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Flutter vs. Kotlin: An Overview in 2024

Flatirons
Development
14 min read
Flutter vs. Kotlin: An Overview in 2024
Contents
Contents

What is Flutter?

Flutter, introduced by Google in 2017, has rapidly gained popularity as a versatile framework for developing applications across various platforms, including mobile (both iOS and Android), web, and desktop. At the core of Flutter’s capabilities is the Dart programming language. Dart enables developers to write code that compiles into native machine code across different platforms. This feature of Flutter allows for the delivery of high performance and native-like user experiences.

The key advantage of using Flutter lies in its ability to facilitate a single codebase for applications that operate seamlessly across multiple platforms. This unified development approach substantially reduces time and effort compared to creating separate applications for each platform. Consequently, Flutter’s “write once, run anywhere” philosophy has made it an increasingly popular choice for mobile app development.

Alongside its cross-platform efficiency, Flutter’s growing ecosystem and supportive community further enhance its appeal. These aspects have contributed significantly to Flutter’s rising popularity among developers looking for an effective solution to create versatile and high-performing applications.

What is Kotlin?

Kotlin, on the other hand, is a programming language created in 2011 by a software company called Jetbrains, primarily focused on the delivery of Android applications. It is a statically typed programming language that was created to address some of the limitations and boilerplate code found in the Java programming language. It is designed to improve developer productivity and code safety by providing a more concise and expressive syntax, as well as more modern features and better development tools.

Because it is not a development framework but a programming language, it is not directly comparable to the Flutter framework, but must be considered a competitor as it is one of the primary methods by which Android apps are developed. The comparison then, particularly for the purposes of this article, is primarily native vs cross-platform development.

What is Kotlin Multiplatform?

Kotlin Multiplatform, an extension of the Kotlin programming language, presents a compelling alternative comparable to Flutter in the realm of cross-platform development. It enables developers to seamlessly share and reuse code across a diverse range of platforms, such as Android, iOS, web, and desktop. This feature of Kotlin Multiplatform is particularly advantageous for writing and maintaining common business logic and data processing code, as it allows these components to be written just once and then efficiently deployed across various platforms.

By leveraging Kotlin Multiplatform, developers can significantly reduce the redundancy often associated with coding for multiple platforms. This not only streamlines the development process but also ensures consistency in logic and functionality across different environments. The ability to share codebase while still providing platform-specific implementations when necessary makes Kotlin Multiplatform a strong contender in the cross-platform development space, offering a balance between shared efficiency and platform-specific customization.

Flutter vs. Kotlin Breakdown

Let’s compare Flutter and Kotlin a little more directly, based on a number of key factors:

Learning Curve

When comparing the learning curves of Flutter and Kotlin, several key aspects need to be considered:

Inclusion of Dart in Learning Flutter:

Kotlin’s Similarity to Java:

Language Characteristics:

Ease of Learning for New Developers:

Considerations for Java Developers:

In summary, while Dart and Kotlin have their unique characteristics, the choice between them largely depends on the learner’s background. Kotlin tends to have a lower learning curve for those familiar with Java, making it a more accessible entry point into Android app development. In contrast, Flutter, with Dart, may require a bit more initial effort, especially for developers without experience in C-languages, but offers the advantage of a cross-platform framework.

Programming Language

In the dynamic world of mobile app development, choosing the right programming language is crucial for the success of a project. Two prominent names that frequently surface in this realm are Kotlin and Dart. Each language offers unique strengths and capabilities, making them preferred choices for specific types of app development projects. Kotlin, renowned for its seamless integration with the Android platform, stands out in native Android app development. On the other hand, Dart, especially when paired with Flutter, shines in the arena of cross-platform development, catering to a broader range of platforms including Android, iOS, web, and desktop.

Feature of Kotlin

Below are some of the important aspects of Kotlin.

Java Interoperability

Ease of Learning

Code Efficiency

Multiplatform Capabilities

Native Development Advantages

Key Features

Features of Dart

Below are some of the important aspects of Dart.

Originally for Web Development

Cross-Platform Capability

Language Design

Static Typing and Garbage Collection

Popularity and Application

Kotlin’s Dominance

Dart’s Role in Flutter

Comparative Overview

Kotlin and Dart share many similarities, but their primary strengths lie in different areas:

In essence, while Kotlin is the go-to for Android-focused development, Dart, in tandem with Flutter, emerges as a top choice for developers seeking a comprehensive cross-platform solution.

Development Cost

Understanding the development costs associated with Flutter and Kotlin involves analyzing their unique features and how they align with project requirements. Here are the key considerations for each framework:

Flutter’s Cross-Platform Efficiency

Kotlin’s Android Focus and Emerging Cross-Platform Capability

Cost Dynamics in Android-Only Development

Language Efficiency and Syntax

Choosing the Right Framework:

In conclusion, both Flutter and Kotlin present their own set of advantages in terms of development costs. Flutter is a strong choice for projects that aim to span multiple platforms, whereas Kotlin is preferable for Android-centric projects with specific requirements. The final choice should align with the project’s technical needs, desired platform reach, and the existing skill set of the development team.

Development Speed

While some worry about the speed of cross-platform frameworks, Flutter is fast. When comparing Flutter and Kotlin, particularly in the context of their ability to expedite the app development process, several key points emerge:

Object-Oriented and Expressive Languages:

Flutter’s Rapid UI Development:

Kotlin’s Integration with Android Ecosystem:

Comparative Efficiency for Android Development:

In summary, both Flutter and Kotlin offer advantages in terms of development speed and efficiency, but their suitability varies depending on the specific requirements of the project. Kotlin is a strong choice for Android-specific development, particularly for teams with Java expertise, while Flutter stands out for its cross-platform capabilities and rapid UI development features. The decision should align with the project’s platform targets and the existing skill set of the development team.

Performance

When evaluating the performance of mobile apps, understanding how Flutter and Kotlin stack up against each other is crucial. Here are the key points to consider regarding their performance:

Advantage of Native Development

Performance in CPU Intensive Tasks

UI Performance

Cross-Platform Performance

App Size Considerations

In summary, while Kotlin (and native development in general) offers advantages in leveraging platform-specific features for performance optimization, Flutter provides a competitive edge in cross-platform UI performance and overall efficiency. The choice between Flutter and Kotlin for performance should be based on the specific requirements of the project, including the need for CPU-intensive operations and the importance of cross-platform compatibility.

Community Support

Both Kotlin and Flutter have large, active communities. Kotlin is largely focused on Android development, at least until Multiplatform is fully realized. This means it has a great deal of support, but primarily from one side of the mobile marketplace.

GitHub

In Github, we see only 44.7k stars for Kotlin, while Flutter has 159k. We can however see that Kotlin is the more established player in the Android space simply by looking at the number of commits, 101k for Kotlin, and just under 35k for Flutter.

StackOverflow

Stack Overflow provides a yearly survey that asks developers numerous questions about popular technology. According to last year’s Stack Overflow survey, Kotlin was used by 9.06% of developers, and Flutter counted 9.12%. There are 88k questions on Stack Overflow for Kotlin related topics, while there are 162k for Flutter.

When is Kotlin Better than Flutter?

When deciding between Kotlin and Flutter for your app development project, here are the key points to consider:

Android-Centric Development:

Skill Set and Familiarity:

Android-Specific Requirements:

In essence, Kotlin is the ideal choice for projects that demand comprehensive Android functionality and benefit from a team with Java experience. However, for broader cross-platform needs or when the focus is on rapid development and deployment across multiple platforms, Flutter stands out as a more fitting option. Consider your project’s specific requirements and your team’s expertise to make the most informed decision.

When is Flutter Better than Kotlin?

Choosing Flutter over Kotlin can be advantageous in various scenarios, particularly for certain types of Android and cross-platform developments. Here are the main considerations for opting for Flutter:

Rapid Development of MVPs and High-Performance Apps:

User Interface and Design:

Cross-Platform Compatibility:

In summary, Flutter is the go-to framework for scenarios that demand rapid development, aesthetically pleasing UIs, and cross-platform functionality, especially when the project does not require intensive use of platform-specific Android features. Its capacity to swiftly produce quality apps for both Android and iOS makes it an appealing choice for a wide range of development projects.

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