In the past 2 years, the software development community has recorded a great increase in the use of Google Flutter SDK. And as a result of this, we have more people asking questions and wondering why they should learn flutter as a tool for building cross-platform applications. Companies are also looking to see reasons why they should move their applications to flutter.
Regardless of who is asking: Be it a tech lead, a Chief technical officer, a developer, an enthusiast, a startup founder, or just a curious mind wondering why everyone keeps talking about flutter and why they should make use of it in building products, this article seeks to answer all your questions and help you make effective and healthy decisions on whether or not to choose flutter as your tool for building products.
Explicitly, I plan to give you a hint of what flutter is, how it works, and its benefits as compared to other cross-platform solutions. I will be relating these advantages in terms of roles it plays in product planning, software development, and business processes.
In all, we will be learning what flutter is, how it works and why anyone would consider it as a tool for building products and solving problems.
What is Flutter?
According to google “Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase”.
In lay-man words, Flutter is developed by Google and allows you to intelligently create beautiful interfaces for almost any device by simply punching in codes into your code editor.
To learn more on flutter visit the flutter official site Flutter.dev or the Flutter youtube channel.
ADVANTAGES OF FLUTTER
I have tried to come up with amazing reasons why I think anyone should consider flutter as a worthy tool for creating native-looking and beautifully designed applications.
In this article, I have tried to not directly compare the Flutter SDK to other tools just because I am an advocate for peace:) It is okay to not like a certain popular tool and that doesn’t make the tool worse than the others. I believe everyone can choose a tool they are comfortable with and make do with it without speaking ill of others.
I mean this is always the first reason developers and business owners have for choosing flutter SDK.
Before I decided to learn to code with flutter, I’ve heard my friends complain about how frustrating it was coding in native languages such as Java. And worse task getting the same look and feel on both Android and iOS and this kept me from learning to develop apps and stuck to making websites. Till I discovered flutter in October 2019.
Flutter allows one to create an app for both Android and iOS from one codebase. For developers, there won’t be a need to learn both swift and Kotlin to create apps for both iOS and Kotlin users respectively.
Startup owners, don’t need to hire a website developer, an iOS developer, and Android Developer differently. Hiring just flutter devs for a project makes it easier for the developers because it’s one codebase that allows for easy collaboration. The flutter SDK provides its own ready-made widgets which take a native look to either Android (Material Design) or iOS apps (Cupertino).
So, creating apps is a win-win for both developers and business owners because you get to save both time and resources thereby promoting high productivity. Excited huh? wait till you read more:)
A Fast Rising and Supportive Community
One of the challenges Flutter had a year ago was having very few flutter developers in the ecosystem as well as a lack of already made packages to foster fast development. But as of today, we have more packages built daily and announced on the channels, more communities, more blogs covering articles on building with flutter, and more courses and resources to learn mobile app development with flutter and dart.
I picked flutter about 20 months ago and even then it wasn't as popular, but I can tell you that in the last year the growth and the number of developers learning to code in flutter is fast rising. And to crown it all, Flutter has more stars on GitHub than any other cross-platform SDK with 130k stars on Github as of the date of release of this piece. And the community seems promising and supportive.
There are meetups, slack, discord, and public groups with developers supporting each other and challenging one another to grow and be better. What more? There’s an annual challenge for flutter developers called the FlutterClock challenge - this challenge allows developers to solve a real-world design problem with Flutter. Winners and participants all get a gift and certification of participation.
And this doesn’t include meetups and webinars hosted by individuals and groups. Do you need a community of people that are passionate, helpful, proud, and excited about their technology stack? Give the Flutter community a shot.
Fast App Development
One of the depressing moments developers encounter is times when they have to wait for the app to build after they implement a new feature. With Flutter, the experience is a lot more different, Flutter SDK provides the developer with a feature called ‘Hot reload and Hot restart'.
These 'Hot' features allow developers to see the changes to their codes almost instantly, without losing the current state of the application. And this is what makes development with Flutter faster.
Flutter Is an Open-source Project
Flutter is a community-driven project. This makes it easily accessible and user-friendly. Flutter being run by Google and open to collaboration makes design easy and options for creating solutions.
A lot of flexibility is attributed to flutter because on the developers’ side, you can tweak some features to suit your project and on the side of businesses and startups, you could alter some designs to suit the project also.
A Collection of Amazing Widgets
The most beautiful feature of flutter for me is a collection of amazingly crafted widgets that helps one create a super-functional application hassle-free. It is also important to know that you could create customized widgets for your flutter applications in minutes’ time.
Dart as the programming language used for creating flutter apps directly compiles into native code, this, in turn, removes the need for flutter to request access to OEM widgets(Original Equipment Manufacturer). This leads to less app startup time and reduces app performance issues.
Flutter is Simple to Learn
Dart is an object-oriented programming language, and very similar to Java. I sometimes think it has a bit of spec from popular programming languages. And due to its similarity, it is easy to learn.
Flutter on the other hand is a beautiful toolkit. One factor that makes flutter beautiful is the ability to tweak anything on the screen. The ability to create beautifully styled animations and aesthetics and not tamper with the functionality of the app is a great skill for developers.
Flutter can be learned by a total newbie to programming as well as a senior dev. Flutter.dev provides Codelabs to introduce enthusiasts and devs coming from other languages to flutter.
So, if you’re a newbie, enthusiast, or just a curious mind looking to come into the world of programming- Flutter is a good place to start. It is beginner-friendly.
Beyond Mobile Applications
Flutter started out as a UI kit for building mobile applications. But that is not all, at the 2019 I/O conference, Google announced a technical preview of flutter web that makes it possible to run flutter applications on browsers without changing the source code. The Google team also announced flutter for desktop embeddings.
In 2019, at fluterInteract, an event that is hosted by Google to connect flutter developers and enthusiasts- Flutter Octopus was announced: this feature allows debugging on multiple platforms simultaneously. This simply means that from one single codebase, one could create a solution that will work across different mobile devices, on the web, desktop, embedded systems, and Mac.
Editor and Design Tools
The ability of Flutter to run on not just Android studio but on both VS Code and IntelliJ is another win. Writing flutter with any of these code editors allows auto-completion and real-time code inspection to run perfectly in 100% of your code.
At FlutterInteract 2019, the flutter team announced an XD Plugin that generates flutter codes, based on already made designs in Adobe XD. On May 13th, Flutter announced the ‘XD to Flutter’ plugin, and what's better? It’s open-source.
Good Documentation and Resources
Developers seem to have issues understanding some languages/framework documentations. This in turn makes learning a bit difficult. Whereas, documentations are documents that simplify the process of doing something. Documentations serve as a manual to learn a new language or a new tool.
Flutter and dart seem to have amazing and well-detailed documentation to start with. There are Codelabs, cookbooks- which are like food recipes to customizing frequently used widgets and show one how to make use of styles, animations, and possible manipulations.
There are more than enough extensions and packages that are built to support development using flutter.
I'd like to say it is okay to feel overwhelmed with so many advantages and a lot wouldn’t make sense just by reading about them. As a matter of fact, I didn’t get to write all the good features you enjoy when you decide to use flutter. But starting to learn to code in flutter and dart could be not only simple but fast and efficient.
However, in order to grow and be better, paying attention to the community both on Twitter and discord will encourage you to start and keep learning. It will be challenging and you may question your growth, but trust in the process.
Flutter sure has a bright future and the opportunities are so much that every developer has a shot at building world-class solutions using flutter.
If you need to know more, you could head over to flutter’s official page flutter.dev.
Thanks for reading! Happy Coding!