Nowadays, programmers have two competitive cross-platform application development choices: Flutter and React Native. We can use both frameworks to build cross-platform mobile apps and desktop apps. Both frameworks indeed look similar from the outside and in the available features. Hopefully, you have already read many comparisons and reviews about Flutter and React Native. Many developers think that Flutter won’t be widely used because it uses an unfamiliar programming language, Dart. A programming language is just an interface for developers to interact with the framework.
How a particular framework solves the cross-platform development problem is more important than the popularity of a specific framework’s programming language. I did some quick research on the internal architecture of both Flutter and React Native. Also, I created several applications on various platforms using both frameworks. Finally, I found the following benefits if you develop your next awesome app with Flutter.
Flutter Has a Near-Native Performance
Nowadays, performance is so underrated because of powerful devices. However, users have devices with various sorts of specifications. Some users may try to run your application while running many other applications. Your application should work fine in all these conditions. Therefore, performance is still a crucial factor in modern cross-platform applications. Undoubtedly, an application written without any framework performs better than Flutter and React Native apps. But we often have to choose a cross-platform application framework for rapid feature delivery.
Flutter Apps Have a Consistent UI
React Native renders platform-specific UI elements. For example, your application renders native iOS UI elements if you run your application on an Apple mobile device. Each platform defines unique design concepts for its UI elements. Some platforms have UI elements that other platforms don’t have. Therefore, even a simple UI change requires testing on multiple platforms if you use React Native. Also, you cannot overcome the limitations of platform-specific UI elements.
Flutter SDK defines its own UI toolkit. Therefore, your Flutter app looks the same on every operating system. Unlike React Native’s platform-specific UI elements, the Flutter team can introduce new features to each UI element. Thanks to flutter-theming, you can change your app’s theme based on the user’s settings on a particular operating system.
Almost all modern apps show their brand from the app’s design concepts. Flutter motivates to build consistent user experience across all supported operating systems with a consistent GUI layer.
Flutter Offers a Productive Layout System
React Native has a FlexBox concept-based layout system created with the Yoga layout engine. All web developers and UI designers are familiar with CSS FlexBox styling. React Native’s layout syntax is similar to CSS FlexBox syntaxes. Many developers often struggle with advanced CSS styles, and they often let the team’s UI developers fix CSS. Therefore, if you use React Native to make your next app, you need to hire a UI developer or ask mobile developers to become familiar with CSS FlexBox syntax.
Flutter has a widget tree-based layout system. In other words, Flutter developers typically define widgets in a render-tree-like data structure by overriding the
build method. They can imagine how each widget will render on the screen. Additional UI developers or FlexBox experience for existing developers is not required if you chose Flutter. Even a backend engineer can be familiar with this widget-tree concept quickly rather than the FlexBox concept.
You can increase the feature development speed of your cross-platform app thanks to Flutter’s tree-based layout system. When the application layout becomes complex, programmers can group widgets into different sections by assigning them to different Dart variables.
Flutter Officially Supports All Popular Platforms
React Native officially supports only Android and iOS platforms. However, there are several forks of React Native that support desktop platforms. For example, Proton Native generates Qt and wxWidgets-based cross-platform desktop applications from React Native codebases. But Proton Native is not actively maintained now, and there is an active fork of it: Valence Native.
Also, Microsoft maintains two React Native forks:
react-native-macos. If you wish to build a desktop application for your existing React Native app, there are several choices. Every popular React Native library doesn’t support all these forks. Also, there is no full-featured React Native fork for Linux yet.
Flutter officially supports Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, macOS, Fuchsia, and Web. All supported operating systems use the same rendering backend, Skia. Flutter motivates all plugin developers to add implementations for all platforms by providing a high-performance Dart-to-Native binary communication mechanism and compromised documentation. Therefore, almost all popular Flutter plugins will work on all supported platforms.
Your Flutter App Will Natively Run on Fuchsia
Probably you already know that Google is developing a new operating system from scratch, Fuchsia. The microkernel-architecture-based Zircon kernel powers Fuchsia. According to Wikipedia, Google’s idea is to make Fuchsia a universal operating system that supports almost all devices (including embedded devices such as digital watches and traffic light systems). Google is building Fuchsia from many learnings from all existing platforms. Therefore, there is a higher probability for Fuchsia to become successful in the operating systems market.
Fuchsia is implementing the Starnix module to run Linux binaries inside Fuchsia. The Starnix module is still a very experimental module, according to its design documentation. Apparently, they are trying to run Linux binaries by running the Linux kernel in a Docker-like container. Therefore, your React Native app won’t work on Fuchsia as a truly native app. If someone wishes to add a Fuchsia backend for React Native, someone needs to make another fork like
Flutter SDK may become the default GUI application development kit on Fuchsia. Therefore, your Flutter app will work natively on Fuchsia.