Normally, iOS apps are written in Swift and Objective-C and Android apps are developed in Java. However, these are not the only tools for mobile app development. Plenty of other alternative tools can also be used instead. React Native and Ionic are popular examples of such tools.
React Native and Ionic are two of the most popular mobile frameworks. Many technical points create the fine line between the two. However, the main goal of both is same: to use a single stack of technologies for iOS and Android app development. This sounds great, but still, developers do not need to learn two different development frameworks. They still need to know about the features and restrictions of both platforms.
This article on React Native vs. Ionic also gives the answers to basic questions. What is their purpose? What are the main differences between two? Which one is best?
Let’s highlight the conceptual differences between these two frameworks so you can use the right platform for mobile app development.
Overview of React Native
React Native is a Facebook-developed framework for developing native apps. Although it deploys the same UI building blocks as used in Android and iOS apps development, the apps built in React Native are different from those apps built using Java or Objective-C. React Native gained popularity among app developers because of its non-recompiling feature. The developer can reload the app instantly with Hot Reloading rather than recompiling it each time. This allows them to run new code while retaining their app state.
React Native Examples:
Facebook, Instagram, Bloomberg, Tesla, Walmart, Skype
React Native Pros:
- Support for multiple platforms
- Hot reloading system for non-recompiling
- Fast application development
- Simplified UI
- Native controls and native modules system to enhance performance
- Has all ReactJS features
React Native Cons:
- Not too much customization offered
- Less smooth navigation
- Relies on native developers
- Large dependency on Facebook rules
- Poor documentation, especially for integration with additional tools
- Limited third-party component
- Lagging SDK updates
- Limited native functionality
Overview of Ionic
Ionic is a hybrid mobile app development framework. It is largely used for developing hybrid mobile apps and uses multiple web technologies such as Sass, HTML5, and CSS. Ionic got a distinguished reputation in native mobile development SDKs by providing the same level of functionality. It additionally includes most of the mobile components, interactive paradigms, typography and extensible base theme. Its choice for AngularJS means building functionality in apps is now at ease and it feels near native.
MarketWatch, Untappd, Pacifica, TD Trading, Nationwide, iPic
- It is free and open source
- One code base for building both native mobile apps and progressive web apps
- Use of most of the native plugins and device features like HealthKit, Bluetooth, etc.
- Contains real app examples, guides, and component demos
- Performs well on latest mobile devices
- Offers efficient hardware accelerated transitions
- Can run in browser as PWA using Cordova or PhoneGap
- Deeplinking system to start app development from a web link
- AoT compiling for lightning-fast loading
- Usage of AngularJS needs developers to be skilled at developing complex apps
- In-app navigation development is tricky
- Poor performance on older versions of Android
- Not suitable for developing heavily graphics stuff like video games or 3D apps
- Not too many plugins; you need to develop your own
- Too many performance issues in case developers need to use a lot of callbacks to the native code
React Native vs. Ionic Comparison
Writing and Learning
React Native is based on the theme line: Learn Once, Write Anywhere. It lets developers use those components good at native behaviors of the platforms.
Ionic is based on the theme line:Write Once, Run Anywhere. In term of a hybrid app, the same code is required to run irrespective of platform. However, to feel more native, it needs some changes in codes according to platform requirement.
The result is clear; you do not need to worry about platform-specific behaviors when it comes to Ionic. However, with React Native you cannot enjoy the same level of seamless experience.
The Language Stack
Ionic offers more familiar territory like classic CSS and HTML. On the other hands, in React Native developers need to learn how to style and create UI using their HTML like components.
Testing during development in React Native is not a big deal. The developers can see the result of modification as they make it. React Native do not demand from them to go for recompiling or rebuilding.
Ionic is also good in testing during development and in fact, offers most instant feedback in shape of an instant preview of the app in the browser and mobile devices.
Both are little different but awesome in that regard. Ionic offers most instant feedback as compared to React Native.
Plugins and Community
In addition to plugins availability on NPM for React Native, the developers can enjoy plugins to use Cordova and PhoneGap. That means developers can get hundreds of other plugins from other community. It has also most starts on GitHub.
Cordova and PhoneGap are already there allowing developers are exposing their native features. Ionic also gives access to a dedicated marketplace to sell and offer Ionic plugins.
Both have a healthy ecosystem. React Native is leading on GitHub with more number of stars while Ionic is leading on Stackoverflow with more number of questions. Both have an active community of developers by the name of React and Angular respectively.
Which One Is Better?
It is clear both are simply awesome mobile apps development frameworks, so it's hard to give favor to one over other. The bottom line is that it depends on the preferences of developers and project requirement for which they want to use any one of both. The recommendation here is that you must test these two frameworks to see what suite to your development requirements.