Dev Shankar Ganguly

@devshankar.ganguly

Top Pros & Cons Comparison: React Native VS. Kotlin

Now a days technology is evolving, day-by-day newer versions of development frameworks to development libraries are getting more up to date and allows feasibility to do something new! The coastline is a programming language, propelled against React Native, a JS library; so now it’s time to roll and get to know which one is going to be the best.

What Is React Native?

A next-gen member of the React family, React Native is a JavaScript library used for creating User Interfaces. It’s created and introduced by Facebook along with Instagram and the community.

It's been 5 splendid years since it was released. A new stable version came out on Nov 28th ‘2017. With React Native, you can create Android, iOS, and UWP native apps. What’s great about React Native is; there are pretty little differences within the finished app built using Objective-C or Java and one built using React Native. So you could use it as an alternate to Kotlin as well.

But just like any other language that is out there, there are some pros and cons to all.

Pros of React Native: —

Time Efficiency

Design and layout feel a lot more productive if you are quickly able to visualize what you create. For that purpose, React Native has a distinctive feature called “hot reloading”. It allows the changes made in the code to immediately take effect into iOS and Android app variants. It’s like a live preview!

So, it reduces the time for changes to show upto zero and saves further development time as well.

Performance

By using native controls and native modules, React Native improves on performance.

React Native interacts with the targeted (native) components for iOS or Android and renders code to native APIs directly and independently. By doing so, it uses a specific thread from UI, which causes an increase in performance. Here the key factor is React which is using the native APIs. Other options like using a WebView to render code may have other advantages but compromise the performance.

Growing Community

As I mentioned above, React Native is an open source project. That means anyone can contribute to the framework. It also means you get to have more convenient access to great developers and their experience. If you are facing any issues, you have high chances of getting the right kind of help from the community and experts.

Ready-made Components Increase Development Speed

Another significant feature on the React Native table is the ‘Ready-to-apply components’. Instead of writing code from scratch, you get to use ready-made components. It will be great for achieving simple functionalities of forms in less time and makes the development process faster.

Save Money

React Native saves huge chunk money and time as well. Besides reducing the app development process, React Native accredits JS developers to create apps targeting multiple OS, with a minimal amount of native code necessity.

Only one developer can write codes for both the platforms — That is less amount of resources and costs spent on crafting the same apps with less and smaller development cycles.

Short Team Size

Building upon my last point, when one developer codes for both iOS and Android, it evidently reduces the team size as well.

Having a single team vs having two different teams, an Android team and an iOS team beats the later with potential better communication. By choosing React Native, you need expert JS developer who can write code for both Android and iOS platforms.

Yes, there might be times when apps with more native features will require help from native programmers but in most cases, a smaller team will be easier to manage.

Reliable and Stable Apps

You needn’t worry about the stability and reliability of Apps built with React Native. It simplifies data binding with such flow that the child elements cannot affect the parent data. If the developer wants to change an object, he/she would have to modify its state and apply updates accordingly — meaning only allowed components will be upgraded. Big brands like Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, Skype and many more are utilising React Native in their apps.

Ability to Target Multiple OS with Less Native Code

The ability to create one app running for multiple OS is just great. No matter the simplicity because you might not get all the features or advanced functionality in apt packages for apps created with React Native, but nonetheless, you will have two applications with the time, effort and resources for creating one.
I would always add this to my list of Pros of React native.

Better than Hybrid Native Experience

React Native offers a truly native user experience, unlike other hybrid tools that merely provide a native-style wrapper for browser-based apps. Since React native leverages the native components, the final products look and feel very real — as if created with the same native technology. If anyone not aware of the technology used to design and develop an app then you will not be able to differentiate between a simple app built with React native or with an Android programming language or iOS.

Cons of React Native: —

Ready-made Components Small Collection

Ready-made components are the most prominent pros of react native. Although it’s still a new development framework, so the number of ready-made components is expected to increase drastically. At this moment the collection is quite small that limits programmers to create pretty basic apps.

Native Code Required

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that you might still need to write a minimal amount of native code when developing apps with React Native. This feels like a contradiction because for someone developing in React Native, avoiding having to code for Android or iOS was probably what they were doing in the first place. This is something you will also need to budget for, especially if your app requires access to devise cameras and other onboard hardware. In a rare case, this might out-weigh all React Native pros like a smaller team, time-saving, cost reduction.

App Performance Lacks as Compared to a Pure Native App

If you are making a simple app, then sure go ahead — you can use the full benefits of React Native.

However, if you require some advanced functionality, then performance might go down and it drains the comparison to apps created in a platform-specific logic.

Component Quality

I mentioned the small collection of ready-made components. That is not a dead end, as there are third-party component libraries that you can choose from. But that would depend on luck, in terms of quality and reliability of that specific 3rd-part library. As they are not created by the official developers, they might contain a lot of bugs and glitches. So, when a developer spends time in rectifying those bugs and glitches it would pretty generative if they write the code from scratch, thus the purpose is resolved to avoid platform-specific coding.

Steep Learning Curve

If you are new to the React framework and JavaScript, then learning React Native might be a little hard for the average Joe. Especially in comparison to other Cross-platform development options. The JSX is a JavaScript syntax extension that allows mixing HTML with JavaScript. It doesn’t come that naturally to the average person and has a steep learning curve, which can be frustrating.

Security is Low because JavaScript Based Library

As we all know that React Native is a JS -- backed library. If you are using React Native for apps which require type A security, like mobile banking apps or personal finance apps, you will need to pay extra attention to detail because JavaScript is famous for its fragility. You will need to keep a close watch on malicious code snippets that could very easily harm your app’s core functionality.
Especially if you are using any 3rd-party add-ons.

Memory Management

Again — expanding on the fact that React Native is JavaScript based, It’s not suited for computation intensive apps. The performance and speed are immensely degraded and float computations are handled in an even more inefficient way, in terms of memory usage and management.

Over to REACT NATIVE — let’s map out the Pros and Cons of Kotlin.

What Is Kotlin?

Kotlin is brilliant JVM backed programming language officially supported by Google and it is actively developed by JetBrains. It’s a proficient language that supports multiple solutions to diverse the problems faced by Android developers these days. Kotlin is the statically typed open source programming language that perfectly fits in server-side web application development. From reduce in bugs to the improved the readability of code and lessen the development time, Kotlin is undoubtedly a rising star for the Android mobile application development.

Given the fact it is fairly new, most people frown on its community support BUT the official documentation from Jet Brains (the developers behind Kotlin) is very thorough and well-constructed. That makes it easy to learn for any willing mind.

But is Kotlin better than React Native? Let's take a look.

Pros Of Kotlin: —

Maintainability

Kotlin is backed by a great company which is responsible for creating some of the very best IDE tools brought to light. There is no chance JetBrains will neglect to provide tool support for Kotlin. Already, Kotlin has phenomenal support on various Development environments including Android Studio. So if you are choosing Kotlin, know you are choosing a potential giant that could be used across multiple tools and IDEs.

Less code

Think about coding. It is basically just writing and with any writing, one golden rule always applies: “The less you write, the fewer mistakes you make.” Kotlin code is not only concise but it has a very clear code-base. That leaves less room for errors and more room for stable code in production. You have to write less number of lines of code to achieve the same functionality.

Reliability

Kotlin is a mature language which first appeared in 2011, it has gone through multiple testing stages before the final release. It is a programming language created by programmers and they catered to a lot of issues with a developer’s perspective. One of which is they made the latest release reversely compatible with the previous versions as well. Working on Android and having to deal with different versions is one of the biggest pain points that I have come across, so believe you me when I say, Kotlin’s reliability is a blessing.

Compatible with existing code

Java interoperability is yet another Pro I would vouch for in Kotlin. The language works well with Java itself, including all related tools and frameworks, which provides a rich ecosystem.
How does that help with a Kotlin vs React Native comparison?
Well, for starters, Java learning material and online help is a huge sea. Anything you can’t do in Kotlin, you probably can in Java. Some say it’s a new learning curve, I say its a great potential for Kotlin to build a great developer community soon.

Why? Because people who are seasoned in Java will have no problem shifting over to Kotlin and thus contribute to the Kotlin community flawlessly! Since Java and Kotlin code is interoperable, you won’t get completely stuck.

For React Native, you don’t have this luxury.

Cons Of Kotlin: —

Team training

Okay, so the people who are not well versed in Java (because a lot of you think you are, but aren’t!) — I think this will be a Con for them. There is some difference in Java and Kotlin after all, so yea there will be a learning curve for them. Such a developer will have some resistance switching languages. I say that with the foresight that it will call for investments in training and require more time in shifting your Android development team over to Kotlin.

Slow compilation

Some developers report slower compilation speed as one of the main drawbacks of Kotlin. In some cases, Kotlin is faster in compilation speed, but sometimes it is significantly slower.

Smaller community

No matter the potential, even though Kotlin is rapidly growing as a strong language, it still has a small developer community, at present. That means there are limited resources for learning the language and there will be a lot of questions that will turn up unanswered, even with the Java pool of learning.

**CONCLUSION**

Using React Native for its intended tasks performs quite well — but I think, this JavaScript library, with all its goods and glory, cannot outweigh Kotlin as a language.

What did you decide? Which is better, Kotlin or React Native? Let me know in the comments below and hope for the best.

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