How Flutter Is Solving Cross-Platform App Development Challenges

November 26, 2020

Most popular

Flutter is a free Software Development Kit that allows taking your cross-platform app to an entirely new level. It solves significant app development challenges and makes the decision between native and cross-platform extremely easy. Discover what’s so revolutionary about Flutter!

 

Native vs Cross-Platform Development

When you decide to create a mobile app to build an innovative brand and reach potential customers, you have a big decision to make: whether to go native or cross-platform. If your product doesn’t have a specific target group that uses only Android or iOS, you certainly want to reach people on both platforms

It’s important to know that both native and cross-platform methods have their challenges. In the case of native development, they are connected to slower development, higher cost, difficult project management, or problems with designing two identical interfaces with various programming languages. What about cross-platform approach?

 

Cross-platform Development: Challenges

If you choose cross-platform app development, one team develops one code base and then adapts it to each platform. This approach solves the problem related to appearing on the market quickly and having limited resources. It also ensures easier and more cost-effective post-release maintenance. Although it also has some cons. 

Many business owners are concerned about cross-platform app’s performance. If the code has to go through additional layers, the performance is worse. Will a user notice the gap? Another considerable worry relates to designing the app to look like a native one. You certainly don’t want a user to notice the difference.

Native development means excellent performance, no gaps, beautiful User Interface correctly adjusted to the platform, but no time- and cost-efficiency and problems with managing two separate teams. Cross-platform development, on the other hand, creates challenges connected to performance and design. In that case, it seems that you need to sacrifice something. Business owners often struggle between these two options. Frequently, the cost and time barriers make them choose cross-platform approach and worry about the perfect quality. 

However, it seems that the struggle is no longer accurate because Flutter solves all of these problems.

 

Flutter Seriously Improves Performance

Flutter is a free and open-source mobile SDK created by Google. It offers framework, tools and widgets needed to develop a native-like cross-platform app for Android and iOS.

With Flutter the performance of your cross-platform app is taken to an entirely new level. Although, to understand why, you first need to know a little bit about how cross-platform frameworks work.

Cross-platform apps are mostly built with web technologies, like JavaScript, HTML, CSS. To access some parts of the native code, languages like JavaScript need to go through a “bridge”. In the case of popular cross-platform frameworks like React Native, JavaScript needs to go through a “bridge” to access native device’s services and hardware, but also the platform widgets. And widgets are accessed during animations, transitions, swiping. It means: they’re accessed a lot. In order to create a performant React Native app, bridge passes have to be reduced to a minimum. That often is a struggle. And Flutter gives the solution to this problem.

Flutter works similar to React Native. Although to avoid performance problems caused by the need to use the JavaScript bridges, Flutter uses a compiled programming language named Dart. Dart is compiled ahead-of-time into native code. It means that the code is converted already during the building process. Thanks to that solution, Flutter communicates with the platform without the bridge. It’s the only mobile SDK that provides that kind of solution. It allows to avoid performance gap and improves startup times. Dart also allows accessing platform services and hardware through plugins.

 

Flutter Apps Have Excellent Design

In the app, widgets are responsible for its look and feel. And Flutter entirely changed the implementation of widgets by providing its own ones instead of using the platform ones. It improved the look and feel and made it easy to create a customized design that fits your brand’s image. What’s more, widgets make performance even better. 

One code makes your app look the same on different platforms and various system versions (although, if you want to differentiate it, it’s possible). That reduces the time spent for testing the app on older OS’s.

Flutter also improved the app’s layout. Traditionally, layout determines the size and position of widgets. Using a set of rules developers can make a widget look exactly how we want it. These rules interact with each other, which makes the layout slower. Flutter turned it all upside down. Almost everything is turned into a widget, and each one specifies its own layout model. Centering, padding, themes, navigation – all these things are represented by widgets that have their own simple specified layout model. We don’t need to apply a set of layout rules to a widget anymore. Once again, that makes our app even faster. However, it results in the app’s minimum size of 4.7 MB (for Android). 

 

Is Flutter the Perfect Cross-platform App Development Framework?

Flutter makes problems with cross-platform app’s performance and design disappear. Simultaneously, the app is developed faster than a native one, and the costs are lower. Flutter apps make it easy to create customized User Interface and they look the same even on older OS versions. The SDK also allows for simpler and faster testing. With hot reload developers can make a change to the code and see it in the app within a second. That option makes work a lot easier also for designers. And to be even better, we have only one codebase which already means less testing. 

It seems that there are only two disadvantages to Flutter. One is that moving widgets to the app makes its size bigger (as we said, the minimum size is 4.7 MB). In our opinion, it’s worth it. The other is the fact that developers need to know the Dart programming language to create a Flutter app. However, this advantage is easy to overcome because there are more and more Flutter app development companies that are specialists in that field. 

At Appstronauts, we’ve mastered Dart, and we simply love developing Flutter apps. If you’re a business owner or a product owner and you’re still not quite sure which way to choose, drop us a message at hello@appstronauts.co and share your concerns. We’ll be glad to help you decide between native and cross-platform app development, as well as choosing the perfect technology stack for your project.

You may also like..