Using Flutter for App Development

What makes Flutter such a great choice to develop your Mobile applications?

Flutter is an open source UI software development kit created by Google and originally unveiled at the 2015 Dart developer summit. Flutter is now an open source initiative, with contributions from Google and other companies as well as excellent community support.

Since its initial release Flutter has gradually been rising in popularity among web and mobile developers. The chances are you have already been using an application that has been developed with Flutter.

What makes Flutter such a great choice to develop your Mobile applications? In this post we’ll dive in and explore both the pros and cons of using Flutter.

Brief history of Flutter

Flutter has been created by Google as a technology to enable the development of cross-platform applications from a single code base. Originally the scope was to enable developers to build both Android and iOS applications, but this has now since been iterated up to include Web and Desktop applications on all popular operating systems i.e. Linux, Apple & Windows. 

Flutter provides a complete Software Development Kit (SDK), with all the tools, widgets and a whole lot more to develop mobile, web & desktop applications.

What are the benefits of Flutter?

Rapid Application Development

Flutter enables app developers to significantly reduce time-to-market by enabling the development of applications to run on all platforms from one code-base.

Flutter provides a wide range of component support, enabling developers to focus mostly on the implementation and push apps out quickly to users so they can be validated and iterated upon quickly.

Less code also requires less testing. Enabling teams to write one test case and use it across all platforms — which simplifies and accelerates the release process even further.

High Performance

Flutters performance is on par with Native Applications and exceeds all other cross-platform or hybrid technologies. The Dart programming language enables automated compilation into native code.  What this means is that Flutter does not need any bridge layer to communicate with the platform. This results in your applications in starting and running smoothly on the device without any performance bottlenecks.

Increased Accessibility

Flutter provides a number of options for building more inclusive apps and making them available to a wider audience of users. It supports screen readers, allows you to easily implement and verify sufficient contrast, and the UI components respect the OS settings in terms of the font size. All of this is intended at providing people with disabilities with access to all the functions they need.

Attractive Designs

Flutter has a vast collection of reusable UI components known as widgets, enabling you to choose from a comprehensive range to speed up your development, but also provides great flexibility in enabling you to customise the styling and general look and feel of your applications to ensure they are unique. Flutter also enables you to extend the functionality of the widgets to create your own designs or simply utilise widgets that follow Material Design (Android) and Cupertino (iOS) standards. Flutter’s rendering engine is also very efficient and enables you to implement impressive effects and animations.

Flutters limitations

Application Size

Flutter apps tend to be generally larger in File size than the native ones, as they use built-in widgets instead of platform ones and Flutter’s overhead size is fixed. Applications that by definition need to be small ( e.g. instant apps) may not benefit from using Flutter as much as other app types. In other instances, however, there is a number of methods for optimising Flutter app size without compromising its quality.

Delayed feature introduction

As can be expected, the latest updates to Android and iOS systems will be introduced in their native SDKs first. Flutter will see these new features with some delay — this is typical for all hybrid and cross-platform frameworks. Even though this fact may be considered a drawback of Flutter app development, it can easily be mitigated. Flutter allows developers to add native code to the solution easily and implement the missing features this way.

Fewer Third-Party Libraries

Although Flutter offers many good libraries, its repository still isn’t as broad as those available for native development. When you’re building an application that requires a very specific functionality, there may not be a third-party library to support it. This means developers would need to create that functionality from scratch, which is much more time-consuming than leveraging an existing package. Still, it’s worth remembering that the number of Flutter packages is constantly growing, and many of them can already cover all the requirements of modern applications

Should you use Flutter for your development platform?

A typical consultant answer to this question is, “It depends”.

This answer is entirely based on just how much your app, is going to depend on Native functionality of the operating system to deliver features. However, that being said that is also a relatively small percentage of the average business or commerce based applications would actually need this kind of optimisation. Also there would be a certain amount of limitations to using Flutter to develop games.

For the most part, Flutter is a great platform to develop business and commerce enabled applications. Flutter may be the perfect technology for building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and presenting it to your investors in very little time. Start-ups and companies with omnichannel business model will appreciate the possibility to develop a solution for multiple platforms with a single code-base and in a cost-efficient way.

The Flutter SDK is a great fit for the dynamics of a modern business enabling the experimentation with different options during the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop