For app developers looking to acquire programming skills, an important question to ask is what is the future of app development. Is there a rise or fall in the demand for app devs?
In my opinion, the future of mobile is the future of everything. — Peter Rojas, Co-founder of Engadget and Gizmodo
The popularity of mobile apps continues to rise, making them an important aspect of most businesses today. Nearly 192 billion apps were downloaded in 2018, a stat that rose to 204 billion downloads in 2019 proving that as mobile phone users increase, so does the popularity of apps. Businesses are leveraging this fact by digitizing services through mobile applications, and this has created an increased demand for mobile app developers.
Technology is evolving, and it’s important for app developers to stay current and learn modern development tools. Mobile app developers have many programming tools at their disposal to build mobile apps today. Flutter is one such programming tool, and has gained quite a lot of popularity since its release.
What is Flutter?
Flutter, released in 2017 by Google, is a free and open-source cross-platform framework for developing apps. The fact that it is a cross-platform framework means that a single codebase can be used to develop iOS, Android, desktop, and web apps. This is a large part of Flutter’s appeal and a big reason why it is quickly gaining popularity.
Flutter is built on Dart, a programming language that was also developed by Google, in 2011. For those of you unfamiliar with Dart, it is a coding language, like Kotlin, Swift, Ruby and Java.
Do you need to learn Dart to learn Flutter? Not necessarily. If you have used any Object Oriented Language such as Java, Python, PHP or C++, you will be able to work on Flutter even without prior knowledge of Dart. Understanding the basics of Dart will however be useful (and will be easy to learn if you already know OOP).
How do Flutter and Dart come together? Flutter provides a widget based UI library, which is a set of UI elements (text boxes, image blocks, buttons, etc) that are used to create and personalize the application as needed. Think of Flutter as the front-end UI you use to develop the app, and Dart as the backend code that is automatically generated.
With that covered, let’s see why Flutter should be the app development language you choose:
Why Should You Learn Flutter?
- The Ease
Compared to its counterparts like React Native, Swift and Java, Flutter is much easier to learn and use. Firstly, setting up Flutter on a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine is a simple process and Google has even bundled Dart with the Flutter installation package so all components are installed at once.
Flutter uses ‘widgets’ which makes the UI easy to use. All features that you would need to build an app are provided as building blocks, or widgets. This gives developers complete control over app development while making the process of development easy.
Developers looking to access the source code will need to learn the basics of Dart, which is easy to learn if you have used any OOP language (Java, JS, c#, etc).
2. Uses Dart Programming
We explained earlier what Dart is, and the fact that Flutter uses Dart sets it apart from other cross-platform application development tools like React Native, Ionic, Xamarin, etc. There are a couple of reasons why.
Dart, however, does not use a bridge and handles tasks like rendering, animation, etc internally. This greatly enhances the speed and quality of work.
Dart’s internal rendering engine (called Skia engine) also compiles native code without the need of any additional software. This gives Flutter its hot-reload feature, which means changes are reflected to the front-end as soon as the code is saved.
Flutter also renders graphics in real-time using the Skia engine. This makes the UI smooth and lag free. The internal rendering engine also makes creating and running animations smooth and easy.
Dart has a lot of advantages over other programming languages, and these are translated to Flutter adding to its demand.
3. Ideal for MVPs
MVP, or a Minimal Viable Product, is a minimal version of the final app. It is usually built to run beta tests through focus groups and to pitch the product to investors. MVPs are an important part of the app development process today. The whole idea of building an MVP revolves around speed and efficiency: building a product with the essential features, quickly.
Companies today prefer to work with development tools that can deliver good results, fast. Flutter is quickly becoming a popular choice because it greatly improves the efficiency of the MVP development process. Flutter is ideal to build MVPs because-
- The code works on both Android and iOS eliminating the need for multiple apps and devices.
- The performance of an app built on Flutter is on par with a native application.
- The development process is easy because of the use of widgets which reduces build time.
- The ease of use also reduces the number of resources (man and machine) needed.
4. Available on different IDEs
An IDE, or Integrated Development Environment, is a software that provides the tools needed for application development. Tools like a source code editor, debugger, compiler, interpreter, etc, are integrated onto a single program, the IDE, to simplify the process of software development.
There are different IDEs available today that developers can choose from depending on preference and programming language. The advantage of learning Flutter is that it has extensions for different IDEs, like Android Studio and Visual Studio (VS) Code, the two most popular code editors.
Developers have the freedom to select the IDE they are most comfortable using when programming with Flutter, because Flutter and Dart have plugins to support these IDEs.
5. Active support community and documentation
Google continually invests in improving Flutter and Dart. They recently released the Fuchsia programming language policy which stated Dart is one of the primary languages to build apps for the OS. This clearly shows the language is only increasing in popularity.
Flutter is also ranked second on GitHub’s 2019 fastest growing open-source projects by contributors list.
The increased popularity and use of Flutter has created an active and helpful support community. There are online documentations, support forums and libraries like:
- Flutter Awesome: A website that curates Flutter libraries and tools.
- Awesome Flutter: A GitHub repository for Flutter support.
- It’s all widgets!: A repository of different apps built with Flutter.
There are constant on-going Flutter events that bring the community together, helping developers grow and solve problems. The list of events are posted on the official website: Flutter Events.
Opportunities After Learning Flutter
Flutter is a popular app development tool using which many popular mobile apps have been built:
- Google Ads
- Xianyu by Alibaba
Top tier companies are hiring mobile app developers with knowledge in Flutter, and a dev with knowledge in Flutter can earn between $80,704 to $126,087 annually depending on experience and job role. There is a high demand for mobile app developers with knowledge in Flutter.
How to Get Started with Flutter
The right way to move into Flutter development is through a certification course. These courses provide the knowledge you need to begin working on app development in real time, and the certification helps with securing a job.
Xccelerate’s Flutter program is designed to help both newbies to coding and experienced mobile app developers alike grasp the fundamentals of Flutter. Our hybrid learning style provides a combination of online and offline (in class) learning to assure confidence and mentorship when learning.
The 6 modules covered are:
- The basics — installation, app layout introduction, etc.
- App creation.
- App styling — animations, plugins, etc.
- App testing and launch.
- Real life project.
- Finalizing and launching the project on iOS or Android app stores.
Having worked on a real life project, you will graduate the course with the an understanding of Flutter and the basics of mobile app development, including your own basic Flutter based app. You can learn more about the course here.