Mobile app development has been booming as an industry for the past few decades. More and more businesses are expanding into the mobile realm to serve a globally growing audience that appears to be glued to their smartphones.
It should be no surprise then that business and employment opportunities are skyrocketing within the mobile sector. We are witnessing ever-growing waves of fresh talent joining the workforce from across the world year after year. This surge in opportunities and available talent has led to massive innovation within not just the mobile apps that are being created but also the industry and tools used to create these apps.
Today, I would like to compare two of the most popular app development systems: Flutter & Xamarin, to find out which is better for new and upcoming mobile app developers. First of all, it’s worth noting that both of these are cross-platform app development frameworks. The reason why cross-platform development is important in this context is that we cannot expect new developers to be proficient with both native android and iOS development. Beyond that, cross-platform development seems to be the future of app development since it allows companies to develop for different platforms using a single codebase.
Before we list down the critical differences between Flutter and Xamarin that new developers are likely to face, let’s try understanding these in a bit more detail.
What is Xamarin?
Xamarin, originally founded in 2011, was the company that developed Mono, an open-source development network based on the .NET framework. Later, Microsoft acquired the company, and Xamarin became a part of the Microsoft ecosystem. Xamarian utilizes only a single language, C#, to build apps for multiple platforms. Xamarian, unlike web or hybrid apps, compiles the code natively, meaning there are no wrappers or bridges around the built app. This makes Xamarin apps not just feel native but also deliver greater performance.
The biggest advantage to Xamarin is that it uses #C, which is incredibly popular among mobile app development companies USA and worldwide. Using C# along with the .NET framework to develop cross-platform apps allows devs to share code across platforms, which saves valuable time (sharing code gets even better with Xamarin.Forms where almost all of the app’s code is shared across platforms). Since a single unified tech stack is at work, updates, maintenance, and scalability become significantly easier with Xamarin. Apps built with Xamarin offer a near-native experience and can access fully native and hardware capabilities using extra plugins and APIs. And lastly, Xamarin is backed up by Microsoft, meaning it is here to stay and will continue to receive excellent support and development in the future.
What is Flutter?
To put it in Google’s terms: Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase.
It’s another open-source, cross-platform framework for building apps. Flutter was launched in 2017 by Google and has seen it growing in popularity. It’s a secure, fast, and reliable development framework for building apps for all kinds of platforms. Flutter is based on a programming language called Dart, and while not very popular, Dart is fairly easy to learn with easy-to-follow documentation available online. What makes Flutter special is that it uses widgets to build structural elements of the app, which together can build the entire application. In other words, ‘In flutter, everything is a widget.’
Comparing Flutter and Xamarin for beginners
Both frameworks come with their unique advantages and disadvantages. But what is it that makes one better for new developers compared to the other? Let’s compare:
- Language: Comparing the languages they use is a good place to start. Xamarin, as mentioned, uses C#, and Flutter uses Dart. C# is an incredibly popular language widely used within the Microsoft development community. It is also a popular choice for web development, meaning developers transitioning from web to mobile will have a far easier time with Xamarin. Dart, on the other hand, is barely used by developers. It supports object-oriented programming and is easier for Java developers. While not popular, Dart is growing its adoption as Flutter continues to get popular and is also very easy to learn.
- Learning Curve: One of the most decisive factors for new developers while picking any platform is the learning curve. Xamarin is deeply connected with Visual Studio, meaning those uninitiated with VS code and the Microsoft ecosystem will have a tough time getting started. However, Microsoft provides a ton of learning material for a smoother onboarding of new developers. On the other hand, Flutter is also beginner-friendly. Documentation and onboarding with Flutter are significantly easier, with developers only requiring basic app development knowledge to get going.
- Community Support: A strong community of practicing developers helps newcomers to exchange knowledge and resources, allowing them to learn much quicker. Xamarin, easily being among the oldest cross-platform app development frameworks, has a giant community of developers. They have their community forums where users discuss problems and potential solutions, and they even host various events and conferences regularly. On the other hand, Flutter has significantly fewer community resources for mobile app developers but boasts a rapidly growing community backed by Google.
- Price of development: This might come as a surprise, but the price of the framework can make a big difference towards its beginner-friendliness. By definition, most new developers are inexperienced and are less likely to find bigger projects with massive budgets. Although Xamarin is open source and free, the framework requires a hefty license fee for Visual studio if one wants to use it for professional or enterprise needs. Development with Flutter is much cheaper compared to Xamarin.
Both Xamarin and Flutter bring to the table their own unique perks and drawbacks. In my personal opinion, Flutter seems like a slightly better option for upcoming developers, given its simplicity and low cost. However, for anyone who has some experience with C# and Microsoft’s ecosystem, the answer could just as easily be Xamarin.
Regardless of what framework you choose, one thing is for sure that mobile app development will continue to remain a growing sector, producing fresh talent and innovations as time goes on. For companies that want to penetrate the mobile market but lack the technical expertise to do so, Goodfirms has curated a list of top mobile app development companies that businesses can outsource their development projects to.
If you are a budding developer, Goodfirms.co has some exciting development guides, resources, and forums to help with your development journey.