Flutter’s recent addition of Windows app support has brought renewed attention to the software development kit (SDK).
The widget-based UI toolkit has been growing in popularity for the past few years, but there is still some confusion over when to use Flutter for mobile app development.
This article delivers an overview of Flutter and discusses the pros and cons of using Flutter to develop your next app.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is an open-source mobile SDK for building native-looking Android, iOS, and now Windows applications using the same codebase. Flutter gives you the ability to build Android, iOS, web, and desktop apps.
How Flutter Works
Flutter is centered around the use of widgets. By combining different widgets, you can build a complete UI. Each widget defines a structural or stylistic element, a layout aspect, or one of several other components.
You can create your own widgets or use premade widgets that follow Material Design (Android) or Cupertino (iOS) standards. You can’t use Android and iOS widgets, however.
A standard practice for reactive views is refreshing the view tree for each new frame. Flutter does this by creating many objects that may live for only one frame, then sweeping them away using Dart’s generational garbage collection.
Dart also has a “tree shaking” compiler that eliminates unused code and keeps only the code you need in your app. And you have access to Dart’s extensive widget library and its repository of software packages to extend your app’s capabilities.
Benefits of Flutter
Flutter offers several benefits for mobile app development, including time and resource savings, outstanding performance, faster development, and more.
Flutter is a cross-platform development tool, which means software developers can use the same codebase for building apps for iOS, Android, and Windows. Cross-platform development saves you time and resources throughout the development process, which in turn lowers your costs.
Flutter’s use of Dart and its library of widgets combine to deliver fantastic performance. Because Dart compiles into native code and the Flutter widgets eliminate the need to access platform widgets, there’s less communication between the app and the platform. That combination means your app starts up fast, and your users have fewer performance issues.
A big reason for Flutter’s popularity is its hot reload capability. Hot reload allows you to immediately view code changes on emulators, simulators, and hardware. And we do mean immediately; Flutter delivers sub-second reloads of changed code. While the app is running, no less. You don’t even need to restart it to see the change.
As you can imagine, building UIs, adding new features, and fixing defects is a snap. If your app throws an error, you can probably fix it on the fly and keep on using the app. And if you can’t, reloading the app takes almost no time at all.
Flutter’s widgets are highly compatible. So not only will you see fewer problems on different OS versions, but you’ll also spend less time testing your app on older versions of each OS. Flutter’s extreme compatibility also means your app will work well on future OS versions.
Because Flutter is an open-source SDK, it has an active community of developers who provide support, contribute to the documentation, and develop helpful resources that you can turn to when you run into problems. And both Dart and Flutter are free to use, even commercially.
Disadvantages of Flutter
While Flutter has a long list of advantages, you should also be aware of its weaknesses—especially when compared to React Native.
Another weakness of Flutter is there are fewer experienced developers. React Native is widely used for creating native applications, so it’s familiar to a greater number of mobile app developers. Flutter, being newer, is not as familiar. As a result, a software development company looking to hire Flutter experts might find it difficult.
Flutter mobile app development provides many advantages for creating innovative apps that work across Android, iOS, and Windows. Its growing popularity and the fact that it’s backed by Google are both good indicators that the framework is here to stay.
Although it may be challenging to find experienced Flutter developers in 2022, you may discover Flutter’s benefits make it the best development framework for your needs.
And if you run into a hiring wall, consider outsourcing the work to a mobile app development company. A third-party software development company may be able to fill your Flutter skill gap and allow you to get your mobile app to market quickly.
Whether you do the work in-house or outsource it, building your app with Flutter can help you realize time and resource savings, deliver outstanding performance, facilitate faster development, and ultimately give you an app that will perform well across Android, iOS, and Windows.