Flutter is an open-source software development kit (SDK) used for developing Android and IOS apps.
We can also define as a tool that allows you to build native cross-platform (Android and IOS) apps using same programming language and codebase.
native cross-platform means that we are building the apps for Android and IOS. We are not developing the apps that run on any browser or we are not building the apps that are wrapped by the native apps. We are creating the reals apps, i.e., for both Android and IOS, and they are distributed through the different apps store or Google’s play store.
Same programming language means that only single programming language is required to build both Android and IOS apps. We do not need to learn two different programming language for both these apps. The language used in flutter is Dart.
Codebase means we will work in a single project, i.e., we write the code once and still it works for both the Android and IOS apps. This is the coolest thing about the flutter that we are getting two different apps by writing the code only one time.
Without flutter, we need to learn different languages for both the apps. To develop the IOS apps, we should know either about swift, objective C or some IOS development environment. To develop the Android app, we should know either java, kotlin or some Android development environment; so, we have to learn these languages to develop two apps. But, with flutter, we have to learn only one programming language.
There are two major things about the flutter:
- SDK (Software Development Kit)
A SDK (Software Development Kit) is a collections of tool that allows you to use one codebase and one programming language. It includes the tools that compiles the code that normally would not run on Android and IOS into native machine code that does run on these platforms. To work on a single programming language, we need flutter. The programming language that flutter uses does not work on Android and IOS, so the code needs to be compiled into Android native machine code and IOS native machine code. This task is performed by the Flutter. It also provides a framework, widget library, and uses one programming language, i.e., Dart to build an app.
What is Dart?
Flutter vs Dart
Flutter builds at the top of the Dart. Flutter is a Dart framework that the Dart uses whereas the Dart is a programming language. A Dart framework is a set of features that provides utility functions and UI elements (widgets). Suppose we want to create a button then we do not need to re-build the code for the button. We just need to implement the pre-built code of the button by using Dart programming language and we can also customize the button according to our requirements. In addition, Flutter provides the SDK which is a collection of tools used for the compilation of the code.
History of Flutter
Flutter is an open-source UI SDK (Software Development Kit) used for developing the applications for both Android and IOS platform.
The codename of the first version of the Flutter was ‘sky’ which ran on Android and was announced at the 2015 Dart developer summit. Later on, during the keynote of Google Developer Days in Shanghai, Google announced the second preview release of the Flutter which was the last big release before the release of the Flutter 1.0. On December 4, 2018, Google released the Flutter 1.0 at the Flutter live event. On December 11, 2019, Google announced the Flutter 1.12 at the Flutter interactive event.
Advantages of Flutter
The following are the advantages of Flutter:
- Same UI and business logic across different platforms
As we know that Flutter is a cross-platform framework which means that we can share the codebase across different platforms. Except flutter, no framework exist that allows the sharing of same UI and business logic. This feature of Flutter really stands out from other application frameworks without worrying about the UI and business login on different platforms.
- Hot Reload
Here, Hot reload means when we apply any changes to the flutter app then changes are appeared instantly without changing the current application status. And this makes the Flutter app development several times faster than the other app’s development framework.
Besides this feature, Flutter team has spent lots of time and effort to provide a wide variety of ready-to-use widgets. These widgets are mainly customizable that saves a huge time of developers. They also provide a large set of Material and Cupertino widgets.
The flutter development framework works faster than other development frameworks. It requires fewer human hours and efforts as compared to the same app developed individually for Android and IOS. The main reason behind is that we do not have to write the separate code for both Android and IOS, i.e., the same code works for both the platforms.
Flutter provides a declarative API that boosts the performance while creating the UI for the app.
- Custom UI
The biggest advantage of Flutter is that we can customize everything whatever we see on the screen regardless of its complexity. It is also possible to customize the native platform apps but the difference comes in the amount of efforts. The amount of efforts required in Flutter is very less as compared to other native platforms.
It also provides the shape/shadow/color manipulations, clippings, transformations; all these make the Flutter flexible and versatile.
- Rendering Engine
Flutter allows you to do lots of things that couldn’t be possible with any other platforms. This is possible only because the Flutter uses the powerful cross-platform rendering engine. Flutter uses Skia for rendering purpose. Due to this rendering engine, the UI built on one platform can be virtually launched on another platform. In short, we can say that when we transfer the UI developed on one platform is transferred to another platform, then we do not need to adjust or change the UI. This makes the development process very simple.
- Simple platform
Many real-life mobile applications depend on the OS-level features such as fetching GPS coordinates, Bluetooth communication, getting sensors data, working with credentials, etc. All the advanced features in flutter application can be developed by using ready-to-use plugin supported by Google.