Quick Summary:

We already know what Flutter is and how it is the best framework for cross-platform mobile app development for all businesses, especially start-ups. Having established itself as the most sought-after framework for mobile app development, Flutter is also emerging as the most dependable framework to develop scalable apps.

At a time when enterprises strive to develop scalable apps using Flutter, it is imperative to know what it means to have a scalable app and how Flutter can make a real difference in developing the one.

Why There’s a Need to Build Scalable App?

At a time when the world is almost operating digitally, scalable apps are not luxury but rather should be a way of life for businesses. The most common characteristics of a scalable app are:

• Efficient enough to deal with constantly expanding end users
• Efficient enough to support new features without any breakdown
• Made of relatively small, independent packages or modules.

When it comes to developing a mobile app, consideration of scalable architecture is a wise business and technological strategy. Some experts also call it an “insurance policy” for the app’s code.

One of the basic reasons why businesses need to consider deploying scalable architecture is its accessibility and availability. There is hardly any enterprise in the industry that has not encountered a breakdown of its app infrastructure with the exit of just one engineer who had it all in her head!

Scalable architecture solves this issue of centralized knowledge and its accessibility and availability. In scalable architecture, everything is so well-documented and easily understood by all the stakeholders that every team member knows how to build a new app feature without disrupting the present infrastructure. Scalable architecture for developing mobile apps thus also helps all the teams scale their knowledge of developing mobile apps.

Scalable code developed using scalable architecture is also a great alternative to spaghetti code. There are a lot of instances when the legacy codebase may have got totally broken while deploying a new code.

Scalable architecture solves this issue like a champ as it provides enough room to the developers to add new features to the application without breaking or disrupting the entire application.

In scalable code, opening pull requests and their merging becomes smooth as scalable architecture is powerful enough to let the engineers scale new features without any disruption to the whole.

Why You Should Build Scalable App Using Flutter?

In the recent past, demand to develop scalable apps has increased dramatically. In our previous post, we discussed why choose Flutter for app development and how it has revolutionized cross-platform app development! In our previous post, we discussed Xianyu- a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in eCommerce, retail, Internet, & Technology is using Flutter.

Let’s understand why you should too choose Flutter to build a scalable app in detail.

• Flutter framework allows the developers to create more value and be more creative and productive in their application development journey.
• It surely is viable for the long-term as Google is quite committed to supporting this platform for the longer run.
• Flutter framework is the platform-agnostic framework. Scalable apps developed using Flutter work quite well across Android and iOS.
• While adopting any new technology, businesses often consider incremental abstraction costs. Flutter has proved itself to be a wiser financial decision, too, compared to other platforms.
• Using Flutter framework also allows developers to make some significant changes across the entire code base that can ultimately support the new components.
• Unit, Integration, and End-to-End tests can exploit Flutter’s inherent testing feature. This also eliminates the process of rendering to the screen.
• Working with Flutter is always a pleasant experience for developers as it offers features like hot reload, formal documentation, and better and stable API.

Let us have a look at some of the global companies that have successfully developed scalable apps using Flutter.

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Nubank’s Journey of Developing Scalable App Using Flutter

Nubank

A Brazil-based Nubank is a Neobank and the largest fintech company in Latin America. When Nubank became the largest independent digital bank outside Asia, it focused on developing other new products apart from its signature product of credit cards.

At the beginning of the year 2019, its business accounts and the lending department had to choose to develop these products. At that time, the world of mobile Technology was inundated with many technologies and Flutter was still considered a new arrival. Hence, it was a tough call to choose from the jungle of so many technologies.

After a lot of contemplation and contention until the last moment, Nubank decided to make Flutter as its primary Technology for mobile development. Since then, Nubank has been writing all of its features in Flutter. Nubank indeed calls itself a company that has a 100% culture of Flutter!

Following are some of the significant changes that this fintech company experienced for better after adopting Flutter:

• Nubank launched Life Insurance within just three months of adopting Flutter. The launch of any new product used to take several months or even a year before migrating over to Flutter.
• Experimenting with Flutter web resulted in a better developer experience.
• Flutter desktop facilitated the use of an innovative internal developer tool, allowing the elimination of emulators, resulting in reduced laptop battery and faster testing across the devices.
• Improvement in mobile infrastructure and development efficiency that resulted in the innovation of dev-only features during the year.
• Flutter has an in-built faster learning curve. Hence, making Flutter its main Technology has improved the company’s build time as anyone could learn the process faster with official documentation.
• The merge success rate became 30% better in comparison to the native framework as Flutter PRs took 9.9 minutes to merge over 70.45 minutes of overall average on all the platforms.

How BMW Developed Scalable App Using Flutter

BMW

In the year of 2018, BMW realized that they needed a platform that solves the difficult issue of discrepancies between their iOS and Android offerings.

It was important for them to develop the apps that offer the same experience and functionality to their consumers irrespective of the mobile operating system they must be using. It was equally important to do it without much increase in the costs or slow down in feature development velocity.

It is against this business challenge that they decided to use a cross-platform framework. They undertook a rigorous evaluation process and designed many “proofs-of-concept” with all the frameworks. Interestingly, Flutter did emerge as the winner, and in October 2019, a selected group of BMW engineers prepared the strategy to move ahead with Flutter.

The strategy included adopting a more flexible, domain-based organizational structure that was no longer restricted by a certain platform. They created a team that would focus on the connection status and communication abstraction; another that would focus on the app’s cross platform aspect, and others were devoted to creating new and innovative features for the end-users.

This way, BMW’s developer team started rewriting all the app variants with a single code base for their end users that were spread across 45 countries in the world.

It was in July 2020 that the company launched My BMW App. The app is a universal interface for consumers spread across 47 countries in five continents. It provides them a seamless experience between mobile phones, vehicles, and the digital world. It is also a direct interface between the drivers and their vehicles along with being a direct communication channel with the company dealers and the brand itself.

In the words of Dr. Nicolai Kraemer, Vice President Offboard Platform BMW Group: “The new app platform is built on three pillars: user-friendliness, safety and reliability. It provides a consistently designed set of functions spanning all brands based on feedback and our customers’ usage behavior.”

Following are some of the major business goals BMW achieved after developing a scalable app using Flutter:

• A developer-friendly platform
• A developer-scalable and well-functioning platform
• A platform that provided safe experimentation and continuous deployment
• A platform that triggers several apps builds every day that results in automatic building, testing, and deployment of 96 variants with each app build.
• As of 2021, more than 10,000 versions of every app variant
• Ability to move faster and maintain consistency
• No more dependency on multiple codebases that ultimately resulted in the resolution of the problem of feature disparity.
• Single user experience irrespective of the platforms used to access the app
• Improved user feedback, especially for Android users.

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ByteDance’s Evolution and Innovation Using Flutter

Byte Dance

ByteDance is also one of the companies that got benefited immensely from using Flutter. In the year 2019, the company realized its need to create a large number of cross-platform apps. The existing framework was not serving this purpose as it involved a lot of time and money.

Having evaluated the functionality of the Flutter framework, ByteDance came to know that with Flutter, they would need to develop each app only once. It eliminated the need to create different apps for each of the Android, iOS, and web operating systems.

Also, Flutter’s own rendering engine would enable their apps to perform consistently across all the platforms. Also, with Flutter, it was possible to keep the app’s Android, iOS, and web versions in sync. This, in turn, reduced the number of necessary updates for the app.

All of these features of Flutter inspired ByteDance to launch their first Flutter-based education app with an aim to help children learn to write Chinese characters with a stroke-tracking feature. The company exploited SVG formats to create these strokes.

Now, this Flutter-built feature supports over 9,000 characters, including most common characters. It has been running quite successfully across a variety of platforms.

Following are some of the benefits that ByteDance experienced after developing a scalable app using Flutter:

• It witnessed a 33% increase in team productivity in its flagship apps such as Xingfuli, Jike, DaliJiaZhang, Xiaohe, Volcano, and Xigua Video.
• It witnessed a 5% reduction in package size
• Valuable optimizations to the team and improved performance
• A team of 700 Flutter developers at ByteDance, among them 200 are active Flutter developers
• Extensive use of Flutter for mobile apps and the apps that run on their web, desktop, and other embedded platforms.

Key Benefits of Developing Scalable App Using Flutter Framework

While we have explored the journey of only three companies here, giants like Alibaba, Google Pay, eBay, and many others like them have successfully adopted Flutter and made it their main Technology. All of these companies have reaped tremendous benefits to developing scalable apps using Flutter framework.

These benefits can be summarized thus:

• More consistency in product development
• More flexibility to extend and customize UI components
• Better backend driven tooling in the form of ‘Flutter hot reload’ feature
• Better support for localization
• Better infrastructure that can help the business measure observability
• Empowers the developers to correlate more metrics with other systems
• Use of features or packages to measure the size of the apps
• Sends alerts directly to the concerned team
• Helps even the non-technical engineers to become productive within just a few weeks
• Helps standardize code bases smoothly and efficiently.

The Way Forward with Flutter in 2022

Adopting anything new always comes with its own sets of challenges, even if it is for the highest good. It is, therefore, important to make an informed decision based on specific requirements and the inherent risks involved in the process.

Choosing Flutter in 2022 is indeed calling the shots and will continue to do so even. Nubank is a good case study on how to migrate to Flutter or any other new framework for that matter. It is interesting to note how Nubank had mostly used its in-house solutions to adapt its build, testing, and continuous deployment pipelines to its newly built tools for the application development process. These tools were like the CLI and were written in Dart language.

The most important takeaway is to have a platform team that is totally focused on supporting the product teams while the enterprise is migrating to Flutter. It is also important to impart extensive training to all the stakeholders involved in developing scalable app using Flutter.

All these measures help prevent bugs and other complex performance issues when the existing app undergoes framework change. An informed decision makes the journey to build scalable app using Flutter smooth and helps simplify the entire product ecosystem.

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