Flutter development is booming, and with good reason. The user interface (UI) toolkit is taking cross platform mobile app development to new heights by breaking down traditional development timelines, driving resource efficiencies, and supporting slick user experience (UX) in the process. With Flutter, developers can bring products to life across different operating systems (OS) without having to coordinate two development streams on separate native platforms.
So, it should come as no surprise that widely used and comprehensive apps such as Nubank and Google Ads are built with Flutter. The toolkit has two million users and counting, with 10,000 apps created using Flutter added to the Play Store in March 2020 alone.
But what exactly is it that makes Flutter such an asset to cross platform development teams, and how is it speeding up their processes more than ever?
With Flutter, app developers only have to write one codebase that can be used on both Android and iOS platforms almost seamlessly. A single codebase also inherently means more efficient testing, making the quality assurance process faster, and ensuring consistency between platforms. With Flutter, there’s essentially only one app to check.
What’s more, the widgets available in Flutter, including Material Design and Cupertino, allow developers to build native-looking interfaces for each platform in tandem, driving efficiencies even further.
Hot Reload feature
With the Hot Reload feature, cross platform developers can easily build UIs, fix bugs, experiment, and add more features to their apps. The feature does this by inserting updated source code files into the active Dart Virtual Machine (VM), which enables a real-time connection between the development tool and the simulator.
This means that changes made to the code are visible within the app instantaneously for developers, drastically reducing the time previously spent waiting to see changes in action. With Hot Reload, developers can improve cross platform app performance in real-time.
The power of Dart
Dart, the coding language used within Flutter, is concise and easy to learn, yet powerful - especially when compared to those used within competing cross platform development toolkit, React Native. The language is specifically designed to speed up development, and developers are able to cut out the usual time and overhead spent becoming fluent in the nitty-gritty of other, more complex languages. In addition, Dart includes features that are familiar to both static and dynamic language users.
Cross platform developers can build highly responsive apps in record time due to Dart’s comprehensive set of libraries and tools, while the language’s Ahead of Time (AoT) compilation allows for easy customization. Furthermore, Dart takes the complexity out of a lot of common programming tasks and enables fast, agile workflow thanks to its use of Just in Time (JiT) technology.
MVPs and PoCs made faster with Flutter
Flutter allows for the speedy development of minimum viable product (MVP) versions of apps, so for those developers that are looking to drive time-to-market, it’s the perfect option. Not having to worry about building each MVP on a native platform means product teams can focus on the overarching concept and not the specifics of the framework.
In addition, proof-of-concept (PoC) development can also be effectively powered by Flutter. The development kit enables prototypes and PoCs that are much more advanced than simple UX click dummies, which are usually created in design platforms such as InVision.
Being able to build MVPs and PoCs quickly not only means developers save on unnecessary time and resources, but it also drives business results as companies can access vital feedback that will allow them to get to market with the full product faster than with native development.
While Flutter should not be considered a universal solution to cross platform app development - for example, it still falls short on apps that use AR, VR, or video playing - there’s no arguing that it is shaping up to be a huge asset to mobile app development teams. The true power of Flutter remains in its infancy, but it is already empowering fast and efficient cross platform app development across organizations, from early-stage startups to large enterprises.