As cross-platform application development becomes more commonplace, it pays for developers to know how to get the most out of any software development kit (SDK). Flutter, Google’s open-source framework, enables developers and consultants to create native mobile applications from a single codebase. That means that apps can be created for iOS and Android and other platforms using the same programming language. Not only does it reduce the time needed to build an application, but it helps developers to better code algorithms and become more productive. As such, Flutter has become a popular choice for businesses and development consultants alike.
The Flutter learning curve is reasonable as it uses Dart programming language, which is easy to read, write and understand and is, therefore, suitable for beginners and professionals alike. However, as with any popular tool, Flutter is only as good as the person using it. To get the most out of it, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve. The following practical and to-the-point recommendations can help simplify the Flutter development process and ensure you get the most from it:
1. Investigate Your IDE
The integrated development environment (IDE) isn’t a concept that is unique to Flutter, but that doesn’t make it any less fundamental when it comes to your development project. After all, the better you know your IDE, the faster and more adept you’ll be. With keyboard shortcuts, extensions and any unique behaviours in your toolkit, you’ll be a better developer from the get-go.
2. Elaborate With Extensions
No matter what development framework you opt for, there will be limitations to the IDE. When you are missing certain features, extensions and plugins become incredibly useful. Extensions can help reduce repetitive work or assist in the development process to make it even faster and more efficient. Extension methods within Dart add functionality to existing libraries. Plugins, meanwhile, add specific features or functions to existing programs. There are lots of plugins available on the official Flutter site, so a lot of the work is already done for you.
3. Wield Your Widgets
Flutter is all about widgets. Everything you code and each element on a screen is represented by a widget. In their most simple terms, they are just pieces of your user interface, similar to views in Android and UIViews for iOS. The overall view completely depends upon the choice and sequence of the widgets used to build the app. There are hundreds of widgets available in Flutter’s widget catalogue. However, there are two core types:
- Stateless – they don’t store any state or values that might change.
- Stateful – they can keep track of changes and update the UI.
There are then 14 categories of widgets, mainly segregated on the basis of the functionality they deliver to an application. Reviewing Flutter’s collection of visual, structural, platform and interactive widgets is a great place to start when it comes to a new Flutter development project. Some solutions can be achieved in multiple ways, so it’s always wise to make sure you are choosing the best widget for the task at hand.
4. Focus on Dart Features
Dart is an open-source, object-oriented programming language, but what stands it apart is that it provides a lot of features that make it nice to work with. As a programming language, Dart has a lot of tricks that can help you write less code while simultaneously making that code better. It has convenient features focused on compilation, execution, safety, memory management and concurrency.
5. Put Packages to Work
Flutter has multiple packages available that can help developers code faster. Flutter has a strong fanbase and supports using shared packages contributed by other Google developers and generous members of the Flutter and Dart community. Dart packages are directories containing a pubspec file and can also contain dependencies, Dart libraries, apps, resources, tests, images and more. This means that there is no need to develop everything from scratch. After all, there is no point in reinventing the wheel and the sooner you build your application, the sooner real users can test it out. You can always review packages and replace them with your own code at a later date to gain more control.
6. Save Time with Snippets
By making custom snippets for tasks that you do repeatedly, you can save a huge amount of time. GitHub has several lists of these where you can search for snippets and configure user snippets. With access to a huge collection of commonly used Flutter classes and methods, you can reduce the boilerplate code associated with creating a widget and increase the speed of development.
7. Tap Into Tooling
There is a huge pool of Flutter development tools available to developers and the volume is only going to grow. It pays to tap into these tools to make your development project as efficient as possible. Take the time to review lists of the essential tools for flutter development so you have a full understanding of what you can get your hands on along with its primary features.
Put Null Safety First
Null safety is an incredible asset when it comes to saving time debugging mobile applications. It helps to make your code cleaner while simplifying it at the same time. The newest version of Flutter now comes with null safety as standard, which is a significant new efficiency highlight for the framework and is a game changer for app development. With null safety in Flutter, you can stay away from null exemptions, a class of bugs that are often extremely difficult to spot.
It’s easy to forget about the basics when it comes to Flutter, but a refresh can help you to substantially improve the development process. With these Flutter app development top tips and techniques on your side, you can improve your coding style as a Flutter developer and ensure your next development project is a success.