What is Flutter?

We love building mobile apps at Ionata Digital. From our first app for KidStyleFile way back in 2013 through to the new TSGA Marine DebrisTracker we’ve built a dizzying array of apps.

The other thing we love is new technology so last year we made the decision to switch all our app development to Flutter, a new mobile app development framework which promised to make development faster, easier, and more streamlined.

Mobile app developer Nat talks about why we made the switch and how we’re finding Flutter.

Flutter? What is it, what can we do with it, and what does it mean for you?

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a framework developed by Google for building fast and reliable apps with beautiful user interfaces for both Android and iOS.

Why did we start using it?

Let’s imagine that you want to build an app for both Android and iOS. Then usually that means having two teams – one for Android and one for iOS. Two teams, means twice the work, twice as much code to write, in two different code bases, in two different programming languages, for two different frameworks. It means when you want to add a new feature, it needs to be added twice – once for each app. Bugs may need to be squashed twice. When a new version of Android or iOS is released updates need to be applied for each platform.

How does Flutter help with any of this? With Flutter we write the code once – in a single programming language, then deploy that same app to both Android and iOS. Bugs only need to be squashed once in a single codebase, and updates to Flutter only need to be applied – you guessed it – once.

Since Flutter is built by Google, the framework is very well maintained. Updates to Flutter are frequent, reliable and very easy to integrate into an app, with usually very few, if any, code changes required.

Who is using it?

Unsurprisingly, Google! Amongst others, the Google Ads app which allows businesses to manage their ad campaigns from their smartphone is a Flutter app.

Alibaba – the world’s largest e-commerce group built a flea market app – a la GumTree – in Flutter. Xianyu’s (meaning: idle fish) usership is upwards of 50 million people.

Us! We have used it to build apps ranging from My Choice – a sexual health awareness app with an inbuilt period tracker aimed at Tasmanians, to the Huon Valley app, a travel guide on all to see and do in the region developed with our sister business Gulliver.

What does this all mean?

What this really means is that we can build better and more maintainable apps. It means we don’t have two teams, which to a degree work in isolation. It means with all our app developers using Flutter we can build out new features and respond to bugs faster. And quicker development time means we can focus our efforts on testing the app and ensuring its reliability and stability while spending more time on adding value to the app.

Faster turn around and better apps for everyone!