Cross-Platform App Development: NativeScript vs React Native - What To Choose

As cross-platform mobile apps are becoming more and more popular, many businesses wonder which framework is the right one for their project. In this article we are going to compare two of the most popular cross-platform development frameworks, NativeScript and React Native, and help you decide which is best for you.

May 5, 2022

11 min

Technologies

Since cross-platform mobile apps are gaining popularity for the majority of services, companies face issues with choosing the right framework for their product. According to the Statista report, one-third of today's mobile developers use cross-platform technologies or frameworks, while the rest of them tend to use native tools. The question of choosing what suits you best is essential as it can affect the cost and functionality of the final application.

Even though some companies have an in-house team that can choose the best framework for them, most businesses lack this knowledge and are not well aware of available tools for modern software solutions. This is why we carefully curated this guide to help those who need a little help figuring it out and compare these two mobile app development frameworks. But let's start with the basics.

NativeScript vs React Native: Brief Overview

Cross-platform app development frameworks will be an excellent option, especially for those looking to quickly craft and release your product for both Android and iOS.

It is worth noting that choosing the right framework between two JS-based ones is a challenging task and, ideally, it should be done during the discovery phase of a software project. Both are suitable for cross-platform mobile app development and share many similarities but still question many people when it comes to a choice. Even though we will discuss every point layer, now let's take a look at a brief comparison that includes the performance, learning curve, popularity, as well as the communities of NativeScript vs React Native.

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What Is NativeScript?

Even though this is a buzzword in cross-platform app development, some people still are not sure what NativeScript, or NS, exactly means and from what language it comes. Being one of the most popular frameworks for building native apps with JavaScript, NativeScript is probably the most widely-used framework for front-end cross-platform mobile app development.

It was introduced by Progress in 2014 and called a "visionary" in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile App Dev Platforms (MADP). The growing popularity of this framework is for a good reason: its flexibility. Therefore, it provides direct access to all native platform APIs using TypeScript, JavaScript, and Angular. This allows NativeScript to offer top-notch native-like experiences on all available options, such as web, iOS, and Android.

Pros and Cons of NativeScript

NativeScript is the way to go for most developers to create custom mobile applications or build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) much faster than when crafting only iOS or Android applications.

Read more: Types of Mobile Apps: Native, Hybrid, Web and PWAs

Since, in most cases, NativeScript is used for MVPs, this framework is a good option for those who need to quickly enter the market, test their product, collect data or win a competitive advantage over their competition.

NativeScript Pros

- Best for Apps on Angular, Vue.js, or Svelte Stack

NativeScript is packed with support for Angular and Vue.js tech stack. This is why it can become an excellent framework for your mobile application if the front-end part of the software is written using these frameworks. So it will be easier for your developers to write applications with NS since you will not need to boost your tech stack with freelance devs to fulfill the skillet gap. 

- NativeScript Marketplace

In contrast to React Native, which provides an extensive third-party market with various plugins and libraries, the NativeScript framework offers its own official marketplace. This platform allows developers to manage and update new plugins regularly. Thereby, the issues related to looking for a third-party plugin that has been removed or, in other unpleasant cases, become not so vital.

- Hassle-free Access to Native APIs

This is probably the biggest difference between React Native vs NativeScript: the way they handle native APIs. While React Native is hugely hanging on bridges that are either offered by the community (except for the key ones by Facebook) or custom-built, the NS team just injected all the iOS and Android APIs directly into their official JavaScript Virtual Machine (JVM). This is why it is much easier for developers to access native APIs without the need for extra native knowledge.

NativeScript Cons

- UI Limitation

Since theDocument Object Model (DOM) and HTML are not so wide and popular, designers have to learn an extra use of different UI components. As a result, this may lead to more time and budget needed to finish the application.

- Non-verified Plugins

The number of verified plugins for NS is much less compared to RN. Therefore, you can't be sure about the quality of plugins that are going to be used in this framework. 

- Native Knowledge

Even though this is not a big deal, you will need to find developers who know the native functionality as well as APIs of Android and iOS. When they are aware of all vital minor points, they only will have access to the hardware of a device and understand any other platform-specific elements. 

- Slow Testing

While it won't take forever to test the app, it usually has a slower testing time compared to React Native. Thanks to its high native nature, your team will be able to accurately test it on an emulator or an actual device. Hence, this will ultimately slow down the inner testing rate.

NativeScript Use Cases

Native Script is used by many companies regardless of the size. Let's see a list of companies and industries where this framework is mostly used:

  1. Lorven Technologies - The company is based in the USA and has 50-200 employees with a revenue of $10-50 million.
  2. Netflix - A worldwide known company that has over 11 thousand employees with a revenue of over $29.7% billion.
  3. CONFIDENTIAL RECORDS, INC. - This company is also in the US having only 10 employees and $1 M revenue.
  4. Blackfriars Group - Being a UK-based company, they have 10-50 employees and a revenue of $1-10 million.

Top industries where NativeScript is an ultimate choice for cross-platform app development:

  • Computer Software;
  • Information & Technology Services;
  • Financial Services;
  • Internet;
  • Healthcare;
  • Marketing & Advertising;
  • Education.

What Is React Native?

React Native (more commonly known as RN) is a well-known JavaScript-based mobile development framework. It allows developers to craft natively-rendered mobile applications for both Android and iOS platforms. It also helps React Native development companies build apps for all platforms by using the same codebase.

This framework was introduced in 2015 by Facebook as an open-source project. And in just a few years, it has been called one of the top solutions that are used for mobile apps. 

Read more: 10 React Native Libraries to Use in Your Next Project
Pros and Cons of React Native

React Native Pros

- Ensures Stable Mobile App Growth

Since mobile apps constantly require changes, one of the biggest advantages of using React Native for mobile apps is guaranteed stable growth. Thanks to the components that know the art of displaying an app on various popular platforms.

Being highly functional, React Native allows developers to focus on more vital things rather than wasting time on details. This makes features more resistant to discrepancies and helps the app stay consistent. Due to the high level of resistance, cross-platform apps now have a similar experience as the native ones.

- Code Reuse & Pre-developed Components

Code reusability is a big plus for many developers. They like the idea of writing code once and then using it again and again. It is also beneficial for business, as reusing code allows developers to go further without wasting time on writing the same things for other platforms.

Live and Hot Reloading

React Native is well-recognized for these features, as they are the main things that differentiate this framework from others. This also ensures no misunderstanding, as both of them have different names.

The hot reloading feature is obtained from the Hot Module Replacement (HMR), and it simply relates to the inception that once the first reloading process has been done, the HMR is just an inter-mediator. According to developers, this feature hugely helps with file updating and keeping them in one place while the app is working. Therefore, this framework can easily handle different tasks at once.

React Native Cons

- Hard to Debug

It is vital to note that cross-platform mobile apps built with React Native are challenging to debug. The whole process can be tedious and time-consuming as this software is developed using Java, C/C++, JavaScript, etc. Therefore, engineers must have a background in the Native language of the platform.

Another issue that comes into the picture with React Native is that it usually mixes the threads of JavaScript and the native environment. To avoid it and produce an efficient app, the team should integrate with Flipper, which is a popular tool used to manage the debugging process.

- Hard to Determine the User Interface

In case you develop a cross-platform mobile app with features like screen transitions, animation, or various interactions, then React Native is not the best choice for you. It is not a regular practice for developers to make mobile apps with complex gestures using React Native.

It's not impossible, though, we've even created a React Native animation tutorial. There are more solutions too: this cross-platform mobile app development framework is powered by a gesture responder system. Even though it is going to ruin the complete lifecycle of all the gestures in your app, the complex one will be easier to achieve.

- Tougher to Make a Cross-platform Team

When talking specifically, React Native is nothing more than a specially developed technology for cross-platform apps. Therefore, developers must combine their skills and knowledge of both web and native technologies. Since every team member should know how to work on JavaScript, project configuration, CI, UX guidelines, and other things, it might be harder to build a cross-platform team of engineers.

React Native Use Cases

ReactNative is more popular among large enterprises. Let’s see the list of companies that decided to use this framework for their apps:

  1. Facebook/ Facebook Ads/ Instagram — The company’s founder ensured that the framework is used in the majority of apps, such as the basic Facebook mobile app, Facebook Ads app, and Instagram;
  2. Bloomberg — this social media company chose React Native to craft its mobile app that delivers personalized content from blog news to videos and live feeds;
  3. Skype — Also a popular online communicator, which is owned by Microsoft, used React Native for its mobile apps;
  4. Tesla — Well-recognized for its electrical cars, Tesla uses React Native for their Tesla app which allows users to control the car remotely.

Industries that like to use React Native include the following ones:

  • Computer Software;
  • Information & Technologies;
  • Internet;
  • Social Media;
  • Marketing & Advertising;
  • Financial Services;
  • Healthcare.

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NativeScript vs React Native: Key Differences

Now we have a brief understanding of the pros and cons of React Native vs NativeScript, as well as their key differences. Now it's time to compare these cross-platform app development frameworks by taking a look at their more functional points.

NativeScript vs React Native: Speed and Coding Easiness

Developers who have experience and knowledge only with JS will be able to code on NativeScript and React Native. However, those who have already worked with Angular will likely work easier with NativeScript. In contrast, engineers with a previous background in React are best for transitioning to React Native. Even though both frameworks take similarities from JavaScript, it might be easier for you to find developers for React Native as JS knowledge will be the only thing required.

NativeScript vs React Native: Performance

Yes, both of these cross-platform mobile app development frameworks provide a smooth native app performance. While both of them also have a rather high loading time, React Native is the winner in this competition.

Since NativeScript is well-known for its slow rendering, your mobile app will not be in high demand as people now value every second they spend. React Native offers a better experience by using native SDKs, and due to virtual DOM included, the React Native framework provides higher performance.

NativeScript vs React Native: Code-Sharing

Apps that have been written with both frameworks can share up to 90% of the codebase. Usually, the fewer features and less customization your app has, the more of the codebase the developers will be able to share.

NativeScript and React Native have almost the same collection of native components. When they are implemented, they will be easily compiled to default styles. This usually requires individual styling to satisfy the needs of the platform-specific app in order to be successfully developed.  

However, React Native can emphasize styling components for every platform to make sure the app will have a more natural look. In contrast, NS is more of a write-once approach, allowing developers to style various components to their liking to resemble native app components. 

NativeScript vs React Native: Documentation

Since both of these mobile app development frameworks are quite old, it means they have an extensive base of documentation. Therefore, developers can easily search for needed documentation, find answers, as well as improve their skills related to a particular question. 

When talking about NativeScript, the community is still working on documentation creation and adding extra resources. However, RN's documentation is less clear and more filled with various data. But still, skilled developers with a strong background will be able to find their answers.

NativeScript vs React Native: Cost of Development

As we are discussing cross-platform mobile apps, things like code sharing will be huge pros. This is because this will let you save lots of money, time, and labor needed for the development. 

Additionally, the fact that RN provides a single tech stack that can be used across the entire infrastructure significantly improves and reduces development as well as cost for later maintenance and updates. 

NativeScript vs React Native: Testing

React Native app development provides the dev team with significant freedom in choosing the best test automation conditions, like with the IDE. This cross-platform app development framework allows engineers to use the following tools depending on their needs:

  • Robotium;
  • Appium; 
  • UI Automator; 
  • Espresso; 
  • Jasmine; 
  • UI Automation; 
  • TestNG;
  • KIF;
  • among many others.

In contrast, NativeScript uses its QA workflow, which was released as open-source in 2017. Developers can perform unit tests directly using the NativeScript CLI that can use Jasmine, Mocha, or Quint.  

NativeScript vs React Native: Popularity

The React Native mobile app development framework is highly popular. This is mainly due to the fact that developers like this framework more, and it is easier for businesses to find the dev team for it.   

This is especially vital for those who have just started a new project and need an experienced team for it. So React Native is the best choice for it as it allows companies to quickly find the right development team.  

NativeScript vs React Native: Talent Pool

This also applies to the point below. Since React Native is more popular in the development community, the company will be easier to find engineers with this tech stack. However, the talent pool for both of these frameworks is vast and requires only time to find a team via several resources.

So if you need NS developers especially, it will be a tricky task for you to find them, but still it is possible. However, it will take more time compared to React Native engineers. But then again, if you decide not to employ such developers in-house, the many IT outsourcing models provide additional options as alternatives to in-house development, including hiring a dedicated team.

Read more: Why Is It Hard To Find a Good Developer? Freelance vs Outsourcing Comparison

NativeScript vs React Native: Development Community

There is a significant difference between these two tools. Since React Native was developed by Facebook, which is one of the primary IT companies today, the creators and members usually add various plugins to the community every day. 

Hence, the development community is growing at an immense speed. NativeScript is also open source, but the added functionality is slower. It provides only a few plugins, while some of them still did not pass due diligence. Therefore, those who require a community will find React Native the best option.

NativeScript vs React Native: Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks Comparison

Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks Comparison

So let's sum up everything mentioned above for clarity. Both these cross-platform frameworks have their pros and cons. As it can be seen, React Native is better than NS in most cases, if not at all. This is because it is easier to use, has a larger community, clear database, broader talent pool, and more things that are vital for teams. 

But in reality, even with this huge overweight, we will not name a clear winner. The answer on what to choose, React Native vs NativeScript, will depend on many factors that are essential for your business needs, and you will be surprised to find that you may need NS for your project, and that's still absolutely fine.   

Conclusion

Both mobile app development frameworks provide many opportunities for engineering teams and allow them to develop highly functional cross-platform mobile applications.   

We carefully curated this article to help you get a clear picture of the differences between these two frameworks showing most key points you may consider when choosing. While React Native is best according to what we mentioned here, you will still need to perform your own research and decide what you are going to use, especially for your app.  

We also highly recommend consulting an experienced company that will cover all your questions and help you make a decision. We have an excellent background in choosing tech stacks as well as cross-platform app development for various industries. Take a look at our mobile app development services and don't hesitate to contact us!

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