Google was determined to end 2018 on a high note. While their Android OS had gained one of the top spots in the global mobile platform, there still remained room for improvement. To remedy the limitations in Android and to usher in a new era for mobile app development, Google released the first stable version of Flutter, a brand new app development platform, on December 4th, 2018.
Why should you be interested? Google initially revealed that Flutter would be the development framework for its new Fuchsia OS. However, it’s cross-platform programming abilities meant that Flutter would soon be used for a lot more. Now, it’s set to become the coding platform that will take over the development processes for both the Android and iOS systems. Undoubtedly, if you’re an app developer or looking for a developer for hire, you would not want to miss out on this beginner’s guide to Flutter.
Chief Talking Points
The Alpha build of Flutter was released back in May 2017 and that was enough to send developers and technology watchdogs into a flurry of assumptions and expectations. Google dropped its stable release, version 1.2.2, this February, prioritising progress towards a new way of app development that would enable even non-coders to design and produce apps without breaking much sweat.
One code base, multiple platforms
For those who are new to the developments in the mobile applications technology, cross-platform app development has been in existence for quite some time now. Flutter makes it even easier to code for Android and iOS simultaneously with its programmer-friendly approach and layered architecture. It is imperative for business owners to release their apps on both platforms and Flutter is leading the way.
Flutter employs the Dart language for app development, using its advanced features efficiently. This object-oriented programming language also makes compilation faster. It uses the Just-In-Time (JIT) execution engine on Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Android systems. Due to restrictions on dynamic execution on iOS, the Ahead-Of-Time (AOT) compilation engine comes into effect on there.
It’s an extension of the last point and a good change of things for developers, thanks to Flutter’s usage of Dart. With the Hot Reload feature, programmers can see the live application of codes in an app view window that depicts the way it would look on a mobile device. This happens fast enough to make development, testing, and debugging more convenient than ever.
Widgets for Android and iOS
Widgets are usually used to customize the interface and view of an app. With Flutter, Google has decided to go in-depth with them. Widgets in Flutter, as its official website declares, are “an immutable declaration of part of the user interface”. Instead of separating views, layouts, and other properties, Flutter brings everything under a unified object, which is the widget. What’s more, the framework consists of two sets of widgets- Material Design for Android and Cupertino for iOS.
Widgets in Flutter can define structural elements, aspects of the layout, stylistic elements, and the list goes on. To make rendering smoother, it uses the Skia engine instead of OEM widgets.
A developer gains access to Flutter’s wide range of classes and functions. This guarantees flexibility by making it possible to not rely on widgets alone when coding an app. One can use the methods in the Foundation Library to produce shapes, text, and images directly on the screen. The open source Flame game engine was developed in a similar manner.
Needless to say, when you eliminate native programming on two platforms and replace it with simultaneous development for both, you save a lot of time. The MVP looks native on both Android and iOS, something that eases things for you when presenting it to your investors and peers. Less coding means fewer bugs and this makes the whole process of development smoother and faster.
These hot new features have ensured Flutter’s success, not only with professional app developers but also with entrepreneurs with app ideas who have limited knowledge for their development. Since the UI promises functionality like never before, even the less-experienced are keen to try their hands at it. No wonder, its share in the app market is growing exponentially and it’s high time for developers to get aboard.