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CI/CD / Open Source / Software Development

Interest Growing in Dart and Flutter for Mobile

Dart and Flutter are finally getting their day as more software engineers explore using Flutter for mobile app development.
Dec 6th, 2022 8:00am by
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Developer interest in the mobile language Dart and Google’s Dart-based Flutter framework are growing, according to an industry observer Fabrice Bellingard, vice president of product at the continuous code quality and security provider SonarSource.

Originally, SonarSource opted not to support Dart because the market seemed unsure about it, but a few years ago, Dart received a second life when Google built the Flutter framework on top of Dart, Bellingard told The New Stack.

“Now, if we look at the figures from the markets, it’s like more than 40% of mobile application is developed in Dart,” Bellingard said. “We have a really big push of Dart and Flutter, which to me indicates that this is the technology that currently has a strong momentum for mobile development.”

It’s quite a strong signal to the company, he added, which comes from the Java world. Kotlin, which is based on the JVM, is in the Java ecosystem and is already supported, he said. SonarSource works in the IDE to give developers feedback as they code.

“We also integrate into the CI/CD workflow, because we know that even with spell checkers from time to time, we don’t always do what they say, so there might be some problems that go into the repository; CI/CD is there to catch those remaining problems and also to ensure that you don’t ship to production code that is not clean,” he said.

SonarSource’s Java Background

SonarSource also invested in the educational part of coding, helping identify problems in code and providing a quick fix to those problems, he said.

“Now we are also investing in bringing educative content to the developers,” he said “When they are writing code when an issue is found, we tell them why this is an issue, what impact it can have, how to fix the issue, we can give some code samples related to their own context so that they understand better how to fix that problem very quickly. And obviously, we also give references to many different resources, to standards or to blog articles on the web, so that they can go further if they want.”

The solution supports 30 programming languages and technologies, with the flagship languages being Java, C#, Python, JavaScript, TypeScript, PHP, C, and C++. It also analyzes infrastructure-as-code technologies such as HashiCorp’s TerraForm to find some problems that developers want to not have in production.

SonarSource also covers Android and iOS. It originally started with web applications and Java, but the company has spread into support for mobile applications — which represent many of the applications people are using today, including Kotlin. Kotlin currently ranks as only a small portion of the requests for support the company receives, but the company began supporting it approximately a year ago, he said.

Flutter Framework

Flutter is a framework for Dart. It’s an open source UI software development kit created by Google that supports applications for Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, Google Fuchsia, and the web, from a single codebase. The New Stack shared that it rivaled Facebook’s React Native back in 2021, and that’s something Bellingard has seen play out in the marketplace this year.

“This has a huge benefit because you learn one language and you can do an application which can target different devices, which solves a real problem for companies who have to go on mobile for their business,” Bellingard said. “A couple of years ago, they had to do one iOS application in Swift, one Android application in Java or Kotlin. With Dart and Flutter, you can do everything at once for all those platforms.”

Finding one solution that will compile on all mobile platforms has been a theme this year, with the release of Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile SDK earlier this year, the arrival of .Net Maui in September and Uno, an open source UI platform for .Net. All drew comparisons to Flutter, suggesting that’s the framework to beat.

Although it’s not officially on the roadmap, Bellingard said SonarSource will most likely add support for Flutter and Dart in 2023. For Bellingard, that’s where the signs are pointing.

“We’re looking at all the other languages that we don’t support and those [that] have a strong momentum that are getting a big adoption — we reassess them once in a while and once we feel that the request is high enough, we are going to invest,” Bellingard said. “I would say in 2023, we’re going to do something because people have been pushing for this year, but it’s not yet in the roadmap in terms of quarters.”

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: The New Stack, SonarSource.
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