Flutter for web develops: A hype beast or a silver bullet for website development – TechRadar

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Web is broken. You read that right – it’s no secret that the web has now become so complicated as multiple framework applications battle for web developer’s attention. Some could argue that it’s easier to get your head around code than to decide which framework applications to use.

That includes Evgeny Kot, director of development at Wrike, who told TechRadar Pro at the recent WebExpo event that there needs to be a single framework that will help coders uncomplicate web development.

As it stands, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the three main languages used to build websites, are everywhere – on mobile apps, desktop apps, smart appliances of all shapes and sizes, and even in “AAA” PC/console games too. 

A coder’s web dream 

A typical website deployment sees JavaScript as the programming language, with HTML used to structure the site, and CSS for the design and layout of the web page. 

While those three applications work well for the most part, Kot spoke highly of Flutter, an open source framework created by Google that aims to be the ultimate framework for client code.

“You can write one application or codebase for android, iOS, web, desktop, Windows MacOS, and Linux embedded systems. You can create user client code for almost all popular platforms. It uses DART, a language created by Google ten years ago, as its main language,” added Kot.

“When Flutter just started, it was used mostly for android and iOS development, but now, Flutter is more than that – you can write one code for every platform including web.”

However, Flutter is not suitable for everyone, especially when it comes to SEO, with one of the tool’s  main downsides being that the framework is yet to align applications output.

“The challenges Flutter faced in the beginning stages of its development are the same for almost every young framework,” explained Kot.

“People who are developing mobile applications in native code such as android and iOS developers, are a little bit conservative in terms of creating cross platform code. In the past, other developers that attempted to do it failed miserably because there’s always a compromise when it comes to delivering top quality across both platforms.”

Simple website building tasks have already begun drowning out the need for web developers, although Knot doesn’t seem too worried, noting more complex site building tasks that sit higher up on the pyramid will no doubt still need coders.

“In the future, people will be creating simple websites without any knowledge of the website building sector, but equally, we will get more complex sites. One example of this is Project Fugue, a project that covers web APIs,” he says.

According to GitHub (opens in new tab), Fugue is a unified interface for distributed computing that lets users execute Python, pandas, and SQL code on Spark and Dask without rewrites.

“Right now in browsers, you can use USB, Bluetooth, file management, and other APIs, therefore, we see how web developers can do everything without the need for C++ developers creating an application that uses USB,” Kot adds

One of the running themes at WebExpo 2022 was the idea that the war between frameworks no longer exists. 

“Four to five years ago, React, Angular and other mobile and desktop web application providers would compete to have the title of the best framework, but now, I don’t see that competition happening anymore in the space,” he says.

Don’t forget accessibility 

As the race to become the number one framework dies down, a new competition in the web space has emerged.

The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in organizations being taken to court over issues of accessibility on their websites and mobile apps.

“Accessibility has become a trend by default, not only because of its extreme importance but also because there are plenty of laws put in place in Europe to make sure websites are accessible for all,” Kot explained.

“Right now, most of the laws are targeted at government sites but I believe that in upcoming years, we will see more websites being made to follow accessibility rules. If sites don’t want to do it voluntarily, they will soon have to do it because it’s the law.”

Web Vitals, the set of metrics created by Google, is also pushing developers to create faster, more accessible applications. 

For example, if you search for a web hosting service that has a low score in Lighthouse, a free tool that provides powerful insights to help improve your website, chances are it will be much lower in the search engine results.

Another example demonstrated at WebExpo came from Livesport, a Czech technology company that knows all too well of the perils of having a slow web and mobile app. Its Flashscore network, developed in 2006, delivers live scores online through more than 400 servers with a data flow of 30 Gbit/s that’s largely automated for speed.

“Web developers are forced to write more accessible, faster, lightweight code. On the technical side, Webassembly is finally getting garbage collection, to which I hope more languages will be built on top of that and we will have faster web. WebAssembly can be used anywhere. It is not tied to JavaScript in nature,” Kot explained.

“Typescript, although not a trend, is used by many people these days, and therefore, I predict that in the future, we may see Typescript and Javascript merge.”

What about website builders? 

The evolution of the website builder from Geocities founded in 1994 and launched to enact standards for web design just four years after HTML was first developed – to the vast range of drag-and-drop builder providers available today, it’s easy to conclude that coding may just be a thing of the past.

In fact, Kot told TechRadar Pro that when he was finishing his university degree 15 years ago, his professor told the class that they would be the last generation to write code because everyone will be using dragging and dropping squares onto templates to create websites. 

“That’s not happening right now but on the web, I do see that many companies that were doing these one page portfolio sites, can now create them on Tilda, Wix or many other website builder platforms – with zero knowledge of coding or computing programming,” he explained.

As the online world moves towards making site building less complex, centralized and all under a singular highly functioning framework, the fact remains that web development as an industry will continue ironing the kinks for a smoother user experience.

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