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How Flutter led me to React Native — and vice-versa

The experience of small teams with both tools and the decisions we made aiming for better user experience in 2017 and 2020.

What I’ve looked (and found) in 2017

I needed tools that were easy to learn, fun, productive. Besides that, this tool needed to offer me the ability to develop applications for both Android and iOS. Due to that, I focused my research on cross-platform solutions.

Try out Flutter

If you don’t know what the framework is yet or haven’t used it, you should consider that option. Flutter is a framework that provides the ability to use the dart language to develop applications to several platforms, including Android and iOS, using the same code base. Flutter uses Skia, a 2D graphic engine that, in short, lays out a canvas to be drawn by the user. The framework is built under this structure and offers total control of the pixels that are shown on screen.

Images of the bus app

How Flutter showed that React Native was a viable option

I used this app to show, during an interview, that cross-platform solutions were, in fact, possible. And that was the problem with Flutter at that time: building solutions using the framework was possible, but not viable. Flutter’s team did not recommend its use in production due to the constant code evolution and the considerable amount of bugs it still had.

And that’s where React Native comes in

We didn’t have to give up a lot for having the stability and extensive support to maps we needed: React Native already was, at that time, an extremely powerful tool that allowed it’s users to build cross-platform applications using javascript, a language known by basically everyone in the programming world. Besides that, the syntax used to build user interfaces in React, jsx, is very similar to HTML, which sped up my learning curve.

Images of the Campus Seguro (Safe Campus) app, developed in Smart Metropolis.

Fast-forward to 2020

Why Flutter in 2020

Flutter evolved in many aspects since the first time I used it. The extensive documentation, video lessons made by its developers, more significant engagement of the community in developing libraries for it: all of that made Flutter way more attractive than it once was. Besides that, during this time, several stable releases were available, and they’ve added map support 🎉.

Prototype developed with Flutter

RN vs. Flutter? Not quite

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