Ionic vs Nativescript: 13 Differences Between the two Frameworks

Mobile App Development January 18, 2021
ionic vs nativescript

Ionic vs Nativescript: 13 Differences Between the two Frameworks

Here’s the best part about technologies, you get to explore a host of options, each offering a different set of features and benefits. However, it could be tiring for many PMs and CTOs to put a finger on which framework best suits their business needs. 

Ionic vs Nativescript is one such comparison of cross-platform frameworks that offers a native experience for mobile apps. Both frameworks apply the “write once, run everywhere” principle, and support Javascript. However, there are small differences that set them apart when accessing native features and delivering performance. 

Here are two top-notch frameworks juxtaposed for your purview.

What is Ionic? An Overview

Ionic is an open-source UI toolkit that enables you to create hybrid cross-platform mobile applications. It uses Webview for mobile instead of using native device elements. The framework leverages from familiar JavaScript codebases like vanilla JavaScript, Angular, React, or Vue. Furthermore, Ionic has multiple components presets that provide native functionality. The framework is known for providing efficient performance with minimum DOM manipulation.  

Some of the cool stats related to the Ionic Framework are:

Use Cases of Ionic 

  • Hybrid App Development
  • Cross-Platform App Development
  • Native Wrapper
  • App with Hardware Functionality
  • Developing high-performance UI/UX app

Popular Apps made with Ionic

  • TD Ameritrade Mobile: Built a user-friendly application for new and experienced traders that reinforced security by integrating facial and touch authentication to keep hackers at bay.  
  • Sworkit: Shortened the development time in half and saved over $200K per annum in additional manpower by writing a single codebase to develop its iOS and Android application. .
  • MarketWatch: Boosted user experience and leveraged features like code reusability, WebView, reusability of existing library, and plugins in addition with familiarity with existing technologies.
  • Diesel: Simplified the reporting and analyzing of stores and product performances for merchandising teams and discovered new branding opportunities.  
  • Microsoft Flow: Developed a workflow automation engine by integrating Ionic with Azure and AAD authentication for enterprise-grade, lag-free performance.

What is NativeScript? – An overview

NativeScript is an open-source framework that builds cross-platform applications for iOS and Android using JavaScript. It transpiles one programming language to another, building native applications using Angular, Vue JS, and TypeScript. Unlike other frameworks that use Cordova for rendering a WebView-driven app UI, NativeScript has a rendering engine that provides native performance and user experience. 

Market usage of NativeScript:

  • Today, 5% to 11% of developers use NaiveScript for cross-platform application development. (Source: Statista)
  • The number of NativeScript downloads between 2019 and 2020 increased to more than 812,575. (Source: npm stat) 
  • 28% of developers are dedicatedly using NativeScript for more than a year for various cross-platform application development. (Source: NativeScript survey) 

Use cases of NativeScript

  • Apps with massive server connectivity 
  • Simple gaming apps 
  • Real-time applications 
  • Music or Video streaming apps 
  • Geolocation apps 
  • Apps that can function with the default apps of the device 

What are popular apps made with NativeScript?

Sennheiser – Improved the ability to code between iOS and Android platforms with 85% code sharing and 100% element-sharing capacities. They also improved the development rate by 40%. 

PUMA – Built high-quality, simple-interface mobile apps in a short time. Easily integrated on-demand native features like messaging, push notifications, user authorization with cloud storage capabilities among others. 

Airbnb Design – Leveraged NativeScript with Lottie to create a native performance for building creative UI elements that quickly render After Effects animations in real-time. Additionally, developers could manipulate code according to the native design. 

MDBootstrap – Built a dedicated UI kit that functioned efficiently with native applications– ready-to-use mobile components, features, and icons. Created responsive and scalable cross-platform portable kits to develop flexible and native app compatibility. 

Portable North Pole (PNP) – Sharing of xplat-code with NativeScript allowed PNP to enhance and diversify platform compatibility without compromising the user experience and features. 

SAPUsed to build its mobile development kit that allowed higher code abstraction levels. Without influencing the system network, it rendered JavaScript codes into useful native codes with sophisticated business logic. 

Pros and Cons– Ionic vs Nativescript

Pros of Ionic:

  • Platform-independent Framework: Reduces the time, effort, and resources employed to build a cross-platform application while giving it a native look and feel. 
  • Uses Capacitor: Saves build time by providing a simplistic interface for accessing native SDK and native API on each platform.
  • Developer-friendly: Creates a single codebase by using familiar Javascript frameworks and libraries, reducing code rewrites
  • Scalability: Scales efficiently as the number of active users doesn’t affect its performance. 

Cons of Ionic:

  • Plugin Dependent System: Although Ionic offers a plethora of plugins, developers may need to create some highly-specific features.
  • Absence of Hot Reloading: Refreshes the whole app whenever the developer makes some changes, affecting the development speed.
  • Security threats: Using older versions won’t provide code uglification.  
  • Performance: Not suitable for memory-intensive or complex applications as Ionic . 

Pros of NativeScript

  • Cross-technology compatibility: Uses Angular, TypeScript, or JavaScript that allows convenient data binding and more component reusability. 
  • Native functionality: Accesses Native device API via native components developed with native performance. 
  • Programming language: Uses an XML-Esque-based markup language like HTML to develop applications with customized features.
  • Extensibility: Gives complete and direct access to all kinds of iOS and Android APIs. This offers accessibility and allows for the reuse of free plugins, Android SDKs, and CocoaPods. 
  • Developer-friendly CLI: NativeScript CLI allows developers to do almost anything ranging from adding a platform to deploying apps to a specific platform or device. Installation of plugins and app debugging is quicker and more comfortable. 

Cons of NativeScript

  • UI limitation: DOM and HTML are not widely supported, which leaves the necessity to learn the use of different UI components. This eats up a good chunk of your time and budget. 
  • Non-verified plugins: The total number of verified plugins are significantly less. Hence, there’s no assurance to the quality of plugins used in this framework. 
  • Native Knowledge: Developers must be aware of the native functionality and APIs of iOS and Android. Only then can they access the hardware of a device and any other platform-specific elements. 
  • Slower testing: Due to its native nature, an application can only accurately be tested on an emulator or an actual device. Consequently, this slows down the initial testing rate.

React Native vs NativeScript: The Complete Comparison Explained

Performance Comparison— Ionic vs Nativescript

How does Ionic stand out in terms of performance?

Ionic is known as the best cross-platform framework. It recently rose to popularity in 2019.

source

In terms of performance, Ionic apps offer 60FPS on both mobile and desktop. It uses pre-existing plugins and offers a hybrid approach to speed up the development process. The framework has an interactive time of fewer than 1.8 seconds. Despite being a non-native framework, Ionic excels in providing hardware accelerated transitions, touch-optimized gestures, and pre-rendering.

How does NativeScript stand out in terms of performance?

The expectation of NativeScript performance is neither high nor low; instead, it’s at par with most cross-platform frameworks. Animations built with NativeScipt perform well at 60 FPS without any difficulty. In addition to that, this framework provides the ability to offload certain types of long-running processes to maintain a balanced frontend speed for fast performance. The ability to offload in NativeScript is achieved through the multiple-threading model. Performance improvement with this framework also depends upon the use of specific best practices. Some of these practices include merging manual tool instrumentation to optimize performance and tracing of execution time within an application. 

From version 3.1 to the current version 7.0.13, NativeScript blogs offer extensive tips and tricks to improve application performance. 

Application ArchitectureIonic vs Nativescript

What kind of Architecture does Ionic support?

Ionic uses AngularJS MVC architecture, a software design pattern comprising Model View Controller, to build sophisticated single-page, cross-platform applications optimized for mobile devices. This architecture lets multiple developers work simultaneously, which reduces the development turnaround time and increases productivity. What’s more, since the architecture allows the creation of multiple Views, the application stays immune to recurring iterations.

What kind of architecture does NativeScript support?

NativeScript follows the MVC or MVVM architectural pattern. But, this framework widely functions on Modules, CLI, and plugins. The structure of NativeScript is composed of multiple modules, and each of them is responsible for enabling a set of specific features. The two most essential ones that make up the architecture are Root Module and Page Module. Together, they form an application Module comprising CSS style code, actual business logic, and XML-based UI codes. This framework efficiently manages Module dialogs due to its MVC friendliness. 

Suitability for Building Complex Apps— Ionic vs Nativescript

Is Ionic Suitable for building complex applications?

The latest Ionic v5 is not suitable for building complex applications. When you try to add intricate functionalities to the application, you may encounter challenges while integrating features like location-based services, image processing, and animated UI. However, it’s an optimal solution for building small-sized, simple applications. 

Is NativeScript suitable for building complex apps?

Unlike most frameworks, complex or advanced apps work smoothly with NativeScript with high performance even while building a complex or an advanced app. However, building a full-packaged complex application requires additional XML and UI support. NativeScript follows a bundle workflow process that develops optimized and complex apps using a tree-shaking mechanism, which improves the build time. Additionally, the Hot Module Replacement feature replaces, updates, and upgrades modules without restarting the existing application.

Ease of Testing— Ionic vs Nativescript

How easier is it to test the Ionic App?

Testing an Ionic app is relatively simple and is built with web-based technologies. You won’t need additional testing devices or an emulator as the app is tried in multiple browsers via WebView. Browsers offer built-in testing and debugging tools to make the whole testing process convenient. Furthermore, Ionic CLI has all the functionalities for web component testing. 

How easier is it to test a NativeScript app?

Since the release of version 2.5, NativeScript follows their own QA workflow that enhances an application’s default testing capacities. It integrates unit testing directly into the default CLI to support testing tools such as Jasmine, Mocha, and QUnit. Furthermore, external providers like Appium can also be used for functional testing. 

NativeScript uses Karma to run unit tests. It supports continuous integration when the unit test is configured with a Karma reporter or JUnit reporter. 

Communities— Ionic vs Nativescript

How big is the community around Ionic?

Since its launch in 2013, the Ionic developer community has exceeded 5 million developers. To date, nearly 5 million+ apps have been created by developers from over 200 countries by using the Ionic framework. The count of live projects being forked by the ionic community on GitHub is around 13.3K. Some popular platform for connecting with the global community of Ionic are:

How big is the community around NativeScript?

Since NativeScript uses technologies such as Angular and TypeScript, its community is divided between different frameworks. Yet, they hold 19.2k Github stars with approximately 1.4k shared repository projects and 193 active contributors. However, when combined with TypeScript, JavaScript, and Angular communities, NativeScript is an enormous fraternity. It also has an official community page, where users and contributors actively engage in quality discussions and meet for conferences. NativeScript developers can also take part in other communities via: 

  • Reddit
  • Stack Overflow 
  • Slack 
  • ProgressNEXT
  • NativeScript Developer Day

Modularity Support— Ionic vs Nativescript

Does Ionic support modularity?

Ionic supports modularity through the use of Angular’s @NgModule class. Developers can construct different components using modules and combine them together to form the structure of an application, which contains one root module for bootstrapping. Furthermore, additional feature modules created allow lazy loading of the components whenever required.  

Does NativeScript support modularity?

NativeScript accommodates tech stack, plugins, and features by default. It also provides support to TypeScript and JavaScript packages with the help of its module design pattern. As a result, developers with diversified knowledge effortlessly use the modules offered by this framework to build simple as well as advanced native apps. However, it’s rare to find developers with such expansive experience and an extended skillset. Overall, the modularity of NativeScript brings different developers together to achieve quality and successful results. 

User Experience— Ionic vs Nativescript

Ionic’s ability to give the best user experience

Ionic offers a rich, seamless in-app experience for both iOS and Android applications to create a native-like persistent, and transient UI navigation. Its hybrid approach eliminates the need to submit a newer version to the app stores. This allows for the rapid development of features within a native mobile app container that further sends live updates to users’ devices. Moreover, users don’t have to download the app APK from time to time for new updates.

NativeScript’s ability to give the best user experience

Building enterprise-level business applications is one of the added benefits of choosing this framework. Moreover, you could explicitly customize the free, professional-grade UI elements that NativeScript offers. Since all its features are backed by native functionality and native controls, it gives you performance that improves the user experience. This framework also tests all its libraries, templates, and UI elements before implementation to achieve the desired user-interface. In fact,  you can take your user experience to a whole new level by using methods like getFrameByld, classes like Frame, and properties like navigation context. 

Code Maintainability— Ionic vs Nativescript

How convenient is it to maintain code in Ionic apps?

With Ionic, developers often find themselves rewriting codes to maintain stability in their applications, making code maintenance a substantial challenge. What makes it worse is that the backward compatibility breaks most of the time, which makes it a more frustrating experience.

How convenient is it to maintain code in NativeScript apps?

Since NativeScript focuses on native functionality, it requires less effort to figure out where the problems lie. In fact, it takes fixing of a single codebase to correct multiple issues across devices as the code is shared between multiple platforms. Moreover, the behavior of the HTML code shared as modules differentiates between various platforms by using http.get commands and abstractions. A common ground between different devices is quickly developed with NativeScript through appropriate maintenance. What’s more, the reusability of components for building different features for different devices is high with NativeScript. This helps developers access more solutions and opportunities to sustain the existing codes. 

Application Size— Ionic vs Nativescript

Size of the application in Ionic

With the advent of Ionic v5, the size of the hello world app created in Ionic is reduced to 3.2MB from the previous versions that ranged between 5 and 6 MBs. Moreover, the usage of special tags during production build –prod –release further reduces the app size.

What is the minimum application size in NativeScript?

A simple native application built with NativeScript is anything more than 12MB. However, it is still small-sized considering the package of native elements and features. Also, self-containing multiple APKs within one package with a single codebase targets different device configurations and reduces the size of the application. The ABI mechanism of NativeScript with Android allows the device to automatically extract the machine code and scan for any shared library during development. This saves application size as the device identifies the 32-bit and 64-bit compatibility. 

Flutter vs Native Technology: Choosing the Right Mobile App Development Technology

The Learning Curve— Ionic vs Nativescript

How good is the learning curve of Ionic for developers

Ionic could be a piece of cake for developers with solid hands-on experience with Angular. All they need is to simply explore the framework, especially Cordova plug-ins or CLI. Additionally, JavaScript coders with experience in styling applications with HTML/CSS have a head start on learning this framework. Unlike a novice, who’d take a good amount of time understanding Ionic, chances are, they’d get a hang of Ionic in about 2 weeks. 

How good is the learning curve of NativeScript for developers?

NativeScript offers extensive learning as developers can switch between TypeScript, JavaScript, or Angular based on your need, feasibility, and comfortability. Declarative coding style, for one, allows both experienced developers and newbies to get their hands on NativeScript quickly. A deep understanding of native performance comes with development experience in Core Modules and design patterns. All the available resources and documents might be overwhelming for the first times, but they prove to be extremely useful. 

Hiring Developers— Ionic vs Nativescript

How convenient is it to hire Ionic developers?

The average cost of hiring an Ionic expert ranges from $10/hr to $150/hr based on the skill set and years of experience. However, if your application has a complex structure, it is advisable to hire a dedicated team of ionic developers to handle the development process. Although there is an abundance of Ionic developers, the training cost of the framework is economical. A novice developer having intermediate knowledge of web frameworks can be trained easily.

How convenient is it to hire NativeScript developers?

On average, NativeScript developers charge $249 for prioritized, unlimited application builds and a minimum of $19 per month to build applications only with free community support. All in all, the cost of hiring NativeScript developers is between $20 and $100 an hour. Whether your plan is to build an advanced, high-end application or a straightforward, simple one, you’re more likely to reduce costs by hiring an extended development team rather than full-time developers or freelancers. Since NativeScript supports modularity and multiple technologies, you must need a team size of around four or more at the very least.

Conclusion

So, what should be the ideal choice to build high-performant native apps? We, at Simform, evaluate cross-platform frameworks by gaining a broader perspective through use cases and applying our learnings to recommend whether a particular framework would be suitable for a specific task. 

Moreover, for any latest technology, tool, or framework, it’s important that you foresee the benefits on a long-term basis. This way, you can evaluate the right options and prepare an effective roadmap to build a better product.

We recommend you see these use cases once for Ionic and Nativescript and choose based on your needs. 

Choose Nativescript, if:

  • Your purpose is more code reusability in applications.
  • You want to leverage your existing development team’s Angular, TypeScript, or Vue skills to build native apps. 
  • You want to share a single codebase between Android and iOS platforms to extend the app to a web platform.
  • Your teams have less time and you are looking to shorten the learning curve.

Choose Ionic, if:

  • Your application idea is new, and you are planning to launch a startup. 
  • You are under a tight budget, and you want to keep development expenses at the minimum. 
  • Your application is simple, doesn’t require high-end customizations, and need a native-like experience.
  • You have a critical time factor considering the tight competition.

Drop us a line with your project needs, and we will guide you with the most suited mobile app technologies, estimated costs, and timelines. Feel free to share your views on these frameworks in the comment section or connect with me on Twitter. 

Xamarin-vs-Ionic

Flutter vs Nativescript Sidebar

Hiren Dhaduk

Hiren is VP of Technology at Simform with an extensive experience in helping enterprises and startups streamline their business performance through data-driven innovation.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Areas We Serve