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December 2, 2020

Flutter: the future of mobile app development

Flutter: the future of mobile app development

The world today is unequivocally relying on mobile technology. With millions of apps out there, the software development industry has skyrocketed and been growing non-stop. It’s no secret that two companies have become the leaders in hardware and software technology and innovation: Google and Apple. Each tech giant nurturing its own operating system and app ecosystem: Android in the case of Google, a native framework based on Java; and iOS in the case of Apple, based on Objective-C and Swift.

Mobile users nowadays want quality beautifully-designed apps that come with frequent bug fixes to keep them running smoothly. They expect apps to be available to them no matter what “team” they’re on, so choosing to develop an app on one operating system means missing out on the other.

To develop a new app for both operating systems means a separate team for each codebase. Programmers will have to code two different apps, one in each native language, maintain two codebases and as the app grows push updates and bug fixes on both Google Play and the App Store, as well as keep in mind consistency between features, screen sizes, and aspect ratios for all devices. This is double the work and double the investment.

There are some hybrid or cross-platform development frameworks that use only one codebase, these are based on HTML and JavaScript, and the result is either a displayed web view on the platform or code conversion into a native language. However, their performance is not as good as that one in Flutter.

This is where Flutter comes in

Flutter is an open-sourced framework developed by Google for building beautiful natively compiled apps from a single codebase without having to re-write the code or learn a new programming language.

Based on Dart language and a rendering engine built mostly in C++, Flutter is an SDK (software development kit) that provides the tooling to compile into native code. It also has a rich set of pre-built and pre-styled UI (User Interface) elements called widgets so apps can look and feel like they were made in a native language.

Ideal for those new to the app development world: Flutter makes it easy, fast, and fun, and the best part is there’s no need to have any experience on Android or iOS since the whole idea behind it is learning just one language.

Flutter is now being used by developers all over the world to create apps that are now being used by millions of users. Whatsmore,LinkedIn data says Flutter is the fastest-growing skill among software engineers.

Google is using Flutter on a wide variety of products, from Google Ads to smart displays like the Google Home Hub. Big brand names such as eBay, BMW, New York Times, Square, Alibaba, Groupon, and Philips are also working with Flutter and the list keeps growing.

Main features

Easy to learn Dart Language

Apps in Flutter are programmed in their own Dart language which contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of app development flow. It is an easy-to-learn object-oriented language with a familiar syntax, similar to Java, JS, Kotlin, Swift, or C#. It’s been developed especially around the needs of user interface creation and possesses many advanced features.

Hot Reload, see your code come to life

Running in the Dart Virtual machine is one of the most interesting features of Flutter. A just-in-time high-performance execution engine that allows developers to see changes as they save them without having to wait to compile everything. This means more experimenting and incredibly faster UIs building feature adding and bug fixing.

It’s all about the Widgets

Widgets are the key to making full customizable apps with beautiful, fluid, and intuitive UIs.

Flutter features built-in a huge collection of visual, structural, platform, and interactive Material Design and Cupertino (iOS) widgets. They help create smooth and refined app experiences that don’t differ from any native created one. Widgets are arranged in categories such as animation, images, and icons, interaction models, layout, visual effects, styling, and text, amongst others.

Ready to get started with Flutter?

First, you would need to download a development platform, you can use any text editor but it is recommended to use one of the editors that support the Flutter plugin such as Android Studio, Visual Studio Code, Xcode, or Intelli J. Any of these will give you some advantages, such as autocompletion, IntelliSense, and other debugging tools for the command line to compile or run the apps.

Flutter is free and open-source, so so the community is a major source of feedback, documentation, and code contributions.

After setting up your editor of choice, you are ready to download Flutter. To help you get started there’s an official youtube playlist where you can learn directly from Google developers. You can also visit flutter.dev, where you can find very useful information such as guides, codelabs, and documentation.

Now you are ready to start creating beautiful native apps for both Android and iOS!

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