Product Design
January 30, 2023

How Flutter is Making App Development Faster and Cheaper

App development has become a must for all businesses, and each day we see how consumers are more attracted to using different apps for their entire lifestyle. This demand has been reflected in the number of developers that companies need to help them produce the software consumers demand.

Application development is challenging if you want a high-quality product. Companies that depend on the users of their apps must focus 100% on the quality of their apps, as one bad review or an error on some users (even a small amount) can cause potential new users to choose another app.

The full-scale native development of an app can take time, and with that time comes cost. It's no secret that software developers do not come cheap. Getting to the point of releasing an app on both Android and iOS platforms takes time and effort by the developers and the company that wants to put that product on the market.

Google Creates Flutter

Google detected the difficulties of application development and decided to work on something that would make it faster and less expensive. The tech giants created a team that developed the Flutter platform.

Flutter was built as an attractive solution for app development. It allows companies to develop high-quality apps while saving time. Let's take a look at the inner workings of Flutter and how it helps companies save time and money. 

Flutter Architecture

The idea behind Flutter was to make it easier for developers to create high-quality apps and get them into the market quickly. The architecture behind flutter makes it one of the best options for developing apps that feel natural on different devices while considering each client's needs.

We will use the below graph from the Flutter development documents page to illustrate the parts of the architecture that we will explain. I recommend visiting the Flutter official pages and reading through the documentation. 

The graph is divided into three sections, each representing a different color. Each section plays a crucial role in creating Flutter and how it performs. First, we will look at the sections that are lower level and that act without us actually seeing them. Then, we will move on to the sections that we interact with.

Flutter lower level Embedder

Flutter was created to run on multiple platforms, and this can only be achieved by getting down to the platform-specific language that each of them works on. This means that to get the code for each specific platform, the embedder uses that platform’s native language. 

The embedder uses the language that the platform requires, Java and C++ for Android, Objective-C/Objective-C++ for iOS and macOS, and C++ for Windows and Linux. Flutter has several different embedders responsible for taking our dart code to that specific platform.

This is the base layer and is at the base of this graph because it is something developers don't really need to interact with; it's just part of the SDK.

Flutter Embedder base layer

Flutter’s engine is written in C and C++ and is a crucial part of how Flutter functions. If we want to simplify, Flutter takes a blank page and sizes it to whatever display it has available. It then starts printing items into that page, which will later become our app. 

This layer is the one that has that job, and it becomes the bridge between what developers code and what the embedder receives and sends to the specific platforms. 

Flutter Embedder framework layer

The Framework layer is the developer's playground. It's where our apps are formed and taken to the next level. The language Google chose for this framework is Dart, which is an easy language to work with, especially for developers that have worked on Java, Kotlin, or other mobile development projects. 

This layer itself has several internal layers that give it its form. The foundation layer empowers developers with services like the ones displayed in the graph: animation, painting, and gestures

Services make a developer's job easier, allowing them to access commonly used code without rewriting it. The widgets Layer is probably Flutter’s best move into making app development faster. More about this later. 

The material and Cupertino layer allows the programmer to make apps look and feel just like native apps in iOS and Android, and this is a huge plus compared to other multi-platform solutions. 

Flutter Widgets 

Widgets are Google's way of making Flutter even more simple. They are a main block of Flutter’s architecture. In Flutter, everything is a widget, and this helps developers create widgets for certain functionality and reuse them in different places or even in other apps. 

We can find resources like libraries of widgets that other developers have created and can help us solve similar problems—no need to reinvent the wheel. A widget can be composed of many different widgets, each with a single purpose offering the solution that the app requires. Flutter offers so many that it's best to look through its documentation for specific information that suits you best.

There are two types of widgets: stateful and stateless widgets; each intended to manage different ways of creating solutions. The main difference is that stateless widgets are used for items inside our app that don’t change. 

Stateless widgets are created once and are meant to stay that way throughout the app. Stateful widgets change, meaning that depending on some logic the client wants, some data fetched from anywhere, or some user interaction, the widget will vary, reflecting what is intended. 

Hot Reload Solution

By making development faster, Hot Reload may be one of the most popular for developers choosing Flutter. During development, programmers need to test and view what they are working on. This can take time, especially depending on the framework in which one is working and the machine that person uses. 

Hot Reload was added on Flutter to save a few seconds when deploying and making changes during app development. A few seconds may sound like little, but this process needs to be repeated multiple times during the entire development process. 

Saving seconds on a process repeated so many times can eventually save hours, depending on the size of any specific project. This function allows developers to move faster and view what they code almost instantly as they code it.  

When is it best to use Flutter?

Flutter can help you speed up the process of getting a product out to clients. It is an excellent solution for companies that want their product, which is not necessarily a huge one, out and ready for customers faster but still want their product to be high-quality and familiar to their users.

After becoming familiar with Flutter, I believe it is best suited to:

  • Small to medium complexity projects.
  • Time constraints, i.e., wanting to release in the short term.
  • Desire to have native-looking applications.

Final thoughts on Flutter

It's important to emphasize how each desired product has specific requirements and unique clients. This should be the main topic to determine whether Flutter needs the right solution. 

Flutter has grown considerably and will likely continue to grow into one of the most used solutions for development. However, for some products, other native solutions might be required.

Having said that, as a developer that has worked on several native projects, I stand behind Flutter being a very well-designed solution for most of the products that need to be released. Only on very specific solutions would this framework not be a good option, in my opinion.

We recommend getting to know Flutter and giving it a chance to help your company reach your product to the public. What are your thoughts on Flutter? Is it a tool that could benefit your work? Let us know in the comments section.