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Flutter vs. Xamarin - What’s the difference?

algoworks profile image Algoworks ・3 min read

Xamarin, a C# based open-source mobile platform, is used by developers for creating seamless cross-platform mobile applications for macO, Android, tvOS, watchOS, and iOS. Developers can share code across multiple platforms like macOS and Windows. Xamarin was found by a team of engineers that developed Mono in the year 2011, which was later acquired by Microsoft in the year 2016.

On the other hand, Flutter, launched by Google, is also an open-source and cross-platform framework for mobile application development. Apps developed using Flutter are written using the Dart language. Its initial release was in the year 2017 and since then its popularity among developers has been growing at a constant rate year by year.

Regardless of both Xamarin and Flutter being cross-platform mobile application development frameworks, there exists a difference between them in a certain number of factors, that are stated below -

TECHNICAL ARCHITECTURE

Xamarin app development companies make use of the Mono execution environment for creating apps. On the Android platform, Xamarin runs simultaneously with Android Runtime on Linux and on iOS it runs together with C-runtime and Unix kernel.

Flutter, that runs on the Dart framework, uses the Skia C++ engine. It has a majority of its components inbuilt due to which its size is relatively bigger. Dart comes with frameworks like Material Design and Cupertino, which provides all the required components for designing mobile apps.

PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE

C# is the programming language that is used for writing cross-platform applications on the Xamarin platform. This makes it easier for developers who are familiar with the C language, to easily accustom themselves to developing apps using Xamarin.

Flutter requires developers to know the not-so-popular programming language called Dart. Dart was introduced by Google in the year 2011. Developers who have knowledge of object-oriented concepts of Javascript will find it easier to understand the Dart language.

APP SIZE

In Spite of the multi-platform support and the small binary size, Xamarin apps upon being finally built result in bigger app size. Moreover, there exists a lack of optimization of performance and code, before these apps are made available on app stores.

Flutter apps are on the heavier side, due to the bigger size of the binaries. This is because of the core engine of Flutter that takes up to 2.7 MB+, along with the app code and framework, all of which make Flutter apps a bit heavier as compared to apps built on other platforms.

DEVOPS SUPPORT

Though the automation process in Xamarin heavily relies on configuring with Visual Studio, the ‘appcenter-cli’, a CLI interface for App Center is used for configuring command line builds. Xamarin can avail of the services provided by CI/CD tools like TeamCity, App Center or Jenkins.

On the other hand, Flutter’s CI/CD solution Codemagic allows developers to set up their CI/CD with lesser configuration. This makes building apps with Flutter a seamless process. Apart from Codemagic, other cloud-based services can also be used for CI/CD purposes during the Flutter app building process.

API AOMPONENT AND UI DEVELOPMENT

Xamarin has detailed documentation of its development API. The multiple platforms on which Xamarin runs like Android, iOS, Forms, etc. have their own set of UI tools and these can be used by developers in the process of Xamarin app development. Individual components like databases, layouts, buttons, pop-ups, etc. are also documented by Xamarin.

The need to use third-party libraries and components gets eliminated when the Flutter framework is used, due to the fact that UI components like navigation, device API access, libraries, testing, and useful management are provided by Flutter itself. This provides developers with all the tools they need for building Flutter based apps.

Xamarin and Flutter are two leading contenders in the field of cross-platform mobile application development frameworks. The use of either of these frameworks largely depends upon the kind of project that is chosen by the mobile application development company.

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