Note: This blog has been updated from a previously published article.
Despite its relative newness Flutter is making serious waves in the field of mobile App development. Today a growing number of businesses and developers are turning to cross-platform development as their preferred choice: developers want to increase their productivity and develop high-performing apps faster; and startups and business owners want to decrease time-to-market and development costs. React Native has long dominated as the go-to cross-platform tool, but more recently Flutter has emerged as a serious contender in cross-platform app development. Introduced by Google in 2017 and formally released in its stable version in December 2018, Flutter allows developers to build mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices, and more recently for the Web as well.
In the following we provide a deep dive into what makes Flutter so attractive and explain why we think it’s a real game changer in app development.
Flutter is an open source UI software development kit (SDK) developed by Google to enable developers to build attractive high-performance applications for multiple platforms using one source code. It provides libraries, documentation, and a set of tools that enable developers to build cross-platform natively rendered applications.
Flutter is all about widgets. Flutter doesn’t use native components from other platforms. Instead, it has created its own rich set of built-in and reusable UI components (like buttons, sliders, text input etc) which serve as important building blocks for app development. In addition to core layout widgets, the Flutter team has created two sets of widgets for both major mobile platforms — Material Design widgets for Android and Cupertino widgets for iOS–so that apps can look platform-specific. Although widgets are pre-built, they can also be customized, and developers can create their own, thus offering both convenience and flexibility.
A particularly attractive feature of Flutter is hot reload, which allows developers to see any changes they’ve made or errors fixed almost immediately without having to restart the application. Usually there’s a time lag in programming, after you make a change you need to relaunch an application to see if the desired results have been achieved. But the Hot Reload feature saves any changes applied to the code on emulators, so you can see updates in real time, and the change code reloads in less then a second so developers can continue seamlessly from where they left off.
The Google team introduced Flutter to help expedite the app development process. They created a series of tools and features to create better efficiency and ease and yet are still capable of delivering high performance apps that match their native counterpart. Here’s some reasons why we think Flutter is a real game changer in app development:
When you build with Flutter you produce apps for a broader audience in a shorter amount of time. Developers using Flutter write a single application compatible with Android, iOS systems, and the Web. This means faster development time and decreased costs as you no longer need separate development teams with different tool sets that are required to coordinate with each other.
Flutter offers several features that simplify the app building process and mean a quicker time to market:
As previously mentioned, hot reload greatly enhances developer productivity, enabling them to create interfaces, add features, and fix bugs quickly and easily. Also, because there aren’t delays each time developers update code, there’s greater incentive to experiment.
Flutter’s provision of a wide range of ready-to-use, but also easily customizable widgets, also boosts development speeds. You only need to build a UI element one time and it will adapt to different platforms, resolutions, and screens. Plus, Flutter provides widgets that perfectly mimic the behavior and look of Android and iOS allowing you to write a beautiful application on different platforms.
You shouldn’t have any performance concerns using flutter. Because Dart is capable of direct compilation which removes the need for a bridge to facilitate communication between flutter and another platform, Flutter apps generally have fast startup times and overall excellent performance making them largely indistinguishable from native app performance.The high quality of this mobile app tool guarantees a positive user experience.
Flutter is a generally easy tool to get started with, as long as you can adapt to the Dart programming language which shouldn’t be too difficult. Google has made it easy for mobile app developers to make the transition from native development to cross-platform App development frameworks. For example, if you are an Android developer you can continue working with your IDE, as Flutter works well with Android Studio, (as well as other code editors including Visual Studio Code). Also Google has made great efforts to support flutter development by providing extensive documentation, (something that React Native lacks), including video tutorials and practical exercises on Codelabs.
Flutter is an open-source framework with a fast-growing active community of thousands of developers. This group provides support, contributes to the documentation, develops helpful tools, and maintains an ongoing dialogue for mobile development with Flutter on social media sites like Medium, Stack Overflow, Discord, and Reddit.
Flutter is a customizable toolkit for mobile app development and offers a great cross-platform solution. Using Flutter, you will increase your productivity, speed up development, and earn the loyalty of both Android & iOS users.
If you’re building an app that requires real-time communications features then check out QuickBlox Flutter SDK. QuickBlox provides a complete communication platform for live chat and instant messaging, peer-to-peer voice and video calling, multi-party video conferencing and an array of features like file sharing, push notifications and more all available through chat and video Flutter SDK and API. Check out our documentation or contact us now to learn more.