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lobally, according to StatCounter, the percentage of smartphone usage reached 53,98% over the past year, compared to 43,55% for desktop devices. The StatCounter website is actually a tool for analyzing web traffic. That's breaking news for businesses and entrepreneurs. In the face of such numbers, companies willy-nilly have to think about tailoring their product for mobile smartphones.
For this time, The Frontend Company team has chosen the hot topic of Flutter vs Angular for a new blog post. Why did we focus on this question? Firstly, we are asked about it during consultations or personal conversations from time to time. Secondly, this topic is of interest to those just planning to build a cross-platform mobile app and those who already have Angular 2 or Angular 2+ web projects.
So today, it's time to set the record straight once and for all. We don't want you to dig a 10-meter hole with a teaspoon; instead, we want to give you a shovel and speed up the process. Let's dive deeper to find out the Flutter vs Angular confrontation leader.
Why did the Flutter vs Angular issue pop up?
It may seem unusual to some that people are comparing these two technologies. In fact, the battle of Angular vs Flutter is pretty reasonable.
- Both technologies are made by Google and have excellent technical support. That's why programmers and business owners consider these tools highly trustworthy.
- While Flutter is just gaining popularity among developers, many web projects have already been built on Angular 2+. Unlike AngularJS, the TypeScript-based framework is adapted for mobile browsers.
- The two technologies are cross-platform. In theory, they can replace mobile and desktop application development toolkits.
As a rule, choosing technology for a project is one of the hardest tasks for a company. There are always a ton of pros and cons to each decision. We want to make it easier for you by breaking down the Flutter vs Angular battle into several pieces of information. We traditionally start with the basics and move smoothly to the technical aspects.
What is the difference between Flutter and Angular? Tools' concepts
Long story short, Flutter is a UI software development kit with open-source code. The task of this tool is to build cross-platform apps that run on iOS, Linux, Android, macOS, Windows, and the not-so-common Google Fuchsia platform. By theory, a single code written with Flutter can be applied to all the above-mentioned operating systems.
However, in reality, the SDK is most relevant for mobile applications. The Flutter vs Angular issue appears because of the theoretical cross-platform. After all, Angular can also be used to build cross-platform projects. About this a little later.
While Flutter is an open-source UI kit, Angular 2+ is an open-source front-end framework. It is used mainly for web application development. Angular 2+ is written using the TypeScript programming language, and it is compatible with all browsers, including mobile ones. Meanwhile, Flutter is based on the not-too-common programming language Dart and some elements of C++. These are the most apparent differences between the tools.
Of the non-obvious diffs, the purposes for which each tool is suitable should be highlighted. The SDK is best suited for creating Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and Single Page Apps (SPAs). The media, entertainment, and e-commerce sectors often use this technology to build mobile apps. In turn, Angular 2+ is usually chosen to develop applications with multiple pages and for services. The following tool does not have any limitations or preferences for the industries.
Flutter's strengths and weaknesses
We should first sort out the pros and cons for a better overview of the Google tool's capabilities and understanding who will win in the Flutter vs Angular battle. The Frontend Company team will never tire of repeating that technology selection should be based on these principles. Nothing will clearly show how this or that solution fits your project than a head-to-head comparison.
Benefits of this open-source UI kit
- Clear source code structure: Mobile applications based on Flutter are run in a virtual machine (VM) in the development process. It ensures a hot reload, and the product does not need to be recompiled. Ideally, the coder can do a single code and then use it for the Android and iOS operating systems. Practically, this rarely runs perfectly and works right the first time. Nevertheless, this SDK has extremely interesting layers of architecture. It's easy for programmers to figure out the source code without additional skilled workers.
- Excellent features for user interfaces: Since this tool is not so much a framework as an open-source UI kit; it opens up many options for developers. It is the best choice if you need to build a mobile app with plenty of visual effects. Also, the interactive and UI elements in Flutter-based apps look the same on different devices. You can compare new and old smartphones; the difference will be barely noticeable.
- High-speed Flutter-based mobile apps: The whole secret of this tool's performance lies in its architecture. There are no bridges, so the interaction between the native components is faster. However, it is essential to note that the difference compared to other mobile frameworks will not be as noticeable as some think. It's a fraction of a second, but for some projects, even they will matter.
- Clear and straightforward documentation: Programmers won't blame those who put together the manuals for this tool. Currently, the SDK documentation is quite structured and does not look messy. Although the situation was different after its presentation. Coders had to work hard for a long time to get structure in the documents from the Google team.
- Small and progressive web application development: This tool is best used to build mobile applications with single (SPAs) or several pages. Also, due to its architecture, Flutter is great for developing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). In the first case, you can use a basic set of features. In the second, you can get the benefits of web applications that have gained some features of a desktop project.
Concerning the visual part, Google SDK has numerous advantages. That's why when it comes to the UI component, the Flutter vs Angular battle is won by the first one. You can check out all the possibilities on the Flutter Engage.
Drawbacks of this open-source UI kit
- A small community of developers: So far, this tool does not have a large enough army of fans. Yes, indeed, this instrument is the leader in 2021. But the community of programmers involved in this technology is small. Because of that, fixes are made slower; it's harder to find a skilled specialist, and projects are limited.
- So far, there are few good libraries: A second disadvantage of the tool follows slowly from the previous one. You will have to check the libraries more carefully and be extremely attentive to ensure that they are not abandoned.
- It will take more time and effort to develop a mobile app: Programmers will have difficulty building any complex product for mobile devices, given the first two points. And this, in turn, slows down the process of writing a mobile app from start to finish. Developers will have to do many solutions on their own, which will delay the whole process.
As you can see, the Flutter vs Angular question won't be that easy for many to decide. Here you will have to choose between great design and speed of app development.
Strengths and weaknesses of Angular
Now let's go over pros and cons of Angular 2+. Although this solution is not a tool for creating native-like mobile applications, companies can still use it as an instrument for developing their web projects. Moreover, the finished products will be fully compatible with mobile browsers.
However, if you want to build an Angular-based application specifically, right after this block, The Frontend Company will share the secret of how to package your web apps with additional tools. So, it's time to evaluate Google's front-end technology capabilities.
Benefits of this framework
- Strict structure lowers errors in the early phases of development: The advantage of all frameworks is a clearer and stricter code structure. The lack of too much freedom in writing code helps avoid critical errors in the app's architecture. Simply put, the chances of redoing a web project are decreased.
- You can break modules into files: It's perfect for large applications. If you have a big app with multiple components and classes for individual aspects of the project, it's more logical to break them up into modules and then into separate files. Then you can easily combine the files into modules without any difficulty.
- Massive support from programmers worldwide: The version of AngularJS appeared more than 10 years ago, and the second version of the framework has been around since 2016. This tool has gained millions of fans globally in such a considerable period.
- The framework offers reactive programming options: Coders can use the RxJS library when interacting with this tool. It is aimed to compose and retrieve asynchronous data streams. Many people like Angular 2+ because of its compatibility with RxJS.
- There is support for mobile browsers: You cannot use this tool to develop a full-fledged mobile application. It is a critical point in the Flutter vs Angular competition concept. However, you can create a web application and website with cross-browser support with this instrument. That's why some web projects prefer to build a desktop app first and then develop a mobile app over time. In rare cases, customers may only need a version of the web application for computers and tablets.
- Many libraries and add-ons: Over the years, dozens of packages and add-ons have been created for this technology due to a big community. You can use them in your work, reducing the time to develop your solutions. The main thing is not to forget to check the library's relevance. Typically, they turn out to be abandoned.
- A stable tool with regular updates: Google actively supports the framework and releases updates almost every six months. Over several years, programmers have become convinced of the productivity of the Angular 2+ team and can follow the releases on the official website of the technology.
Currently, 12 versions of this framework have been released. It is an excellent indicator of how the front-end tool is evolving. However, in case you are upgrading, you need to be careful. The Google team recommends that you migrate from AngularJS gradually.
Drawbacks of this framework
- Without the help of other tools, you cannot build a full-fledged native-like app: Unfortunately, this instrument will not allow you to develop mobile apps without an additional SDK. In the case of Angular 2+, Ionic is the optimal choice. This tool has the necessary features to build an application for iOS and Android operating systems.
For the further Flutter vs Angular theme, we should also talk more about Ionic and what programmers can expect when working with this open-source SDK.
Ionic: An alternative solution for Angular-based mobile apps
Statista says, Ionic is still among the top 5 cross-platform frameworks in 2021. It comes right behind Flutter, React Native, and Cordova. Today we won't go into details of this tool's history. It is enough to say that Ionic is a fully open-source SDK that is suitable for creating mobile and hybrid apps.
The specific feature of the technology is that it is based on AngularJS and Apache Cordova. It makes the SDK great for transforming Angular-based web applications into mobile versions. The architecture is why that the tool is often used to create native-like apps. Besides, there are constant updates for Ionic. The last one was released in July 2021.
What do programmers like about Ionic?
- With this tool, one can quickly create an application. In the Flutter vs Angular theme, it is a crucial advantage of Ionic.
- Developers can build apps for Android and iOS at the same time. The main thing is not to forget about styles and plugins for each operating system.
- Coders will only need knowledge of Angular, JS, HTML, and CSS to work with the SDK. Additional tools will rarely have to be used.
- Specialists can do most of the development in the browser. However, when developing the native part of the application functionality for mobile, it will be necessary to use a smartphone. That is essential for debugging.
- Ionic has many components for the user interface. In this sense, an Ionic-based project will not lose out to the competition. And this is one important addition to the Flutter vs Angular theme.
- Programmers can use dozens of plugins to help interact with the features of mobile devices. It's cool because it allows you to adapt your ready-made project to use NFC, fingerprint scanner, camera, geolocation, etc.
What do programmers need to think about before using the SDK?
- If the plugins used in the process conflict, this can be a serious problem. In such a case, debugging takes a lot of effort and time to fix the native plugin with the bug.
- Coders need to make commits and use branches for new pages and features. Sometimes stuff gets damaged in Ionic for no apparent reason. Specialists need a safety net.
That's all for now. If the Flutter vs Angular confrontation seems absurd because of the difference in concepts, the situation should be clearer now. As you can see, with Angular 2+, you will build web and mobile applications. Even though you have to use SDK to do so.
Let's summarize the Flutter vs Angular issue
So, which is the best technology for mobile app development? If you want to use only tools from Google and create a product from scratch, you can try an open-source UI kit. It will make more sense, but you should be prepared to extend the development time. As for emergency smartphone app development, it makes sense to consider developing the project with React Native.
If you already have a working web app on Angular 2+, it doesn't make sense to redesign it on a different platform. It's much easier to use Ionic to create a native-like app. With the Ionic SDK, you will wrap your product in a native mobile app format. It is based on the two reasons listed above; you need to decide on the winner between Flutter vs Angular. If you're still having trouble deciding on something, book a call with our Managing Partner or contact us on the website.