Flutter: What You Should Know

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You may have heard of Flutter but what IS it exactly? Flutter is a cross-platform mobile application development kit (SDK). It’s also known as a UI framework, a collection of UI elements that make up an app and may be customized while being developed. Dart is the programming language that Flutter is built on. A single code base is utilized to construct web, Android, and iOS apps because it is cross-platform. Flutter is a powerful and reliable SDK that allows you to create attractive, native-looking apps for Android and iOS devices.

Sky, the first version, was released in 2015 at the Dart Developer Summit and was developed specifically for Android. At the Flutter Live event on December 4, 2018, the first stable version, 1.0, was unveiled. Flutter has since overtaken React Native in terms of popularity on GitHub and Stack Overflow.

In this post, we’ll go through Flutter’s design, how its features compare to those of competing frameworks, and how much it costs to build an app with Flutter.

Apps built with Flutter


Flutter is becoming increasingly popular as a framework for mobile applications as a result of its expanding popularity.

Stadia is a Google-developed gaming platform that allows players to broadcast and play video games across numerous platforms. The procedure is seamless, so a player can start playing on the phone and continue on the TV. It can be played on nearly any screen. It’s amazing to be able to switch devices on the fly, especially because you don’t need any high-end hardware.

Square POS (Point of Sale) is a Square Inc.-developed mobile cash register. Businesses can use it to track sales, manage inventory, analyze key performance metrics, and accept cashless payments.

Baidu Tieba is a communication tool offered by Baidu, a Chinese firm. It is China’s largest internet community.

How Flutter works


Dart
Flutter developers use the Dart programming language to create apps. Dart is a Google-developed object-oriented programming language. Dart comes with its package management, as well as numerous compilers and transpilers, as well as a parser. There’s no need for a JavaScript bridge to parse and run Dart code. Its compiler creates apps directly in native code, avoiding any problems during the interpretation process. Dart also contains a software package repository that expands app capabilities and makes it easier to access the device’s hardware and services.

Widgets


Widgets, sometimes known as the app’s “building blocks,” are the foundation of a Flutter app. Every piece of the app’s interface is a widget, which can be stateful (meaning it can change appearance) or stateless (meaning it doesn’t change appearance).

Flutter apps have a uniform UI independent of the platform version, but widget appearance changes based on which platform the app is run on. Users will enjoy the same native experience on both Android and iOS devices as a result of this.

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Engine


Flutter’s engine is primarily written in C++. Skia, an open-source, high-performance visual engine, is used in the framework to handle massive graphics and animation while maintaining a pleasant user experience at 60 frames per second.

Flutter and other frameworks: differences


Other popular cross-platform frameworks include React Native, Apache Cordova, Xamarin, Ionic, and Native Script, in addition to Flutter. This section will explore the most critical aspects of working with Flutter and compare them to other technologies.

Development Process


The most significant advantage of developing apps using cross-platform frameworks is the cost and time savings. To create apps for Android and iOS, you must go through at least two unique end-to-end development processes. You only need to write one app with a single set of code when using cross-platform SDKs.

Thanks to Flutter’s Hot Reload feature, which updates the app whenever its code changes, the developer may experiment and explore multiple approaches to a problem. This dramatically drives the development and bug-fixing process. In other frameworks, such as Ionic, things appear less convenient because any changes to the code must be applied by refreshing the app.

Performance


The number of frames is a standard measure of how well a program works. The user may encounter stuttering animation and even freezes if the figure falls below 30 fps. Flutter apps outperformed apps built with other frameworks in a variety of tests. What factors contribute to Flutter’s high performance? Its modules connect directly with native components rather than via a JavaScript bridge like many other frameworks do (which slows down response time. Flutter has its rendering engine and uses less CPU than, say, React Native.

User Interface


Instead of using native UI elements, Flutter dynamically modifies an app’s appearance (fonts, colors, and animations) to match the platform’s visual style. Flutter gives an app a native appearance and feel, which many Android and iOS users appreciate. That is something that not every other cross-platform framework does. Apache Cordova, for example, took a different approach: it employs a web-based UI running in a WebView to ensure that an app’s visual style is consistent across platforms.

Community support


Flutter is the second most popular cross-platform framework. This is impressive, given that the technology is still in its early stages and that developers must learn the Dart programming language. In contrast, other frameworks rely on well-known JavaScript or, in the case of Xamarin, C#. Because a smaller community means fewer available resources and third-party libraries, community support is critical to the development process. Take NativeScript, for example; it is used by nearly eight times fewer developers than Flutter, resulting in a slower development process and unexpectedly long delays.

Flutter app: how much does it cost?


Several factors determine the cost of developing cross-platform software. It may cost as little as $30,000 for a simple app or as much as $500,000 for a more complex project.

Features


The app’s functionality is the most critical component in determining the development cost. Voice calls, maps, and external hardware, such as a smartphone’s camera or smartwatch, contribute to the price. Apps can be divided into three categories: list view apps, which are essentially an ‘enhanced’ version of websites with minimal functionality and are usually the cheapest; dynamic apps, which require real-time access to data (social networks, for example), and games, which can be quite costly due to complex graphics and augmented reality integration.

Design


The goal of app designers is to make navigation simple and the visual style appealing. Depending on the intricacy of the duties, employing designers for an app can cost anywhere from $1500 to $150,000.

Maintenance


To keep customers happy, every app should be updated regularly to ensure full compatibility with new versions of platform operating systems and solve any flaws (there are always some). It is recommended that you set aside 15-20% of the app’s initial budget for maintenance before you begin development.

Server rent


If the app stores any user data, it should be stored on a secure server. The cost of renting a server starts at roughly $1500 per year and rises depending on the amount of data stored.

App release


The cost of publishing an app is a one-time $25 fee for Google Play and a $99 annual fee for Apple Store.

Developer location


The developer’s geographic location heavily influences the final price of an app. An hour of developer work in the United States or Canada, for example, costs roughly $150. In contrast, hourly rates for developers in Asian countries can be as low as $18. This is why hiring offshore freelancers and outsourcing developers pay off. Freelancing sites like Fiverr and Upwork have some talented freelancers who can help you in developing the app. Although North American and European freelancers will charge a lot for developing the app, mostly Asians will do your work for half of the amount.

Summary


Flutter is a modern cross-platform framework that can be used to build a wide range of products, from simple prototypes and MVPs to sophisticated games and apps. The framework has features like Hot Reload and a comprehensive widget library for rapid and easy development. Its architecture and sophisticated graphic engine allow it to function practically natively on a variety of platforms. Flutter is written in the Dart programming language, which is not as popular as JavaScript. The number of Flutter developers is rapidly increasing, as is the number of plugins and third-party libraries available, significantly improving the Flutter development process.

Author Bio – Artem Zaitsev


Head of Flutter Department at Surf at the moment, Android Tech Lead in the past. End-to-end mobile app development for fintech, food tech and e-commerce for Android & iOS. Can tell you everything about Dart, Flutter and best practices of mobile app development.