In today’s digitized world, people use a variety of operating systems, browsers, and devices for online and offline experiences. The IT industry supplies us with user-friendly and beautifully designed software that simplifies our work, connects us socially and provides infinite entertainment options. The number of software development companies is growing in proportion to the exploding demand for digital solutions.
To stay competitive and accomplish complex projects, IT agencies constantly seek ways to reduce manual work and save time. Most developers have steered away from writing multiple OS-specific codebases from scratch for the same app. Instead, programmers opt for cross-platform development to create universal products, producing apps that mimic native features and run smoothly on different operating systems and devices.
While providing many advantages, cross-platform tools pose the risk of reduced performance compared to native apps. To ensure consistently high performance, use advanced tools like Ionic and Flutter. These modern and comprehensive solutions provide a convenient digital workspace, with all the tools and features necessary for effective cross-platform development.
This article takes a close look at both SDKs (software development kits) and outlines their similarities and differences, to help you choose the one that best meets your needs.
Ionic is an open-source SDK, first released in 2013 by Drifty Co. The first version used Angular JS, while later versions let you choose among Angular, React, and Vue. Iconic’s key characteristics include:
- Ability to create beautiful and responsive client interfaces using common front-end languages: HTML, CSS, and JS. A familiar technology stack eliminates the need for additional education
- Easy-to-use and compatible with other popular software development tools
- Combines native code and web code
- Command-line interface (CLI)
- Using Cordova and Capacitor plugins, Ionic accesses host components like cameras and GPS
- Custom web components ensure a unique user experience
- Code deploys and automated builds
- Ionic has its own IDE – Ionic Studio
- Products built with Ionic can be customized for mobile and desktop OSs and popular browsers
- Extensive international community: forums, online chats in Slack, the latest news on Twitter, and support from professionals on GitHub
- Accessibility and quality rolled into one. Some open-source frameworks are poorly designed and have low performance. Ionic’s quality is affirmed by its MIT license
- You can pay for the Pro version to leverage advanced features and accelerate the app building process even more
Flutter was released more recently than Ionic, in 2018 by Google. The SDK’s key characteristics are:
- Designed mainly for building cross-platform mobile apps for Android and iOS. Google is trying to provide more opportunities for web app building. Fundamental work still needs to be done for desktop APIs
- Uses the Dart language, which is less popular than the front-end trio utilized by Ionic. However, it has some unique advantages
- Framework similar to React
- 2D rendering engine
- Just In Time compilation, “hot reload,” and the introduction of source code modifications to a running app increase the convenience and speed of app building
- Pre-built widgets allow for quickly assembly of a basic prototype
- You can find common Flutter-related questions and answers on Stack Overflow, communicate with developers online via Discord, discuss the best mobile app development practices via the Flutter dev mailing listing, get bug fixing support and ask about updates on GitHub, and get the latest news on Twitter
The two SDKs have some common characteristics:
- Both allow for building impressive client interfaces with an attractive design and responsive features
- Native programming interfaces and services are accessed via native plugin libraries
- Applications developed with Ionic and Flutter have high performance, compared to many other cross-platform products
- Offline access
Criteria for Choosing Between Ionic and Flutter
Choice of software development tools is a matter of personal preference, and depends largely on the nature of the project. Both Iconic and Flutter are great contemporary development solutions, but consider the following factors to choose the most suitable option:
Less coding saves you time so you can focus on more interesting projects.
With Flutter, web deployment is not as smooth as with Ionic. You cannot use it to assemble PWAs. But if you mainly code for mobile OSs, Flutter’s functionality is more than enough.
Since Ionic uses common front-end technologies, all popular desktop and mobile OSs understand its code perfectly well.
Flutter is valued for its ability to create original animation that makes the user experience of your mobile apps more engaging.
Since Ionic uses front-end technologies to render apps, products built with this SDK are a bit slower than those built with Flutter, which directly uses machine code and bypasses the JS bridge.
Ionic is an easy-to-master platform that is consistent with generally accepted front-end standards. If you understand basic web development principles, it should be fairly easy to get started and learn to create full-value projects.
Flutter uses less common technologies and has a higher entry bar. You need to learn Dart and specific software development methodologies before writing your first lines of code. If you are looking for a shortcut, this tool is not for you. Flutter is commonly preferred by programmers who know exactly what they want from their SDK and are ready to master new skills to create exceptional products.
Since Ionic uses popular technologies and enjoys stronger community support than Flutter, it is more sustainable. Well-established front-end development standards are unlikely to change overnight. Even if they do, advice from experienced specialists and a huge amount of educational materials are freely available online, to help keep you up to speed.
JS specialists make up 70% of the software development labor market, while Flutter specialists make up less than 2%. You can choose among more than 100 JS frameworks, while Dart offers a limited assortment.
Cross-platform software development is a rapidly evolving craft that saves substantial time and money. The growing number of progressive tools and solutions for assembling universal apps can make it challenging for novices to select the most effective options for their toolkit.
If you need an easy-to-use framework to tailor web applications based on common front-end technologies, choose Ionic. To develop fast mobile apps with a responsive interface and impressive animation, opt for Flutter.
To acquaint yourself with a wider range of useful programming tools, read our rating of the Top 10 Hybrid Mobile App Development Frameworks.