• Flutter vs React Native vs Xamarin – Which Framework is Right For You?

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    Mobile apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. The millennial customers today are always on the go, depending on mobiles for every possible engagement – be it for making purchases, paying utility bills, banking, social media, etc. The list is endless. All this has made businesses realize that mobile technology is the way of the future for acquiring as well as retaining customers.

    To make their mark in the competitive arena, businesses are now focusing on developing user-friendly apps that not only enhance the customer’s buying journey but also improve their ROI.

    The question then arises as to which is the best platform through which you can build an effective mobile app.

    Mobile apps are classified into three types, based on the technology used – Native apps, Mobile web apps, or Hybrid apps. Most apps are built in Hybrid, which is a cross-platform solution, and is a perfect fit for your business requirements.

    There are several tools available in Hybrid cross-platform solutions:

    • Xamarin
    • React Native
    • Flutter
    • Kotlin Native
    • J2ObjC/Doppler
    • Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
    • Ionic2
    • Cordova/PhoneGap/Titanium
    • Unity

    From the mentioned list, we have picked the three best most popular and established solutions – Flutter, Xamarin and React Native.

    In this article, we’ll be clarifying what their pros and cons are and compare them by focusing on development, performance, and so on, to help you make the right decision as per your business requirements.

    Here we go…

    Flutter At A Glance

    Flutter, the new kid on the block, allows easy and continuous cross-platform mobile app development. You don’t have to build up an iOS and Android app separately. All you need is a single codebase for both platforms.

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    What is Flutter? 

    • It is a free and open source platform
    • It is based on Dart – a quick, object-oriented programming language which is easy to learn
    • It provides its own particular gadgets, drawn with its own superior rendering motor. They are quick, beautiful, and adjustable
    • The architecture of Flutter is based on reactive programming, which is popular nowadays

    Pros of Flutter

    • Faster code writing that normally takes seconds and helps teams with adding features, fixing bugs, and experimenting faster
    • Developers need to write just one codebase which is used for apps covering both Android and iOS platforms
    • Having a similar app for two platforms means that it requires less time in testing and the Quality Assurance process can be faster.
    • Simple to make your own widgets or customize existing widgets such as material design widgets or Cupertino widgets.
    • Ideal for MVP because you need to build the app in less time

    Cons of Flutter

    • Flutter is still in beta and has not released the stable version yet. It is also not supported by Continuous Integration (CI) platforms like Travis or Jenkins. Thus, in order to achieve automatic building, app testing, and deployment, your development team needs to use and keep custom content.
    • Flutter is fully supported by Google and there are several useful libraries with functionalities that are ready to implement. However, Flutter is still not at all that rich with respect to native development

    Xamarin At A Glance

    In May, 2011, Xamarin was launched, and later acquired, by Microsoft. Xamarin was intended for tending to the pervasive issue of disconnected technology to encourage the native app development using its open source platform.

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    Pros of Xamarin

    • The framework uses C# language that functions flawlessly over a myriad of platforms (Android, iOS, and Windows)
    • More than 1.4 million developers used Xamarin in the first quarter of 2017, due to its ability to write native UI codebase for mobile app development
    • If you are building an app for multiple platforms (like Android, iOS, etc.) you can share or reuse most of your code in your app for the other platforms
    • Access to native API: You can get platform-specific functionalities in your app
    • Several controls and layouts provided in Xamarin helps with a faster development process
    • Faster app development with NuGet and Xamarin plugins
    • Used by numerous well-known brands, this cross-platform app development framework offers competitiveness in developing outstanding native app interfaces that successfully outperforms the limitations of hybrid apps

    Cons of Xamarin

    • Xamarin is not free and you not only need to buy the framework but its price. So, this is not at all for startups or budget constraint businesses
    • Limited access to different vital libraries for the creation of an app using this framework
    • User-Interface (UI) development is time-consuming as the core user-interface creation is not mobile
    • Xamarin suffers from low community activity, which is not good for developing a framework.

    React Native At A Glance

    Presented by Facebook in 2015, React Native emerged as a cross-platform app development technology because it uses JavaScript to build a native mobile app.

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    Pros of React Native

    • React Native offers various ready-to-apply elements that can quicken the development time
    • Hot Reload: You can reload your application quickly, without recompiling.
    • Direct use of native code to optimize your app to a great level
    • Code sharing on both the platforms – iOS and Android
    • Faster app development with pre-built elements
    • Access to native functionalities like camera, accelerometer, and so on.
    • High-quality mobile UI

    Cons of React Native

    • The navigation of your mobile app would not be tantamount to native navigation. A navigation designed in React Native is not that smooth.
    • Like Xamarin, React Native even gives you a chance to develop superior quality apps. But apps built with React Native are slower than native Android apps built with Java and native iOS apps built with Objective-C and Swift.

    Flutter, React Native, or Xamarin Which One Is Better For You?

    To give a clearer picture, below is a comparison guide of their features that will help you get an idea of these frameworks so that you can select the right framework for your business.

    Ease of Learning

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    Flutter is easy to learn if you know Dart – Google’s object-oriented programming language. You need to build mobile apps with the help of Dart in Flutter. You might think that learning a new language would be time-consuming, but all you need is to grasp the concepts of this language. And if you know other languages like JavaScript it will be easy.

    Learning the concepts of React Native is easy if you are an experienced JavaScript developer and you have some React skills. This framework is easy to learn and does not require much effort but does need knowledge of JavaScript.

    If you know Android, it is easier to grasp Xamarin because many things are identical and C# is very similar to Java. Xamarin can enable you to save up to 70% of the development work on a second mobile platform by reusing code.

    App Speed

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    While building a mobile app with Flutter, you do not have to care about speed as the framework will give you the performance that will make users happy. Like React Native, Flutter is a good decision to develop a faster app. Flutter enables you to use native code to achieve better performance. Widgets include platform differences like scrolling, navigation, as well as fonts. Thus, you will have a seamless performance in Android and iOS.

    React Native offers near-native performances. So, if you are building a mobile app with this framework, your app will be super quick. What’s more, you can always try to improve more and more to enhance it because app performance is crucial for a successful business. It enables you to write code in Native languages, such as Objective-C, Java, or Swift. You can even build part of your app in React Native while the other part can be built in Native code.

    Moreover, apps which are built in Xamarin will give you better performance and will constantly improve to match the standards of native development. With the help of Xamarin, iOS and Android apps can be fully native apps by taking advantage of every platform. It is quite similar if you are building native mobile apps with Xamarin. Forms and its shared user interface (UI) library. Xamarin Forms 2.0, introduced as a part of Xamarin 4, includes some new features and upgrades to help you build fast apps.

    Developer Productivity

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    The ‘Hot Reload’ feature, available in Flutter, can save developers time. There are many widgets and APIs in Flutter which let you complete the app development work quickly. So, with the help of this framework, developers can work in a productive way and save a lot of time while building a mobile app. This platform is quite advantageous for businesses.

    As React Native gives you the flexibility to work on any text editor/ IDE that you like. So, you can pick a text editor that can save both time and money. It offers you a pre-built feature called ‘Hot Reload’ that helps in completing your project quicker. With the help of this feature, one can reload their app without recompiling the app, allowing further results in enhancing the developer’s productivity.

    In Xamarin, “Live Reload” empowers developers to roll out improvements to XAML and see them reflected live, without any compilation and deployment. Because your app is compiled while using Live Reload, it works with all libraries and third-party controls. Live Reload works on all platforms Xamarin. Forms support, including iOS, Android, UWP, and WPF, and works at all legitimate deployment targets, including simulators, emulators, as well as physical devices.

    Architecture

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    The architecture of Flutter is very easy to understand and even new developers, who start with an existing App’s code, can follow the framework easily. The architecture of Flutter makes teamwork easier. It supports the Reactive UI approach of Flutter and it never hurts Flutter’s performance. A Dart app architecture library with unidirectional data flow is roused by RefluxJS and Facebook’s Flux. Flutter-flux implements a unidirectional data flow pattern that involves Actions, Stores, and StoreWatchers. It is dependent upon on w_flux but it has been altered to use Flutter rather than React.

    React Native’s app architecture is known as Flux. Facebook uses Flux to build client-side web apps. Every framework generally follows the MVC framework. The unidirectional data flow is the fundamental idea of Flux.

    Xamarin architecture comprises of a visual design platform to build native such as apps, testing suites, native library support, and a nugget-style component store. The iOS visual design has been given through their IDE to help developers in opening X-Code. LINQ can be used with collections or create custom delegates and events that free developers from Objective-C and Java constraints.

    Community Support

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    Flutter is known for its good community support. On GitHub, it has 33,248 stars and 223 contributors who make the framework better. They work in different areas of Flutter to provide you the best development experience. Flutter developers are even active on QA sites as well as forums.

    React Native also has a strong community support. On GitHub, it has 66,693 stars and 1,692 contributors who are dealing with React Native to enhance it. This framework has a large community of developers across the globe and they can assist you answering your queries on QA sites and forums.

    For Xamarin, there is very limited community support available. Forums and help support are not instantly available for Xamarin users on the Internet.

    Apps Built With These Frameworks

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    Some prominent mobile apps that have been built with Flutter are – AppTree, Alibaba, Topline, Google AdWords, Google Greentea, Reflectly, Hamilton Musical, OfflinePal, Hookle, Birch Finance, BetaBubs, and many more.

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    Some of the prominent mobile apps that are built with React Native are – Facebook, Facebook Analytics, Facebook Ads Manager, Instagram, Skype, Tesla, Walmart, Pinterest, Uber, Artsy, Bloomberg, Chop, SoundCloud Pulse, F8, Discord, Vogue, and so on.

    A few of the prominent mobile apps that are built with Xamarin are – Storyo, The World Bank, Just Giving, Olo, Skulls of the Shogun, APX, Insightly, FreshDirect, SuperGiant Games, Thermo Fisher Scientific, etc.

    Now, Here Comes the Big Question – Which Framework Is Better?

    These three frameworks are great for developing successful mobile apps. But it’s really hard to say which one is better. All you need is to think which framework would be the right fit for your business. Some prefer coding in React Native while others like Flutter, and a few consider Xamarin.

    With the help of this article, you’ll be able to understand which tool would be the best for your business. You may also visit or contact us at info@netsolutions.com to get a better idea in terms of what’s best for your business. When you have all of the information at your fingertips, it will be easy for you to pick the correct one for your business needs.

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    Amit Manchanda

    About the Author

    Amit Manchanda is working as Project Lead at Net Solutions and has over 9 years of experience in technologies like ASP, Adobe Flex and Android. He has been part of SME (Subject Matter Expert) Group for RIA applications. He has good understanding of analyzing the technical need/problem of client and providing them the best solution. He enjoys interacting with his team & is passionate about his work. In his free time he loves to listen music, watch Cricket and play with his daughter.

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