Flutter vs PhoneGap: What are the differences?
Flutter and PhoneGap can be primarily classified as "Cross-Platform Mobile Development" tools.
Some of the features offered by Flutter are:
- Fast development - Flutter's "hot reload" helps you quickly and easily experiment, build UIs, add features, and fix bug faster. Experience sub-second reload times, without losing state, on emulators, simulators, and hardware for iOS and Android.
- Expressive UIs - Delight your users with Flutter's built-in beautiful Material Design and Cupertino (iOS-flavor) widgets, rich motion APIs, smooth natural scrolling, and platform awareness.
- Access native features and SDKs - Make your app come to life with platform APIs, 3rd party SDKs, and native code. Flutter lets you reuse your existing Java, Swift, and ObjC code, and access native features and SDKs on iOS and Android.
On the other hand, PhoneGap provides the following key features:
Flutter and PhoneGap are both open source tools. It seems that Flutter with 69.4K GitHub stars and 8.09K forks on GitHub has more adoption than PhoneGap with 4.15K GitHub stars and 974 GitHub forks.
According to the StackShare community, Flutter has a broader approval, being mentioned in 41 company stacks & 146 developers stacks; compared to PhoneGap, which is listed in 86 company stacks and 36 developer stacks.
What is Flutter?
What is PhoneGap?
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For a front end dev like me, using a mobile framework for side projects makes more sense than writing a native app. I had used Apache Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) before (because React Native didn't exist yet), and was happy with it. But once React Native came out, it made more sense to go that way instead. It's more efficient and smooth, since it doesn't have the simulation overhead, and has more access to hardware features. It feels cleaner since you don't need to deal with #WebView, using native UI widgets directly. I also considered Flutter . It looks promising, but is relatively new to the game, and React Native seems more stable for now.
I needed to choose a full stack of tools for cross platform mobile application design & development. After much research and trying different tools, these are what I came up with that work for me today:
For the client coding I chose Framework7 because of its performance, easy learning curve, and very well designed, beautiful UI widgets. I think it's perfect for solo development or small teams. I didn't like React Native. It felt heavy to me and rigid. Framework7 allows the use of #CSS3, which I think is the best technology to come out of the #WWW movement. No other tech has been able to allow designers and developers to develop such flexible, high performance, customisable user interface elements that are highly responsive and hardware accelerated before. Now #CSS3 includes variables and flexboxes it is truly a powerful language and there is no longer a need for preprocessors such as #SCSS / #Sass / #less. React Native contains a very limited interpretation of #CSS3 which I found very frustrating after using #CSS3 for some years already and knowing its powerful features. The other very nice feature of Framework7 is that you can even build for the browser if you want your app to be available for desktop web browsers. The latest release also includes the ability to build for #Electron so you can have MacOS, Windows and Linux desktop apps. This is not possible with React Native yet.
Framework7 runs on top of Apache Cordova. Cordova and webviews have been slated as being slow in the past. Having a game developer background I found the tweeks to make it run as smooth as silk. One of those tweeks is to use WKWebView. Another important one was using srcset on images.
I configured TypeScript to work with the latest version of Framework7. I consider TypeScript to be one of the best creations to come out of Microsoft in some time. They must have an amazing team working on it. It's very powerful and flexible. It helps you catch a lot of bugs and also provides code completion in supporting IDEs. So for my IDE I use Visual Studio Code which is a blazingly fast and silky smooth editor that integrates seamlessly with TypeScript for the ultimate type checking setup (both products are produced by Microsoft).
I use some Ruby scripts to process images with ImageMagick and pngquant to optimise for size and even auto insert responsive image code into the HTML5. Ruby is the ultimate cross platform scripting language. Even as your scripts become large, Ruby allows you to refactor your code easily and make it Object Oriented if necessary. I find it the quickest and easiest way to maintain certain aspects of my build process.
For the user interface design and prototyping I use Figma. Figma has an almost identical user interface to #Sketch but has the added advantage of being cross platform (MacOS and Windows). Its real-time collaboration features are outstanding and I use them a often as I work mostly on remote projects. Clients can collaborate in real-time and see changes I make as I make them. The clickable prototyping features in Figma are also very well designed and mean I can send clickable prototypes to clients to try user interface updates as they are made and get immediate feedback. I'm currently also evaluating the latest version of #AdobeXD as an alternative to Figma as it has the very cool auto-animate feature. It doesn't have real-time collaboration yet, but I heard it is proposed for 2019.
For the UI icons I use Font Awesome Pro. They have the largest selection and best looking icons you can find on the internet with several variations in styles so you can find most of the icons you want for standard projects.
For the backend I was using the #GraphCool Framework. As I later found out, #GraphQL still has some way to go in order to provide the full power of a mature graph query language so later in my project I ripped out #GraphCool and replaced it with CouchDB and Pouchdb. Primarily so I could provide good offline app support. CouchDB with Pouchdb is very flexible and efficient combination and overcomes some of the restrictions I found in #GraphQL and hence #GraphCool also. The most impressive and important feature of CouchDB is its replication. You can configure it in various ways for backups, fault tolerance, caching or conditional merging of databases. CouchDB and Pouchdb even supports storing, retrieving and serving binary or image data or other mime types. This removes a level of complexity usually present in database implementations where binary or image data is usually referenced through an #HTML5 link. With CouchDB and Pouchdb apps can operate offline and sync later, very efficiently, when the network connection is good.
I use PhoneGap when testing the app. It auto-reloads your app when its code is changed and you can also install it on Android phones to preview your app instantly. iOS is a bit more tricky cause of Apple's policies so it's not available on the App Store, but you can build it and install it yourself to your device.
So that's my latest mobile stack. What tools do you use? Have you tried these ones?
I am starting to become a full-stack developer, by choosing and learning .NET Core for API Development, Angular CLI / React for UI Development, MongoDB for database, as it a NoSQL DB and Flutter / React Native for Mobile App Development. Using Postman, Markdown and Visual Studio Code for development.
We used phonegap best practices to compile and deploy our hybrid to android and ios markets.