Today at Mobile World Congress, Google is announcing a major update in their attempts to simplify UI development across platforms. With the launch of the first beta build of Flutter, Google hopes to signal that their new mobile UI framework is stable enough for use in mainstream apps.
While Flutter was unveiled in its current form as an Alpha build at Google I/O 2017, some of you may remember Flutter from the original Sky demo at the Dart developer summit in 2015. Flutter has come quite a ways since then, however it is still focusing heavily on responsiveness and ease of development, with the goal of enabling the eventual development of apps designed for 120 Hz displays from the ground up.
It is of course one thing to talk about ease of development, and another entirely to actually achieve it, and Google seems to be on the right track. With support for features like Hot Reload, integrated tooling, a reactive framework design, and a substantial selection of widgets, Flutter seems to have all the appropriate pieces coming into place. Flutter couples those features with native ARM compilation on all supported platforms, simple GPU acceleration for rendering, and clean inline video integration to make for a smooth development experience that lets you achieve fantastic performance. Google has also brought direct integration with Android Studio and Visual Studio Code, as well as clear instructions for XCode support, in order to ensure a seamless transition on all mobile platforms.
The update to Google’s Dart programming language is fully integrated with the beta, bringing support for new tools that help remove boilerplate and speed up the development process. With Flutter’s package library reaching over 1000 packages, many commonly required tools are available, and more are being added frequently. From SQLite, to Firebase, to GraphQL Flutter is quickly gaining the widespread support from package maintainers that is needed for this type of tool to be useful.
Google is following the rapid release cycle that Chromium has been highly successful with, aiming for a new beta release every month, with a heavy focus on fulfilling the feature requests that the community expresses their desire for on the issue tracker. Feature requests on that tracker have led to some of the current primary roadmap features such as easier integration with existing apps, inline WebView, improved routing and navigation APIs, additional Firebase support, inline maps, and a smaller core engine. The Flutter community doesn’t stop at the issue tracker though; Google has put together a Gitter chat room for developers to help each other out, and the community has built multiple sites for discussion and learning such as the Flutter Institute, Start Flutter, and Flutter Rocks.
Check out the Getting Started Guide to start designing apps with Flutter today!