Flutter 1.2 Hints at a Future Beyond Mobile

Posted on February 27, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Mobile with 16 Comments

Google has announced Flutter 1.2, the first feature update for its mobile app development framework. Notably, this release sets up the technology for a future that includes web, Windows, and Mac development as well.

“We’ve focused this release on a few major areas,” the Flutter team explains in a post to the Google Developers blog. “[These are] improved stability, performance, and quality of the core framework; work to polish visual finish and functionality of existing widgets; [and] new web-based tooling for developers building Flutter applications.”

Google announced Flutter a year ago and delivered the initial stable 1.0 release in December. Since then, it has focused on various quality improvements, the team notes, including updating the Material and Cupertino widget sets that make Flutter apps look and feel like native apps on both Android and iOS.

But Flutter 1.2 goes further by adding support for new features like support for in-app purchases, the new Android Bundles packaging scheme, and the latest version of the Dart programming language. It also improves on the technology’s support for development environments like Android Studio and Visual Studio Code, as well as the command line.

Most notably, Flutter 1.2 is accompanied by a preview version of a new web-based suite of programming tools that will help developers debug and analyze their apps.  These tools include a widget inspector, a timeline view, a source-level debugger, and a logging view. Google says it will continue to expand and improve these tools while making them available directly in environments like Visual Studio Code as well. This way, developers can use whatever tools they prefer, from anywhere.

And 2019 is shaping up to be a big year for Flutter: Google says that it will grow the framework beyond mobile to the web using a project codenamed “Hummingbird.” After that, it will evolve to include support for desktop app development for Windows and Mac as well.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Flutter 1.2 Hints at a Future Beyond Mobile”

  1. locust infested orchard inc

    My heart flutters just at the mere thought of Adoogle building their framework for Windows.

  2. locust infested orchard inc

    Quote by Paul Thurrott, "After that, it [Flutter] will evolve to include support for desktop app development for Windows and Mac as well."

    Oh please Paul, don't be consumed by the lingo of the Millennial, where they insist on calling desktop software applications as 'desktop apps'.

  3. factoryoptimizr

    As a Xamarin developer (Microsoft's cross-platform framework), I've been watching Flutter with keen interest. "Code once, deploy anywhere" has long been the developer's Holy Grail. And while Xamarin largely embodies that in the mobile space, Microsoft has been reluctant to extend Xamarin as THE solution across platforms including the web. There are good reasons for this, as each platform has its own "spin" in implementing things like biometric login, sensor access, etc. Creating a common programming surface while still implementing platform-specific functionality is difficult -- AND a moving target as technologies continually evolve. Flutter is confronting the same problems, but seems to have fully embraced the "code once, deploy anywhere" mantra and seems to be evolving their roadmap with that in mind. It'll be interesting to watch.

    • eric_rasmussen

      In reply to FactoryOptimizr:

      Agreed. Google is taking Flutter seriously, whereas Microsoft seems to be pulling a typical Microsoft with Xamarin. None of the Azure Spatial Anchor or holographic APIs they announced for mobile apps work on Xamarin. All of their new APIs announced at MWC only work with Android Studio or Swift.

      Xamarin.Forms is awesome and for a while it was improving rapidly. I was always worried that Microsoft would get bored of developing it and just let it out to pasture. I started learning Flutter and Dart as a backup plan and fell in love with it. The material design composition strategy works really well and actually feels a bit like Xamarin.Forms code in spirit. I still miss C# but I don't trust Microsoft to do Xamarin justice.

      • Salvador Jesús Romero Castellano

        In reply to Eric_Rasmussen:

        Couldn't agree more. It's feel like Xamarin is just another open source project driven entirely by the community (with Microsoft barely noticing that it owns it), whereas Flutter has all the Google might pushing it forward. Xamarin announced the web stack for Xamarin Forms earlier than Google. I bet flutter will have a stable version earlier.

        The people behind Xamarin are geniuses, but I feel that they lack the proper resources.

    • skane2600

      In reply to FactoryOptimizr:

      ""Code once, deploy anywhere" has long been the developer's Holy Grail. "

      An appropriate comparison given that like the "real" holy grail the quest for this particular "cup" will also be fruitless.

  4. eric_rasmussen

    Did anyone else notice that none of Microsoft's new mobile APIs (such as Azure Spatial Anchors) work with Xamarin natively? This seems to be happening more often than not lately. Sure we can use platform renderers and hook into the two different APIs from each platform-specific code base, but it seems like Microsoft releasing a mobile API that doesn't support their mobile toolkit is a bit odd. I've had this fear that Microsoft internally doesn't like or use Xamarin, which gives it a future similar to Windows Phone.

    I learned Flutter out of this fear, and it's actually a very nice framework to work with. Dart has some similarities to C# so it wasn't too hard to pick it up and be productive. Given that Google takes Flutter seriously this may be my new home for mobile development work.

  5. dcdevito

    I've gone exclusively Flutter for my side work and glad I made that decision. I was worried it would not see the light of day like other Google toolsets and frameworks (Polymer is an example in which I got burned on a real project). Glad to see it's making its way to tie web, no reason it couldn't or shouldn't.

  6. karlinhigh

    Very informative article! I think this is the development environment I will learn next.

  7. thalter

    Having looked at both, I think that Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are a better solution than native apps for most use cases.

  8. skane2600

    I think it's sad that for the last decade so much development effort has been put into new tools and languages that don't really enable any new functionality for everyday users. All this tool "jitter" has resulted in a big productivity sink IMO.

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