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What is flutter? Explanation for non-developers

In this article, I describe Flutter and the benefits of this cross-platform framework for non-developers. What is Flutter and why your team should definitely give it a try. Only the basic principles and concepts of the framework. In this article, I will not delve into the technical details, the architecture of the framework and the like.

In a previous article, I described why I switched to Flutter after Android development and cross-platform development with React Native.

Basic principles and concepts of Flutter

Flutter is an open source framework for developing cross-platform applications. This means that from a single code base, developers can create applications for Android, iOS, Web, and now for desktop platforms: MacintoshOS, Windows and Linux.

In 2015, Google introduced the first, alpha version of flutter, and in 2018 released the first stable version of the framework. Google develops a lot of different tools for developers, but Flutter is one of the most successful products, and what's really important, flutter can be used completely free of charge, it's an open source product.

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The source code is published on Github, so anyone can see all the changes, updates, or even contribute to the flutter codebase. Flutter is one of the most popular repositories on Github with a very active community: a lot of pull requests, issues, discussions.

But how did flutter become popular so quickly? I can identify the 3 most important reasons:

  • Rapid development
  • Performance
  • Low-cost development

Rapid development on Flutter

Flutter boasts hot-reload technology. And it helps developers quickly and easily implement new features, create complex user interfaces, and test them in seconds. "Hot-reload" allows developers to make changes to the code, such as changing the word of some text label, then these updates are automatically deployed to the running application, and Flutter simply redraws everything on the screen. It takes very little time – up to a few seconds.

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Another thing that allows developers to create apps very quickly is a rich set of fully customizable widgets based on Material Design and Cupertino Design.

The code quality of these widgets is very good, they are easily modified and, most importantly, save development time. Thus, developers can use pre-installed widgets or create their own projects based on an existing implementation.

For example, the developer implemented this simple application using Material Design widgets. If we create this app for iOS, it will look exactly the same with all the animations, effects and notifications. This is the advantage of flutter. Thus, developers can implement complex custom designs in no time, and they will look the same on different platforms.

Performance

Flutter does not require additional "bridges" to work on different devices and is not like other Frameworks based on WebView. Flutter has its own technology for compiling the codebase directly into native code. Flutter widgets include all the important platform differences such as scrolling, navigation, icons, and other platform-specific things. Compiler technologies allow us to run Dart code differently, depending on your target platform.

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Flutter uses a single compiler for mobile devices, desktops, or servers. And for the Web, a different compiler is used. This approach to compiling to native code allows flutter applications to run at peak performance. That's a huge plus.

Low-cost flutter application development

As you already know, flutter helps developers quickly and easily use the user interface, it has excellent performance and uses a single code base to create applications for Android, iPhone, and now even web and desktop applications. Taken together, this significantly reduces the time it takes to build applications and test them across platforms. This means that testing an idea, creating an MVP or a ready-made application for different platforms is much cheaper in terms of money and time.

Thus, Flutter becomes one of the most popular, powerful and effective frameworks for application development. The developer community is growing rapidly, and now everything points to the fact that Flutter is the future of cross-platform development.