SwiftUI vs UIKit: Which is the Best UI Framework for iOS Development?

SwiftUI vs UIKit:

Which is the Best UI Framework

for iOS Development?

By Ronald Tuch

By Ronald Tuch

SwiftUI vs UIKit

Wondering which user interface framework to pick for your next project?

You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ve compared all the benefits and drawbacks of using SwiftUI vs UIKit in iOS development.

We’ve looked at their key features, we’ve listed the pros and cons of each platform, and we’ve included the factors you need to consider when choosing between UIKit and SwiftUI.

Let’s find the optimal framework for your mobile app.

What is SwiftUI?

Swift UI has it's pros and cons

SwiftUI is a toolkit, which lets you design user interfaces on all Apple platforms. It uses the Swift framework programming language and utilizes declarative syntax.

This means that developers can describe what they want the code to do and what the final result should look like instead of worrying about procedures and implementation. Using this syntax makes SwiftUI extremely easy to use.

As a result, creating responsive and attractive user interfaces using SwiftUI is simple, quick, and efficient.

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Key Features of SwiftUI

The key features of SwiftUI that make it a preferred choice for iOS development include:

  • Declarative syntax. This makes writing code in SwiftUI very simple. Developers just need to describe what the user interface should look like and how it should respond to user interactions. This reduces the amount of code developers need to write. It also makes the resulting code easier to read and maintain.
  • Previewing and live editing. Developers don’t need to rebuild apps to run them when working with SwiftUI. Instead, they can use live previews to check if the app’s features look and work properly. This helps develop apps much faster.
  • Availability of built-in features. SwiftUI lets you take advantage of its built-in features, such as animations, navigation, gestures, etc. Everything you need to create a modern app is easy to use and already available in the toolkit.
  • Create cross-platform apps. Developers can use SwiftUI across all Apple devices. This makes app designing faster and more reliable as fewer bugs are likely to be introduced in the released version of the app.
  • Simplifying data flow. SwiftUI relies heavily on state-driven logic. This allows it to automatically detect the fields that are accessed by your views. This speeds up rendering elements by the user interface as only the necessary ones need to be redrawn.

Advantages of SwiftUI 

Let’s have a look at the advantages of using SwiftUI in the development process:

  • Fast and simple to use. The declarative syntax makes writing code for the app’s user interface a breeze. Developers only need to define how the interface should behave without worrying about the implementation. The available built-in features of SwiftUI and the live preview also speed up the app development process.
  • Easy to learn. Compared to other platforms, the learning time is relatively short for SwiftUI. The declarative syntax and live previews make it possible for developers to quickly get familiar with the toolkit and start using it.
  • Fewer bugs and easy to maintain. The built-in features and cross-platform capabilities make SwiftUI easy to maintain. The code reusability introduces fewer bugs and the syntax ensures high readability of the code.
  • Fewer merging conflicts. SwiftUI uses the Swift programming language. This means that merge conflicts are less likely to occur. In the event of such conflicts, they are much easier to resolve than when using other user interface toolkits.

Disadvantages of SwiftUI

We can’t ignore that using SwiftUI has some disadvantages as well:

  • Lack of support for early iOS versions. Since SwiftUI and iOS 13 were both released in 2019, that’s the first version of the operating system that the toolkit supports.
  • Not possible to customize. Although using declarative syntax comes with many advantages, the disadvantage is the lack of customization options.
  • Small knowledge base. Since SwiftUI is a relatively new framework, there isn’t a huge knowledge base for developers to learn from. The lack of resources can make learning to use SwiftUI challenging.

What is UIKit?

UIKit has it's advantages and disadvantages for iOS app development

UIKit is the traditional way of building user interfaces for iOS apps. The platform was built with Objective-C and Swift programming languages. It uses imperative syntax.

This means that developers use commands to change the program’s state.

UIKit is lightweight and modular. The platform provides a variety of layout components, event handling, and drawing tools. This allows developers to create rich and interactive iOS apps quickly.

Key Features of UIKit

The key features of UIKit that make software engineers choose it for their UI development are:

  • Easy to implement architecture. The toolkit provides windows and views to use in your app’s interface.
  • Support for built-in features. You can easily include animations, text handling, printing, drawing, support for different document formats, and more in your app.
  • Easy localization. UIKit includes customization support to localize your app for different languages and locales.

Advantages of UIKit

Among the most important advantages of using UIKit for iOS app development are:

  • Platform stability. UIKit is a much older framework than SwiftUI. It has evolved over the years into a stable, reliable, and well-tested platform.
  • Complete control over UI. The toolkit gives developers full control over the UI elements by using imperative syntax. This allows for the design of greatly customizable interfaces.
  • Large knowledge base. UIKit has been around since 2008, and the community has created a large knowledge base. The available resources make it easy for new developers to find answers to problems they might face when building user interfaces.
  • Great compatibility. The framework is compatible with earlier iOS versions. This allows developers to create apps for almost all iOS users.

Disadvantages of UIKit

Using UIKit for iOS app development comes with several disadvantages. Let’s explore them:

  • Difficult to learn. The imperative syntax makes learning to design iOS apps with UIKit quite difficult.
  • Slow to use. The code complexity makes the development speed slow.
  • Hard to maintain. The complex source code and the customization make user interfaces designed in the UIKit harder to maintain.
  • No support for modern design patterns. UIKit supports native-only standard design patterns. For the use of modern ones, developers need to use third-party solutions.

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SwiftUI vs UIKit: Which UI Framework to Choose?

When comparing SwiftUI vs UIKit, there are several factors to look at.

When choosing the optimal framework for your project, you need to consider several important factors:

App Requirements

Depending on your app requirements, you may need to compare SwiftUI vs UIKit to select the best option.

Consider the complexity of the user interface and the app’s features. Make sure the platform you’re using supports the design patterns you want to follow. Check out if the features you need for building your app’s interface are included in the toolkit or if you need to use third-party providers.

Compatibility

Check if your app needs to support iOS versions before 13. If not, this factor isn’t relevant to your decision.

However, if you need your app to be able to run on earlier versions of iOS, you’ll have to use UIKit to build your interface.

Component Availability

Check carefully if the right components are available in the platform you’re going to use.

Although constantly evolving, SwiftUI still lacks built-in components that have long been available in UIKit.

also, take into account that it’s not that hard to build custom UI components in SwiftUI or use third-party libraries.

Development Process

Take into account the project’s deadline and available resources.

SwiftUI is fast and simple to use, making the apps easily scalable and maintainable. Building an app interface with UIKit may require more time and effort, but the platform is more stable and gives developers full control over components.

Learning Curve

the learning curve is an essential factor to consider when comparing UIKit vs SwiftUI

The learning curve is a tricky factor to evaluate.

On one hand, SwiftUI utilizes declarative syntax that is easy to understand and start using.

On the other hand, UIKit has a much bigger community and offers more educational resources.

Team Expertise

Don’t ignore your team’s expertise when deciding to pick UIKit vs SwiftUI.

Depending on the experience of your developers, select the framework that best fits your project’s needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is SwiftUI replacing UIKit?

No, SwiftUI isn’t meant to replace UIKit. It is a different platform and offers an alternative approach to designing user interfaces for Apple products.

UIKit provides a lot more in terms of user interface components and controls which SwiftUI still doesn’t support as it is a relatively new framework.

Which platform is better for building iOS UI elements?

Deciding between SwiftUI and UIKit depends on the needs of your project and how comfortable you are with coding.

SwiftUI is newer and makes creating interfaces faster and simpler. Meanwhile, UIKit has been around longer and offers more features and support from the community.

Consider the factors we’ve listed in this article to make the best choice for your individual iOS development needs or contact us for guidance.

Should I use a no-code platform instead of a traditional UI development framework?

No-code platforms are great for making basic apps without needing to write code. However, the available features are limited and the interface lacks customization.

If you want more control in your iOS app development process, a traditional framework like SwiftUI or UIKit is better. These frameworks give you more options for customization and can handle more complex projects.

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