Flutter vs React Native: Choose the best cross-platform framework for your learning app

How to ensure your app runs across multiple platforms with the least effort?

The global online e-learning space received its biggest trigger in 2020, with the pandemic forcing closures of schools and colleges worldwide. The already buoyant market is forecasted to grow even further to a massive $374 billion by 2026, averaging a compounded growth rate of 14.6%.

If you are building an education or learning app, you probably want to know your development framework options. This article attempts to capture the essence of what stands out for each prospect, especially in developing a learning or educational app.

Flutter vs React Native: Mindshare

When it comes to cross-platform development frameworks, Flutter with 42% and React Native with 38% together controlled about 80% developer mindshare in 2021. This is as per the data drawn from the JetBrains Statista 2021 study with 31.7k developers surveyed worldwide. Essentially this means that you are in good hands between these two frameworks from a development stack perspective.

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Impressive Deployed base

React Native wins hands down when it comes to popular consumer apps with a large volume user base: For example, Pinterest with over 250 million MAUs (monthly active users) and with 82% mobile users, FB Ads with over 5.4 million advertisers and 18 billion ad variations market to over 1 billion users, Instagram with over 500 mil daily active users (DAUs) and with 1 billion searches per day, are all built using React Native.

Examples of popular applications built using Flutter are Google Ads, the world’s most busy e-com marketplace – Xianyu by Alibaba, PostMuse (Instagram photo editor), Groupon (discount coupon and group deals marketplace), and eBay Motors. These apps also have significant scale, seamlessly work across platforms, and provide a superior user experience.

Genesis

Flutter is an open-source UI SDK (software development kit) from stables of Google (2017) that helps develop cross-platform apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Google Fuchsia, and Web platform. The first version was code-named SKY and ran on Android. By September 2021, Dart SDK and Flutter version 2.5 were released. The update was targeted at improving Android, iOS full-screen mode, and other enhancements.

React Native is an open-source UI software framework created by Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook) in 2013 and is used to develop applications for Android, iOS, macOS, Web, and Windows.

How Flutter Works

Flutter components: Flutter consists of the following parts briefly summarized here with their core functions.
Dart Platform Flutter runs in Dart VM with a JIT (Just in Time engine allowing stateful hot reload while the app is running, thus avoiding a restart or loss of state.

Flutter engine: C++ code is a portable runtime software for hosting Flutter applications and implements Flutter core libraries, file, and network I/O, plugin architecture.

Foundation Library: written in Dart, provides basic classes and functions used to construct Flutter apps and design specific widgets of 3 types: stateful, stateless, and inherited widgets. These are widely used for most Flutter applications.

How React Native Works

React Native runs in a background process, interprets Java Script directly on the end-device, and communicates with the native platform via serialized data over an asynchronous or batched bridge.

Syntax of React Native is like CSS, but it does not use HTML or CSS. The messages from JS threads are used to manipulate native views instead. React Native allows developers to write native code in Java, Kotlin for Android, Objective -C for iOS, C++, or C# for Win 10, making it even more flexible.

You may also like: Flutter vs Xamarin: Choose the best cross-platform framework for your project in 2022

Ease of Start

Kickstarting Flutter development is simple. All you need to do is download the file for the OS you need, and you are ready to go with all documentation built into the official site.

React Native is also easy to use. Since the framework uses the UI library developed by Facebook, code creation is further simplified.

Learning Apps throw unique challenges based on specific use cases: a substantial volume of simultaneous users for test prep, online class streaming lessons, or gamified lessons with animations.

Both React Native and Flutter have several examples of holding forth in such challenging environments.

Cross-platform framework capabilities

Flutter: A single code base allows programmers to quickly adapt to a new platform avoiding detailed system study and planning, saving time and energy.

Flutter comes with high-performance widget ergonomics allowing low data exchange between the app and mobile platform. It also comes with the ability to compile into native code for Android and iOS.

A React Native project contains an iOS directory and an Android directory. These directories act as entry points into each platform. They include the code specific to each platform, and this is where the JS code is bridged for each platform.

Code Reuse

Flutter’s components are all in-built, allowing cross-platform development from the get-go. Apps on Flutter are widget-based with customization allowing native-app look and feel. Code reusability in Flutter is about 80%.
With React Native, there are reports of large chunks of code base reuse – in many cases up to 80-85%.

Development Ease

Hot reload is a term used to describe a framework’s ability to insert code changes live on a running app without bringing it down and restarting. It is a powerful feature as it completely avoids restart and saves time in educational/learning environments.

React Native also supports the ‘Hot Reload’ feature allowing users to see code changes without compilation.

Developer Support

Google’s strong global support makes the developer community comfortable taking the plunge into Flutter.
Facebook has an enviable record of some of the largest software talent pools to support you on your development journey. On this front, too, there is not much difference between the two approaches, and either way, you will safely reach your goal.

End-user Experience

The amazing thing about React Native apps is that they render an on-par experience to Native apps. Whether the context is text-heavy or fast transactions with rapid-load requirements, React Native has delivered at scale. This is what you see on Instagram and Pinterest with hundreds of millions of simultaneous users.

However, some users believe that React Native adds unnecessary complexity and is not best suited for CPU-intensive applications, typically leading to performance issues or degraded end-user experience.

Flutter or React Native?

Both Flutter and React Native are powerful platforms running large-scale businesses with widely available global developer support. The key parameters that will determine the choice of the platform are app requirements, use cases, user experience, and budget. Sage wisdom recommends – bringing in the experts.

Work with a suitably talented, experienced partner who can take a consultative position and advise you based on the need.

Build your cross-platform app with Trigent

That partner could be Trigent: a software development partner who can bring in expert opinion on multiple frameworks such as Xamarin, Flutter, Angular UI, JQuery, Appium, Cordova, and React Native and deliver to your exact requirements.

Looking for an expert assessment? Call us for a quick consultation

Flutter vs Xamarin: Choose the best cross-platform framework for your project in 2022

If you are considering a mobile application for your business or service in 2022 chances, are you or your software development partner, considering a cross-platform framework? Naturally, your search would entail several different frameworks and quickly bring you to a crossroads: Flutter vs Xamarin?

A bummer? Not really. Perhaps this brief analysis will help you make that call. 

Background: A quick look at the genesis of these cross-platform frameworks

Flutter is an open-source UI SDK (software development kit) from the stables of Google in 2017. It helps develop cross-platform apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Google Fuchsia, and Web platform. The first version was code-named SKY and ran on Android. By September 2021, Dart SDK – Flutter apps are written in Dart language, and Flutter version 2.5 was released. The update was targeted at improving Android, iOS Full-Screen mode, and other enhancements.

Xamarin, a Microsoft company produces open-source software that works in tandem with .NET. It is a part of the C# / Visual Studio suite, extending it with tools and libraries for building apps on the various target OS. The promise is that developers can easily reuse their C# code and port their code across platforms.

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Flutter and Xamarin: Architecture and components

Flutter components: Flutter consists of the following components briefly summarized here with their core functions.

Dart platform: Flutter runs in Dart VM with a JIT (Just in Time) engine, allowing stateful hot reload while the app is running, thus avoiding a restart or loss of state.

Flutter engine: The C++ code is a portable runtime software for hosting Flutter applications, and implements Flutter core libraries, files, network I/O, and plugin architecture.

Foundation library: Written in Dart provides basic classes and functions used to construct Flutter Apps and design specific widgets. Three types, stateful, stateless, and inherited widgets are used widely for most Flutter applications.

Xamarin has a Mono environment for use both in iOS and Android. Internally Mono is combined with components to give a smooth response. It runs along with Android Runtime on Android, Objective-C runtime in iOS, Linux kernel in Linux. 

Architecturally, therefore, there may be no significant edge in either of the approaches.

Kickstarting the development effort in cross-platform frameworks

Kickstarting Flutter development is a breeze. Just download the file for the OS you need and you are ready to go with all documentation built into the official site. But it is not so with Xamarin. Xamarin requires multiple steps starting with downloading the correct version of Visual Studio, installing Community, Visual Studio Professional and then reserving hours for documentation help which you will certainly need.

Economics of framework

Microsoft expects fees for commercial deployment from enterprise users that could range from $799 to $5999 per user. The fee can prove to be a clear disincentive to a developer considering a cross-platform app framework while Flutter is entirely free.

Code reuse

C# and its intrinsic .NET heritage enable easy reuse of LINQ and async programming features – a big plus for Xamarin. Together with Xamarin.Forms API, it is said code reuse is closer to 96%; which is impressive compared to Flutter. Xamarin’s Android and iOS tools to build platform-specific features also help code reuse. However, it is important to understand that code written with Xamarin is only reusable within the .NET technology stack.

Flutter’s components are all in-built, allowing cross-platform development from the get-go. Apps on Flutter are widget-based with customization allowing native-app look and feel. Code reusability in Flutter is about 80%.

Cross-platform capabilities

Flutter: A single code base allows programmers to easily adapt to a new platform avoiding detailed system study and planning, saving time and energy.

Flutter comes with high-performance widget ergonomics allowing low data exchange between the app and mobile platform and comes with the ability to compile into native code for Android and iOS.

Development ease

Flutter serves Hot! Hot reload is a term used to describe a framework’s ability to insert code changes live on a running app without bringing it down and restarting. It is a big deal as it completely avoids restart and saves time in rapidly changing business environments such as Q-commerce (quick commerce such as food service app, retail app, and mobility world apps).

Xamarin has an equivalent Hot reload feature, also called Live Reload, allowing users to see code changes without compilation. 

Performance

Flutter architecture obviates the need to use JS bridge to communicate with native components which uses Google’s Skia rendering engine. This boosts its cross-platform performance significantly with minimal dropped frames and low lag.

Apps built on Xamarin have performance that depends on the Xamarin framework used. For example, the performance of Xamarin.Forms, especially while handling graphics, falls short of expectations. Sometimes special components need to be developed for the iOS / Android world, thus losing its appeal for UI-heavy applications. 

Widget ergonomics

Widget library of Flutter is both convenient, beautiful, easy to use, and driven by contemporary design. A large customizable library of widgets with access to navigation, multiple options in interaction models, layouts is available with support for animation. Consistency in the look and feel of the app on different devices coming from a high-widget approach is easy on the eyes.

Flutter’s inherent performance on fast-moving graphics and animation stands head and shoulders above competing cross-development platforms. Its rapid growth within the developer community and la significantly large developer community built within a short span of 4-5 years indicate its popularity.

Developer support

Google’s strong global support makes the developer community comfortable making the plunge into Flutter. 

On that front, Xamarin stands as a formidable competitor to Flutter. As an established top global software product house, Microsoft pulls all stops to provide the necessary support to the developer with its established support processes. Besides, C# and.Net already have a large developer community, making it easier for Microsoft to extend support to new converts to the Xamarin turf. 

Xamarin or Flutter: Choosing the best cross-platform frameworks for your application

Not being tied to IDE is a big plus for Flutter users, whereas, for Xamarin developers, an intimate knowledge of Visual Studio IDE is critical for the smooth work of Xamarin. The concept of Visual Studio IDE is to be understood and implemented. However, it is not considered accessible by many. Apart from this, Microsoft also requires Visual Studio IDE licensing to be procured. 

Flutter comes with the flamboyance, aggression of a young, ready-to-go, open-source, free, and almost no barriers to develop and deploy. Xamarin has a more traditional evolutionary sense of growth but well-established clientele backing it globally. With myriad opportunities exploding on multiple verticals, Microsoft is not going to let this opportunity be lost either. Expect a robust battle between these technology giants on the cross-product platform wars.

Work with a partner you can trust

Working with a development partner with a full-stack skillset covering multi-platforms iOS and Android, and with development skills across the board from Dart, Swift, Java, JS, Kotlin, Objective C, and C# is naturally an advantage. If you have a software development partner such as Trigent, for example, who, in addition to the above, excels in multiple frameworks such as Xamarin, Flutter, Angular UI, JQuery, Appium, Cordova, and React Native, you are in safe territory and in trusted hands. 

When your software partner is multi-skilled, technology crossroads are certainly less daunting. 

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