Today we talk about Flutter — because these days special consideration is centered around the improvement of versatile apps that can be utilized for contactless payments, shopping on the web, e-learning and whatever we can envision. Languages, frameworks and toolkits should confront new requests of the 21st century. Quick performance, automation, extraordinary UI, less timeframe spent on development and a great deal of advantages is what new generation needs in their smartphones.
Among mobile development patterns for 2020-2021 we could find:
- Cross platform applications with minimal coding and improved personalization
- AR, VR execution
- Artificial intelligence driven chatbots and all of AI arrangements
- Association with IoT smart gadgets
- Mobile wallets
- Voice payments
- Instinctive, sans button UI/UX and exciting animations
- Open Solutions and UI/UX plan for individuals with incapacities
These features can be easily developed with Flutter – A versatile cross platform UI framework. Let’s see why it is an ideal framework for implementing the best of current mobile development solutions to satisfy latest use cases.
Table of Contents
What is Flutter ?
Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase.
On December 4, 2018, Google released Flutter 1.0. Check this video to watch the announcement from Tim Sneath. Google used the same event to launch Hummingbird – a new project focused on bringing Flutter apps to the web, running the same code whether in your browser or on your smartphone (it is in beta, for now). In December 2019, Google released Flutter 1.12.
Flutter has freshened the mobile development all across the whole world. It is a free open source software development kit which allows to build attractive and customized solutions at less time without sacrificing neither quality nor performance. Stack Overflow has already conducted a developer research for 2020 and let’s have a look at what the research tells us about trendy and most adored technologies among engineers. This tool takes the 3rd place after .Net Core and Torch in the category of most loved frameworks, libraries and tools. 68,8% of flutter engineers love it and will continue to work with it.
Flutter is now the top 11 software repos based on GitHub stars. Moreover, we’ve already seen thousands of Flutter apps being published on app stores. One of the most notable examples is the Xianyu app created by Alibaba team, used by over 50 million people.
See how beautifully and easily you can create an app for To-Do list :
- Speed in development
- Performance that feels like native
- Pixel perfect, we don’t need to worry about how it appears on various devices
- The security of the source code is maintained because the Dart code will be compiled into native binary
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Development with Flutter
The central idea behind Flutter is the use of widgets. It’s by combining different widgets that developers can build the entire UI. Each of these widgets defines a structural element (like a button or menu), a stylistic element (a font or color scheme), a layout aspect (like padding), and many others.
One of the most interesting features of this tool is the language it uses: Dart. Like other systems that use reactive views, This tool refreshes the view tree for every new frame. To accomplish that, it creates many objects that may live for no more than one frame. Dart uses generational garbage collection that has proven to be very efficient for this type of systems. Moreover, Dart has a “tree shaking” compiler that only includes the code you need in your app. Even if you need just a widget or two, you can use its large library of widgets freely.
Flutter is available on different IDEs. The two main code editors for developing with this technology are Android Studio (IntelliJ) and VS Code.
Freecodecamp has this tutorial where they develop a complete app from scratch in this 1 hour video :
Flutter applications are written in the Dart programming language, and can connect to platform languages such as Java, Kotlin, Swift, and Objective-C. Flutter itself is built with C, C++, Dart, and Skia (a 2D rendering engine). Its development is currently supported on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows operating systems. It is developed and maintained by Google and will be the main development SDK for Fuchsia, the expected and upcoming new Operating System also by Google.
Four main components of Flutter :
- a heavily optimized, mobile-first 2D rendering engine (with excellent support for text) for 60fps apps
- a functional-reactive framework so you can build customized UIs
- a rich set of libraries and widgets (Material Design, Cupertino) widgets (optional, you can build-your-own widgets) so you can get started quickly and produce high-fidelity experiences
- productive CLI and IDE (IntelliJ) tools for sub-second developer cycles
Flutter is different than most other options for building mobile apps because ituses neither WebView nor the OEM widgets that shipped with the device. Instead, ituses its own high-performance rendering engine and framework to draw widgets to the screen.
Flutter vs React Native
- If you are new to Dart and trying to learn Flutter it will consume more time than React Native. At the same time, if you have experience in Dart learning Flutter will be just a walk in a park.
- The components in React Native are pretty basic so if you need anything extra, considerable effort is required in styling. Most of the time you have to use a different component for iOS and Android or style it differently. At the same time, for Flutter everything is a widget. Widgets are based on material design and most of them are adaptive so you can use the same widget for Android and iOS.
The main benefit Flutter has over native and React Native is the lack of platform constraints. This is not muzzled by platform UI because it doesn’t use it. It renders everything by itself. You are free to build the best UX without compromise. It is the main difference between Flutter and React Native. React Native delegates drawing to the platform.
Drawbacks of Flutter
Starting to write an app with this tool can be a daunting task at first thought for a few reasons:
- Dart. It is a new language which is hardly ever used in the industry, at least no one we knew ever used it for the web. One can admit – it’s kind of pain to learn new languages. But Dart is nicely designed, and anyone familiar with either Java, JS or even Kotlin can pick it up in a few hours with ease.
- Coupled code. With Flutter you write code inside the layout you are designing. Since everything is pure Dart and nothing like JSX happening, everything is a widget and highly customisable, which starts to make a mess quite easily. It takes some time and a bunch of tries and errors to understand how to structure your code to keep it readable after 2 days.
- It’s new. Anything new cannot be put into production just like that – and people are skeptical of this tool too. There’s no need for this skepticism because despite Flutter being new it is quite stable for production use.
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Which companies are using Flutter ?
Businesses benefit a lot from flutter apps that are rich in functionality and impress with UI. Let’s have a look at apps built with this technology.
- Alibaba, an e-commerce global platform. Alibaba group used this to build an app called Xianyu that now has over 50 million users.
- Realtor.com, a platform for searching and renting apartments and houses. With listings updated in real time, Realtor.com’s award-winning app helps users find the home of their dreams.
- Tencent : Tencent uses Flutter throughout the company for several apps including AITeacher, Now Live, K12, Mr. Translator, QiDian, and DingDang.
- Google Assistant : Flutter helps power an ever-growing number of Google Assistant apps.
- Reflectly, personal mobile journal driven by AI. It offers to create questions to reflect upon every day. The app has a really beautiful interface.
- Google Ads : The Google Ads app helps users manage, optimize and track ad campaigns all from the convenience of an android device.
- Insight Timer : The Insight timer app used by 9M+ people provides access to the largest free library of guided meditations on earth.
- Capital One
- Dream 11
- Square : The Flutter plugin for our Square Reader SDK enables developers to build apps for merchants that take in-person payments.
- The New York Times : Flutter helps bring the popular Ken Ken puzzle to life on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and the web.
Get to know more apps developed using Flutter here : https://flutter.dev/showcase
Another great Example is EasyA : EasyA is a subscription app designed to give school-age students access to brilliant tutors via instant messaging, and is written in this tool. Recently it was featured by Apple as their App of the Day.
“When schools began to go online earlier this year, we knew we needed to launch our tutoring app quickly to help students. The sheer speed of development with Flutter meant we were able to implement award-winning designs for both iOS and Android, and also publish to the web — just in time for lockdown! Normally, this would have been practically impossible. But since Flutter allows us to target all three platforms at once, we were able to share code efficiently and leverage our small team of developers to the fullest.”
— Phil Kwok, Co-founder, EasyA
How to Download Flutter?
The latest version of Flutter can be downloaded from its official website : https://flutter.dev/
At the time of writing, the latest version is 1.22.
Get the Original documents here : https://flutter.dev/docs
For announcements about new releases and breaking changes, follow the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list.
Flutter is currently a hot technology to learn and you will find enormous support on all major platforms like Github, Stack Overflow and more. Here are the links for each of them :
- Gitter – Exchange channel.
- Facebook – Facebook community
- r/FlutterDev Subreddit – Reddit community.
- Dev Discord – Discord server to discuss and get help.
- Flutter Community – Central place for community made packages.
- OpenFlutter – Make it easier.
- Its All Widgets : An open list of apps built with Flutter.
- Awesome Flutter – Biggest curated resources list
- Medium articles – tutorials
- Stack Overflow – All the help
- Meetup : Local meetups and get togethers
- Slack : Communicate and create
- Youtube : Learn and grow
Check out this video for basic introduction :
You can quickly start creating apps with Flutter by these basic tutorials that will bring you up to speed :
Free Flutter Courses
Check out this Free tutorial that covers the basic of Flutter, directly from Google :
Keep checking this space to get free courses in collab with Google : https://flutter.dev/freecourse
Best Youtube channel to get the basics of Dart and Flutter : https://www.youtube.com/user/smartherd
Paid Flutter Courses with Certification
Udemy has some exciting courses on Flutter that are very informative and cheap too. These courses are created and designed for new Flutter developers! The trainers are going to explain every basis widgets inside it and you will be able to create your own application at the end. The courses are very easy to understand for new programmers and are specially designed for this purpose. I’m sure you will like Flutter!
- Learn Flutter and Dart from the ground up, step-by-step
- Build engaging native mobile apps for both Android and iOS
- Use features like Google Maps, the device camera, authentication and much more!
- Learn how to upload images and how to send manual and automated push notifications
- Learn all the basics without stopping after them: Dive deeply into Flutter & Dart and become an advanced developer
- Build beautiful, fast and native-quality apps with Flutter
- Become a fully-fledged Flutter developer
- Build iOS and Android apps with just one codebase
- Build iOS and Android apps using just one programming language (Dart)
- Build a portfolio of beautiful apps to impress any recruiter
- Understand all the fundamental concepts of Flutter development
- Become proficient in one of the fastest growing technologies
- Be ABLE to Build Any iOS and Android App You Want
- MASTER Dart and Flutter Framework
- BUILD Full-fledged Apps for Your Startup or Business
- CREATE a Portfolio of Apps to Apply for Development Job
- WORK as A Cross-Platform Mobile Developer Who can Develop iOS and Android Apps
- GAIN a Competitive Advantage in the Workplace as a Flutter Mobile Developer
- Build beautiful multi-screen apps with Flutter
- Understand the different approaches for loading and maintaining data in Flutter apps
- Create and publish open source projects using Dart
- Learn how to build offline-enabled apps with incredibly efficient data loading
- Comprehend the best method for reading the incredible amount of documentation
- Store long-term data on a user’s physical device using SQLite
- Master streams and understand reactive programming to create Flutter apps
- Developing Android & iOS apps using Dart & Flutter
- Design Professional Looking Apps
- Design and Develop Enterprise Apps
- Develop eCommerce & Blog App, API & App Dashboard – using Flutter & Laravel & MySQL, Sqflite, Shared preferences and Stripe
- Develop News App, API & App Dashboard – using Flutter & NodeJS/ExpressJS & MySQL and Realtime notification using Firebase Cloud Message
- Develop a todo app using Dart, Flutter and Sqflite
- Publish Apps at Play Store and App Store
- Monetize Your App
- In-App Payments
- Multiple Widgets
- Language dart
- How to install Flutter
- Make http request
- Firebase server
Books on Flutter
Work in Flutter, a framework designed from the ground up for dual platform development, with support for native Java/Kotlin or Objective-C/Swift methods from Flutter apps. Write your next app in one language and build it for both Android and iOS.
Deliver the native look, feel, and performance you and your users expect from an app written with each platform’s own tools and languages. Deliver apps fast, doing half the work you were doing before and exploiting powerful new features to speed up development. Write once, run anywhere.
Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for creating beautiful and native applications for mobile, desktop and web from a single Dart codebase. In this book we cover in detail the Dart programming language (version 2.10, with null safety support) and the Flutter framework (version 1.20).While reading the chapters, you’ll find a lot of good practices, tips and performance advices to build high quality products.
The book is divided in 3 parts: – Part 1. It’s about the Dart programming language (classes, exceptions, inheritance, null safety, streams, SOLID principles…) – Part 2. It’s about the Flutter framework (localization, routing, state management with Bloc and Provider, testing, performances with DevTools, animations…) – Part 3. It’s a long collection of examples (using Firestore, monetizing apps, using gestures, networking, publishing packages at pub.dev, race recognition with ML kits, playing audio and video…)The official website of the book contains the complete source code of the examples and a “Quiz Game” to test your Dart and Flutter skills!
Flutter for Beginners: An introductory guide to building cross-platform mobile applications with Flutter and Dart 2
Google Flutter is a cross-platform mobile framework that makes it easy to write high-performance apps for Android and iOS. This book will help you get to grips with the basics of the Flutter framework and the Dart programming language.
Starting from setting up your development environment, you’ll learn to design the UI and add user input functions. You’ll explore the navigator widget to manage app routes and learn to add transitions between screens. The book will even guide you through developing your own plugin and later, you’ll discover how to structure good plugin code. Using the Google Places API, you’ll also understand how to display a map in the app and add markers and interactions to it. You’ll then learn to improve the user experience with features such as map integrations, platform-specific code with native languages, and personalized animation options for designing intuitive UIs.
The book follows a practical approach and gives you access to all relevant code files hosted at github.com/PacktPublishing/Flutter-for-Beginners. This will help you access a variety of examples and prepare your own bug-free apps, ready to deploy on the App Store and Google Play Store.
Review by Arthur Eudeline : Web developer and proven technophile
I think that it will be the future of apps development, good performances, simple to code, powerful, versatile and beautiful. It’s more powerful and stable than react native according to me that tried both, but just it’s just personal. The best argument for me: it will also be supported by desktop platforms and for web soon, and it’s really cross-platform and the code is easily maintainable and reusable across projects thanks to the widget architecture.
Pros: Incredible performances, easy to code, reusable code, real cross-platform across android and ios and soon web and desktop platforms
Cons: Dart langage is good but requires some time to master when you are from web development
Review by Vinayak Joshi : CEO, LearningConcepts
Looks promising. finally one UI framweork made by either google or apple that can be used for both iOS and Android
Pros: made by google!
Cons: none so far
Review by Henry R
What do you like best? : This program allows us to work very quickly. It offers cross-platform solutions, so we just need to work with one codebase which works both for IOS and Android. We are able to reuse a big part of the code between platforms.Each platform has its differences, but with the cross-platform support is easier for us to implement the same functions for IOS and Android.Additionally, it’s less expensive than building separating apps for each platform. Another positive thing is that we are able to get access to more people as we can post our apps in both stores. In conclusion, we work better with Flutter than developing different apps for each platform.Review collected by and hosted on G2.com.
What do you dislike? : We are not able to develop apps with the same performance as native developers. We do not think it is a problem since every device has a decent hardware nowadays. Furthermore, we need to wait more than native developers to implement the updates that Google and Apple implement.Review collected by and hosted on G2.com.
Recommendations to others considering the product: I recommended it to begginers or middle- experienced developers. It’s easier to work with this program but it is true that you will get better results with native developing programs. However, this does not mean that you will get an awful app, in fact, in some cases you will get better result than native developers.
What problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized? : We are using it to deal with sour clients’ orders. We have not developed a private app for our company, but I am sure that if we do it in the future, we will use this program.
Review by Gabe C
What do you like best? : Outside of a few one-time configuration items, there is NO platform-specific work required to get your app running on both Android and iOS. After the small learning curve to get up to speed on Dart and its use of Futures, the language is very familiar as a C# developer. Layout is very easy, because it’s all code-based. There are a ton of available add-ons to increase functionality, and the community is VERY active.
What do you dislike? : The learning curve of Dart is a little bit of a barrier, but it’s not terribly steep.
Recommendations to others considering the product : Stop consider, and start using Flutter NOW!
What problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized? : Easy cross-platform development of mobile applications becomes a breeze with Flutter. I released an app to the app store and play store after working on it part-time for just about a month, and that’s starting with ZERO dart/flutter experience.
Review by Bruce Chen, Senior Development Engineer, Alibaba
Flutter significantly reduced the time we need to develop for new feature from 1 month down to 2 weeks.
Jessica Wagner, Manager, Posse Hamilton
We knew that this app needed to be rock solid both in terms of performance and visual fidelity, and really represent the amazing experience that the Hamilton show itself provides.
When is Flutter NOT a good choice?
A good example can be any app with very little UI, or apps that have a lot of system integration to do. If you need a functionality and most of the work you will put in will be in Swift or Kotlin anyway, then you should probably just go native. Before you make that decision though, check out Dart Pub because there is a chance someone created a package with that OS-specific code.
Definitely, Flutter is a trend in cross-app development and it is already on the wishlist of developers and engineers. It provides a completely native experience and engaging user interface features. Another advantage is that it is cost and time efficient, because one flutter app requires less time than two separate iOS or Android applications. Lets look at why it is a trend in mobile development.
Cross-platform app development
Flutter’s magic is that you write code for iOS and Android simultaneously. One Flutter engineer can cope with both platforms, which means less time for development. It is very efficient when person is responsible for code, so work won’t be not scattered between two engineers, or more.
Shallow learning curve.
It means it’s a nice process for engineers to learn it especially if they are aware of the Java language. Developing experience with Flutter gets top mark. You can find more of iOS software engineer’s feedback for it in Pros and Cons of Flutter development.
UI you will never forget
Flutter premiere function is building a wonderful User Interface. Positioned by founding team on the official website:
Flutter’s layered architecture allows fast rendering and customized design. In its development engineers operate and create widgets which are really decisive because they are those visual blocks of the app. They allow easy scrolling, seamless navigation, customization of icons, fonts and sizes. You can build stretchy headers which really feels very innovative and customized for the whole screen width.
All the Flutter code is compiled to the ARM machine with the help of Dart. Dart is a very carefully chosen language by the Google team who wanted it to be fast and effective. In performance and code compilation Dart works very well and reduces time of compilation a lot.
Data visualization in this tool is also great. You can add monthly sales charts which are really eye-catching. Hide bottom navigation bars when scrolling quickly – just whatever you want to add smooth swiping experience to your app.
Flutter offers outstanding performance for two reasons. First, is uses Dart, which compiles into native code. Second, it has its own widgets, so there’s no need to access OEM ones. As a result, there’s less communication between the app and the platform. These two features of this tool ensure fast app startup times and fewer performance issues in general.
Flutter stands out with the Hot Reload option. Engineers can preview the code as they build it. If necessary, they drive changes on the go, fix bugs, experiment with UI blocks without recompiling the app.
By the way, Google has already released the Flutter 1.20 version with faster performance and UI improvements. Its teams fixed performance and made tree shaking icons default. It helps reduce the size of the app by removing icons which are not used. Text autofill, a feature engineers were expected to have, is already added. Interactive Viewer widget was also added into the flutter development process.
The development team says that the release of Flutter 1.20 is the biggest release yet, but there is a lot to expect in the future. As an example, the team is planning to add sound null safety support which has recently come to Dart language. With null safety types in code are non-nullable by default which means values can’t be null unless the engineer says they can be.
Flutter is cost and time effective for startups
Flutter widgets will create a harmonious combination of diverse blocks with media and animation. Startups using this toolcan quickly create well-tuned apps for business and transmit originality of their brand via mesmerizing UI/UX design. It minimizes time for app development and is apt for realizing any startup idea. That’s why Flutter mobile apps turn out to be affordable for startups.
Another advantage of this tool is the fact that it comes with its own widgets that result in fewer compatibility issues. Developers will see fewer problems on different OS versions and can spend less time on testing the app on older OS versions. Also, you can be confident that your app will work on future OS versions.
Flutter works with any development tool (or none at all) but includes editor plug-ins for both Visual Studio Code and IntelliJ / Android Studio. It provides thousands of packages to speed your development, regardless of your target platform. And accessing other native code is easy, with support for both FFI and platform-specific APIs.
Desktop and web app capabilities
Flutter team has ruined traditional approaches to cross platform development. Instead of splitting mobile and web development, they decided to unite under one technology different operating systems. At the same time, performance is not hurt and it offers so much support for engineers.
Google enabled Flutter mobile apps with web support which means web view control allows view and display dynamic content without rewriting. Desktop is among the most popular new features in this tool. The team works on making flutter desktop apps first-of-class experience. It supports macOS and Linux desktop apps, and Windows platform support is currently under development.
Flutter AR capabilities
AR and VR technologies mesmerize users and more engineers seek for 3D, AR and Vr development tools. What to do if you’ve chosen Flutter, but now you’re thinking of how to develop AR functionality? Is it capable of driving AR in mobile apps?
Yes, Flutter does support AR. To build Flutter AR apps, you can use Unity AR Foundation, a wrapper for ARCore (offered by Google) and ARKit (offered by Apple). For creating 3D experiences or building successful games, you add Unity 3D widget into your project.
Follow Flutter engineers who develop and share great AR Flutter solutions. There is a developer sharing his experience on reddit about developing RPG game written with this tool. The app, by the way, got 350 thousand downloads in the first 3 months!
Flutter is an open-source technology surrounded by an active community of developers who provide support, contribute to the tool’s extensive documentation, and develop helpful resources. Both Dart and Flutter are free to use.
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Flutter seems to be the most advantageous framework in mobile development. Building software for the business is lucrative, because mobile apps generate you clients and strengthen your brand. For this Flutter comes as an excellent assistant. You can hire one flutter engineer to develop iOS and Android apps at once. You will be impressed how practical-to-use applications you can build with this tool and how many wonderful UI features could be implemented. Its benefits can definitely meet any business need and development of desktop and web applications ensures Flutter’s stability and further chances for success.
I hope that this introduction has interested and motivated you. Feel free to share this article if you liked it.
Well, what do you think of Flutter? Will you start learning it immediately or wait ? Let us know.