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This might be quite big news! Flutter, the UI toolkit from Google that's used in tens of thousands of Android applications is coming to the desktop. Google and Canonical have announced their push for Linux too.

Why is this a big thing? Well, anything that boosts easy cross-platform development is a great thing. It can make Linux more attractive to developers to work on, plus publishing onto Linux becomes easier again. Writing in a Medium post, Chris Sells (Google) & Ken VanDine (Canonical) talk a little about what's going on.

They said that the goal for Flutter has "always been to provide a portable toolkit for building beautiful UIs that run at native speeds, no matter which platform you target" although initially starting on mobile. Now though, they announced "we are happy to jointly announce the availability of the Linux alpha for Flutter alongside Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu". On the Linux side, they've hooked it up with "a new GTK+ based host for Flutter apps on all Linux distros".

To show it off working on Linux, they even created a desktop application named Flokk (Snap Store - GitHub) in partnership with gskinner.com, which is powered by Flutter. Take a look:

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For Canonical, they've been working on making it easy for developers to publish to the Snap store, with Snaps being one of the newer generation of cross-distribution packaging formats. Canonical has "dedicating a team of developers to work alongside Google’s developers to bring the best Flutter experience to the majority of Linux distributions" so they're putting plenty of resources into making it happen and ensure parity across platforms.

If you do want to try developing with it, together they've made the Flutter SDK available on Linux through the Snap store which will work with your favourite IDE (like Visual Studio Code or whatever). Keeping in mind it's an "alpha" level release right now.

Anything that can boost Linux in the eyes of developers is great, we shall be watching this with great interest, especially as games can be made with it too not just traditional applications. One less Linux barrier if developers opt for Flutter.

See all the info in the Medium post announcement.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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19 comments
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On the one hand, I hate everything google and would much rather it had no connection to Linux. On the other hand, it’s actually one of the better toolkits out there, with lots of app potential.
I'm always happy to see new options available on Linux, but maaaaan do I despise the mobileification of desktop UIs. One of the reasons I ditched Gnome once they got to v3. My desktop is not a phone, and shouldn't try to pretend to be one. I know I'm a bit of a dinosaur, but I want my desktop to take advantage of the fact that I've got a large monitor and don't need buttons to take up a quarter of the screen, or be reduced to little stylized icons just 'cause that's all that'd fit on a phone screen. Like that gigantic green waste of space on the left in that thumbnail up there, lack of proper menus, popups which insist on being in-window which don't let me take advantage of any of my Window Manager's native features... Just ugh.

As I say, I'm glad that folks who DO want that kind of stuff have more options available, but I'll personally stay far away.
kaiman 8 Jul
I'm with apocalyptech. I've spent a few minutes trying to figure out what the tech behind Flutter really is (because if it's some abomination like Electron I wouldn't want to touch it), and the following gem caught my eye:

QuoteFor a Material app, you can use a Scaffold widget; it provides a default banner, background color, and has API for adding drawers, snack bars, and bottom sheets. [1]
Thanks, I think I'll pass ... . We dinosaurs might die out, but at least we'll die out in style!
Donkey 8 Jul
I tried to learn Flutter before but all examples had such a horrible coding style making me all confused. Adding a thing like this is actually pretty cool and could become useful in the future. I am sure I will try to learn it again as soon as I have some spare time just to see how useful it could be for desktop apps.
beko 8 Jul
I'm bewildered. Using a Flutter cross compiled app for months now. It just sucks because it looks and feels like a mobilephone app but hey it's better than trying to run it _on_ my mobile phone.

I mean… my i5-8600K has at least the power to run it smooth
TheSHEEEP 8 Jul
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Does it actually work on Windows?
If not, the use of it will be really quite limited.
Cross-platform only for Android & Linux isn't exactly a common use case.

Looked it up, no it doesn't. Desktop is Linux & MacOS only. At least on desktop, that's extremely limiting.

Also...
You either develop a UI for desktop, or you develop a UI for mobile. Or you do both at the same time, but you can't just use the same layouts for both, or the result will be severely suboptimal on one of the platforms. I'm sure we all used some mobile->desktop or desktop->mobile software that was just terrible to use on one of the platforms and you could see where it came from and why it doesn't work well on the other platform.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 8 July 2020 at 8:13 pm UTC
Liam Dawe 8 Jul
Quoting: TheSHEEEPDoes it actually work on Windows?
If not, the use of it will be really quite limited.
Cross-platform only for Android & Linux isn't exactly a common use case.

Looked it up, no it doesn't. Desktop is Linux & MacOS only. At least on desktop, that's extremely limiting.
It's expanding to support both web and desktop, just Linux is being announced now since Canonical jumped in early. Windows is an obvious goal for them too but they've needed to gradually refactor it for mouse input and all the rest you expect in desktop builds.
WorMzy 8 Jul
QuoteOn the Linux side, they've hooked it up with "a new GTK+ based host for Flutter apps on all Linux distros".

Meh, not interested then.
It it helps pushing Linux adoption on the desktop without being mandatory, I'm all in with that.
edo 8 Jul
Now react native for Linux pls
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