Xamarin vs. React Native - Choose Your Mobile App Tech Stack
Sep 9, 20206 min read
Senior full stack developer and CTO at Ideamotive.
When it comes to creating a mobile application, you can choose from a variety of tech stacks. However, the tech stack chosen for your application will frame your possibilities and limitations. This decision will influence how easy it will be to find desired specialists, how well your product or service will work, and how much it will cost.
When you want to build easy and natural UX for your customers with predictable UI, good look, and super-fast performance, you should opt for native development. But, of course, you don't want to limit yourself to iOS or Android users only. That's when Xamarin and React Native come on stage.
This article will help you decide which of them is best for your project. Before the comparison let’s look at these two frameworks and how they are comparable.
What is React Native?
What is Xamarin?
Xamarin was created in 2011 by Mono and later acquired by Microsoft in 2016. The purpose of Xamarin is similar to React Native. Only this time you create native mobile applications using .NET and C#. Engineers can share up to 90% of their code between apps on different platforms.
Why should we compare Xamarin vs React Native?
Comparing Xamarin vs React Native is important for those who plan to create an application for both of the most popular mobile platforms, iOS, and Android. It should be much cheaper and faster than working on two separate versions at the same time. You would have to hire two development teams to work on two versions of the same application. Moreover, some UX inconsistencies might appear. That's why more and more companies decide to use one of the solutions described in this article.
Now let's compare these two mobile development frameworks in 10 categories: development environment, UI, speed of coding, performance, available toolkits, community & support, maturity of the platform, talent pool and documentation.
What to consider comparing Xamarin and React Native?
You can compare them on many levels. We have chosen 10 that we find the most important. All these factors influence the convenience of development, time, effort needed for the process, and the overall outcome.
This is 'where' software engineers work. The frameworks we compare today represent two different ways. For React Native you can choose from a broad and deep pool of IDEs and text editors. It's up to you, which one you use. Xamarin developers have fewer possibilities, and to be honest, it's best to choose Visual Studio, which is the official Microsoft .NET IDE.
When you build a cross-platform application you don't want it to look and work drastically different to apps created specifically for these platforms.
Both React Native and Xamarin use UI controllers native to a particular platform. Only in case of Xamarin, it is probably best to use Xamarin.Forms.
Speed of coding
The faster you code, the sooner your application hits the market, at least theoretically. Saved time is one of the reasons why we consider the use of React Native and Xamarin. But which of them is quicker?
The Hot Reloading feature in React Native increases the development speed. With lots of components, reusable code, and a vast library of UI components, coding goes smoothly.
Xamarin does not have Hot Reloading, but with .NET background and all the tools in Visual Studio, the development process is pretty quick. If you're working on a mobile version of a web application written in React or .NET, you can reuse much of your code in React Native and Xamarin respectively.
Performance tells you how well a certain application works on a particular device. Therefore, it is important to choose the tech stack that ensures higher performance of created software. Mobile applications should be touch responsive, quick to launch, and not devour resources.
Xamarin, on the other hand, is based on C#, a compiled language. Code written in C# is interpreted, optimized, compiled, and packed just before it's used on a device.The code that isn't in use at the moment is not compiled.
Although frameworks providers try to ensure anything a developer might need to do their job, the business reality is always a step ahead. Because of that developers, third-party companies and other organizations provide additional tools for specific uses.
Basic components of React Native enable the creation of fully usable applications. However, there are also tons of tools created for React Native by the vast community of developers. Thanks to them, you can easily find a solution for pretty much every programming challenge and speed up the development process.
In the case of Xamarin you will probably use Visual Studio that is already a powerful tool. Additionally, you can adapt toolkits that enhance the development process. Most of them are provided by Microsoft and supported by the .NET platform but many of them are open-source. Thanks to that, they're ready to use and usually don't need further configuration.
Community & support
Experienced specialists in software development are accustomed to knowledge-sharing and peer support. It's important because often you will stumble upon a problem someone has already solved and shared their solution online.
The community of React Native developers on GitHub consists of 2088 contributors. This number is high partially thanks to the fact that React Native is an open-source framework. Apart from the wide network of developers, you can count on lots of learning materials, how-to's and all kinds of tutorials to use when you need help.
Although Xamarin is part of the .NET open-source platform, its community is much smaller. In the case of Xamarin we only can talk about GitHub contributors to e.g. Xamarin.Forms (that is Xamarin framework), and the number is 275. On the other hand there is much support from Microsoft itself with Xamarin courses and guides. Interestingly, Microsoft supports the React native community too. It invested significant resources in developing React Native Windows project and React Native support.
In the past, many people were afraid of open-source solutions, because often there wasn't any big, trusted company behind them. Today, the biggest players run their open-source projects and support the users' community.
With the Facebook dev team behind React Native, you don't need to worry about stability issues. Also, as you will see later in this article, there are big players using RN. And that's the best recommendation.
Xamarin is trying to catch up with competitors like React Native. Although it's backed by the mighty Microsoft, it still has some problems. For example, developers notify troubles with iOS development on Windows.
Documentation is important. Especially when you're a beginner, but old stagers benefit from well-developed and up to date docs as well. At this point we care less about the community and much more about content from the platform provider.
To be honest, no matter which of them you choose, you will find a plethora of information, maybe even more than you need. React Native has its web page including the documentation tab. Xamarin uses Microsoft Docs.
Maturity of the platform
Fresh software solutions tend to suffer from many early-stage problems. That's why it's usually better to choose a grown-up technology.
Created in March 2015, React Native is already 5 years old and is very mature for its age. It is developed, and what's more important, constantly used by Facebook. As a result, it's updated on a regular basis.
Xamarin is even older than React Native and almost as old as .NET itself. However, it had been developed by a third-party company until 2016. Today it's developed and updated regularly by Microsoft experts, so there's no need to worry.
When deciding on a tech stack, you need to estimate how hard and how expensive it will be to find particular specialists and replace them when needed.
According to the latest Stack Overflow Survey conducted among 90,000 developers worldwide, almost 11% of them use React Native. Interestingly, over 60% of respondents recognized React Native as the most loved technology.
The same survey shows that only 6.5% of developers use Xamarin. Also, the 'Love ratio' is lower than React Native's and amounts to less than 50%.
What applications have been coded in Xamarin and React Native?
Another factor that may help you choose the best platform for your project is the similarity to those already on the market. Take a look at the portfolio of Xamarin and React Native. Compare the complexity, industry, and features of your future application and those available.
Applications created with Xamarin
Storyo: Video Story Creator — probably the most well known Xamarin app. It uses AI and metadata to transform your photos into video-stories.
OLO- online food ordering solution taking care of gathering food orders, payment, and delivery issues.
Alaska Airlines — Travel — this application enables all flight activities on mobile devices. You can book a flight, change seats and get all the travel information.
Applications created with React Native
Tesla — this company used React Native to make it possible for car owners to control and remotely monitor their car and Powerwall.
Facebook — of course, as React Native creator, Facebook uses this framework in, among others, Ads Manager, Marketplace App, and Instagram App.
SoundCloud Pulse — created an app for creators only. It enables creators to manage their accounts and manage interaction with users and listeners.
Uber Eats — Uber food delivery service based on their driver network used React Native to rebuild Restaurant Dashboard improving drivers' communication with restaurants.
What to choose? Xamarin or React Native?
If you still don't know which framework wins the comparison Xamarin vs React Native, we have a straightforward solution. Get in touch with us, and let us know about your dilemma. Our software consultant will help you find out which one is the best for you and why you should choose one over another.
And if you have already decided, but still looking for mobile apps developers, we have a solution to that as well. Our expert network gathers dozens of React Native and Xamarin developers, as well as many other specialists perfectly fitted for your industry, technology, and company culture. Check, if we can connect you with a perfect talent.
Dawid is a full stack developer experienced in creating Ruby on Rails and React Native apps from naught to implementation. Technological superhero, delivering amazing solutions for our clients and helping them grow.