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  • Google Flutter Mobile Development Quick Start Guide

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    There are currently well over 2 million apps on the Apple App Store and almost 3 million on the Google Play Store. Also, 90% of the time spent on mobile devices is done on a native app


    With the massive demand for native mobile app development from businesses, it is a good thing that developers are spoilt for choice when it comes to programming tools available to them. Google's Flutter is one of those many tools, but it is different in several ways.


    Flutter launched in 2017


    Flutter attempts to unify the entire app development process with its one-stop-shop solution. Launched by Google in May 2017, Flutter has helped hundreds of thousands of developers create native mobile apps with its single code base and helped them create custom top scripts. With Flutter, all you'll need is one programming language from start to publish. It won't matter if you're creating one app for both Android, iOS devices.


    Flutter is composed of a Software Development Kit (SDK) and a widget-based UI library. The SDK is a collection of all the programming tools you'll need to build your code and compile it into native machine code specific to Android and iOS devices. The UI Library gives the developer access to an avalanche of user-interface elements like buttons, sliders, text inputs, notification widgets, and everything else. These widgets can be customized for specific mobile app projects.


    Dart is a programming language that was developed by Google back in 2011 and has undergone many developmental iterations since then. Dart is the language that is used for developing mobile apps with Flutter. Dart is a front-end development language of the typed object programming language category.


    Flutter's functionality is robust. This app builder is perfect for developing any 2D native mobile app. While it won't work for 3D games like Call of Duty or God of War, companies from global e-commerce giant Alibaba to writing service review companies like Online Writers Rating.


    Flutter already boasts an enviable portfolio of companies and brands that use it for their app development needs. These include Alibaba, eBay, Groupon, Tencent, Capital One, BMW, Square, and, of course, Google. Flutter is the perfect all-inclusive solution for app development for many reasons:

    • Much shorter learning curve and easier to use
    • It compiles code quickly and boosts productivity
    • Perfect for building an MVP
    • It has robust and reliable documentation
    • It has a robust, reliable, and growing community
    • It's compatible with Android Studio and VS Code

    How to set up Flutter for use


    On Windows


    To get Flutter running in Windows, you'll need a computer running a 64-bit Windows 7 OS or higher, disk space of at least 400 MB, Git for Windows, and Windows PowerShell 5.0 or higher.


    Download Flutter SDK. Extract the contents of the downloaded zip file and save the Flutter directory in your preferred installation location. Then, select flutter_console.bat and launch it by double-clicking.


    If you want to run Flutter using your regular Windows console, you will need to do the following:

    • Click the windows button and type in 'env' in the search bar. The results that come up will include 'Edit environment variables for your account' Click it.
    • Select user variables and look for an entry titled Path:
    • If you find it, add the full path to flutter\bin, using a semi-colon (;) to keep it separate from existing values.
    • If you can't find the entry, create a new user variable, and name it Path. Its value should be the full path to flutter\bin. For these changes to take effect, you'll have to exit and relaunch any open Windows console.
    • Next, you'll need to run Flutter doctor from a console window. This helps to give you a report on the status of your Flutter installation. Open the console windows and input the following command: C:\flutter>flutter doctor. Check the result to ensure there are no missing platform dependencies.

    The next step would be to install your code editor. As mentioned earlier, VS Code or Android Studio are popular choices, especially the latter. To install Android Studio, take the following steps:


    • Download and install Android Studio.
    • Launch Android Studio and follow the prompts of the Android Studio Setup Wizard. This will help you set up Android SDK, Android SDK Build-Tools, and Android SDK Platform-Tools.


    You also need an Android device running Android 4.1 OS or higher. This is the device you'll use to test your Flutter app.

    • Go to your phone settings and enable Developer Options and USB Debugging. If you're not sure how to go about this, check out the Android documentation instructions.
    • The next thing is to get the Google USB Driver installed on your Windows computer.
    • Connect your Android phone to your computer via a USB cable.
    • Run the flutter devices command in the terminal to be sure that Flutter recognizes your phone.


    You will want to install your Flutter and Dart plugins at this point.


    • Launch Android Studio and follow the path File > Settings > Plugins.
    • Under Browse repositories, choose the Flutter plugin and install it.
    • When you receive a prompt to install the plugin for Dart, click Yes, and then Restart.


    On macOS


    There are similarities between the macOS and Windows installations that you will notice here. To install Flutter on a macOS computer, ensure that you're using a 64-bit macOS, have a disk space of at least 2.8 GB, and have Git for macOS installed.

    • Download the latest Flutter SDK
    • Extract the zip file into your preferred installation location.
    • Using your terminal, open your bash profile and add the flutter tool to the $PATH variable.
    • As with the Windows installation, also run $ flutter doctor here to check the installation status of your platform dependencies. Note that for macOS, the Dart SDK is part of the Flutter and does not need to be installed as a separate plugin.


    Installing Android Studio is the next step to take.

    • Launch Android Studio.
    • Go to Preferences > Plugins
    • Find and click Browse repositories, then select and install the Flutter plugin
    • As with Windows, you will receive a prompt to install the Dart plugin. Click Yes, then click Restart when prompted


    Final Words


    There are still a few things to do on both of these operating systems to develop and run your app, like installing XCode 9.0 or higher, the iOS simulator, and the Android emulator. These tools will help you run and test your apps. But without the Flutter and Dart SDKs, and the Android Studio entirely set up, none of these will be possible.

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