Selecting one or the other technology is always a matter of individual preferences but knowing which platform has what benefits can help in deciding the best option. In this blog, we are going to discuss two of the very popular technologies for creating cross-platform apps i.e. Flutter & React Native.
The design philosophy
React Native just like for web is designed to be minimal, so it provides some basic functionalities but leaves the rest to developers which means generally a React Native project will have a lot of third-party dependencies depending on the project requirements. Flutter, on the other hand, comes with a huge library of widgets out of the box and this library is maintained by Google. As for dependency management Flutter has a package manager called Pub which has a huge library of tools that can be added to your project. For the bottom line, they both have a huge community that can provide almost anything that you need to be done in your project.
As for Flutter, instead of using the native components, Flutter draws each pixel on the screen using its highly optimized rendering system that runs on the compiled native code. So this is helpful when you want your code drawing on the screen. With this drawing engine, Flutter can display a very smooth UI on the screen which is 60fps on the native platform and it looks very neat. All this is done with the need for a bridge to communicate with the native platform. But this does not mean Flutter does not allow you to have native code for a platform. With the help of native channels, you may write platform-specific code for example accessing the photo library on Android or iOS devices or handling the file system requirements on the native platform.
The Coding experience
To run your code on a device, in React Native, you first have to run the Emulator either by command line or from ADB in Android studio. Once the emulator is up and running, you run two commands, one to start monitoring the code changes and another to run your code in the emulator. There is an option to “Hot reload” the app anytime you feel like there is a big update that needs to happen in the UI. apart from Hot Reloads, the UI of the app is automatically updated as per the changes in the code without changing the state of the app. Apart from these options, there are many third-party options available that may help in doing all these boilerplate steps.
When talking about a Flutter app, if you open the project on VS code, with the Futter extension installed, there is a dedicated button to run your code in an emulator. No other steps are needed. A single button attaches to the app on the emulator and updates the code changes you make. Flutter, just like React Native, has a hot reload option as well as update the UI of the app as you make changes in the code without affecting the state of the app in the emulator. An additional benefit of using Dart as a programming language is that it provides a Just-in-time (JIT) compiler so it raises the syntax error when you write your code rather than writing and running your code than knowing about the problems in the code. Dart is also very aware of the “Null” values.
The code structure
On the React Native side, the code more or less looks like an HTML document or a JSX file where you write a view and the nest other views in its hierarchy. On the other hand, for Flutter, you use classes that have a “build” method that returns a view hierarchy. As an overview both the frameworks use a similar approach but React Natives uses functions while in Flutter the UI components can be broken into classes. The more significant difference comes into light when in React Native, you usually do not have an already built UI component that you can just use and display, you have to create your own component and define its behavior yourself or use any third-party tool that can do it for you. This results in a project that is highly dependent on third parties. As for Flutter, there are abundant pre-built widgets available for developers to use.