Hero animations in Flutter are dead simple

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When I was learning React Native, I was sort of super-impressed by its emphasis on animations. We all know how critical animations are in creating experiences that users actually like. RN has a profound Animated API and loads of examples on creating custom animations. There’s only one problem: adding beyond-simple animations is tricky and a lot of work.

I remember coming across this neat and detailed Medium article by Jiří Otáhal on creating Hero animations, becoming immediately excited, writing it down in my ‘urgent’ TODO list, and then never ever actually following it up. It was considerable amount of work, and I just couldn’t put myself together for the task.

Today when I was learning about animations in Flutter (AppBrewery course), I was friggingly relieved to know how easy it is to achieve the same here. See the screenshot below. Get what I mean?

Hero animations in Flutter.
These are transition animations on a shared object (widget) when navigating from one screen to another.

Of course, the RN animation tutorial that I linked earlier tries to achieve a more profound goal. But, clearly, in Flutter we have a better starting point.

Happy coding. Talk to you in the next one 🤘.

SelectableText widget and structured error messages in Flutter 1.9

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Flutter 1.9 is out. As one may guess from this post’s title, my favorite changes are:

  • SelectableText widget
  • Structured error messages (enabled via VS Code or Android Studio settings)

Structured error message support was proposed 8 months ago! I find Flutter’s current approach to displaying error/exception messages are pretty useful as they are. Adding more structure certainly doesn’t hurt. When I started programming more than a decade ago, I had always imagined a future where a developer would not need to leave their IDE to find help in fixing their errors. Now that it’s finally here, I wonder what took it so long 🤔. I think both React and Flutter have done a wonderful job here.

Here’s a short video about what’s new:

The joy of creating in Flutter

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I am now officially in love with Flutter. What started as a crush has turned into something palpable. For the past 2 weeks, I have been heavily invested in learning Flutter from App Brewery’s bootcamp-style course. If there’s one takeaway from the course, it is this: Flutter+Dart is a lethal combination. I have now come to truly appreciate the ‘promised’ language for frontend and the frontend itself.

I must confess, though. I did not hold the same feelings for Flutter in the beginning. At a couple of meetups, I have called Flutter all sorts of blasphemous things — difficult to learn, highly inconsistent, and a confused approach — all without closely working with it. I, however, assure you that Flutter is none of the above. On the contrary:

  • its composition-over-inheritance approach makes it easy for beginners,
  • its Widget-oriented design makes it consistent, and
  • Dart’s succinct and familiar (JavaScript-like) syntax makes things less confusing

The App Brewery course I mentioned before has been an eye-opener. The course itself is pretty long and exhaustive, but rewarding. Since it’s geared toward absolute beginner programmers, I was able to go through it at 1.5x playback speed and even skipped a few sections. I am currently at 64%, hoping to complete it by the next weekend.

During this time, I customized my VS Code quite a bit to my liking (this post’s featured image), so much so that creating Flutter apps in Code is a far more pleasant experience as compared to officially recommended Android Studio. This, of course, is made possible by the awesome Flutter team who does not want to tie developers to Google’s ecosystem.

If you are curious about the source code of the app seen in this post’s featured image, here’s the GitHub link. It’s an app called BMI Calculator that I created as part of the course. Go ahead and explore my commit history to see how easy Flutter makes creating beautiful-looking mobile apps.

Flutter is riding the adoption curve

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It’s getting serious everyday. It’s not just the internet, a lot of people around me are talking about it. So, it did not come as a surprise when I found that a popular Indian app was built in Flutter. Dream11 is what people are talking about this IPL season. Given the massive fan following of IPL and the craze for safe online betting, one thing is sure — Flutter can damn well handle scalability. I do not use the app myself, but it sure looks pretty on friends’ phones.

I am getting more and more impatient now to build my next mobile app in Flutter. Until that happens and I have stories to tell about my time with Flutter, watch Dream11’s Flutter story: