Top 5 Flutter Alternatives for Cross-Platform Development

20 Feb 2024 | 21 min read
5 Best Flutter Alternatives for Cross-Platform Development

Over the last few years, cross-platform development has become one of the most popular software development trends. This hasn’t been a surprise, considering cross-platform apps offer better cost and time effectiveness and faster time-to-market than native app development.

But first, what is cross-platform app development? Cross-platform app development is creating software applications that work seamlessly on various platforms with a single codebase.

Many cross-platform frameworks are available today, but Flutter takes the crown for “most popular”. Research shows 46% of software developers used Flutter in 2022. 

Cross-platform mobile frameworks used by software developers worldwide. Top 5 Flutter Alternatives for Cross-Platform Development

However, Flutter may not be everyone’s cup of tea or might not fit your project requirements. Therefore, in this article, we will explore the top Flutter alternatives you can consider, comparing their features, strengths, and suitability.

Why Do You Need Flutter Alternatives?

Flutter has gained popularity for its efficiency and ease of use since its release in 2017. However, like every software framework, it has its limitations, which push developers to seek alternatives to Flutter.

First, Flutter uses the Dart programming language, which might be unfamiliar to developers who primarily work with other languages like JavaScript. As a result, this creates an initial learning curve barrier, which also impacts the overall Flutter app development cost.

The other issue is that the Flutter community might not be as mature as other older framework communities. Therefore, finding comprehensive solutions or troubleshooting specific issues may be more challenging for developers.

Google is also famous for discontinuing various products, like the Google RSS reader app and the URL Shortener. Therefore, some developers might be afraid that they will invest their time or resources to pay for Flutter development services just for the support to diminish over time.

5 Top Alternatives to Flutter

Let’s now discuss some of the key alternatives to Flutter. So here are the top cross-platform app development frameworks you can use instead of Flutter.

1. ASP.NET Core

ASP.NET Core is a modern cross-platform and open-source framework developed by Microsoft. The framework lets app developers build modern, cloud-based apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Developers familiar with C# and web development will find this framework relatively straightforward.

Asp.Net Core - Flutter Alternative Framework
Image source: Asp.Net Core

ASP.NET Core is language agnostic, meaning you can use different programming languages to build applications. This is unlike Flutter, which only uses Dart. 

Also, ASP.NET is excellent for web development and APIs. Flutter, on the other hand, shines in cross-platform mobile app development. 

As for performance, both ASP.NET and Flutter perform really well. For ASP.NET Core, it’s partly due to the lightweight and efficient Kestrel web server. Flutter’s speed is thanks to the Dart VM and Ahead-of-Time (AOT) compilation.

ASP.NET Features

  • Modular design: Allows developers only to include necessary packages for their application. This reduces overhead and improves performance.
  • Kestrel Web Server: A cross-platform, lightweight, and high-performance server
  • Razor Pages: Makes building web user Interface (UI) easier and more productive with more organized code.
  • Data Protection API: Offers a comprehensive data protection API for securing sensitive data such as user credentials, tokens, and cookies.

ASP.NET Strengths

Though it can be hosted anywhere, the ASP.NET Core framework provides a native integration with Microsoft’s Azure. This allows apps to have even millions of users without any code modification. 

It has a robust ecosystem that gives developers access to lots of .NET libraries and NuGet packages. 

Additionally, the Visual Studio provides a robust IDE experience, simplifying developers’ programming and design experience.

Potential Drawback of ASP.NET as a Flutter alternative

  • It still focuses mainly on web applications.

ASP.NET Core functionality makes it best-suited for building web applications. It also has robust cloud support, making it a good choice for apps that need to integrate with cloud services.

2. Qt

Qt is a versatile C++ framework known for its efficiency and flexibility. With Qt, developers can create cross-platform applications with native-like performance.

Flutter alternatives: Qt
Image source: Qt

Qt’s native capabilities contribute to its good app performance and size. Compared to Flutter, Flutter apps tend to be larger than native apps. However, the framework’s features and language are designed to boost Flutter app performance.

Both Qt and Flutter have a set of pre-built customizable widgets. However, Qt’s widgets are more targeted towards creating graphical user interfaces.

Moreover, while Flutter has a growing community with active contributors and resources, Qt has been around for a long time, so it has a well-established community.

Qt Features

  • Qt Creator: Qt’s cross-platform integrated development environment (IDE) allows you to create mobile, embedded, and desktop applications.
  • Qt Quick: This enables developers to build highly dynamic applications with custom user interfaces.
  • Qt Design Studio: The Design Studio allows you to create animated user interfaces, helping you craft visually appealing and interactive UIs.
  • QMLLive: QMLLive provides a live reloader environment, which is great for rapid development. It significantly reduces the time it takes to deploy and test changes when developing Qt Quick applications.
  • Qt Linguist: A set of tools that translates Qt C++ and Qt Quick applications into local languages, helping with localization.

Qt strengths

Qt’s main strengths are its cross-platform capabilities that allow developers to create applications that run seamlessly on most operating systems.

The consistent UI is also great for projects that require you to maintain a uniform look and feel.

Potential drawbacks of Qt as a Flutter alternative

  • Qt’s UI is not fine-tuned for specific platforms.
  • There are better choices for developers prioritizing mobile app development frameworks.
  • C++ is often perceived as a challenging language to learn. You can expect a steep learning curve with Qt.

Qt is ideal for more graphical desktop apps due to its strong emphasis on graphical user interfaces.

3. NativeScript

NativeScript is a powerful framework that empowers developers to build Web, iOS, Android, and Vision Pro apps on a single codebase. If you’re comfortable with web development, especially Angular or VueJS, you’ll find NativeScript accessible.

Flutter alternatives: NativeScript
Image source: Native Script

NativeScript is very similar to Flutter in terms of how it performs. For instance, the two can easily perform at 60 FPS without any difficulty. 

The architecture, however, differs. Flutter supports a layered architecture comprising independent libraries for modularity and organization. NativeScript, on the other hand, has the MVC or MVVM architectural pattern.

Flutter has high community engagement compared to Native Script. However, the latter has also benefitted from Community-driven efforts, such as the NativeScript-Vue plugin.

NativeScript Features

  • Rich typescript development experience: NativeScript provides platform APIs directly to the JavaScript runtime with strong types, making it ideal for building cross-platform apps.
  • Flavors: NativeScript supports various JavaScript frameworks, often called “flavors”. They include Plain JavaScript or TypeScript, Angular, Vue, React, and Svelte.
  • MVC or MVVM architectural pattern: The framework supports these two architectural patterns, which enhance code organization, maintainability, and testability.
  • Hot module replacement: This allows you to update your app code during development without restarting the entire app. It also applies the changes dynamically, making developers’ lives easier.

Strengths of NativeScript

NativeScript allows developers to work with a customized tech stack. You can build mobile apps using JavaScript, TypeScript, Angular, or Vue.js. This flexibility ensures you can leverage your existing skills and choose the technology that best suits your project.

The framework is also fully open source and a member of the OpenJS Foundation. The foundation hosts and helps successfully sustain projects. 

Potential drawbacks of Native Script as a Flutter alternative

  • Fewer third-party plugins compared to other competing frameworks like React Native. Read our Flutter vs React Native review to learn more about the framework.
  • Tiny community, despite being older than other frameworks.

Developers use NativeScript libraries, which set native platforms apart in native vs cross-platform app development. Hence, it’s ideal for projects where native performance and access to device features are crucial.

4. Apache Cordova

Apache Cordova is an open-source mobile development framework that lets you create cross-platform apps using standard web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. Like NativeScript, Apache Cordova is more accessible to developers comfortable with web development, especially Angular or VueJS.

Flutter alternatives: Apache Cordova
Image source: Apache Cordova

Compared to Flutter’s native-like UIs, Apache Cordova web technologies usually result in a more web-like UI. Also, while Flutter excels in performance, Cordova’s performance can easily be affected by the use of web views.

On a brighter note, Cordova boasts a much larger library of plugins than Flutter. That’s because Cordova has been around for much longer. However, the gap is closing rapidly.

In terms of community engagement, Apache Cordova has a mature community, whereas Flutter has a growing and enthusiastic community.

Apache Cordova Features

  • Access to Native Device APIs: Cordova bridges web-based app and native device functionality. For instance, using a unified JavaScript API, you can access device features like the camera, geolocation, contacts, and more.
  • Offline support: It allows you to build apps that work offline by caching resources locally.
  • Plugins architecture: This allows developers to add new features to an existing application to boost its functionality without having to rebuild it.

Strengths of Apache Cordova

Cordova is web technology-based, meaning it leverages standard web technologies. This allows developers to utilize their existing skills. For example, a cross-platform app development company can use CSS to style an application, just like in web development.

Potential drawbacks of Apache Cordova as a Flutter alternative

  • Cordova is an impressive Flutter alternative. However, it suffers from performance constraints like frequent bug reports and web-view limitations.
  • You might experience compatibility issues with some plugins across different devices or platforms.

Apache Cordova is suitable for building hybrid mobile applications since it lets developers write web-based apps using web technologies and package them as native apps.

5. Kotlin Multiplatform

Kotlin Multiplatform is a software development kit that allows you to use a single codebase for different platforms and write native code only when necessary. 

Flutter alternatives: Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile
Image source: Kotlin

Kotlin’s similarity to Java and Swift makes learning easier for experienced programmers.

Regarding performance, Kotlin has the upper hand over Flutter due to its platform-specific code optimization.

Also, Kotlin has a relatively smaller library compared to Flutter. Similarly, Flutter has a more robust community.

Kotlin Features

  • Native programming benefits: Kotlin Multiplatform allows you to enjoy the advantages of native programming, including performance and full access to platform SDKs. Abstraction layers do not limit you; you can directly interact with platform-specific APIs.
  • Interoperable with Java: Kolins is designed to be fully interoperable with Java. This allows the developers to leverage the programming language for seamless development.
  • Kotlin programming language: Kotlin is a statically typed language with benefits like better performance and increased safety.
  • Android and iOS SDK access: Developers have easy access to the Android and iOS SDKs without restrictions. This helps them create powerful and feature-rich mobile apps.

Strengths of Kotlin Multiplatform

Kotlin has a vibrant, fast-growing community with extensive resources and libraries. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, you’ll find plenty of support and learning materials.

Potential drawbacks of Kotlin Multiplatform as a Flutter alternative

  • Since the framework is still evolving, fewer resources and libraries are available compared to more established frameworks.
  • Kotlin is still a relatively young platform compared to other Flutter alternatives. Therefore, expect a steep learning curve, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Swift.

Kotlin Multiplatform can be converted for use in iOS (Swift) projects thanks to the language’s similarity to Swift. It will be a convenient choice if you’re already familiar with Swift.

Recent Developments or Updates in Each Flutter Alternative

The Flutter alternatives discussed above push regular updates to boost performance. Here are some recent updates:

  • ASP.NET Core recently updated its authentication and authorization process to boost app security. Also, the framework now requires a minimum Node.js version of 16.13.0 or higher.
  • QT released QT 6.2.11 and QT 6.5.4 as part of the long-term support (LTS) versions, introduced QT for Cloud, and integrated AI to provide smarter API reviews.
  • NativeScript CLI received a significant update (version 12.0.0) with internal library updates and a  revamped Angular integration.
  • Apache Cordova updated their internal libraries–Cordova-lib, Cordova-create, Cordova-common, Cordova-fetch, and Cordova-serve.
  • Kotlin introduced a default hierarchy template to simplify project setup and maintenance.

Community and Ecosystem of the 5 Alternatives to Flutter

ASP.NET Core provides many web and cloud development libraries, tools, and extensions. The community is robust, and Microsoft offers great continued support and development.

QT offers a rich ecosystem for the development process, including GUI libraries, tools, and modules. It has a dedicated community. However, it may have a smaller community compared to some other frameworks.

NativeScript integrates well with various existing native libraries. The community is rather small, considering it has been around for a while.

Apache Cordova uses web technologies and leverages plugins to access native device capabilities. It has a decent developer community, but not as vibrant as it once was.

Kotlin Multiplatform is relatively new but gaining traction. Therefore, both its ecosystem and community are growing.

In Closing: Which Flutter Alternative is Right for You?

Flutter is one of the best cross-platform frameworks in the market. However, sometimes, it won’t fit your software needs. In such cases, you will have no choice but to look for alternatives. This can be a daunting task since there are already too many options. 

This article has made it easier to choose by discussing the top five Flutter competitors: ASP.NET Core, QT, NativeScript, Apache Cordova, and Kotlin Multiplatform.

Each alternative has its strengths and drawbacks, so consider other factors that go beyond the surface when choosing a framework. These factors include your team’s background, project requirements, ecosystem support, community engagement, and your application’s long-term goals.

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