Despite still being new to the community, Google’s Flutter toolkit is already making a monumental impact in cross-platform software development. Modestly labeled as a UI toolkit for building natively compiled apps, Flutter is rapidly evolving to do so much more.
With the platform’s latest release in March this year, Google has announced its intent for Flutter’s future growth and expansion into new areas of application development. Offering well-designed, unique, and natively compiled applications for multiple platforms—Flutter is going out of its way to show it has a great deal to offer developers in the coming years ahead.
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The flagship feature of Flutter development is in the number of platforms targeted with a single codebase. Cutting costs in design, development, and testing phases, the unified codebase has long been an ideal vision for application developers. Now, it’s one that is coming even closer still.
With the recent release of Flutter 2, the number of platforms developers can target has expanded to include beta support for Linux, Windows, macOS, and the web as well as its traditional base of Android, iOS apps.
Across each platform, Flutter's mission statement continues to promote strong interface design and beautifully composed apps. It’s Flutter’s emphasis on its design credentials where the platform departs from more mainstream frameworks. It shows an intent to allow developers to create well-distinguished apps and put their branding front and center in future application designs.
The future of Flutter development sees a rapid departure from the rigid templates and boilerplate designs of years past.
Flutter achieves these goals by promoting UI widgets as a way to compose interfaces out of small building blocks of code. The design process shares similarities with React Native’s component model of UI construction.
For engineers too, Flutter has announced more support in tooling and development. These additions include improved IDE support for each of the major development environments and integration with back-end services such as Firebase. With Flutter, Google seems to have cracked the code to framework success by getting developers on-side, simplifying multi-platform development even further and ramping up productivity in the process.
Modern tools are making time-on-task that is a bit more productive and resulting in more forward progress than may be managed using alternate frameworks or developing in a native environment.
These continued improvements in tooling, resources, and environments are making the future of Flutter development more productive and more rewarding for generations of apps to come. Excited to find a Flutter Development team of your own? Tell us what you need! We’ll do the work for you and within 72h you’ll be connected with up to 5 companies that meet your criteria - all for free!
If any single thing was going to slow uptake and deployment of Flutter applications in the years to come, then it would be the platform’s reliance on Google’s in-house Dart programming language. Originating over a decade ago, Dart has had an initially slow uptake.
More recently, however—the deployment of both Flutter and the Fuchsia operating system has made Dart the single fastest-growing language of recent years.
Designed from the ground up with the web in mind, the language is surprisingly familiar to engineers approaching it for the first time.
While it may take time to get familiar with Dart’s best practices and style guides, the trade-off in improvements and upgrades are well worth the effort.
In its latest release, Dart 2.12, the language has seen some significant additions which are expected to make big impacts of their own. The addition of null safety, Allowing nullable types to be differentiated from non-nullable types, will cure many app’s reliability issues right of the early development phases.
Groundbreaking changes announced in Dart 2.12 include:
Of course, as with any technology, developing future apps with Flutter won’t happen in a vacuum. There are many competing frameworks which each bring their own merits and advantages. With currently available tooling and resources already out there—using no framework at all, native application development, is a strong contender for many developers too.
On features alone, many competing frameworks can offer some of the same advantages as Flutter. Both React Native and Xamarin, for example, offer cross-platform mobile development, native code rendering, and outstanding support for development tools. Both are already wildly popular amongst developers and have a large base of engineering talent. It’s Flutter’s feature set as more than a framework that makes it stand out amongst each of its strongest competitors.
The difference between the two approaches becomes more and more apparent as the size, resolution, and screen layouts diverge amongst devices and platforms. In many cases, generating native components that render accurately across wildly varying devices is all but impossible and highly likely to result in minor issues.
Most tech industry veterans will remember the early days of bug-filled, broken, and hacked together mobile apps of the early 2010s. Glitches, bugs, and user workarounds were common in production apps of the time. Few will want the future of app development to look like that too.
At best, these UI issues can dampen the professional look and feel of well-designed apps. At worst, they can inhibit crucial functionality.
By drawing its own widgets, Flutter guarantees consistent performance across devices. Using the platform's rendering engine, widgets and components are rendered for devices at 120 frames per second. The result is a ready-made boost to apps valuing reliability and design as a primary component of application engineering.
There are scenarios too, where neither frameworks nor Flutter are ideal solutions to every engineering challenge. When lightweight applications are absolutely necessary—in deploying instant apps, for example, then the heavyweight features of either Flutter or mobile app frameworks are likely to hinder more than help.
Native apps step into this role as an ideal fit instead.
With Flutter, developers are provided with a lot of options and abilities to create robust, well-designed, and fully featured applications into the future. That future, however, should include a keen eye on dropping into native development and keeping on top of each platform’s ecosystems too.
With ever-expanding target platforms and an ever-improving set of features and language improvements—the future of Flutter development is growing broader by the day.
Whatever platform you build on, whatever you're planning to create, whether building a single platform app or a consistent multi-ecosystem suite; Flutter will be a platform to look to for the future of application development. For more on the subject of Flutter, be sure to take a look at our article on The Do's & Don'ts of Managing an Outsourced Flutter Development Team.
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