Wondering why should you bother trying Flutter on your next project and what your business gains with it? Regardless of whether you’re a CTO, a TechLead or occupy any other position that requires making effective tech decisions in your company, you’ll find this piece useful.
Particularly, I’ll help you get a clue of what Flutter is and why it’s the most effective cross-platform framework out there. You’ll learn about Flutter’s benefits compared to other cross-platform solutions available and the role of these advantages in both development and business processes.
Altogether, you’ll get a view of why Flutter can be a good solution to some frequently occurring issues in your business.
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Throughout my professional career in software development, I’ve witnessed the recurring difficulty of choosing between what instrument to use for mobile cross-platform development in a number of projects. All these projects were different, but almost all of them had one thing in common: the resulting app was required to work on as many devices as possible. And it was a real challenge.
In addition to working on mobile apps, I also had some experience in mobile game development. I remember seeing a well-established cross-platform game development for the first time, which was in 2016. That was when I thought, why don’t we have the same instrument, but for app development? imagining how cool and easy it would be to use one.
Well, now we have it. And I want to share the joy of working on Flutter with you, so that you make the most benefit of the innovation. In this article, I highlight my thoughts on what advantages of Flutter are going to make it dominate the cross-platform application development in the upcoming years.
Coming from a native Android development and having some GameDev expertise, I can say that Flutter is a cross-platform application development instrument I was looking for throughout all my career. It combines the ease of development with native performance while maintaining visual consistency across platforms. It’s just the best!
You might assume that every cross-platform framework can perform some things and offers some features essential for the job, and you have a point. But! Flutter is a bit different from its competitors in some key aspects. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Flutter app development better than other frameworks.
We, experts, know that basically any cross-platform framework provides a way to share codebase between the target platforms. But there are no such application frameworks that allow sharing both the UI code the UI itself besides Flutter.
To illustrate, here’s an example of how UI rendering looks like in most cross-platform frameworks:
This kind of a rendering process makes building an app that looks native on every platform simple. But the devil’s in the details. Relying on platform-specific components for rendering provokes a need for a property mapping layer for the platform widget and a framework widget data synchronization. That’s what requires mapping every animation into a platform-specific widget call. So much more complicated than it needs to be, right?
In contrast, Flutter doesn’t need any platform-specific UI components to render it’s UI. The only thing Flutter needs to show the application UI is a canvas to draw onto. And here’s how it looks like:
The Flutter’s way of rendering makes the framework really stand out from the crowd eliminating any worries about the UI consistency on different platforms.
In brief, sharing the UI and business logic, which is possible with Flutter, saves time, effort and the health of the developer while not affecting the performance of the end product.
From my experience, building a usual mid-size Android app takes at least 40 seconds to get shipped onto the test device. And sometimes, it can take forever just to adjust a small visual aspect in the layout. Some of you might say, ‘Wait, but Android Studio has a layout preview for that.’ And it does. Yet, of course, there is a but: the feature is limited and doesn’t always work as expected, especially with custom views.
Flutter’s “hot reload” feature, in turn, allows seeing the applied changes almost instantly, without even losing the current application state. And this is exactly what makes Flutter app development several times faster due to the increased development speed.
Besides, the Flutter team has put lots of effort into providing a wide variety of ready-to-use widgets. Most of them are incredibly customizable, saving your time like no other framework before. In addition to numerous core layout widgets, Flutter provides a large set of Material and Cupertino widgets that perfectly mimic the behavior of each design language. Here’s how they work:
Altogether, you skip several crazily time-consuming steps in app development when using Flutter, which makes the entire process faster, simpler and less worrisome.
This one is pretty straightforward. Flutter development framework functions quicker than its alternatives. In most cases, you can expect a Flutter app to require at least two times fewer man-hours compared to the same app developed separately for Android and iOS. The main reason is dead simple: you just don’t have to write any platform-specific code to achieve the desired visuals in your application. Any 2D-based UI can be implemented in Flutter without interacting with a native application counterpart.
Aside from that, Flutter provides a declarative API for building UI, which, in my experience, noticeably boosts the performance. This is most obvious when it comes to visual adjustments. Read also: Choosing a Map API for Your Next App
Application performance is crucial for good UX. While it’s hard to tell the exact figures, it’s safe to say that Flutter application performance in most cases will be indistinguishable from the native app and even better in complex UI animation scenarios.
Why? Contrary to the approach of most cross-platform frameworks, Flutter doesn’t rely on any intermediate code representations or interpretation. Flutter application is built directly into the machine code, which eliminates any performance bugs of the interpretation process.
Eventually, you get your release application fully compiled ahead of time with Flutter.
One of the biggest advantages of Flutter is the ability to customize anything you see on the screen, regardless of how complex it may be. While it’s usually possible to do a very custom UI on the native platforms as well, the amount of effort required differs by the order magnitude. Here’s an example of such simple yet custom UI:
However, Flutter makes the process more flexible and versatile without adding to the workload. Shared element transitions, shape/color/shadow manipulations, clipping, transformations – Flutter allows you to perform all of these effortlessly. Here are some more examples of how it works.
Flutter allows you to do so much stuff with your apps that aren’t available on other platforms. Obviously, it requires the framework to be pretty powerful. In fact, most of the points presented above wouldn’t be possible without a high-performance cross-platform rendering engine.
Flutter uses Skia for rendering itself onto a platform-provided canvas. Because of the engine, UI built in Flutter can be launched on virtually any platform. Putting it differently, you no longer have to adjust UI to transfer it to a platform, which simplifies the development process hugely.
Besides the UI, many real-life mobile applications rely on advanced OS-level features, such as fetching GPS coordinates, Bluetooth communication, gathering sensors data, permission handling, working with credentials, etc. Many of these are available when developing a Flutter application through a ready-to-use plugin supported by Google.
Of course, there can be cases of your application relying on an OS-level feature that is not yet available as a plugin. But the team has you covered here as well! Flutter provides an easy to use way of establishing the communication between platform-native code and Dart through platform channels. This way, you can implement anything that a native app can do on a Flutter app, with just a little extra effort on the native side. Here’s an example of how channels function:
With Flutter, you can go far beyond Flutter app development on mobile. There’s also Flutter for Web and Flutter Desktop Embeddings now. For example, on this year’s I/O conference, Google has presented a technical preview of Flutter Web that makes it possible to run pure Flutter applications in a browser without modifying the source-code. Check the video from the conference:
This important event marks Flutter’s transition from a cross-platform mobile application framework to a full-blown cross-platform development tool.
Even though everything except the mobile part of the framework is not yet considered production-ready, an experienced Flutter developer can make a pure Flutter app run on any major platform today, including Android, iOS, Web browser, Windows, macOS, Linux, and even embedded devices. And the app will function properly with no changes to Dart code.
Yes, yes and yes.
There are some things that pose a drastic value for a business. These are the stability of a platform, its performance, a wide talent pool – it’s relatively easy to hire Flutter developer – and the guarantee of successful further tech/product development and improvement. The reason is that issues and flaws in a platform or technology in any of the listed aspects provoke the occurrence of risks, along with direct and indirect financial losses for your company.
From this point of view, Flutter lowers risks for your business:
All these aspects make Flutter a solution for a business to prevent obstacles to seeking specialists, adjusting to new technologies and integrating the tool into the system. Compared to the alternative cross-platform approaches available, Flutter poses minimal risks to a business and therefore is worth to be the number one choice for your business.
Read also how to hire a dedicated iOS programmer.
Let’s briefly go through the most outstanding advantages of the framework:
Basically, Flutter is the quickest way to deliver a well-performing cross-platform mobile application. I can obviously tell that it’s just the matter of time when Flutter will officially become the ultimate cross-platform UI framework.