All of a Flutter: Why leaders must invest in Google’s UI tool

Google financial results Q4

As various industries, particularly tech, head into challenging times, we’re all looking for crystal ball predictions for 2023. Mine is that the smartest software development team leaders will prioritize multi-platform development solutions – such as Flutter, Google’s multi-platform, open source, UI framework – to focus on efficiency, resilience, simplicity and scalability in everything they do. 

Sustaining growth and innovation requires a strong foundation and processes that are as effective and cost-effective as possible. In contrast, consider what happens when siloed development teams work in separate platforms for the same app. In essence, they’re building the same thing twice. That’s a waste of time and money. At some point, too, one team is probably going to fall behind or implement something differently. Companies may have to delay launches and manage frustrating technology overhead to keep native apps in sync. Simply put, maintaining multiple apps that do the same thing is an inefficient approach that, most critically, poses the risk of moving slower than the competition and losing business. 

Since applications built with Flutter use a single codebase, there’s no need for separate teams or for multiple, parallel timelines with identical milestones that all teams must hit at the same time. You can have one dev team, with smaller units handling different aspects of the project. Teams can benefit from even more efficiencies by taking advantage of the fact that Dart, the language that powers Flutter, can also be used to write backend code. This means the same team that builds the frontend with Flutter can expand to full stack development, saving time and increasing velocity.  

Maintaining growth

The move to Flutter is a critical strategic decision. To sustain growth amidst economic and other challenging headwinds, dev team leaders have to focus on efficiency and resilience in order to foster ongoing usability, usefulness, and engagement. Emerging and rapidly-maturing open source frameworks give dev teams an edge in these turbulent times, enabling the creation of easy-to-use and beautiful apps that can be easily customized or modified – a leg up against competitors in a climate that may require rapid shifts and tightening resources.

GitHub’s Octoverse review on the state of open source software found that development team leaders are turning to open source programming languages to simplify mobile app development. Bear in mind that there are 94 million developers on GitHub and 413 million open source contributions in 2022. A full 90 percent of companies use open source. As GitHub reported, “… more than 30 percent of Fortune 100 companies now have OSPOs [open source program offices] — and we predict this number will increase.” Open source is far from the fringe and is a vital part of modern app development.

As for Flutter, GitHub ranks it as the third-most-popular commercially backed open source tool among both Google engineers and outside contributors. In terms of who’s contributing, Flutter contributions sit in the top four open source projects by first-timers. That’s important since first-time contributors speak to both its longevity and its continued growth and development; Flutter and its community are ushering in the next wave of application development.

What truly makes Flutter special is that it’s benefit to organizations transcends impacts on development teams. Flutter represents a radical new multiplatform development paradigm that enables companies to create apps that have what people want in terms of simplicity, navigability, flexibility, and security, but with unprecedented efficiency and resilience. Streamlining codebases and consolidating developer skills makes Flutter teams almost superhuman in that their work can be deployed nearly anywhere a customer might want it — whether mobile devices, desktop, web, or even embedded. It unlocks a team’s ability to work on the highest value problems by reducing the amount of administrative and management tasks to organize an app ecosystem. Indeed, teams can focus on maximizing value, not managing a complex ecosystem of technologies all aiming to accomplish the same thing.

The next challenge

However, Flutter’s engineering efficiencies create a new challenge – other teams in the organization need to evolve and keep pace as well. Will Lockwood, an engineer for financial advisory and investing app Betterment, explained it clearly in a tweet: “The organizational benefits [of Flutter] beyond engineering for design, product, infosec, ops are SUPER real. Main pain point so far: our mobile velocity has left our backend resources struggling to keep up in supporting feature development.”

Teams that re-platform to Flutter see their productivity skyrocket since they’re no longer dealing with time-wasting inefficiencies. Shifting to a single codebase and one dev team for all mobile platforms cultivates team cohesion, enhances team capabilities, creates personnel flexibility and portability, and frees project leaders to think strategically about how to maximize the value created by their product. 

There’s no question that tech is facing a reckoning. In this environment, there’s an understandable fear of overreaching and then having to course-correct, a mistake that can slow a company’s momentum. In place of exuberance, 2023 will bring a new kind of strategic sensibility, but one that will focus on efficiency and flexibility while remaining forward-thinking by necessity. 

Development team leaders have demonstrated how open source can help them envision strategic sensibility. It’s not overreaching to adopt elegant, user-friendly tools that enable us to engineer the next great apps. Flutter and similar frameworks promote real efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and team cohesion – those factors are built in. And they’re also why the tech companies that invest in the future that tools like Flutter enable will stay ahead of the curve.