Mobile apps have become an essential part of our daily lives, with over 6 billion smartphone users worldwide. As a result, there has been a significant increase in demand for mobile app development.
There are two main approaches to mobile app development:
- Cross-platform development
- Traditional/Native development
In this blog, I’m going to talk about the leading cross-platform framework, Flutter, and why we should use it. I will also be recommending some packages that I found quite useful during the development process.
What is flutter
Flutter is an open-source mobile app development framework created and supported by Google that allows developers to build high-performance, natively compiled user interfaces (UI) for applications across different platforms. When Flutter launched in 2018, it mainly supported mobile app development for iOS and Android platforms. After the release of Flutter 3 in 2022, it now supports not only mobile platforms but also web and desktop app development on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Flutter allows developers to create apps for multiple platforms using a single codebase and programming language(Dart), saving time and effort while delivering a consistent user experience across different devices.
Sometimes, it does require extra effort to make things work on different platforms, for example, when implementing routing for the app.
Rich set of pre-built widgets
Flutter provides a wide range of customisable pre-built widgets and tools that make it easy for developers to create beautiful and responsive user interfaces without having to build everything from scratch. You can find a complete list of all the widgets and learn how to use them at https://docs.flutter.dev/ui/widgets.
Flutter uses Dart, which is a fast, object-oriented programming language that allows for ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation. This means that Dart code can be compiled into machine code, resulting in faster performance.
Some nice tools and great integration with vscode with extensions
Here’s the list of tools that are highly recommended, which make your development process faster and your life easier.
- Flutter inspector: It helps you visualise your widget and diagnose layout issues.
- Hot reload: It only updates the widget that has been changed instead of rerunning the whole main() function and rebuilding the app. This allows you to debug and view changes quickly without losing state.
- Flutter (extension): It nicely integrates with the debugger and helps you easily refactor code, such as wrapping a widget around a block of code or removing a widget.
- Flutter Widget Snippets (extension): It provides a set of snippets that help you complete boilerplate code that you use repeatedly.
All Flutter developers should know Pub.dev (https://pub.dev), which is a central repository for all Flutter packages. It contains a vast collection of useful packages that can greatly simplify your development process. Here are some of my personal favorties:
Flutter Riverpod is a state management library for Flutter, based on Provider, which simplifies the management of the app’s state. It provides an alternative to Flutter’s built-in state management system and offers a more modern approach to managing state in Flutter apps. It stores data or state globally and allows all widgets to use it without passing the state around, making your code cleaner. It’s quite similar to Redux if you have ever used React before.
Flutter Auto Route is a package that simplifies the process of defining and generating navigation routes in Flutter apps. It provides a type-safe and boilerplate-free approach to generating routes, which can save time and effort during implementation and eliminates the need to worry about the routing.
HTTP and Dio are two popular packages in the Flutter community that simplify handling HTTP requests and responses in Flutter apps. They provide intuitive APIs for making network requests, as well as support for features like interceptors, file uploading and downloading, and more.
Flutter is a powerful and versatile mobile app development framework that offers many benefits, including fast development times, high-performance applications, and a large community with extensive resources. It provides a wide range of customizable pre-built widgets and tools that simplify the development process, and many great packages that make development easier and save time. Overall, Flutter is a great framework for developers to create beautiful and responsive apps across multiple platforms and can also help businesses save time and money when delivering projectss.