Flutter is a free and open-source mobile UI framework created by Google and released in May 2017. Flutter allows you to create native mobile applications with only one code. It means that you can use one programming language and one codebase to create two different apps (IOS and Android). In this blog, we’ll be discussing the various features of Flutter and its advantages, also how you can set up flutter on your desktop.
Features of Flutter SDK
Flutter as a Framework
Flutter’s hot reload feature helps us quickly and easily experiment, build UIs, add features, and fix bugs. Hot reload works by injecting updated source code files into the running Dart Virtual Machine (VM). After the VM updates classes with the new versions of fields and functions, the Flutter framework automatically rebuilds the widget tree, allowing you to quickly view the effects of your changes. Hot reload loads code changes into the VM and restores the widget tree, preserving the app state.
Expressive and Flexible UI
Google Flutter focuses on native end-user experiences and offers plenty of designs that are expressive and flexible along with rich widget sets and vast animation libraries. The extensive layered architecture of the framework allows customization and incredible rendering speed.
Performance like Native apps
For delivering native-like performance, the widgets of the UI framework – Google Flutter incorporate all crucial differences of the platform such as navigation, scrolling, icons, fonts and more to offer full native performance on Android and iOS both. Mobile app developers can leverage high-quality experiences across platforms and devices through interoperability, high-performance, portable, GPU-accelerated renderer, and native ARM code runtime. Even a novice developer can build a functional mobile app using Flutter with these built-in features.
Dart Programming Language
Widgets in Flutter
Flutter is all about ‘Widgets’ – a widget can be a Structural element like a button or menu, it can be a Stylistic element like a font or color, or a layout among many other things. Widgets are the basic building blocks of a Flutter app and it is an immutable declaration of part of the UI. Flutter has this consistent, unified object model: Widget, unlike the usual concepts of views, view controllers, layouts, and other properties. Based on the requirement the Widgets form a hierarchy. We can create nested widgets, a widget inside a widget, these widgets inherits properties from its parent. The root widget serves the application object role.
Flutter System Overview
Skills you need to use Flutter
- Basic programming skills
- Knowledge in Mobile app architecture
- Basic knowledge in mobile app development
- IDE – Android Studio or VSCode
- Knowledge in Dart Programming Language
Setting up Flutter
- Download sdk from flutter_macos_1.17.0-stable.zip
- Extract the file in any location,
for example -- cd ~/development
- Unzip ~/Downloads/flutter_macos_1.17.0-stable.zip
- Determine the directory where you placed the Flutter SDK. You need this in below steps
- Open (or create) the rc file for your shell. For example, macOS Mojave (and earlier) uses the Bash shell by default, so edit $HOME/.bash_profile or $HOME/.bashrc. macOS Catalina uses the Z shell by default, so edit $HOME/.zshrc. If you are using a different shell, the file path and filename will be different on your machine.
- Add the following line and change [PATH_TO_FLUTTER_GIT_DIRECTORY] to be the path where you cloned Flutter’s git repo:
- Run source $HOME/.<rc file> to refresh the current window, or open a new terminal window to automatically source the file.
- Verify that the flutter/bin directory is now in your PATH by running:
- Verify that the flutter command is available by running:
- Optionally, pre-download development binaries:
- Run the following command to see if there are any dependencies you need to install to complete the setup (for verbose output, add the -v flag):
This command checks your environment and displays a report to the terminal window.
The Dart SDK is bundled with Flutter; it is not necessary to install Dart separately.
The Flutter framework is organized into a series of layers, make yourself familiar with these layers and the different functionalities. If you want to give flutter a try, get yourself acquainted with the skills required and follow the guidelines given to set up Flutter. We’ll be posting more about Flutter for application development to enhance your understanding of the framework.
Summing up, why use Flutter for app development?
Advantages of Flutter
- Highly productive in terms of time & cost
- Develop for iOS and Android from a single codebase
- Do more with less code, even on a single OS, with a modern, expressive language and a declarative approach
- Prototype and iterate easily
- Experiment by changing code and reloading as your app runs (with hot reload)
- Fix crashes and continue debugging from where the app left off
- Create a visually appealing, highly-customized user experiences
- Benefit from a rich set of Material Design and Cupertino (iOS) widgets built using Flutter’s own framework
- Realize custom, beautiful, brand-driven designs, without the limitations of OEM widget sets
- Simple to learn and use
- Quick compilation: maximum productivity, because of hot reload
- Good documentation and a growing developer community for support
- Supported by Android Studio and VS Code
- Ideal for startup MVPsWe would recommend flutter for startups to create MVPs on their app ideas, because it is cheaper to develop a mobile application with Flutter because you don’t need to create and maintain two mobile apps (one for iOS and one for Android). It requires minimum number of resources and you could even hire a remote team for the job. The performance and appeal of an app developed in Flutter is quite brilliant and it has a wide range of valuable UI for customization.
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