Let us go over the fundamentals once before beginning app development with flutter, lets deep dive.
Flutter is a free and open-source UI toolkit from Google used by developers worldwide. If you are beginning app development with Flutter, this feature simplifies creating natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop.
Flutter was developed based on Dart. Dart is currently in version 2.6 and is fairly easy to learn, especially with prior experience with Java and C#. With a framework based on reactive programming, Flutter has been turning heads.
The first beta release of Flutter was in February 2018 at the Mobile World Congress. In May of the same year, Flutter made it to GitHub’s top 100 repos. December 2018 saw a major milestone through the release of Google Flutter 1.0. This version was considered stable and ready for production.
Since then, the team behind Flutter has worked towards enhancing the features for improved stability and performance for anyone who is beginning app development with Flutter. Some of the popular apps made by using Google Flutter include Hamilton, Xianyu by Alibaba, and Reflect.
What can you do with Google Flutter?
The short answer is Flutter enables cross-platform mobile app development. According to the official website, Google Flutter offers developers a simple way to create and deploy visually engaging, natively-compiled applications for mobile (iOS, Android), web, and desktop – all using a single codebase.
Flutter offers its own widgets that help in creating visually appealing, intuitive apps. These widgets are swift and can be customized based on your needs. Further, this makes designing and creating an app design simple with readily available UI elements that follow compliance across various platforms.
Google Flutter 2.0
Developing desktop apps with Flutter is in the works as the API is still being built. The team behind Flutter is working towards extending to support desktop applications for seamless applications across create macOS, Windows, and Linux.
This concerted effort will eventually lead to a fully integrated solution capable of supporting app creation for desktops in addition to mobile platforms. At the moment the Flutter for desktop version is in beta.
You can check out the Flutter Gallery app, with a demo of Flutter’s features, widgets, and vignettes.
Flutter for Web
Flutter for Web applications is currently only available as a technical preview. This is a code-compatible deployment of Google Flutter capable of collating the Flutter code written in Dart into a client experience. This can further be embedded in the browser and deployed to any web server.
This means that developers can use all the features of Flutter without a browser plug-in.
Flutter remains one of the top 20 active software repositories on GitHub. With Flutter being open-source, changes that come with each version and update are incorporated based on Flutter developers feedback. This demonstrates that the developer community is using it and is contributing to its improvement.
Based on its history and growth, Google Flutter is, as of now, an emerging technology. However, the rapid pace of enhancements and upgrades in concert with growing popularity has resulted in remarkably stable technology.
Extrapolating the growth, Flutter for Web will most likely be stable within 12-months.
What are the advantages of using Google Flutter?
One of the best things about Flutter is its dynamic and rapid framework making it a developer favourite. For those beginning app development with Flutter, the hot reload feature allows developers to make changes to the codebase, and have it show up in real-time, typically becoming active within (milli-)seconds.
The framework makes it very simple and engaging for development teams to be innovative with features, fix bugs, and play around with new ideas. The Hot Reload feature is extremely useful for fruitful developer-designer collaborations.
Flutter is platform agnostic. Especially when beginning app development with Flutter, this simplifies the developers’ job by only having to write a single codebase for two applications for both iOS and Android systems.
With its own widgets and templates, the exact same app can be deployed on two platforms. Once Flutter for Web goes live, a single codebase will cover Android, iOS, and web platforms.
Additionally, new applications look the same on older iOS or Android systems, so you never have to worry about supporting older devices.
Thanks to the platform-agnostic feature, the Testing and Quality Assurance process will be much faster. If disparate codebases needed to be written, the demands on the QA teams will be higher.
Flutter significantly reduces QA testing processes with nearly 50% fewer automated tests as the same tests need to be created to run on both platforms.
However, it is essential to run manual testing at a similar level as with native programming as apps on both platforms need to be checked by hand.
Additionally, with developers always on the lookout for potential investors, it is essential to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for the pitch. Flutter proves to be the optimal solution option, particularly when on a time crunch.
Flutter apps are seamless and swift thanks to the Skia Graphics Library. Due to this, the UI has redrawn each time a view changes.
With a major chunk of the work done on GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), the UX is smooth with 60fps (frames per second).
Developers need to be careful to not redraw the whole view instead of individual elements as it directly affects the performance and speed of the application. This is doubly true if the view needs to be reloaded often.
Instead of relying on native system components, Flutter brings its own set of custom widgets, managed by the framework’s graphics engine.
While different UI components from native apps will be visible, it is not necessarily a disadvantage.
Ranking high on visual appeal with incredible attention to minute details, Flutter creates a highly intuitive UI. A significant advantage for apps developed on Flutter is their smooth user-friendly experience.
Further, Flutter allows users to customize existing widgets or even create their own widgets. Here are a few examples of Material Design widgets and Cupertino widgets.
What are the potential pitfalls of Google Flutter?
The Developer Community
Additionally, stack overflow tag trends show an intense increase in developer interest in Flutter. With Flutter still in a nascent stage compared to React Native, there is still time to gain experience and educate the audience.
Based on current trends, Flutter will definitely catch up with React Native in the near future.
While the support and library available for Flutter is impressive, it is not as extensive as native development
With Flutter still growing into itself, developers sometimes are unable to find the functionality required in existing libraries. This means developers might need to build custom functionality themselves, which is time-consuming.
While the major draw for Flutter is that it is open-source, Google deciding to pull support at any time would be terrible.
However, since the release of the beta version, Google has only enhanced its efforts in streamlining Flutter. Presently, we cannot envision a reality where Google walks away from Flutter as they are consistently investing time and effort into building the best version of it.
A primary concern is that applications developed through Flutter are larger than native applications. However, Flutter is working towards reducing the size of the apps made on its platform.
The Road Ahead
With an increasing number of companies enchanted by Flutter, the team has been refining the platform with regular improvements in the Flutter SDK. The Flutter community is growing with high enthusiasm.
With Flutter for web getting ready, it will be possible to create mobile applications as well as apps for web and desktop.
Collating all of this, in addition to the fact that popular companies have taken to using and deploying apps developed using Flutter, the future is bright.
While React Native occupies a stable position in today’s digital ecosystem and is on the path to continuous development Flutter poses an impressive competition to React Native. If you are beginning to do app development with Flutter and need some ideas, talk to us.