The emergence of various mobile frameworks such as React Native, AngularJS or Xamarin have made it easier to produce digital experiences. Flutter, a web development toolkit created by Google, is one of the most recent players. Although it might look like “a hodgepodge of various Google technologies and concepts, this results in an improbable powerful mobile network.”
Based on Dart, Google’s in-house programming language, Flutter has access to the Skia graphics library and uses Material Design specifications. I became acquainted with Flutter a couple of years ago and have been able to grow along with this technology. This has allowed me to understand this technology on a very profound level and slowly develop an expertise in it.
Because Flutter is relatively new, most users and clients are not aware of what it is. Yet, once you know what it is and what it does, you understand why it is such a game changer.
To put it in the simplest way possible, Flutter is an entire toolkit that allows developers to create applications. Flutter allows people to create the code and generate the app at the same time. What’s even better: developers can do this for different platforms, instead of focusing on only one. With this toolset, all developers have to do is select and program the tools into an application.
Flutter allows you to write the code once, and this same code is used for Android and iOS. This is known as a cross-platform service. A few months ago, Flutter released a stable version for the web. In other words, with that same code you can also create web applications. Google is also working on a stable version for desktop, Linux and Mac.
Why is this useful? There are three different possibilities for entrepreneurs who would like to offer a mobile application. The first option is to develop three different apps, but this is very expensive and requires a lot of time. You can also build a web-based application that can work for mobile, which is known as a hybrid application. Ionic is a good example of this.
Flutter is not a programming language per se, but a toolkit that helps you create multi platform web applications. The programming language used for Flutter is called Dart, which also happens to be the language this software development kit is built upon.
The Benefits of Flutter Development
There are many benefits to Flutter. First off, it’s multiplatform. Flutter is a very good choice whenever a team has to build an app for both Android and iOS. This works particularly well when you’re working with small development teams or have a tight timeframe. Also, you don’t need two have two separate development teams – just a couple of engineers knowledgeable in Android. That’s it.
Also, applying your app’s look and feel is easier with Flutter, in comparison with hybrid technologies. Think of React Native, a popular web library used to create apps and a strong competitor for Flutter. Even though React Native offers all sorts of useful features, few tools are as efficient as Flutter in visual terms.
From a business perspective, building an application in Flutter can save a great amount of time, budget and effort. To make a great app, you don’t need a large team of developers. Flutter can help you create a high-quality product with a very small group of engineers.
What About the Disadvantages?
So, I don’t know if I should phrase it as a disadvantage. If a company already has two teams – one for Android and the other for iOS – there is no need to train developers in Dart. What I mean is, it’s a new technology and like every new technology, it has a learning curve. So, if there is no real business need, it’s not worth the effort.
I don’t like speaking about disadvantages because it sounds as if I’m critical of Flutter. But that’s not the point at all. As someone who learned Flutter shortly after it was released in 2017, I have seen this technology grow. At the beginning, the community was quite small and it was hard to find support on websites such as Stack Overflow. However, the community has expanded and the toolkit’s initial issues have been fixed.
Even though Flutter is already stable for both mobile and web versions, the latter is not as convenient. The interface still needs some work, for example. The first stable version for web was released in early 2021, however. So, it’s a matter of time. As I mentioned before, this is a very new tool (and programming language) that is still being accepted by both clients and the programming community.
Flutter Development: What We’ve Done
At Blankfactor, we’ve used Flutter development to create apps at a faster rate. One of the best examples I can think of is the StudyEdge project. Since they had two different native apps, we suggested re-writing the platform using Flutter. For them, it was easier in terms of maintenance and time. It was better to work on a single coding base, since it was a large application to create.
Why was Flutter helpful? Flutter is a declarative language, which means it describes what you’re going to do. This is very different to what we usually do, in the sense we declare what we’re going to see separate from what the application is going to do. So, if the client wants a very specific type of button, for example, Flutter allows us to give them previews of this button in a very short amount of time.
Because we are able to show results a lot faster, it is easier to apply client feedback. You can show the client both the logical and the visual layers and give them a better idea of how the project is progressing. So, it’s a great advantage.
It’s also important to note that Flutter allows you to integrate very specific functionalities, such as Bluetooth. In the past, if the client wants to use a particular plugin, Flutter has no issue adding this to the app. However, if it’s something very, very detailed – you need work directly on the native side. With Flutter, native integrations can coexist perfectly.