Flutter experiments

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During my time spent on App Brewery’s Flutter course, I created not one, not two, but 12 (twelve) apps. That’s a bunch! All apps are simple, nothing complicated, except the last 2-3 ones which have slightly complex widget trees. Creating in Flutter is fun, I have said that before. It’s fast and enjoyable. I will continue this journey by creating at least a couple of real-world apps.

Here’s a list of all my Flutter experiments so far:

  • I Am Rich — replica of the eponymous sensation of bygone era; dead simple and 100% static
  • Mi Card — your professional contact card, as an app; another static one
  • Dicee — simulates rolling of 2 dice; introduces state
  • Magic Ball 8 — a magic ball simulator; takes the concept of stateless and stateful widgets further
  • Xylophone — simple app with beautiful sounds; introduces Flutter packages and playing audio
  • Quizzler — a pretty quiz app; introduces modularizing & organizing code
  • Destini — a Bandersnatch-style decision-based game; solidifies OOP concepts
  • BMI Calc — a body mass index calculator; introduces routing and solidifies creating beautiful UIs
  • Clima — a weather app; introduces using network & location APIs and solidifies routing
  • Bitcoin Ticker — displays exchange rates for popular cryptocurrencies; solidifies what we learned with Clima
  • Flash Chat — a real-time chatting app; introduces Firebase as a backend and adding authentication
  • Todoey — a simple TODO app; introduces complex state management using Provider pattern

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.

Ionic Studio looks exciting (I hope it will be free)

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The Ionic team has just dropped a bomb in my inbox. The bomb even has a name – Ionic Studio. Still in preview, Studio is Ionic’s official integrated development environment (IDE). I believe they have done a fantastic job by concentrating on the thing that’s their defining feature — UI Components. Of course, things like managing plugins, resources and all from GUI make life easy. But by making it easier to create beautiful interfaces they have done something really good.

Those with some experience with building Ionic apps already know about Ionic Creator. But they also know that the tool is screaming to be updated since long, and is not entirely bug-free. Something like Ionic Studio will really make it easy to create apps quickly.

I like the clean looks it sports. It seems to have been built on the proven and trusty VS Code / Electron platform. Perhaps you have other ideas about its base?

Hackeam ’18 – A hackathon that left a lot to be desired

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I am back from two days of sheer coding, brainstorming, strategizing and bonding. It was one of the most tiring weekends I’ve ever had. I drove more than 100 kilometers going to and fro.

When Shivam told me about the 2018 edition of Hackeam, I was not immediately excited. It was when I heard about its unique methodology that I decided to participate. Like regular hackathons, its main event is about 24 hours of non-stop coding. Unlike regular hackathons, that’s only one aspect of the whole thing. Their motto says it all:

Trek. Report. Hack. Adapt. Achieve.

This year’s theme was using technology to make a significant social change. It was a good theme — a practical one — given that most hackathons focus on bringing out the best programming talent.

Continue reading Hackeam ’18 – A hackathon that left a lot to be desired

Fun trip to Bangalore (March ’17 edition)

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Don’t let “edition” in the title mislead you into believing I’ve had a lot of fun trip to Bangalore before. But I’m hoping I will going forward.

Nishith and I went on an official trip to attend Microsoft’s March 16-17 Tech Summit event. I have nothing much to say about the event other than it was mostly Microsoft’s product advertisement carnival, and that the only high point was the session on cross-platform mobile app development using Xamarin. Having created both native (Android and iOS) and hybrid (Ionic and Sencha Touch) mobile apps, I was instantly sold on the idea of using C# to create 100% native apps. IMHO, hybrid apps suck! They suck much less with Ionic 2, but I have found the overall UX to be still behind what native apps offer. I have made a pledge to develop my next mobile app POC using Xamarin.

Since there is not much else to talk about the summit, I’ll share a few memories of my trip.

Before leaving, we celebrated Shivam’s birthday with a cake and team lunch.

We had dinner at a very happening place Koramangala Social on 7th Street in Koramangala. These jalapeño cheese croquettes were so delicious we ordered them twice.

On day 2, our lunch was Andhra meal. We had this amazing Andhra thali at Bheema’s on Church Street. It was my first Andhra food experience.

On our return flight, we hung out at the Priority Pass lounge in Bangalore airport. It was my first lounge experience. Freebies are always good 🙂

P.S.: I have nothing against Ionic/Angular. I have always absolutely loved the development experience that they offer, it’s just the end result that is most of the times not to my liking. I’d blame the WebView more than the SDK!