Cross-platform development is developing software products as well as services for several software environments or platforms. Developers and engineers utilize different methodologies to accommodate various environments of operating systems for a single app or product.

The idea is that a software app should work well not just in one digital habitat. This is typically sought after to sell software for more than one operating system. With mobile devices development, as well as other kinds of platforms and proliferation of other open source technologies such as Linux, more cross-platform developments have emerged.

Fundamental Strategies in Cross-Platform Development

The development includes compiling various versions of the same program for different operating systems, or in some instances, the usage of sub-tree files to fit a product to various operating systems. Another key approach is to create the program abstract at particular levels to accommodate various software environments. This kind of software could be considered as ‘platform agnostic’ in that it does not support or value one platform over the other.

Furthermore, developers could make use of the APIs, or application programming interfaces to adjust one software to a certain platform. The development of cross-platform in general could make for a less efficient program. For instance, it could require redundant file storage folders or processes for different systems that it’s supposed to support.

Additionally, it could also require a program to be ‘dumbed down’, to accommodate software environments that are less sophisticated. Nonetheless, in most instances, software makers figured that cross-platform development limitations are worth dealing with to provide a wider set of users for an app or product.

Advantages of Cross-Platform Development

1. Cost-efficient: For organizations all over the world, the process turned out to be economical. Companies now could only invest once to get their application developed. This is great compared to what was practiced in the past when one has to spend plenty of resources for frequent creation of new technologies and tools. Organizations do not have to separately develop new apps for every platform.
2. Plug-Ins that are Easy to Access: One of the best traits of development is that it gives easy access to plug-ins that streamlines the entire process of development.
3. Reusable Codes use: Codes could be used repeatedly. Instead of designing new codes for each developed platform, programmers could reuse the same code for all platforms available. Additionally, this saves resources and time since it eliminates developing the same job repeatedly. The reuse of code has also been used by software developers and every attested to the advantages of code reuse in developing a software solution.
4. Quick development: Because code is only designed once, other mobile developers could use it as well in translating code to various native codes for a particular platform. When only one script is provided, it’s faster to develop an app. A product is quickly designed, providing it a chance to get to the market sooner. It’s preferable to save time and establish new cross platforms instead of developing several codes for platforms.
5. Consistency: For cross-platform development for any software or application ascertains that the entire look can be maintained across various platforms. It seems inefficient and hard to use various methods to access the same application across numerous mobile devices. Rather, customers use the same application on different devices.
6. Ideal for prototyping: The crafting of an entirely functional prototype is a wonderful technique for an organization that wants to see and put their idea in the market. A mobile app developer that uses cross-platform development works hard to make sure that the product is built fast, for faster feedback from consumers as well. This helps secure a spot in the market for a product.

React Native and Flutter for Cross-Platform Development

React Native is by Facebook while Flutter is by Google. These are two hot cross-platform application development technologies that have created a buzz nowadays. A React Native development company needs solutions and innovations to stay competitive in the market.

Because of the ever-growing popularity of mobile apps these days, almost every organization requires a mobile application or apps to remain on the competitive edge in the marketplace. Moreover, organizations are on the lookout for the option of creating mobile apps, most particularly for iOS and Android faster and lesser resources.

Apple and Google obviously have provided native technologies and tools for building applications. Developers of iOS applications could build apps with Swift and Xcode. Android developers, on the other hand, make use of Android Studio as well as Kotlin/Java. Nonetheless, this requires learning two entirely different technology sets for engineers. Companies have started the adoption of cross-platform solutions than native ones so that they could build applications for both mobile operating systems faster with only one language. Development using React combines native development, along with JavaScript’s best-in-class library to build UIs. Today, React Native could be used a little or a lot in an existing iOS and Android projects or could create an entirely new application from scratch.

What is React Native?

React Native, a project internally started by Facebook, was made open-source in 2015. Already, it has matured as a tool with a huge community. It’s the ideal solution to considerably save money, time and staff resources. The progressive technology provides both modern and traditional methods of developing hybrid mobile apps.

For years, React Native development and the framework was used in world-famous applications, including Instagram, Skype, Walmart, Airbnb, Tesla, Pulse and many more. Big tech giants are using React Native. It brings portability and efficiency of web development to smartphones.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is an open-source mobile User Interface framework by Google. Because it’s open-source, then it’s free. Its expressive and fast way makes it possible for developers to create native applications on Android and iOS as well. It was released in May of 2017, using C++, Dar, C, and the Skia Graphics Engine as well.

It works easily with existing code. It’s the sole framework with a mobile software development kit that provides reactive styles without the use of any bridge of JavaScript. Free software development was launched as a source developer for creating and exploring apps that are powerful. It’s the reason for interfaces and applications made with flutter. It builds from one codebase, directly compiles to the native arm code, access platform services, and APIs and use the GPU.

Flutter vs. React Native

Flutter

Flutter allows cross-platform application development. It provides an easy way for developers to build and deploy natively-compiled, visually attractive apps for mobile, like Android and iOS, desktop and web, all using a single codebase. Using Flutter for developing desktop apps, still, the APIS is in the development stage. Google plans and is working to extend it to support desktop as the target environment. This enables application developers to build apps for Linux, Windows, and macOS.

Flutter Maturity

Since December 2018, Flutter has been stable and ready for production and in February 2019, Flutter 1.2 was released, followed by Flutter 1.5 in May 2019. Dart 2.3 was released and Flutter 1.7 was released in July of the same year. Another release of the same year was Flutter 1.9. Today, Flutter is one of the top 20 active software GitHub repositories, which ranked 16th place on December 11 of last year. This proves that the developer community makes use of it and continues to contribute to further enhancement.

It’s an emerging technology, to sum up. Nonetheless, given its pace of enhancements, as well as its explosive popularity, the technology is impressively mature and stable for its age. And, given the development rate, it’s expected that Flutter for Web would be stable within a 12-month time frame.

Popular apps made with Flutter

1. Xianyu by Alibaba ,which is one of the largest e-commerce organizations in the world these days.
2. Google Ads app on Google Play and the App Store.
3. Hamilton App, the official application for the Broadway Musical.
4. JD Finance application, a leading tech establishment.
5. Abbey Road Studios’ Topline.
6. Reflectly on Google Play and on the App Store.

Pros of Flutter

1. Hot reload for fast coding. Offers faster and more dynamic app development..
2. A single codebase for two platforms. Writing only one codebase for both iOS and Android.
3. Up to fifty percent less testing. The QA process is much faster.
4. Lovable designs. It does not rely on native system components but it rather has its own custom widgets managed and rendered by the graphics engine.
5. Great for Minimum Viable Product or MVP. It’s the perfect option, most particularly when time is short.
6. Faster applications. Smooth and fast performance, with no cutting or hanging while scrolling.
7. The same UI app even on older devices. New apps even look the same on older Android or iOS systems.

Flutter Cons

1. Developer community size. The community needs time to educate its audience for more experience.
2. Support and libraries. They’re impressive but not as rich as native development.
3. Continuous integration support. It lacks support for CI platforms, such as Jenkins or Travis.
4. Risk of the platform. While it’s open-source, should Google pull its support for it, it would mean disaster.
5. Size of the app. The apps are bigger compared to native ones.

React Native

The framework is effective for:

  • Building mobile applications using JavaScript.
  • Development of cross-platform.
  • Using the same design as React.
  • Developing apps for iOS and Android with a single codebase.
  • Applications that are created with React Native are not mobile web applications. Meaning that rather than building in Kotlin, Swift or Java, you will be putting together the same building blocks, with React and JavaScript. React Native makes use of components analogous to Flutter widgets. When developing desktop and web apps with React Native, the best thing to do is to use external libraries.

    How mature is React?

    Facebook conceived it in 2013 and began as an internal project of Facebook. In January 2015, React Native 1 Preview was released. March of 2015, during the F8 Conference, was the official launch of React Native. It was declared by Facebook as open for availability and use on Github. Furthermore, Facebook is working on some optional components and features as well, as separate repositories.

    Popular apps made with React Native

    1. FB Ads Manager: It’s the first full React native as well as a cross-platform application built by Facebook.
    2. AirBnB: Another popular application built with the framework. There are sixty members working on React daily.
    3. Bloomberg: Provides business and finance news to users worldwide.
    4. Gyroscope: Integrates with HealthKit, enabling users to see one’s complete life story.
    5. Myntra: Exemplifies how a mobile online shopping portal should be.
    6. UberEats: Dashboard for restaurants with functions.

    React Pros

    1. Hot Reload. Speeds up development, enabling developers to inject new code to a running app directly.
    2. Single codebase, two mobile platforms. Powers two applications, covering iOS and Android.
    3. Uses the popular JavaScript that a lot of developers know very well.
    4. Developer’s freedom of choice. It enables developers to create cross-platform applications, no more, no less.
    5. Maturity. Been around five years, thus the FB team has had plenty of time stabilizing the API.
    6. Up to fifty-percent less testing. This reduces the demand on the QA team. It looks similar to Flutter application development.
    7. Easy to learn. It’s easy to get to work with no need to learn new libraries. The same tools, patterns, and libraries could be used.

    React Cons

    1.Not really Native: Neither the UI experience nor the performance would be the same as in native applications. Still, it’s easier to achieve a ‘native’ feeling.
    2. Lesser out-of-the-box components: It supports basic components out-of-the-box only. Most of them are adaptive to an out-of-the-box platform, such as loading indicator, button, and slider.
    3. The developer’s freedom of choice: It is both a curse and a blessing. Once a developer has built a new project, he has to decide on the navigation package and global state management standard to use.
    4. Many abandoned packages: It boasts a great deal of libraries. However, most of them are of low quality or have been altogether abandoned.
    5. Fragile User Interface: After every OS user interface update, app components would be upgraded instantly as well. This could break the UI of the application.
    6. Apps are bigger than native: It should run on JavaScript code and Android doesn’t have this by default, which means apps should include a JavaScript-code support library, which results in bigger apps.

    Progress of Flutter So Far

    Since its release, the framework continues to come up with new versions, including innovative approaches and more features regularly. Developers reckon that while the platform for mobile apps development is new to cross-platform development, it’s easy to learn and comes in handy. Furthermore, it’s a promising platform that has attracted the attention of huge firms with mobile applications. Also, its simplicity and speed is robust, in contrast to native apps.

    It seems to continuously appear as the ideal cross-platform framework with features that are more advanced. Google launched the beta version in 2019, with features that are full-fledged. The 1.9 version included some out-of-the-box features, namely Firefox Extension, Material Widgets, Toggle buttons, MacOS Catalina, default language option, extensive language support and so forth. Additionally, with the 1.9 version, Google has released Dar 2.5, along with the elements which were lacking in the previous release.

    The latest Flutter 1.12 released in December 2019 was considered the craziest moment for lovers of the platform. It’s because the version involves superior improvements and features. Some of them include the following:

  • AndroidX
  • iOS dark module unable
  • Google fonts support
  • Support for add-to-app
  • Adobe XD included
  • Supernova free
  • MacOS Support Alpha version
  • Beta web support
  • Dart 2.7 with more enhancements
  • Flutter Key Factors

    The new versions would continue coming up with various, more advanced features. A lot of other features nonetheless are built-in since its first release, which is unforgettable. Furthermore, they played major roles in taking the platform to the next level, making it truly popular for cross-platform mobile app and progressive web app development as well.

    Progress of React Native So Far

    2019 was a good year for React Native. In the middle of the year, with the version 0.60 release, came a bunch of cool new tools and changes, including:

  • Android X
  • More informative start screen
  • Helper got the long-awaited update
  • Main packages moved to separate repositories
  • Cocoa pods became part of React Native iOS
  • Auto-linking of native modules
  • The support for Android X was not the sole change for the Android roadmap. Facebook also introduced a JavaScript engine, optimized specially for React Native, Hermes.

    React Native Key Factors

    React Native is here to stay. As an enormously powerful tool, developers believe that the platform would be used for years and years. It’s a wonderful framework for everything fast and simple, such as apps with lotteries, lists and more. With a growing community, everything that may be holding it down has a high chance of changing. Particularly as the component collection grows, it’s extremely likely that more advanced functions would be catered to and introduced.

    Flutter In 2020

    Flutter is entirely newly designed, enabling app developers . to build apps that are high-performance within a short amount of time, avoiding a lot of issues. Furthermore, it provides an excellent development platform that’s very much appreciated by developers. These days, experienced developers opt for Flutter to seamlessly create future projects.

    Flutter is getting attention from more and more companies. There’s a monthly improvement in its software development kit as Google continues refining its tool. Moreover, the community is enthusiastic and helpful at all times. It is expected that Flutter would enable creating not just mobile apps but web and desktop apps as well. Given the leading companies such as Alibaba using it, the future looks bright for the toolkit.

    The React Native 2020

    Presently, there’s no other framework that could save both time and resources, while providing state-of-the-art performance as well as maintainability. Thus, React Native is the platform of choice for companies. Developers experience learning once, write anywhere easily and maintain the applications based on JavaScript. The cool thing regarding this combination is that the majority of software developers need to know only one software stack, which is JavaScript-React. The framework gets better every year. There are a lot of knowledgeable and skilled developers working on the environment, so the outlook truly looks bright.

    React Native gets better from year to year. With skilled and knowledgeable developers working on the React Native environment, the future certainly looks bright.

    Facebook currently is focusing on its big-scale re-architecture. Furthermore, the team is doing its utmost best to improve support for React Native users and the bigger community. Thanks to this, the community now could easily suggest changes to the core functionalities of the framework, via the RFC process, which makes use of a dedicated GitHub repo.

    The cross-platform nature of both minimize the time to market. Moreover, third-party libraries as well as the components that are ready to use make it more efficient in building an application. Some other points should also be considered, such as the ecosystem. One of the most used and popular languages is JavaScript.

    On a project just recently, the decision to go for React Native instead of native development was mainly due to the fact that developers want to share all the available services and data logic, which already are present in JavaScript. Both React Native and Flutter are great tools when it comes to developing cross-platform solutions. Either would deliver an app that’s of high quality.

    This year, both Flutter and React natives have come a long way since their launch. With Google propelling Flutter forward and Facebook, the power behind React Native, the platforms have a robust workforce behind them. There are considerable successful enterprise-level apps that are built on these platforms.

    There is a myriad of factors to be taken into consideration. These factors could include the range from performance to interface, to development, support, and testing before making a choice. Well-informed decisions on which platform to use also goes hand-in-hand with the specific application one has in mind.

    Author Bio:
    Olivia Diaz is working at eTatvaSoft, an Enterprise level Web & Mobile Application Development Company. Being a tech geek, she keeps a close watch over the industry focusing on the latest technology news. and gadgets. Follow me on twitter.