What is Flutter app?
The tech world has undergone a sea change in the past few
years. Smartphones have enabled people to connect to the internet anytime and
from anywhere, as long as there is a working internet connection. Consumers are
flooded with mobile applications for any and everything. In recent years, app
developers would have heard of something called a Flutter app. What is Flutter
app? And why has it gotten so popular? Read this article to find out.
What is Flutter?
Flutter was introduced
by Google in 2015 in its beta stage and then officially launched in 2018. It is
a free open-source cross-platform software development kit (SDK) that
developers can use to build both iOS and Android applications using the same
code base. Flutter has a framework or User Interface (UI) library that houses a
collection of reusable UI elements such as sliders, buttons, and so on, that
can be personalised by developers. Over time, Flutter has gone from strength to
strength and is considered to be among the top 11 software repositories as per
Github stars. Flutter aims to allow developers to create high-quality and
high-performance apps that work naturally and seamlessly across platforms,
accepting changes wherever necessary while sharing the same code as much as
possible. So a Flutter app is one
that has been developed using the Flutter SDK.
Flutter app – An overview
Here is a broad
overview of the features of Flutter apps:
One advantage of Flutter is that it offers
developers everything they need for app development within the Flutter
engine itself. It is designed as a multi-layered expandable system. There
are a series of independent libraries that are dependent on the underlying
layer. Every layer is independent as well and does not have access to
other layers below it. Every part of the technical architecture has been
built in a way to be replaceable and elective. The flutter engine is
composed of the Skia C++ engine, which is a 2D graphics rendering library.
- Programming language:
Flutter apps are made using a typed
programming language called Dart, which was again created by Google in
2011. The focus of Fart is on front-end development and so developers use
it to create web and mobile applications. Dart is compiled ahead of time
(AOT) into the native code for different platforms which allow for a
quick start-up time of the app. So a
Flutter app will not have performance problems related to needing a
(JIT), which is extremely handy during the development phase of a flutter app. Dart uses an advanced
garbage collection and allocation scheme that is very fast in allocating
short-lived objects. This results in the flutter app having very smooth animation and scrolling.
- Development API and
Flutter has a reactive UI framework where the
developer provides the mapping from the application state to the interface
state. The framework then updates the interface during the runtime when
the application state is changed. The flutter framework comes with device
API access, UI rendering components, stateful management, testing, and
many libraries. As Flutter is bundled with this rich set of components, it
removes the need for third-party libraries. In a Flutter app, widgets act
as the building blocks of the app’s UI and are an entrenched part of the
UI. Widgets have a hierarchy that is based on composition. So, a widget
will nest inside its parent and receive context from the parent. When there is an event (for example, user
interaction), the app tells the framework to replace one widget in the
hierarchy with another. The framework compares the old and new widgets and
then updates the UI accordingly.
- Hot reload:
Flutter has the advantage of a Hot Reload
feature that allows developers to build UIs, experiment, and fix bugs
easily and quickly. When developing a flutter
app, this feature allows developers to view any changes made due to
the addition of app features, bug fixes, or building of the user
interface, without needing to refresh the app continuously.
- Community and testing
Flutter has a robust and rapidly growing
community and so, developers can confer with and support each other about
building apps. Flutter also provides comprehensive testing support with
plenty of features in order
to test apps at all levels—widget, unit, as well as
detailed documentation is provided in order to
test the Flutter apps. Also,
there is a testing feature of widget that
developers can use by creating widget tests to evaluate the UI.
Benefits of Flutter
- Cost and time
Developers can use the same code for building both iOS and Android apps.
This cross-platform development saves time and resources throughout the
process of app development.
- Quick development and
One reason why Flutter has gained traction is
because of how easy it is to make and view changes. Thanks to the Hot
Reload feature, developers can change their code and view it instantly.
This speeds up app development, thereby, enhancing productivity.
Flutter’s Dart programming language compiles
directly into native code. Moreover, Flutter uses its own widgets without
the need for OEM widgets. These two factors help deliver an exceptional
performance as they ensure quick start-up times and minimal performance issues.
Since Flutter has its own widgets for app
development there are fewer compatibility issues to contend with. So app
developers don’t encounter problems over different OS versions, nor have
to spend as much time testing an app on older OS versions.
Flutter has the advantage of being a free and
open-source technology used by a vibrant community of developers who offer
support, handy resources, and extensive documentation.
The bottom line
Today there are
thousands of Flutter apps in app stores. The famous Alibaba group created a Flutter app called Xianyu with over 50
million users. The advantages Flutter brings to the table make it a formidable
technology. It is no wonder then that in
a short space of a few years, Flutter has succeeded in becoming so popular with
mobile app developers the world over.