Though estimates slightly vary, most publications agree there are approximately 3.2 billion smartphone users, and 1.14 billion tablet users worldwide. The mobile app industry has steadily grown since the 2008 release of IOS app store and there is no indication of decline any time soon.
Because of this growth, developers continue to explore the best options for quickly and easily building mobile applications.
Two commonly compared tools are React Native and Flutter.:
Similar Focus on Community/ Developer Experience
Both Flutter and React Native focus on the Developer Experience.
Flutter utilizes many strategies to incorporate their developers into their growth and development strategy. For example, they send quarterly surveys to compile common pain points, and direct users to additional resources and tools (their August 2021 Q2 Survey showed 92% of respondents were positively satisfied with Flutter). Flutter also launched DevTools, an interactive suite of performance and debugging tools that allow developers to interact directly with their IDE from Chrome. They also offer a package management system, Pub, which organizes Flutter team and community reviews into high quality libraries so developers can upload, browse, and use the packages.
React Native is a more mature SDK and has a considerably larger community following than Flutter. One way, however, they focus on the developer experience, is their getting started page, which provides developers a guided tour around the framework. React Native has a large number of accessible packages and plugins for developers since most can use JS libraries and React packages. React Native developers can choose from a significant number of stock JS tools to improve their workflow. Some of these include IDEs such as VSCode to lint packages like ESLint. In addition to standard React Developer Tools, React Native now has support for Flipper, an extensible mobile app debugger for React Native applications.
Differences in Developer Productivity
While there are many similarities between React Native and Flutter, there are some highlightable differences specifically in developer productivity.
Flutter uses Dart, also maintained by Google, as their language. This means the team can optimize the framework (Flutter) and the language (Dart) to help improve the developer experience. Dart has a c-style syntax that will feel familiar to developers with JS, C#, or Java experience. Dart is statically typed and has sound-null-safety. Dart code is non-nullable by default, which is beneficial as it warns of potential null-dereference errors before they occur. The language can also compile native machine code on both desktop and mobile devices, so there’s no need for a virtual machine in production applications. Finally, developers can use it to offload large computational tasks, such as JSON decoding or sorting.
React Native, on the other hand, uses JS as its preferred language. The structure of the React Native code strongly resembles that of the React code. It may be possible for developers to reuse logic from React projects in React Native projects. JS allows access to various projects and libraries but it does present some drawbacks. First, JS is a dynamic language. This means there’s no sound type system or null-safety present in the logic. Since JS can’t compile to native machine code, all code written as part of your React Native application needs to be compiled on the user’s device with a JS virtual machine. There is also a lack of strong types and analyzer warnings. Developers may find the need for additional tools such as Typescript or ESLint, which are not failsafe solutions.