Flutter vs Ionic: Which One Should You Choose?

Posted by Kshitij · 17 Nov, 2022 · 8 Min read
Flutter vs Ionic: Which One Should You Choose?

Are you building a mobile application and stuck with choosing the right framework? Hybrid mobile apps are top-rated right now because you can code once and use it everywhere, right?

As product creators, we understand the difficulty in choosing the right technology stack because there are always pros and cons. In our experience, we learned that no single platform is suitable for every need. It comes down to what we want to achieve with mobile app development and how the technology stack will help us reach our goal with minimal difficulty.

So, we have decided to share our views on Flutter vs Ionic to help you choose the best framework for your project. Understanding the working details of the platforms is crucial before deciding which one to use. Knowing the similarities and differences between Ionic and Flutter will help you make a better decision.

Flutter and Ionic – The Basics

Flutter

Flutter is brought to you by Google, allowing you to build apps in Dart. It uses a tree-based widget layout originally meant for creating Android and iOS application packages. The Flutter framework also supports Linux, Windows, macOS, Fuchsia operating systems, and web targets.

One of the critical differentiators that encourage developers to use it to buildFlutter apps is that it doesn't use web-based or platform-based UI elements. It has an inbuilt and extensive UI toolkit that renders graphics using Skia, a cross-platform graphics library.

Also, Read: Flutter lets you build cross platform apps - But What About ‘Design’?

Flutter Pros

  • Hot-reloading to reflect state changes without losing the state of the application;
  • Rich widgets following Material Design (Android) and Cupertino (iOS);
  • Easy and seamless integration with Java for Android and objective C for iOS;
  • Quick iteration cycles for faster testing for a single codebase;
  • Code sharing across multiple platforms is made easy and ideal for MVP development.

Also, Read: State Management in Flutter

Flutter Cons

  • Tools and plugins are not vast;
  • Slow rendering of animation and vendor graphics;
  • Operating platform unsuitable for Android Auto, CarPlay, tvOS, or watchOS;
  • Standard release processes must be followed to pass updates to applications.

Ionic

Ionic is the brainchild of Ben Sperry and Max Lynch. Initially, it worked on Apache Cordova, but now, Capacitor.js serves as the foundation layer.

Ionic supports complete web-based development with its web component-based UI elements rendered using a webview compartment. Front-end libraries such as React, Angular, Vue.js, and Stencil can be used. It supports iOS, Android, and web targets.

Ionic Pros

  • Best platform-independent framework;
  • Uses Capacitor to access native API and native SDK easily on each platform;
  • Minimizes code rewriters with familiar javascript framework coding;
  • Highly scalable.

Ionic Cons

  • Developers need to create specific features for plugin dependency;
  • No hot reloading and refreshes the whole app in case of state changes;
  • Security threats are more;
  • Web View rendering slows down the performance of heavy applications.

Also, Read: Integrating third-party native SDKs in Flutter

Flutter vs Ionic Which Is Better?

We have established the basics. Let's delve deeper into both frameworks and compare both based on several important factors.

1. Popularity

While comparing Flutter vs Ionic, it is natural to consider popularity because we always want to use the latest and trending software and development applications. Both Flutter and Ionic are popular among developers in their ways.

As Flutter was launched in 2017, it is not heavily adopted by web developers. However, from 2019 Flutter's popularity increased to 42% and beyond.

Ionic was launched in 2013 by Drifty Co. The open-source UI rose in popularity thanks to its open-source-based UI toolkit. The usage of standard web technologies also led to its increasing adoption. 82% of developers are happily using Capacitor.js APIs. About 5 million developers have built 5 million apps using Ionic.

Also, Read: Flutter for Web: How Flutter Web Works?

2. Architecture

The right architecture for the project not only simplifies the overall development process but also makes it possible to provide support and future updates.

Flutter has a hierarchical layered architecture. The functionality begins with the top-level root, which is platform-specific widgets. The platform layers interact by rending layers. API calls are transferred to the foundation by Scaffold, which heavily uses C and C++ engines. Flutter BLoc architecture has a separate presentation layer and business logic layer.

Ionic uses a Model View controller based on Angular JS MVC. Multiple developers can work on the same app simultaneously, decreasing the time to market. One can easily create multiple views, and recurrent iterations don't affect the application's performance.

3. Performance

Flutter vs Ionic performance is crucial. You need to create better-performing apps.

Flutter beats Ionic when it comes to the performance of complex applications. The native modules are available as native components, eliminating the need for any communication bridge on the Flutter platform. The Skia graphic library redraws the UI every time for any application change. According to performance tests, the Hello World app rendered frames in just 16 ms, and the performance peaked at 60 FPS.

The Ionic framework takes 1.8 seconds to complete interaction. The latest version is twice as fast as the older one. It is a non-native framework but performs well with pre-rendering, hardware-accelerated changes, and touch-optimized gestures.

Regarding Flutter vs Ionic speed, Flutter performs better because it is not web-based.

4. Modularity

Modularity in an app development framework is crucial to expedite development time, as multiple developers with different skill sets can work concurrently.

With its hierarchical architecture, Flutter provides better accessibility to the project modules. You can easily bundle the project into multiple sub-packages. Also, build multiple modules into the codebase with ease.

Ionic uses NgModule class by Angular to create multiple modules. There is usually one root module used for bootstrapping. Add feature modules to the functionality.

5. Code Maintainability

Maintaining application code is crucial to ensure the continuity of app services to various customers.

The Flutter code maintainability is simple and elegant. Developers can quickly identify issues, use external tools, and support third-party libraries. Hot reloading ensures that problems are resolved immediately. It also makes it possible to release product updates faster.

The Ionic code maintainability is challenging compared to Flutter. Code rewriting is required because this framework lacks backward compatibility.

Also, Read: Top 21 Flutter App Development Tools

6. Complex App Building

The Flutter framework makes it much easier to build complex apps. Flutter app building uses a plugin system with a hierarchical structure for easy communication within the application.

Interfaces can be created easily using Material components in Android and Cupertino Widgets in iOS.

Ionic is great for building simpler apps without intricate functionalities. Animated UI, image processing, and location-based services are difficult to add with Ionic. Simple applications are, however, easy to build, and they work flawlessly.

7. User Experience

Flutter provides the best user experience with its inherent ability to design native-like customized widgets. Developers with knowledge of Animation Builder, Stream Builder, and Future Builder should be able to develop excellent UI interfaces. Dart has a generational garbage collection ability to create UI frames for temporary object codes. When a single pointer bump is used for object allocation, there will be no UI clutter and animation lag.

Ionic provides a great user experience with seamless transient and native-like UI navigation. The hybrid approach enables app development within a native app container. Users can get new updates without downloading apk.

8. Testing

The Dart development environment for Flutter supports testing automation. Flutter unit testing can be easily carried out with Spec, Spek, or Mocha. For UI testing, XCUITest or Appium can be used. Flutter driver packages contain a testing suite.

Web-based technologies are heavily used for Ionic app testing. Web View tests the app in multiple browsers automatically without emulators. Web component testing is also made simple with Ionic CLI.

9. Application Size

Developers always focus on creating tightly packed applications that load faster and perform better.

Flutter Hello World app is 7.5 MB in size as it has to include Dart virtual machine and C/C++ engine.

The Ionic Hello World app is just 3.2MB with v5. Previous versions created apps of size 5-6 MBs.

10. Developers Learning Curve

You can utilize any framework effectively to bring the product to market faster if the developers don't have a steep learning curve.

Flutter developers must learn Dart first before using the framework. However, learning Dart is not very difficult for those with experience in native iOS or android app development. Flutter helps developers to learn quickly with detailed documentation.

Developers who know Angular can immediately start developing apps with Ionic. As Ionic requires JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, developers can quickly start using the framework.

Also, Read: Flutter vs Kotlin – Which Is Better for Your Next Project?

Is Flutter Better Than Ionic?

Now, the ultimate question for us is which one is better. Ideally, it would help if you chose a framework depending on the project and its requirements.

Flutter is ideal for complex projects with a tight budget. When developers are familiar with Dart, they can launch products quickly with customized UI widgets and automated testing. Flutter is excellent for creating a Minimum Value Product (MVP).

Ionic reduces development expenses for creating simple and efficient apps. It provides the best native-like experience using web-based technologies.

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