Cloud Computing: The Digital Shift 2.0 – Understanding the Current Market Trends

The State of Flutter App Development in 2021

As of March 2021, Flutter 2.0 is up and running. As a Google-backed cross-platform software development framework, the Flutter app development uses a single codebase allowing apps to be developed, built for, and deployed on multiple platforms.

At present, the Flutter app development supports the following platforms: Android, iOS, web, macOS, Linux, and Windows. Let us go over the various aspects of Flutter that provide a holistic perspective on its development in 2021. 

The Community

As of May 2021, Flutter has 188 active pull requests on GitHub. This demonstrates that the developer community continually uses it and contributes to its improvement.

With both Flutter and Dart owned by Google, this allows them both to grow and evolve simultaneously. Given that Flutter app development has been leveraged in several Google products, it is highly likely that Flutter and this technology will not be abandoned anytime soon. 

Having been used in the development of Android apps, the rapid pace of Flutter’s evolution from the alpha stage until now demonstrates that Flutter will soon be the top choice for development.

While Dart is not as popular as JavaScript, the community behind it is committed and constantly growing as is the community of Flutter developers. 

Growth in 2020

In the period between January 2020 to January 2021

Ease of Use

Flutter with its intuitive UI is very easy to use. A major advantage is that Flutter app development is designed to support Material Design and Cupertino. These allow developers to render the UI on both iOS and Android platforms with fast prototyping.

Further, with widgets that can be personalized, developers can save time by creating visually appealing apps with cross-platform consistency.

Performance

App performance is critical across platforms. A declarative API for building UI significantly enhances performance. 

For instance, Flutter apps being created and deployed across the iOS platform got an incredible boost due to the support of the Metal API. This increased the performance of Flutter apps by about 50% on iOS. This is most obvious when it comes to visual adjustments.

The evolution and growing popularity of Flutter app development has allowed a course for its future to be tentatively chartered. As one of the highest performance platforms, Flutter is causing a disruption.

As developers open up support for more platforms, Flutter promises to deliver.

Developer Feedback

As of January 2021, based on GitHub ratings and stars, Flutter is growing to be one of the most loved platforms! 

Dart is fairly easy to learn the language, particularly for developers with former Swift or Java experience. A major advantage here is that Flutter is app-oriented and not platform-oriented. This means that most platform issues are moved away from the developer.

Additionally, Flutter has well-documented support on Firebase installation. This streamlines the integration of Flutter apps to Firebase.

As an evolving application technology, with well-documented APIs and a large repository of learning resources, Flutter is slowly growing to be a developer favorite.

Hot Reload

The hot reload feature makes it possible to make changes to a live running application. Any and all changes made to the code are visible in real-time, eliminating the need to restart or lose app status. This means when developers change code and when it’s re-compiled, they manually recreate the state to see what changed is no longer necessary.

This saves time, particularly during development allowing for more creativity and experimentation. It is a great feature for collaboration between developers and designers. Additionally, this simplifies fixing bugs by providing real-time or near real-time visibility.  helps developers to save time during development, experiment with new ideas, and immediately validate bug fixes. 

Single Codebase

With its signature single code base, Flutter app development reduces the time taken to develop apps while having the advantages of natives look and efficiency.  

This means developers need to write just one codebase for two applications for both iOS and Android platforms. Flutter is platform-agnostic with its own widgets and designs. This means the exact same app can be developed across two platforms as similar or different as you want. 

Increased Time-to-Market

Flutter has been built such that a 2D-based UI can be deployed in Flutter without interacting with a native application counterpart. Platform-specific code is not necessary for Flutter to deliver the aspired visuals in the application.

Developing a Flutter app takes about twice-as-less hours compared to the same app developed separately for Android and iOS.

Further, Flutter apps reduce automated testing by 50% as the same tests can be run on both platforms. 

Agile Framework

Being able to build versatile, complex apps from scratch on Flutter requires the framework to be agile and powerful. A significant chunk of this performance can be attributed to Flutter’s high-performance cross-platform rendering engine.

Flutter uses Skia for rendering itself onto a platform-provided canvas. This contributes to a robust engine allowing the UI in Flutter to be launched on virtually any platform. This means the UI no longer needs to be adjusted to transfer it to a platform streamlining the development process.

The Challenges with Flutter

While the team behind Flutter is very responsive and works to resolve problems fast, there are a few pitfalls with Flutter. 

Lack of third-party libraries

Third-party libraries and packages are usually open-source, easily available, and pre-tested. These libraries offer a chance to try tools that have been used and tested in multiple platforms and situations. They eliminate the need to code everything from scratch by automating software development for developers. 

Finding the relevant package for emerging technologies is tougher than for older and more popular ones.  However,  Flutter app development’s official resource has over 15,000 packages and is constantly growing.

Dart

While Dart is a great language with a familiar paradigm, it falls short when compared to other languages such as JavaScript, C#, etc. Additionally, it is to be noted that Dart is not a language developer who are starting out will choose to master. 

This might prove to be a challenge when working on a cross-platform approach.

Additionally, it is hard to keep up with long-term activities on Dart. For instance, pressing the back button or heading to a different app blocks Flutter activity. This is incredibly challenging when building complex apps. Blocking activities regularly is the bedrock of an awful user experience. 

App size

Minimizing the size of apps is something every developer goes through. With limited storage space on hand-held devices, it makes sense. A good rule of thumb to decrease the size of the app is to reduce or eliminate animations, make the number of libraries and packages minimal, and/or compress images.

With the built-in widgets, a basic app on Flutter will be over 4MB, which is larger than native Java (539KB) and Kotlin (550KB) apps. However, a basic app on Xamarin will be nearly 16MB and 7MB in React Native.

Built-in Widgets

Most widgets on Flutter require customization starting from the most commonly used ones such as BottomSheet, Raised Button, or App Bar. While this sounds great for building the look and feel of the app based on specific requirements, it is often easier to write code from scratch for more advanced functionality. 

Flutter libraries save a lot of time, but before getting to the tool developers need to be prepared for customization. 

Given the rapid pace of evolution, we are certain the team behind Flutter app development will work towards making the technology more streamlined.

Getting Started with Flutter App Development

Check system requirements

  • Windows users must have PowerShell 5.0 and Git for Windows pre-installed
  • Mac OS developers need a 64-bit version with Xcode 9.0 or newer installed
  • Linux users are advised to have a few command-line tools in their development environment.

Download Flutter SDK

  • Choose OS and follow instructions
  • All operating systems support development both for iOS and Android, but a platform-specific editor is essential. 
  • For web development, Google Chrome is required.
  • Dart comes pre-installed with Flutter.

Install an editor

Any IDE with Flutter command lines can be used

Google recommends using their plugins for officially supported editors: Android Studio, IntelliJ, and Visual Studio.

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