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Getting Started With Flutter – Part 1 Introducing Flutter

by SysOps 0 Comments
This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Getting Started With Flutter

As I began to write this morning, I had Chrome open to the gitter.imflutter page. I’ve been a regular there for more than a month now.  Tismorning was unique. First a post was made that this past month had more traffic on the flutter site than any previous month. Second, that several people, myself included found that the flutter.io page was down do to exhausting it’s bandwidth for the month. Luckily, Google had it back up within a couple hours! This goes to show how popular flutter is becoming.

While flutter has been around a year or two, it is still has not been released for production. This past year flutter showed a great amount of growth as it is begining to come of age. This new level of maturity has cuased those like myself (who desire to build mobile apps for multiple platform from a single code base) take the leap. Yes, it is a risky venture. We all know how technologies tend to come and go and more often than not, end up as vapor ware. However, with flutter the risk is mitagatedsome by the fact that Google is both actively developing it and using it internally. They have been pushing it to their partners and have made flutter and it’s underlying dart language open sourced.

Now if you haven’t heard of flutter, you may be asking what it is. Flutter is a cross platform mobile development framework from Google. It is built on the Dart programming language. Dart is Google’s answer to some of the odities and limitations of Javascript. Be forewarned however, that Dart is different. Coming from a C background I find Dart has some peculiarities.  So it has taken me a bit to get comfortable with it. Still, I find that things don’t always work the way I think they should. This however, is just the learning curve that is more a result of my background inserting expectations on a language that is modeled on concepts foreign to the languages I have experienced in the past. This said, their are powerful features in Dart that make it well worth learning.

In this serries of articles I will walk you through some simple demos of flutter and it’s various features. At this point in flutter’s life, everyone is a noobe. The framework is still in it’s infancy so only the developers have a good grasp of all it’s workings. However, flutter is gaining steam and starting to get a foot hold in the App development market. People are already using it for major applications. Primarily because it reduces development time and does away with the need for multiple code bases to support multiple platforms.

So let’s get started building a simple app.

Prerequisites

Ok, to get started we need some tools and the Flutter platform. I’ll be using MS Code as an IDE mostly because it’s a simple IDE and has a Flutter plugin available. You can also use IBM IDEA, or Android Studio. You can infact use any Text Editor (Not a word processor) however, you’ll be missing the code highlighting and other features. There is plenty of info out there on the net on how to install this stuff. So rather than repeat it here, I’ll point you to the experts:

MS Code IDE: https://code.visualstudio.com/download

Flutter: https://flutter.io/setup/

Follow the instructions given on these sites to get your IDE and the Flutter framework setup. I’ll wait here until you’re done.

Ok, if you installed any of the three IDE’s I suggested, you can easily install the flutter plugin. In MS Code just search the plugins for flutter and install it.

Our First App

 

Building a Flutter App for Android The Holiday Shopping App.

by SysOps 0 Comments

Here it is a New Years and Iam still working with Flutter and Dart. Back before Christmas I started working with Flutter and built a few simple apps for my android phone. The first “real” app I created was for a friend. She is an artist in Arizona and blogs about art weekly. She’s been doing this for years. I host her site on my webserver, and help maintain her site. Working out issues when ever she wants a new gadget installed or the javascript she copied isn’t working for her.

So to help her out I wrote an android App that allows her followers to read her RSS feed. I plan on adding push notification to the app for her in the future. However, at this point that’s just a little beyond my knowledge of flutter and Android. With flutter I feel I am gaining knowledge quickly. I started my second app which required me to scape some data from an online database. The scrapping was easy using Python, Selenium, and BeautifulSoup. Tools I have plenty of experience with in the past. However, I soon realized that it was going to take some time to create booth a web api for the database and build the app. This app is a simple pet abuse lookup app. It’s allows people who are rehoming pets to check if the perspective new owner is in a criminal database for animal abuse. If they are, a summary of the public court records  can be seen.

So it being near christmas and me still needing an app that would be more complex yet not too complex to build. I settled on building a  Holiday Gift Shopping List App.   Below are a few screen shots. The current working model here still needs the database to be coded. At this point the app is working however it is working with a mock data adapter. A class that presents hard coded data in a maner similar to how I expect the database to work. if you look closely, you will see that if all the gift’s checkboxes are checked, the snowflake icon changes to a checkmark. The phone icon can be used to open the dialpadwith the user’s phone number ready for you to press call. The white + in the upper right open’s the user’s contacts so a Giftee may be added from the contact list. The Circle plus (+), let’s you add a gift idea to a user without opening the user gift list. Great for a quick idea!

All in all, the folks on gitter.im/flutter/flutter helped me out quite a bit. If you’re learning flutter there are quite a few helpful folks there. Icluding some members of the Flutter and Dart development teams.  They have all been very helpful. I’ve manage to help a few folks myself as I have learned Flutter and Dart. Which is nice because it helps drive home what you really know.

In the future I may do a tutorial on building the Holiday Gift App. For now, I’ve got other Flutter projects on the back burner and this one still needing the database connected. So, for now, I’ll complete this and move on.

Hope you all had a great New Years and a Wonderfully productive new year!

 

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