When You Need a Static Site... Obviously GatsbyJS's is optimized for this particular use case, after all: generating static websites. Say you have a static web page (a landing page), that serves plain HTML, some JS, and CSS. As for your more specific types of content, you plan to use Youtube and a platform like Medium to host it on. Gatsby would make the perfect choice for your use case since:   it provides server-side-rendering out of the box it ships with a heavy load of plugins to delve into (extract data from your CRM of choice: Contentful, Drupal...) it has a robust data layer built-in   Use it to create pages dynamically from almost any data source.   2. Use It for Your Documentation/Personal Portfolio Website or Blog Use GatsbyJS for your blog, eCommerce website or any other general static site that's under 500 pages, where you don't expect to serve any kind of dynamic content.  Note: there are the obvious use cases of GatsbyJS and the more... project-specific ones.  The volume of content served on your website and the amount of traffic aren't always clear indicators of whether you should or should not use Gatsby.  It's all a matter of infrastructure and of whether:   you do afford a build process for your React-based web app your team's experienced enough to get the most of a micro-service architecture and of serverless functions  you depend on a database that should reflect, instantly, any changes made   GatsbyJS's built to go beyond small/medium scale static sites if used to its full potential.   3. Use It When You “Crave” High Performance Not only that it's fast by nature, but GatsbyJS even stands out from the crowd of static site generators... If page load time is your main concern, you might want to consider Gatsby as your first choice.   4. Use It When Your Project Demands a High Level of Security    “When to use GatsbyJS?” you ask yourself. When you need to add an extra layer of security to your website. Since it serves plain HTLM files and there's no database or sensitive customer data stored on the server... there's not much to hack there, is it? The only thing left to “contaminate” if they do manage to get in is... your HTML files.   5. Use It to Build Your Progressive Web App For GatsbyJS is far more than just another static site generator: It's designed, from the ground up, to be a PWA website framework. Quote source: The New Stack In this respect, it:   ships with robust progressive web app features is built to be fast and highly accessible across all devices and in all hardware and network contexts   6. Use It If Developer Experience Is One of Your Top Priorities Luckily enough for your development team, GatsbyJS provides a modern development environment: simple, robust tooling and powerful built-in features. To give you just a few specific examples:   it automatically generates static assets like CSS and images from the “static” directory it builds routes between pages automatically it minifies everything “behind closed doors” before it serves it up to the client   7. Use It If You Have Enough JS/React Experience One of the few constraints when it comes to using GatsbyJS is the above-the-average JS/React experience required. There's no two ways about it... Also, another answer to your “When to use GatsbyJS?” question is: When you already have some React components or codebase available to reuse on your static web pages.   8. Use It if You Fancy a Huge Ecosystem of Plugins  Why use GatsbyJS? Source: Reddit.com   Because it ships with an impressive collection of plugins. Basically, it enables you to enhance your otherwise simple, static website with all kinds of powerful plugins:   you could just plug in Google Analytics into your site you could “inject” a gatsby-source-medium plugin and have previews of your articles automatically served up on your website   9. Use It if SEO Is Crucial for You When to use GatbsyJS?  When the SEO factor is of critical importance to you.  The web performance boost that you'll get from powering your website with Gatsby — since it'll render static HTML only — won't go unnoticed by your users and... by Google itself. Just make sure:   a static architecture is, indeed, the right fit for your project you've configured your SEO settings properly   10. Use It with a Headless CMS It's another one of those primary use cases for GatsbyJS: Pair your Gatsby site with a CMS data source of choice (a “headless” CMS):  Contentful, Drupal, Netfly, WordPress. This way, you pass all the “worries” regarding hosting and serving your data over to your CMS. GatsybyJS integrates seamlessly with any data repository, so you can focus on implementing your front-end instead. The END! These are the top 10 use cases for GatsbyJS, ranging from the most common to specific ones.  Which of its benefits — security, high performance, plugin system, developer experience, CMS integration — is more important for your own use case? Image by nugroho dwi hartawan from Pixabay  ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Oct 25'2019