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Jul 05 2019 | byJuned Ghanchi

Flutter for Cross-Platform app Development: to use or not to use?

Those days are gone when any app can feel contented by targeting their audience specific to one mobile OS platform, either the iOS or Android. As an audience, if every mobile app niche is invariably divided between these two major platforms, sooner or later, you need to have a presence across both iOS and Android. This is why, as a competitive measure, for the app developers building a cross-platform app targeting both the platforms is the ideal option.

To make things easier, you have an array of developer-friendly cross-platform tools and frameworks to build apps for both platforms by using the same code.  Xamarin, React, and PhoneGap has been the leading tools for cross-platform app development. Recently, Google came with Flutter, the best cross-platform development framework, which has been built keeping all the shortcomings of the other frameworks in mind. No wonder, Flutter became instantly popular among the mobile app developers worldwide in quick time. 

What is Flutter and why was It developed?

Flutter is an advanced software development kit (SDK) or framework that has been created by Google for building mobile apps. Flutter has come with an array of developer-friendly attributes to build highly sophisticated cross-platform apps at rapid speed. Flutter is a completely free and open-source framework loaded with an array of development tools, widgets, and frameworks that help developers to deliver better user experience.  Flutter pors and cons Let us mention here some of the essential facts about Flutter.

  • Flutter offers a whole array of rich UI elements
  • Flutter offers all the elements to conform to the platform-specific guidelines
  • Flutter comes as a completely open-source and free platform
  • The architecture of Flutter uses reactive programming
  • Flutter comes with a whole array of fast-paced widgets with a lot of customization options.
  • Flutter is built with Dart, an object-oriented programming language
  • For rendering purposes, Flutter uses C++ rendering engine
  • As the cross-platform app development framework, the principal competitor of Flutter is the React Native

The value additions provided by Google with Flutter

Google has created a Flutter with the aim of making several value additions over and above other cross-platform frameworks. Here are some of them.

  • Windows app development support
  • Performance boosting enhancements of the engine
  • Visual Studio Code and Android Studio tools
  • Extensive Firebase APIs support
  • Ads charts and online video support
  • Accessibility and internationalization
  • Extensive documentation
  • Bug fixes

What makes Flutter different from other cross-platform frameworks?

Now we need to understand the key reasons for the developers to opt for Flutter framework. Let us explain the attributes that make Flutter different from other cross-platform app development frameworks.

# Fast-paced Development Process

Flutter has many features and in-built development attributes that help to build apps at rapid speed. The hot reload feature helps to test the app concurrently whole, reflecting the changes in real-time. With Flutter, you can make, rectify bugs and incorporate features at a faster pace.

# Reusability of the Code

Since it comes with its own widgets for a variety of design requirements, the single code can be reused for building apps across multiple platforms and Flutter development requires almost no unique code for the separate platform.

# Compatibility

Since widgets are provided by Flutter, they become more part of the application without any dependence on the OS platform. Naturally, they come with almost no compatibility issue. This also requires the least time for testing.

# More Performance-Driven

Since Flutter is built with a high-performance language like Dart and is not dependent on JavaScript for interacting with native device components, Flutter offers far better performance compared to other cross-platform frameworks.

# Better collaboration between developers and designers

The hot reload feature reflecting real-time changes in code actually helps better collaboration between developers and designers in an app development project.

# Robust Documentation

When trying Flutter for the first time, the developers can easily cope up with the intricacies of the development. Flutter offers extensive documentation that helps developers learn the framework while using it.

# Highly Responsive Framework

Flutter is a highly responsive framework that helps to build complex UIs by using several components and widgets. Flutter also allows you to create your own custom widgets.

# Great Native Support

The device functions for which you need access to native features, are also easily integrated by Flutter and gives ease comparable to the native development.

# Google Support

Flutter being a part of Google's initiative it continuously gets the support from the Google's Material Design team and the worldwide community of thousands of developers. 

# Easy to Set Up

Flutter is a language that offers exceptional ease of setting up and coding on any machine. Any machine with different operating systems can handle Flutter for your development tasks.

# Ideal Framework for Building MVP

While for faster development, most developers are opting for an MVP approach to build a basic app with crucial features, Flutter comes as an ideal option.

A few drawbacks of Flutter

As a relatively young and budding framework Flutter besides several advantages also has a few shortcomings. Let's have a quick look at them.

# Mobile Only Framework

As of now, Flutter came as a framework that caters to mobile apps. It is not yet supported by web browsers.

# Limited Options of Libraries

As a relatively new framework, Flutter doesn't get support from too many libraries. That's why you cannot incorporate every functionality through Flutter.

# Lack of Tools for Continuous Integration

Working with platforms capable of continuous integration has already come as a high requirement for modern apps. We have several ready-made solutions that can easily work with Continuous Integration platforms such as Travis and Jenkins. Flutter is lacking such tools.

# Almost No TV support

Developers who are building apps to run on Android TV or Apple TV platforms, cannot find any practical support from this framework.

Conclusion

Flutter, as a cross-platform framework has come as a paradigm-shifting toolset for the mobile app developers. The shortcomings of the platform are far weighed down by the strengths and advantages it offers.


Juned Ghanchi is the Co-founder & CMO of IndianAppDevelopers, a mobile app development company based in India that specializes in iOS & Android application development. Juned like to read and share anything and everything about mobile app technology.