By Tim Ruddell, Senior Software Engineer, ClearPoint

At ClearPoint, we successfully develop market-ready mobile applications with Flutter. The success of our apps reflects how much we learn in the process. As you begin your journey with Flutter, it is crucial to consider your approach from planning to market.

Focusing on Productivity

An important advantage of Flutter is its excellent development experience. This serves to increase productivity by enabling your developers to focus on the code with fewer obstacles. To take full advantage of Flutter’s productivity capabilities, you should encourage developers to take the time to set up their environments. In particular, stateful hot-reloading and source-level debugging. Familiarise your developers with Flutter’s official documentation, read the source code to get a feel for how the underlying widgets are structured, and take a look at the Flutter Cookbook to discover how many common problems Flutter solves paradigmatically.

Planning for Development

Before diving into development, run a discovery phase to learn which features and functionality already exist thanks to the official Flutter team and the community. If you require lightweight backend integration, the well-maintained official Firebase support may be a good place to start. Perhaps you will need a library for visually charting data. If that is the case, a quick search on Pub will reveal several options which may be useful. By taking your requirements and breaking them down for functionality in the process of gap analysis, you can begin to plan your development. This process is particularly important if your app requires specialised hardware interactions with devices that may require your team to build custom Flutter plugins that require native development resources.

Upholding Transparency

In an ever-evolving digital landscape, exhibiting transparency across technological advances is vital for engaging decision-makers in the development process.

To uphold transparency and open dialogue, Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) is vital for integrating your quality control boundaries. From confirmation of compatible code commits to code quality control monitoring to test suite automation, CI/CD ensures product releases are frequent and effortless. To build a delivery pipeline, the team at NeverCode host a purpose-built solution for Flutter called CodeMagic. Through the use of CodeMagic, along with the app store’s closed-beta channel facilities, you can deliver small and frequent app updates directly to your business stakeholders’ devices.

Collaborating for Quality

A focus on quality is paramount for any software project, particularly if you intend to iterate and improve the software over time. When quality is compromised in mobile apps, there are long periods between releases, bug fixes, and countless improvements required. Other indicators of poor quality are app user lock-outs, software crashes, and a loss of market appeal due to negative app reviews.

All members of your wider team have a responsibility to contribute to the quality of your app. Developers contribute to quality by writing code and providing robust test suites, guided by the traditional testing pyramid and agreed-upon levels of coverage. Quality assurance analysts guarantee that your features continue to meet business requirements. Moreover, stakeholders contribute to upholding quality by understanding the effect of late decision-making and renegotiating timeframes when such changes arise.

Facilitating User Workflows

Post-launch, it is critical to consider not only your end users but all user types requiring access to the app. Your testers, stakeholders, and clients may require access to multiple non-conflicting versions of the app to enable their unique workflow. For instance, we needed to supply the live app directly from the app store, as well as an in-development version integrated with the test APIs for discussion and review. This included free and paid versions of the app, along with versions of the app combined with specific customer environments to facilitate integration work. This was made possible through the use of Flavours, build-time configurations that create variations of your app installed side-by-side. Flavours are handled differently on each platform, but once configured, can be invoked and managed through the Flutter CLI.

Valuing User Feedback

Feedback is vital to ensuring your app is well-received by users. Implicit feedback through the use of an analytics setup (e.g. Firebase or Facebook) and client-activity monitoring integrations, such as Raygun or Sentry, help you get feedback. These can track user flows, monitor trending use of your app, and alert you of unwanted emerging user behaviour patterns. Also, we cannot overstate the value derived from explicit user feedback. Your goal is to receive positive feedback in the form of 5-star app store ratings with negative feedback communicated to the support team for actioning. Think of a flow that allows you to detect when your users might provide feedback by monitoring positive conversions (e.g. post-successful purchase, hours spent on the app) and prompt them to write a review.

In summary

While Flutter offers an excellent framework for developing cross-platform apps, planning beyond the scope of general software development is critical to your success in the market. To capitalise on Flutter’s impressive suite of tools, the ClearPoint team takes a holistic approach to deliver innovative market-leading apps that will accelerate businesses in their digital roadmap and customer experience.

Need a mobile app built within 3 months? Talk to us about how we can help you design and build your mobile apps fast.