Kotlin Multiplatform vs Flutter : Which One Is Better for Your App?
With the constant emergence of new development solutions, determining the most suitable one for your needs can be challenging. This article delves into a comparison between Kotlin Multiplatform and the widely embraced Flutter. We elucidate the strengths and weaknesses of each solution, providing insights into scenarios where one proves more effective than the other.
Tools for cross-platform app development projects
What is Flutter?
- SDK: This includes tools essential for compiling code into native machine code, catering to both Android and iOS platforms.
- UI Library: A collection of reusable widgets that can be customized to meet specific requirements.
Advantages of Flutter Flutter, according to the promises made by its development team, stands poised to revolutionize the mobile app development journey. This framework empowers developers to construct, test, and deploy natively-compiled, multi-platform applications seamlessly, all from a singular codebase. Many of its benefits are directly attributed to the utilization of Dart.
- Easy To Learn: If you're already familiar with Dart, adapting to Flutter should prove straightforward. The framework's outstanding documentation provides a smooth initiation for any novice developer, irrespective of their prior platform experience. Furthermore, crafting a user interface in Flutter proves intuitive and swift, thanks to a meticulously designed UI library and the descriptive nature of Dart.
- Instant Code Updates (Hot-reloading): Dart's hot-reload feature in Flutter enables developers to witness real-time code changes and promptly address issues without the need to restart the application. This accelerates software development by minimizing build and reload times, fostering a focused and productive development environment. Quick iterations and experimentation are facilitated seamlessly.
- Note: While embedded in Flutter's architecture without requiring additional configuration, hot-reload is not available for Flutter web development, necessitating reliance on hot restart, which resets the app state and mandates full code recompilation.
- Cost-Effective Development: Flutter stands out for its potential cost reduction in app development. With the ability to create applications requiring fewer developers than native development, Flutter streamlines the development process. However, it's essential to note that leveraging native platform features may slow down the development pace.
- Exceptional Performance: Flutter ensures a consistent 60 frames per second, ensuring a smooth and visually pleasing display. The latest update introduced an innovative rendering complexity prediction algorithm, optimizing memory usage without compromising app performance. The rendering engine in Flutter further enhances application stability by optimizing displayed UI elements. Notably, Dart's direct compilation to native machine code contributes to performance efficiency by eliminating intermediary bridges.
- Comprehensive UI Library: Flutter distinguishes itself by providing a rich set of pre-built widgets for UI creation. Embracing a consistent and unified object model where every element is a widget (including fonts, buttons, and padding), Flutter stands apart from alternatives that utilize disparate objects like layouts, views, and controllers. The highly customizable widgets adhere to both Android's Material Design and Apple's Cupertino guidelines, empowering developers to craft aesthetically pleasing, functional, and adaptive user interfaces efficiently.
- Cross-Platform Portability: Initially conceived as a cross-platform app development platform, Flutter evolved into a fully platform-agnostic SDK with Flutter 3. The framework now seamlessly supports the five major operating systems: iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows. Google's ongoing efforts extend Flutter's compatibility to additional embedded systems like TVs, smart home appliances, and beyond.
Drawbacks of Flutter
- Delayed UI Integrations: Due to Flutter's reliance on its proprietary rendering engine, the implementation of platform-specific widgets occurs independently of the operating system's built-in features. Consequently, when a new OS update is released, Flutter developers might experience delays in adapting and incorporating some of the latest features.
- App Rewriting upon Migration: Transitioning from native technology to Flutter may necessitate a complete rewrite of an existing, functional app. Developers could face challenges in determining the optimal placement for business logic and UI logic during this migration process, potentially leading to confusion and additional development effort.
- Integration Challenges with Native Solutions: Flutter functions as an intermediary layer within the app structure. Applications heavily reliant on native solutions may encounter complexities in the development process when integrated with Flutter. Such apps often demand more time for development, introducing potential challenges in achieving seamless integration with native solutions.
Pros of Kotlin Multiplatform
- Extensibility and Customization: Kotlin Multiplatform facilitates the scalability of existing applications. Developers can implement features by sharing common code or opting for native methods, promoting app scalability and the integration of new system features. This approach is particularly beneficial when adding functionalities to both Android and iOS applications.
- Cost-Savings without Compromises: Using a single codebase, developers can implement features by sharing the data layer and business logic. Kotlin Multiplatform allows seamless implementation of specific functionalities through platform-specific APIs, ensuring no compromises on their usage. This approach translates to cost-effectiveness without sacrificing functionality.
- Easy Migration: Migrating a functioning native app to Kotlin Multiplatform is straightforward. Developers can make iterative changes without rewriting the entire app, as might be required with other frameworks like Flutter. This migration process incurs no additional costs and does not necessitate modifications to the UI.
- Experienced Kotlin Developers: Kotlin, being a versatile language, is widely embraced for creating both client applications and backend systems. The market boasts numerous experienced Kotlin developers, enhancing the accessibility and expertise available for Kotlin Multiplatform projects.
- High Potential: Kotlin Multiplatform exhibits high potential for cross-platform development, enabling the creation of apps for mobile, desktop, web, and backend. The current state of the framework allows for shared UI layers across most systems, with plans to expand support for additional platforms in the future.
Cons of Kotlin Multiplatform
- Experimental Nature: Kotlin Multiplatform is in beta version, indicating ongoing development focused on user feedback. While version changes are intended to be simplified, the framework is relatively new, leading to a limited number of external libraries. However, this library ecosystem is growing steadily.
- Limited Documentation: Like many new projects, Kotlin Multiplatform currently has minimal documentation. While this is expected to improve over time, developers may encounter challenges as they navigate issues that haven't been addressed before.
- Architecture Challenges: The architecture in Kotlin Multiplatform is not yet well defined, posing challenges in terms of a clean structure. Many existing architectural approaches remain experimental and untested. However, these challenges are expected to diminish with ongoing development.