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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

Ionic vs. Flutter: Which one Works for You?

Ionic vs. Flutter: Which one Works for You?

A group of three dedicated coders and thinkers namely Ben Sperry, Max Lynch, and Adam Bradley are behind the scenes creators of Ionic. They released the first Ionic version in 2013. The latest and stable version of Ionic was released on 25th July 2019. The initial Ionic version was built on Angular JS, but now you can select between Angular, React or Vue while working on the latest Ionic version.

Flutter is still an infant in comparison to Ionic. Google released Flutter in 2018. Built with Dart, Flutter is a cross-platform for both Android and iOS. However, the Flutter team is still working to build a strong web support. The desktop APIs of Flutter are still in the early development phase and subject to change even without warnings.    

An Executive TL; DR Summary

Both Ionic and Flutter share a common mission of building beautiful applications with interactive UIs. The blog discusses common key points of both frameworks with a special emphasize on vs. or opposing & against philosophy. The important takeaway of Ionic vs. Flutter are mentioned below:  

  • The guiding principle of Ionic is to utilize the web platform and hold onto open web standards.
  • When you build with Ionic, you build an application for mobile, web, and desktop using the same code.
  • Flutter has a limited ecosystem with less popular language than JS which is called Dart.
  • Flutter offers remarkable performance on mobile but it is not yet open to building web applications.
  • You can choose Ionic or Flutter as per your business needs!

What is ionic?

Ionic is an open-source framework and UI toolkit. It helps to build high performing desktop & mobile applications with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The Ionic framework targets to improve frontend user experience. Officially, Ionic is integrated with React & Angular. It also supports Vue.JS

Key takeaways from Ionic:

  • Ionic powers building Progressive Web Applications & Hybrid Apps on the native platform.
  • Ionic is based on standardized web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Inspires beautiful UI designs with a simple framework.
  • Open-source and MIT license.
  • Just like Angular, Ionic is compatible with most of the frameworks like React, Vue, etc.
  • The Ionic ecosystem is supported by international communities.

Join the Ionic community:

  • Forum: An amazing place for asking your Ionic-related questions & sharing ideas
  • Slack: Ionic developers can meet & chat in real-time
  • Twitter: Post Ionic related updates and share content from the community
  • GitHub: Report bugs or request a new feature

What is Flutter?

Google introduced Flutter as an SDK for building mobile applications. With Flutter, you can create high-performing & native applications for Android and iOS. Dart is used to writing the Flutter apps.

Key takeaways from Flutter:

  • Flutter features a 2D rendering engine and a framework like React
  • It has ready-made widgets
  • A low code framework
  • Offers easy prototyping

Join the Flutter community:

  • Stack Overflow: Look for questions & answers
  • Discord: Talk via real-time chat with Flutter developers
  • Flutter dev: It’s a mailing listing to discuss Flutter best practices and designs
  • GitHub: Report errors or ask for new features
  • Twitter: Follow Flutter for new features & updates

Common Vision of Flutter & Ionic

Both Flutter and Ionic share some common goals irrespective of having differences. Some of them are:

  • Flutter and Ionic primarily focus on building UI framework for native platforms
  • They help in building high-performing and interactive applications
  • The pillar stone of both Ionic & Flutter is based on a cross-platform development philosophy. However, Flutter’s web building support is not stable yet.

Conflicting Philosophies of Flutter & Ionic

In spite of sharing some common philosophies, both Flutter & Ionic are different from each other.

When you build an application on Ionic, you create something on the ‘web’ and you embrace open web standards & open web technologies. The open web technologies are CSS, HTML, and JavaScript that enable a mechanism that supports running the Ionic applications on various cross platforms with the same integrity and UI.

When Ionic ensures a broader boundary like open web standards, Flutter features a limited and self-contained ecosystem. JavaScript which is a widely accepted and popular web development language does not work here. You must know Dart to work in Flutter.   

Which one is right for you?

Choosing between both is not easy. Before choosing one of them you must know the technical compatibilities and differences. Ionic vs. Flutter is a fierce war where taking a stronger side a critical decision. Let’s see how they perform based on the following parameters:    

Code Portability

Understanding the code portability between Ionic and Flutter helps to define how both code behaves in different environments, processors, and operating systems.

  • Both Ionic and Flutter code perform equally when we deploy them on mobile and web.
  • With Flutter, you can create beautiful looking iOS and Android apps from a single set of code. Besides, desktop support is quite stable now.
  • Flutter had web deployment limitations.
  • If you want to deploy your application as a PWA, you should go with Ionic.

Performance

When we discuss Flutter vs. Ionic performance their efficiency level plays an important role in deciding which is suitable for your business.

  • If you are looking for exclusive animation, choosing Flutter is a smart option (FPS-60).
  • However, if you are planning to build a more consumer-facing application, Ionic offers the same performance.

Flutter vs. ionic performance is always about how you code for both. In short, code quality plays a major role in deciding the performance of any framework.  

The Flutter vs. ionic performance relies on the bundle size of your app. Ionic utilizes the standard browser runtime as well as primitives (smallest processing unit). Hence the ionic bundle size is 2,991 bytes. While Flutter needs heavy code even to create a basic app.

Knowledge & Skillset

Ionic vs. Flutter becomes a fierce standpoint when it comes down to the knowledge and skillset required to build apps in both frameworks. Ionic is a JavaScript framework while Flutter is not. If you want to be a Flutter developer, you must know a language called Dart. The current market comprises 1.9% Dart developers while JS developers are dominating with 70%.

If you know JS, you can work in more than 100 JS frameworks for web, mobile, and native development. Dart features a stand-alone and highly-custom ecosystem that has its constraints. That’s why; it creates confusion on the market skill of a Dart developer. He/she only has to work in Flutter-empowered applications.

The highly-custom ecosystem of Flutter teaches you the only ‘Flutter ways’ of doing things. On the opposite side of the story, if you are creating Ionic apps, you don’t need to learn ‘Ionic ways’ of doing things. You learn to build web apps in general. And mostly, you are learning to code the JS style with CSS. If you know Ionic, you can prevail as long as you are working on web platforms.

Native Look & Feel

When we discuss Ionic vs. Flutter, their approaches to native UI element utilization matter a lot.

  • Neither Flutter nor Ionic utilizes the native UI elements of each platform. Both update the same automatically, e.g. both use Material Design and Cupertino for Android & iOs, respectively.
  • Both Flutter and Ionic allow accessing native APIs and platform services via a library of ready-made plugins. However, the native mobile implementation of Flutter is completely customized.    

Sustainability

Sustainability is a game-changing factor in the battle of Ionic vs. Flutter. Here sustainable means the shelf-life and flexibility of the project.

Ionic-powered projects are more sustainable than Flutter ones. When you build an application on Ionic, you chose a wider platform than Flutter. Anything you create on Ionic, you embrace open web standards. It allows you to follow the same standard and creates a uniform script to develop a cross-platform application. And most importantly, you can use the application with any JavaScript framework.    

Comparison Chart

We are mentioning the basic features of both Flutter and Ionic to understand the Ionic vs. Flutter comparison better:

 



Flutter

Ionic

Language(s)

Dart

HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Runtime

Custom graphics engine

Web browser

UI elements

Proprietary Widgets

Standards-based Web Components

Native API access

Native plugin library, using Flutter native packages

Native plugin library, using Cordova and Capacitor

Offline access

Yes

Yes

Mobile performance

Excellent

Very Good

Web performance

Poor

Excellent

Deployment options

Mobile, Desktop, Web

Mobile, Desktop, Web, PWA

 

Who won the battle Ionic vs. Flutter?

It is the time to declare the winner of the battle Ionic vs. Flutter. And our winner is Ionic!

If you want to develop a PWA and hybrid applications, you should go with Ionic. On the other hand, you are not emphasizing on building web applications, you should not go with Flutter.

Ionic features an easy learning curve due to open web technologies, while Flutter is limited to Dart.   

Pick Ionic and Flutter as per your business needs.   

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