As a business or freelancer, you are always looking for tools to increase productivity as well as become more efficient at what you do. In this post, I will walk us through a tool we have tested and have greatly improved our service to some of our clients.
For a service-based company like Paritie Ltd in the ICT sector, working smart is non-negotiable because of our promise to deliver world-class services at one’s fingertips.
Building mobile software is peculiar compared to website applications and with this in mind, our product design process highlighted Google’s Dart User Interface (UI) kit, Flutter as one of our go-to tools for delivery of applications that can work on IOS and Android.
If you’ve been paying attention to the mobile development scene, you probably came across one handy tool called Flutter. What is Flutter, and how to make flutter more efficient during development and benefits of adopting flutter? Read this article to find out.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is Google’s User Interface (UI) toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. This toolkit as mentioned above is built with a language called Dart. A computer programming language created and maintained by Google.
Flutter has been around since 2015 when Google introduced it and remained in the beta stage before its official launch in December 2018. As at the time of writing this post, it is at version 1.19 and the buzz around Flutter has been growing stronger.
Why should you consider Flutter?
It saves you time and money
Flutter is a cross-platform development tool. Cross-platform development is the best method for saving time and resources throughout the development process. That means software developers can use the same code base for building an iOS and Android app.
Flutter offers outstanding performance for two reasons. First, is uses Dart, which compiles into native code. Second, Flutter has its own widgets, so there’s no need to access components from Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) ones. As a result, there’s less communication between the app and the platform. These two features of Flutter ensure fast app startup times and fewer performance issues in general.
Quick development thanks to hot reload
Flutter is gaining a lot of traction among mobile developers because of the hot reload. Hot reload allows us to instantly view the changes applied to the code on emulators, simulators, and hardware. The changed code is reloaded in less than a second. All the while, the app is running and developers don’t need to waste time restarting it.
That makes building UIs, adding new features, and fixing bugs easier. If an app encounters an error, it’s usually possible to fix it and then continue using the app as if it never happened. Even if you’re forced to do a full app reload, you can be sure that it’s completed in no time, accelerating the development process.
Another advantage of Flutter is the fact that it comes with its own widgets that result in fewer compatibility issues. Developers will see fewer problems on different OS versions and can spend less time on testing the app on older OS versions. Also, you can be confident that your app will work on future OS versions. Note: Once a new version of Android or iOS comes out, Flutter widgets will have to be updated (since the tool doesn’t use the native platform widgets). You might be wondering about how long it will take for Flutter to update its widgets.
Since Google is a massive internal user of Flutter, the Flutter team is strongly motivated to keep their widget sets as current and close to the platform widgets as possible. Also, Flutter widgets are customizable and can be updated by anyone. Your app can even use new widgets on older OS versions!
Flutter is an open-source project. It allows professionals and enthusiasts to suggest better ways to make Flutter more efficient for software developers. This active community offers support, contributes to the tool’s extensive documentation and develops helpful resources out of the free will and Both Dart and Flutter are free to use.
Some Productivity tips for Flutter Development
As much as there is an enthusiasm about the prospects of flutter, there is a need to have a reasonable command in the use of Dart Programming language. This prior knowledge will aid your trial of flutter. We would be looking at some great tips to consider when working with flutter no matter your level of knowledge;
Install Flutter Snippet plugin
If you need productivity, Flutter Code Snippet will top the list on the scale of preference. You can easily create commonly used Flutter classes and methods. For example, you can create StreamBuilder Widget or SingleChildScrollView Widget by typing the shortcut streamBldr and singleChildSV respectively. You can use the flutter snippet in Android Studio or VSCode.
Avoid Widget Rebuild by Using const Constructor
Flutter is a UI Kit of widgets. With this in mind, some user actions involve rebuilding of widgets in order to perform give the user response. As a mobile developer, one pays attention to performance of the app and in flutter, optimizing widget rebuild is paramount. If you want to prevent unwanted widget rebuilds always use const (short form for constant), constructor. This code snippet above, the instance of BoxDecoration will remain the same even if the setState is called.
Handling Multiple Variables with Dart
Usually, we declare our variable using statically typed programming languages this way, where int represents that mark will hold an integer (int) in the memory of our machine;
int mark = 40;
int total = 30;
int amount = 19;
But if you want a shorter way of doing this same thing, check out the code snippet above.
Set Cross-Platform Icons Like a Pro
Building applications that work on multiple platforms come with the issue of managing specific requirements for these platform. A smart way to handle uniform Application icons this will be to install Flutter Launcher Icons package in your flutter project as stated in the snippet above.
Handling Notch with Safe Area
With the evolution of design of smartphones to suit user experience, it can be frustrating to see some of our work cut out by the notch at the top of our device which has a curved area. Consider using the SafeArea widget which can keep the pesky notification bars and phone notches from encroaching on your app’s UI. It uses a MediaQuery to check the dimensions of the screen and pads its child Widget to match, making sure your app is safe on both iOS and Android!
Get That Level Powered by Basic Utils
Setting up a project can be challenging but with constant research and need to improve, working with flutter will become interesting. Do you need extra power in some crucial moments? Consider using basic_util. It contains a list of amazing methods to give you productivity at the right time and set up your project properly.
This is by no means an exhaustive list to consider in the flutter journey but one you can try out and let us know the tips & tricks that you discovered while developing your flutter app.
Looking to get started with Flutter? Checkout these resources