Before I get started, let me give you a brief overview of what you are going to find in this article. Well, I’ll start of by telling you a little about what is flutter, the I’ll get down to how it works and in the end I’ll tell you some of its biggest benefits (and some cons too). So, what are we waiting for, let’s roll.
What is Flutter?
Released in May ’17, Flutter is a free open-source mobile SDK that enables programmers to build native-looking Android and iOS applications from the same code base. The framework has been around since ’15 when Google introduced it at the Dart Developer Summit and remained in the beta stage before its official launch in December ’18. The interest in Flutter had rapidly grown, even before the official launch there were already plenty of apps built with it. I can give a lot of examples here but the most notable among them is the Xianyu app created by Alibaba team, used by over fifty million people.
Flutter — here’s how it works
The main idea behind this framework is the use of widgets. The entire UI is built through a combination of different widgets, each of which defines a structural element (like a button, text input or menu), a stylistic element (like a font or color scheme), an aspect of layout (like margin or padding), and so forth.
Note that Flutter doesn’t use OEM widgets, but provides programmers with its own ready-made two sets of widgets – Material design widgets (Android) and Cupertino (IOS-style) widgets to make their app look and feel platform-specific. Naturally, programmers can create their own widgets too.
Benefits of Flutter
Without making any comparisons with other platforms, here are a couple of reasons why you should consider having a go at this framework:
It saves you time and money
A software development process can be quite complicated and time-consuming (those familiar with the software development process will surely know what I’m talking about), especially if you are developing apps for both Android (which requires coding in Java or Kotlin) and IOS (which uses Swift or Objective-C). As you can see there is a stark difference between the technologies required by these platforms, so you may need two separate teams to work on your project.
This is where Flutter comes to your rescue. As mentioned above, it’s a cross-platform development tool that allows you to use the same code base for building an iOS and Android app. Meaning that one development team will suffice, also it enables you launch apps on both platforms concurrently. Furthermore, you can update your app and add new features or changes simultaneously.
I don’t think there is any better method than cross-platform development when it comes to saving time and resources throughout the development process.
There are two main reasons behind Flutter’s great performance:
- It uses Dart, (as mentioned before) which compiles into native code.
- It has its own widgets, so there’s no need to access OEM ones.
As a result, there’s less mediated communication between the app and the platform. These two features of Flutter ensure fast app startup times and fewer performance issues in general.
Quick development thanks to hot reload
The framework is gaining a lot of traction in the mobile development industry because of hot reload. The tool allows developers to see changes applied to the code on emulators, simulators, and hardware right away. The changed code is reloaded within a second, without restarting the app. Now, you can fix bugs & add features quickly, thus allowing you to accelerate the development process.
As mentioned many times before, Flutter comes with its own widgets, since widgets are part of the app and not the platform this translates into fewer compatibility issues. You will see fewer problems on different operating system versions; this in turn means less time spent on testing the application on older operating system versions. Also, you can be assured that your application will work on the upcoming operating system versions.
One thing that needs to be mentioned here is that once a new version of Android or iOS comes out, Flutter widgets will have to be updated (since it doesn’t use the native platform widgets). So, now you’ll be thinking when Flutter will update its widgets.
As said before, Flutter has been developed by Google who’s also using it a lot internally, so I think there are enough reasons for Flutter team to keep their widget sets as current and close to the platform widgets as possible.
As mentioned in the very second para of this article, Flutter is an open-source technology, and is backed by a very strong and large community of developers who provide support, contribute to the tool’s extensive documentation, and develop helpful resources to help out with any issues you may encounter. Both Dart and Flutter are free to use.
Now, that we’ve been through the benefits of Flutter let’s take a look at its disadvantages too (I could only find one):
Officially released in December ’18, Flutter is a relatively young technology. Despite the active support from Google and its growing popularity, there’s still a lack of some libraries. So if you are looking for advanced functionality, then i think Native development may be a better option for you.
Beautiful, Fast, Productive, Open, there is no doubt that its one of the most innovative mobile technologies on the market right now. With the strong support of Google and the enthusiastic development community, make it a promising candidate for the mobile technology of choice in the near future.
There is nothing perfect in this world. So, remember what technology you choose for your project should be based on project specificity, business priorities, availability of resources and more.