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Flutter is an open-source framework by Google to build beautiful native apps for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. It's known for its fast development and ability to create smooth, visually appealing applications.

Flutter meaning?

Flutter is a comprehensive, cross-platform UI toolkit designed to enable developers to create high-performance applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. At its core, Flutter operates through a layered architecture where no layer has privileged access to another, making the system highly modular and customizable.

Flutter's development process is notably efficient thanks to its use of Dart, which facilitates a reactive programming model. During development, apps run in a VM that allows for stateful hot reloads, significantly reducing the time needed for iterative changes. For production, these apps are compiled directly to native machine code or to JavaScript for web applications.

The framework is structured into several layers, starting with the lowest-level functionalities provided by the Flutter engine—written mainly in C++. This engine is responsible for critical operations like rendering, text layout, and providing a Dart runtime environment. Above this, the framework layer, written in Dart, offers a rich set of managed libraries and APIs, including widgets, which are the fundamental UI building blocks in Flutter.

Flutter’s widgets encapsulate all UI elements, from structural elements like buttons and switches to stylistic elements like fonts and colors. These widgets are highly customizable and are organized into a tree that dictates the application's layout. When the application’s state changes, Flutter can efficiently update its UI by redrawing only the widgets that are affected by the change.

The platform-specific embedders allow Flutter applications to communicate with underlying operating system services, enabling both high performance and a native look and feel on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. Moreover, integration with existing native code can be achieved through platform channels or foreign function interfaces, allowing for more complex functionalities like using device hardware or third-party SDKs.

Overall, Flutter's design is focused on optimizing performance and productivity, making it an attractive toolkit for developers looking to build high-quality, integrated applications across multiple platforms.

What is a flutter used for?

User Interfaces in Flutter

Flutter is a modern toolkit used for building visually attractive user interfaces for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. It leverages a rich set of customizable widgets and a reactive framework model inspired by React.

At the heart of Flutter's design philosophy is the widget. Widgets are the basic building blocks of a Flutter app's user interface, each representing an immutable declaration of part of the UI. Developers construct the UI by composing widgets that handle everything from layout and styling to interaction and animation.

When a widget’s state changes, the widget rebuilds its description. Flutter’s framework then compares this new description with the previous one to determine the minimal updates required in the rendering tree, optimizing performance and ensuring smooth transitions.

Flutter offers a variety of widgets, divided broadly into stateless and stateful. Stateless widgets do not store any state change, while stateful widgets maintain state that might change during the lifecycle of the widget. For managing layout, Flutter provides widgets like Row, Column, and Stack, which offer flexible designs akin to web development's flexbox and absolute positioning models.

Moreover, Flutter supports material design with a comprehensive library of predefined widgets that implement the Material design principles, enhancing the visual aesthetics and functional design of mobile apps.

Flutter also handles user interaction intelligently. It uses widgets like GestureDetector to detect and respond to user inputs such as taps, swipes, and pinches. For more dynamic applications, developers can utilize StatefulWidgets to react to user inputs or internal state changes, re-rendering the UI as needed.

Flutter Packages

Flutter supports the integration of shared packages from the Dart and Flutter ecosystems, enabling developers to build apps more efficiently by using pre-existing solutions rather than starting from scratch. Packages range from simple libraries of Dart code to complex plugins that provide access to platform-specific functionality such as camera or GPS. For instance, plugins can be created for various platforms including Android, iOS, and web using native code. Developers can add these packages to their applications by specifying them in the `pubspec.yaml` file and installing them via Flutter's package management tools. This streamlined approach not only accelerates development but also enhances functionality by leveraging community contributions available on platforms like pub.dev, where one can find, install, and manage various dependencies.

Flutter is a multi-platform language

As of Flutter version 3.19.6, supported platforms include Android (SDK versions 21 to 34), iOS (versions 17), macOS (version 13), Windows (version 10), Debian (versions 11, 12), and Ubuntu (20.04 LTS) for native apps, and Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge for web applications, with various older versions receiving limited or no support. This tier system helps developers understand where to expect robust support and where they may face limitations.

How do we use Flutter at code.store?

We enjoy building complex mobile apps using Flutter, occasionally leveraging FlutterFlow. Over our last few projects, we have developed specialized expertise in creating Flutter mobile apps for media companies, newspapers, and broadcasters. We are particularly proud of our internal Flutter SDK, designed to connect to Arc XP. This SDK enhances our ability to develop mobile apps for Arc XP more quickly and effectively.

Our last apps include the one for L'Express French newspaper

Flutter Vs FlutterFlow

We love and use both platforms. FlutterFlow when requirements in terms of complexity of the UI, animations, or interactions are simple, Flutter when we need deep dive. But no worries you can switch to Flutter any time when working with FlutterFlow

After designing your UI, integrating it into your Flutter project involves adding the `flutterflow_ui` package to your `pubspec.yaml` file and syncing it with Flutter packages. You then copy the generated code directly from FlutterFlow into your project. This includes adjusting imports and cleaning up the code to fit the specific architecture and state management approach of your existing project.

FlutterFlow further simplifies the addition of animations to UI components, making it possible to include sophisticated visual effects with minimal coding. For instance, adding a slide-in animation to a component like "QuoteCard" can be achieved with just a few lines of code, enhancing the user experience by making the interface more dynamic and engaging.

Flutter language or how flutter works?

Flutter is a UI toolkit renowned for its efficient management of large numbers of widgets through a design principle called aggressive composability. In Flutter, widgets are built by composing other widgets down to the most fundamental elements, like Padding being a widget rather than a property. This architecture results in user interfaces that are essentially trees with many nodes, called widgets.

Each widget in Flutter correlates to a RenderObjectWidget at the end of its compositional structure, which directly manipulates nodes in the render tree. This render tree manages the geometry of the UI, crucial for layout, painting, and hit testing. Flutter enhances performance with its sublinear algorithms in layout processes and widget building, ensuring that layout calculations are efficient, even with a high count of widgets and render objects.

During the layout phase, Flutter adopts a unique approach where constraints flow from parent to child, and geometry flows back from child to parent, without revisiting the render objects until the next frame. This single-pass layout mechanism avoids the performance hits seen in more traditional, iterative layout processes.

In widget building, Flutter's framework utilizes an element tree that holds the immutable widgets and manages their state. State changes or user interactions make an element 'dirty', but the framework optimizes by rebuilding only these dirty elements, maintaining overall efficiency.

Another key feature in Flutter is its ability to handle infinite scrolling seamlessly. Lists in Flutter can load items on-demand using builder callbacks as items come into view, thanks to viewport-aware layout protocols in slivers which understand the portion of content visible and manage memory efficiently.

This intricate system of widgets, elements, and render objects, coupled with Flutter’s optimization strategies and algorithms, allows for a smooth and responsive user interface experience, demonstrating why Flutter is a powerful tool for developers looking to build dynamic and complex mobile, web, and desktop applications.

Flutter FAQ

Is Flutter a frontend or backend?

Flutter is a front-end framework to build cross-platform mobile and web applications.

Is flutter very easy?

We think yes for several reasons: Unified Codebase: Flutter allows for a single codebase for iOS, Android, web, and desktop apps, simplifying development across platforms. Widget-based Architecture: Everything in the UI is a widget, which simplifies UI construction. Flutter provides a vast library of customizable widgets which streamlines the development of complex interfaces. Hot Reload: This feature enables instant viewing of changes without needing to restart the app, accelerating the development process and facilitating rapid iteration. Comprehensive Documentation and Community Support: Flutter has detailed documentation and a supportive community, making it accessible for both beginners and experienced developers. Development Tools: Flutter is supported by major IDEs like Visual Studio Code, Android Studio, and IntelliJ IDEA, which offer tools and plugins to enhance development efficiency.

What is the latest Flutter version?

By the time I write those lines :)

3.19.6 x6454e6646 out 17/04/2024

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