With constant changes in mobile technology, the development scopes are also changing to build a high performance, robust and easily adaptable solutions in the market. Google, one of the innovative technology leaders has introduced Flutter as a business solution and an open-source SDK to develop high performance and high fidelity apps for android as well as iOS platforms from a single code base. It has been on the market since 2017, and the latest version 1.7.8 was released on July 24, 2019. Although it is a relatively new tool, companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Google have already adopted the technology in their most significant products.
Things such as Hot Reload, a vast widget catalog, with a very good performance, and community that contributes to meeting that objective and hence makes flutter a pretty solid framework. Also, the framework is the development platform for their upcoming operating system, Fuchsia.
For Flutter, it’s best to use Android Studio/IntelliJ or Visual Studio (VS) code with Mac/Windows as operating systems.
These IDEs are the best we can find for developing mobile applications. But to use these with Flutter, we will need to use a few plugins.
We will need a plugin for the Dart compiler, another for code analysis, and another for the Flutter developer workflow (building, running, and debugging).
Following IDEs are recommended for the flutter app development.
1. Android Studio
Android Studio or IntelliJ is the Recommend IDE by Flutter developers. It provides you code completion, syntax highlighting, widget editing assists, run & debug support, and more. There’s a browser-dev-tools style Inspector and more in the debug tools.
2. Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code is also recommended by Flutter Developers. This IDE has been built for developing and debugging web applications as well as Flutter apps. It has integrated Git control & terminal. Visual Studio Code has a big community of plugins and libraries which helps the developer to minimize the effort with quality code to develop a full fledged Flutter applications.
For creating the build for iOS and Android it is required to have the xCode and Android Studio so that we can build both the executable file with their native changes in respective IDEs. I would recommend going with Android Studio as a development environment so that we can easily build the android app in Android Studio and for iOS, we use xCode. But in the case of VSC, we need to have three different IDEs for development and build generation.
Dart not a new language, its an object oriented language and similar to C, java script or Java. Its adopted from the angular languages and support multiple run environments. It is statically typed language which runs in web, mobile and converts these codes to other languages like machine learning etc. Dart is basically designed as client-optimized programming language to develop multi platform applications.
Flutter is becoming a serious competitor of other mobile development platforms like a native, hybrid or other cross-platform open sources. If we talk about features there is a big list of items which makes Flutter as the best alternative than others:
Flutter helps to develop faster & more dynamic mobile app development with single code base. We can make changes in the code and see them straight away in the app. This is the so-called Hot reload, which usually only takes a few seconds and helps us to add features, fix bugs and experiment faster.
Single code for multiple platforms
We write just one codebase for our 2 apps — covering both Android and iOS platforms. Flutter has its own widgets and designs and also some supportive libraries and plugins which gives the native look to the app. This means that we have the same app on two platforms. Yet what’s important is that, if we want to differentiate our apps — it’s possible. To make the app more in native look, flutter provides different options like for iOS native look there is Cupertino.
If we have the same app for two different platforms, it will reduce the testing effort, based on the UI and functional testing it may be possible to have the separate apps but the fixing of bugs will reflect the changes in both the platforms.
Latest app design for older devices
Flutter gives the flexibility to run the latest UI designs in older versions of devices. It provides a better user experience to the users.
As Flutter is new in the market, it still has some abatement which restricts us on development. Like it has strong libraries and plugins support but not as much as native development has. Also, Flutter is not widely supported by Jenkins and
Travis, so achieving automatic building, testing and deployment are yet to improve in upcoming releases.
However, Flutter’s advantages for business and development teams surpass the risks. It’s a great platform to build beautiful, high-performance and outstanding mobile apps which fit in custom needs and requirements.
Author — Navneet Srivastava, DLT Labs™
About the Author: Navneet Srivastava is a mobile technology professional with a broad experience in app development on multifarious platforms.