Development

Flutter web vs "actual web frameworks"

Koen Van Looveren

15/5/2024

Flutter vs reactjs, angular, vuejs and svelte

In the rapidly evolving world of web development, the choice of the right framework can significantly affect both the process and the outcome of building web applications. From established giants like React, Angular, Vue.js, and Svelte to the newer, intriguing option of Flutter (web), developers have a lot of options to consider. This blog post aims to dissect these frameworks, providing a detailed comparison that could guide developers in choosing the most suitable tool for their needs.

Framework Overviews

Flutter (web)

Originally popular as a mobile app development platform, Flutter, developed by Google, has expanded to support web applications. Flutter for Web allows developers to use the same codebase for building apps for iOS, Android, and the web. Its main selling point is the ability to create highly interactive, graphically-rich applications with a consistent look and feel across all platforms. The last few releases focused a lot more on performance which is why we feel Flutter can now be used in production for a lot more use cases.

WebAssembly (WASM)

Since the Flutter 3.22, Flutter has stable support for WebAssembly (WASM). Improving the performance on web by 2x and sometimes even 3x. The dart team is working closely with the chrome team, but web apps run on different platforms and browsers to in order to fully take advantage of WebAssembly, it should be release and considered stable on all common browsers.

Some resources about WebAssembly:

Documentation on WebAssembly for Flutter

Documentation on WebAssembly for Dart

React

React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, maintained by Facebook. It is renowned for its component-based architecture, which helps in building reusable UI components. React is favoured for its fast rendering times and the flexibility it provides, allowing developers to integrate it smoothly with other frameworks and libraries.

React logo
React logo

Angular

Developed by Google, Angular is a full-fledged MVC framework that is powerful for developing highly interactive web applications. It is well-known for its dependency injection and two-way data binding feature, which ensures that the model and the view components are synchronised in real time.

Angular Logo
Angular logo

Vue.js

Vue.js is a progressive JavaScript framework used for building UIs and single-page applications. It is designed from the ground up to be incrementally adoptable. The core library focuses on the view layer only, making it easy to pick up and integrate with other libraries or existing projects. Because it is so easy to pick up only basic coding knowledge is required to start using vue.js

Vue.js logo
Vue.js logo

Svelte

Unlike the other frameworks that operate primarily at runtime, Svelte shifts much of the work to the compile stage, creating highly optimised vanilla JavaScript at the end. This results in faster runtime performance and less code to download. 

Svelte Logo
Svelte Logo

Performance Comparison

Flutter for Web is known for its ability to render consistent and beautiful UIs that are highly interactive. However, it tends to generate larger file sizes, which might impact load times negatively compared to more lightweight frameworks like React or Svelte.

React, Angular, Vue.js, and Svelte are generally considered faster for web applications as they are specifically designed with the web in mind, focusing on minimising load times and improving responsiveness.

Developer Experience

Flutter's learning curve can be steep for those not familiar with Dart, the programming language used by Flutter. However, it provides a hot reload feature that significantly speeds up the development process (although as of writing hot reload it is not supported on the web, you can run your app on desktop for example and use hot reload there because all your UI code can be shared with Flutter across all platforms). The developer tools and documentation are comprehensive, although the community is not as large as React's or Angular's it is growing really fast.

React, Angular, Vue.js, and Svelte all boast large communities and a wealth of learning resources. React and Vue, in particular, are often praised for their ease of learning, while Angular might require a steeper learning curve due to its comprehensive nature. Svelte is appreciated for its simplicity and the unique approach of moving the work to the compile step, reducing the browser's workload.

Ecosystem and Community

React and Angular both benefit from a vast ecosystem, offering countless libraries and tools that extend their capabilities. Vue, while slightly smaller in community size, has a very active community and a rapidly growing ecosystem.

Flutter's ecosystem for web development is growing but is not as mature as its mobile counterpart. However, it is rapidly evolving with strong support from Google. A lot of must-have plugins/libraries have been made by the Flutter and Dart team to speed up your development

Use Cases and Suitability

Flutter for Web is best suited for applications where a high degree of brand expression through UI is needed across platforms. It is not ideal for applications where small size and fast loading are critical.

React and Vue are excellent for progressive web applications and single-page applications that require a responsive, dynamic user interface. Angular is ideal for enterprise-level applications due to its robustness and feature set. Svelte is best when performance and speed are paramount, and you want to keep things simple and efficient.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Flutter for Web

Pros:

  • Highly interactive, beautiful UIs with consistency across platforms.
  • Rich set of widgets and tools.
  • Share all your code between web, android, iOS, macOS, windows, linux. (yes even UI code)
  • Use the same technology for each platform (if you are building for multiple platforms)

Cons:

  • Larger initial load size. (Constantly improving with WebAssembly)
  • No native SEO support (for now the Flutter/Dart team are saying don’t use Flutter for marketing websites where SEO is very important)
  • Less mature web ecosystem.

Traditional Frameworks (React, Angular, Vue.js, Svelte)

Pros:

  • Specific to web development, optimised for performance.
  • Large ecosystems and communities.

Cons:

  • May require more complex setups for sharing codebases across platforms (except for Vue.js which is designed to be incrementally adoptable).
  • If you need to release to another platform as well you will also need another technology to (most of the time) rebuild your app. (If you use a Javascript technology you will be able to share some code but in most cases the UI and UI logic needs to be rewritten from scratch)

Conclusion

The choice of a web development framework largely depends on specific project requirements, team expertise, and the desired user experience. Flutter for Web offers a unique approach for those looking to provide a consistent experience across all platforms, while traditional frameworks like React, Angular, Vue.js, and Svelte provide robust solutions optimised for the web. As the web continues to evolve, so do these frameworks, each pushing the boundaries in their own way. We usually go with Flutter when we need to build for multiple platforms and want to share as much as code as possible resulting in less development time, the extra budget can than be used to build even more features that can be used for all platform.

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