What is Flutter Engage, 2021? It is the latest event launched by Google and the Flutter team to showcase what is new with Google's newest attempt at a software development kit.
Why is this event significant?
Well, Flutter is one of the newest attempts to create a software development kit that can target multiple platforms with one single code-base. React Native, (owned by Facebook) are a similar project attempting to do the same thing. Any update to the Flutter SDK is a significant milestone in the context of the app development industry, as it could possibly lead to rapid expansion, because of its potential to let developers reach large user-bases at a smaller cost of resources. App developers have seen that they are becoming more efficient, after transitioning to Flutter. The event itself was typical of developers handling press releases, it leaned towards the more technical side, however the developers did showcase their talent and their passion for the project very aptly.
The introduction of other developers outside of the Flutter team to discuss their thoughts and opinions on Flutter made it a very interesting keynote overall. With Flutter so far being a success, with over 150,000 apps now made in Flutter, it is clear that there is significant interest in a cross-platform SDK like Flutter. Of course, in my view, Flutter needs to see more adoption amongst larger apps and developers, and across more platforms in order for Flutter to truly make itself a proper contender in the app development marketplace. The announcements made in the Flutter 2 keynote was a good step in that direction.
So, Flutter 2!
Brand new version number, must indicate some pretty hefty changes, right?
Flutter now also targets the web and desktop platforms, with web being in the early stable channel. What's impressive about this is that it did not require any fundamental changes to the Flutter framework in order to get web working as a platform, and furthermore it scales fairly well, they made a point about how widgets (their example was interactive buttons) scale across platforms, and how web and desktop see the user interface expand and readjust to accommodate the extra screen real-estate. Furthermore, with the Flutter team collaborating with Chrome to work on improvements for app experiences inside a browser, Flutter developers can focus on their apps rather than the backend.
Flutter as a web experience has also been enhanced because they have replaced their default canvas kit to a new one that combines skia and wasm, resulting in a "lightning fast graphics experience" - which we’ll see how that eventually works out. This does present, as the Flutter team noted, a great opportunity for a major expansion of Progressive Web Applications (PWA's), such as Rive, a powerful animation graphics engine that runs entirely in the browser. Rive is completely built on Flutter, and can export runtimes to Android, iOS, and Flutter itself.
Come back next week for more on the Flutter Engage event, and what Flutter 2 means for the future of converging app development.