Flutter vs Xamarin: cross-platform app development compared

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Over the past decade, the mobile industry has grown tremendously, especially in terms of cross-platform app development. According to Statista Reports, there were more than 2 billion users worldwide, and the number is estimated to rise to more than 5 billion by the end of 2022. Of these smartphones, about 100 percent work on three popular platforms: Android from Google. , iOS from Apple and Windows Mobile developed by Microsoft. For some time, app developers have relied on field-based tools to build native applications, which can only work in one place. For example, Kotlin and Java were widely used to develop Android mobile apps while iOS developers used the latest Objective-C and Swift, which you can learn from our comparison of the two languages.

Defects of Native Mobile App Development

The development of a standard mobile app was slow and expensive as businesses had to build a separate application for each platform and have different development teams with the capabilities of each tool kit. Today, we have various mobile development tools to help companies reduce development time, and repair costs, and reach more users. Cross-platform app development simply means building mobile applications that can operate in more than one location. There are several cross-platform frameworks available to developers today that include Intel XDK, Xamarin, Cordova, and Flutter among others. In this article, we have focused on both – Xamarin Flutterby- by comparing features, strengths, and barriers to help developers decide when to use one. You can also check out our comparison of Xamarin, React Native, and Ionic platforms.

Xamarin vs Flutter Frameworks Overview

Xamarin is undoubtedly one of the leading open-source development technologies developed by Microsoft. Uses C # language to create mobile applications for Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile. Xamarin allows developers to access native Android and iOS APIs and provides C # shared codebase and app testing on all devices via Xamarin Testing Cloud. Xamarin was developed back in 2011 by Mono developers who used CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) and Specific Language Specification also known as Microsoft. NET. Microsoft acquired Xamarin in 2016 and later made the Xamarin SDK an open-source platform, which became an integral part of the Xamarin Visual Studio IDE. To improve Xamarin’s full capabilities, developers also need some knowledge of iOS and Android other than C #.

Flutter is also an open-source and free cross-platform tool designed by Google to allow developers to build the best mobile apps for Android and iOS. The framework uses Google’s Dart programming language, as well as the bright C ++ engine. Like Xamarin, it provides a single codebase. The framework provides APIs and SDKs for 2D rendering, copying, touch, and drawing and enables the use of existing Swift, Objective C, and Java code. Comes with Machine Design Widgets, also a Google product.

Flutter vs Xamarin Comparison

Although Flutter is new to mobile development with its beta version launched in January 2018, the Flutter cross-platform app development framework has initiated some discussions across the entire mobile developer community. Compared to Xamarin, different experts have conflicting opinions on these two categories. David Ramel in Visual Studio Magazine notes that the comparisons date back to 2015 when Google first launched Flutter, but intensified in 2018, following its official release from MWC.

Currently, Xamarin is very popular among developers as 7.2 percent of all respondents to the Stack Overflow 2018 survey say they use Xamarin, and Microsoft claims to have 1.4 million Xamarin developers, while Flutter is not listed at all. The Flutter community is not big enough yet. However, some developers see Flutter as an alternative to Xamarin.

Below we will look at the features and main features of the two frameworks. Although the information in this article may be incomplete, it will provide you with a better environment for both parties.

Portability

Flutter is intended for Android and iOS upgrades, while Xamarin supports Android, iOS, and Windows Platforms (i.e. Windows 10 [UWP], Windows legacy [WPF] applications), and applications for -macOS. The larger ecosystem gives Xamarin an advantage over Flutter. The fact that Flutter apps are not compatible with Windows mobile platforms is not a big mistake as the latest Statista survey states that about 98.5 percent of smartphones today are running on Android or iOS. But Xamarin can be one thing when you want to upgrade Windows mobile applications.

Flutter is not compatible with 32-bit OS devices. So, for example, if you plan to cover older phones like the iPhone 5, Xamarin might be a better choice.

Programming Languages

Xamarin uses the famous C # and is widely used by developers. If you already have skills in C # and .NET, you can use Xamarin immediately. You can also reuse up to 96 percent of your C # code in Xamarin if you use Xamarin. Forms.

Flutter uses the new and infamous Dart language. However, if you are familiar with OOP languages ​​such as Java, JavaScript, and C ++, learning Dart will not be a problem as it uses the same method and paradigms.

Community Support

Xamarin has been around for a long time and has a large community of experienced supporters who are willing to share their knowledge with other developers. At Xamarin Forums, developers are committed to helping and sharing their code and information. The forum is also sponsored by Microsoft, which is a major component when it comes to solving common issues. Microsoft provides the most up-to-date documentation for all its Xamarin- and. NET-related products.

Although Flutter is backed by Google, it is relatively new and has no public support yet. The platform is also very small, with a beta version released in recent months, which means developers have not yet found the weaknesses and strengths of the framework.

If you are planning a long-term, complex project, you should go to Xamarin app development for its durability and problems already known. However, as the Flutter community grows, within a year it may grow enough to help solve many of the problems that arise.

Access to Native OS

The dart code in Flutter is customized using AoT (Ahead of Time) integration but still requires Dart VM (Real Machine). The reason for the AoT integration is that the iOS platform does not support JIT or powerful integration. Flutter also allows you to create custom plugins that support field-specific code.

Flutter can access all platform applications and APIs that include storage and sensors in packages. You can also use Flutter Libraries to use the platform channel used to call native services at Dart.

At Xamarin, the C # code is compiled into a machine code and packaged in .app. The mono code generator uses JIT integration in Xamarin. Android applications and AoT integration into iOS applications to integrate a central machine code (also known as a managed code) into a platform code.

Xamarin uses .NET APIs and domain-specific libraries using bonds to access native features.

UI Design

While Xamarin’s use of traditional UI components is a good thing, it comes at a cost, as the platforms are constantly being updated, and this may take a long time to adapt to new versions. This also makes Xamarin not only suitable for sharing sensible code but not suitable for reuse UI code. In addition, we recommend using traditional modules to handle complex images such as games and animation.

Flutter uses built-in widgets and does not use native UI components. Widgets are then expected to be more customizable in the field you created your UI. Currently, Flutter proposes a variety of layouts, basic widgets, and forums for graphics and support for 2D APIs, touch, effects, animation, and other features. While the Flutter UI features are still being developed, they have the potential to transform into a powerful UI building environment. Additionally, Flutter comes with Material Design and Cupertino components.

Developer Experience

The hot reload feature in Flutter helps developers UI, test, and add different features and detect and fix bugs quickly without losing status to emulators. Developers can also access native features such as the External SDKs and Libraries and reuse the existing native code (Swift, Objective C, Java, and Kotlin).

One of the benefits of Xamarin is that it allows developers to test applications across all devices through Microsoft Xamarin Cloud. However, you must pay a registration fee to access this feature. Xamarin also offers a live reload feature, equivalent to a hot reload on Flutter, which helps developers configure XAML and see the “live” effect without merging or uninstalling the app.

One of the problems with Xamarin is integration with 3rd party Libraries, which seems to be better used on Flutter.

Developer Skills

Xamarin allows you to share about 96 percent of the C # code, but if you choose the full traditional information, you should use some platform code. Therefore, Xamarin shines when developers have C # knowledge and can deal with native development platforms such as Java, Kotlin, Swift, and Objective-C.

To upgrade apps to Flutter you need to know Dart, which may take some time to learn, but if you are familiar with Java and C ++, this should not be a problem. If you are a beginner in mobile app development and do not have the experience to develop an Android or iOS app, you need to learn Dart to make things happen.

Binary and APK size

According to last year’s test by Korhan Bicarn, a developer at Capital One, the basic application for Flutter had a binary size of 40.2 MB while the equivalent of Xamarin was 25.1 MB. You can see more detailed results here. Since then, Google has made an effort to reduce the APK size of the basic Flutter application to 4.28 MB while Xamarin’s remained at about 7 MB.

Memory, CPU, and GPU usage

Consistent with the same comparison, launching the app address area and dynamic connections took 1.05s on Flutter. The app was launched at about 220 ms and had a speed of 58 FPS. At Xamarin, the implementation of the app address space and the dynamic link took 3.2s. The app was launched at about 345 ms at a speed of 53 FPS. You can also learn more about the effectiveness of Xamarin app development in our dedicated article.

Conclusion

Although developers generally support the launch of Flutter, it does not mean that Xamarin is made out of date. It makes sense to consider Flutter if you are new to cross-platform app development as this platform may be hot soon.

However, Xamarin is currently mature in many ways, including community, tool set, and stability. In general, for complex and long-term projects we would recommend sticking to Xamarin, especially if you have a team of C # and .NET developers and are in Microsoft’s ecosystem.

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