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Mariel Lettier
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Node and Flutter for Product Development

29
Mar
2022

Developers often have favorite tools and combinations to work with. This article will focus on what Node.js and Flutter can do together. But first, we’d like to get background on them. What they are, why you should use them, and what you can create with them.

What is Node?

Node.js was created in 2009 by Ryan Dahl. Its website defines Node.js as “an asynchronous event-driven JavaScript runtime.” Further, it's used to build scalable network apps. Node.js is open-source, cross-platform, single-threaded, fast, and scalable. Some of the benefits of Node.js include improved developer productivity and satisfaction. Also, it has reduced development costs, an easy learning curve, and a large community. Among companies using it for its projects are Microsoft, PayPal, Uber, and eBay.

You may have encountered the question "Is node a framework?" while looking into Node.js or even asked it yourself. The answer is no. Node.js is not a framework; it's a runtime environment. What is the difference? Well, a runtime environment is just a platform on which to execute commands. It processes code to produce results. Meanwhile, a framework focuses on the way you should write code. As a result, it makes the code more streamlined and standardized. 

What is Node.js used for?

Web apps are the primary use case for Node.js but certainly not the only one. Here are some other Node.js uses:

1. IoT Apps. Node.js can handle large amounts of data. Thus, it can be easily integrated with the Internet of Things (IoT) protocols. For instance, its node package manager (npm) includes several IoT modules. These features make it a great tool for developing IoT apps.

2. Real-Time Apps. Node.js' increased speed and performance make it an excellent choice for RTAs. For instance, messaging or chat apps.

3. Browser Games. You can create single and multiplayer games mixing  Node.js with HTML5 and Socket.IO. The main benefit of using Node.js for browser games is its EventEmitter. Another highlight is its ability to share code between the client and server.

4. Data Streaming Apps. Client and server communication is also a great asset to data streaming apps. This comes along with asynchronous, non-blocking I/O capabilities. So this makes Node.js perfect for apps such as Netflix.

5. Command-Line Apps. Most large organizations use custom-made command-line apps. In this context, Node.js has excellent libraries, such as commander and oclif. All this makes developing these apps easy, fast, and cost-effective. As you can see, Node.js can be pretty versatile. Other projects with Node.js include eCommerce apps, online payment systems, and blogs.

Why is Node.js used?

As we've mentioned, Node.js is an open-source, scalable, and light tool that makes it quite easy to build apps, and makes the development process more efficient. One of the most significant advantages of Node.js is that it can run JavaScript both on the client and server sides, which is why it's helpful for building applications. 

Other reasons why you should use Node include its easy-to-learn nature, reusable code, vertical scalability, and rapid development. It also has native support in Amazon Web Services (AWS), works with plenty of frameworks, and is cross-platform and mobile-friendly. Additionally, Node.js provides improved performance with Chrome's V8 engine.

Node.js with Flutter for Product Development

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a UI framework released rather recently, in 2017. As defined on its website, it's an open-source framework by Google. It allows building beautiful, natively compiled, multi-platform applications from a single codebase”. This framework is fast, reliable, productive, and flexible. Flutter’s features include simplified and agile development, native-like performance, and cross-platform development. Some companies that use Flutter include eBay, Google, Groupon, and BMW.

What is Flutter used for?

We mentioned that Flutter is cross-platform, which opens the door to endless possibilities. This brings us to many new developers' question: can Flutter be used for the web? Yes! Flutter can definitely be used for the web. It's ideal for web applications such as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) or Single-Page Apps (SPAs).

1. eCommerce. Groupon decided to integrate Flutter with its existing solution. Further, eBay chose it to build eBay Motors due to its awesome UI and faster development.

2. Finance. Nubank is a mobile-first fintech startup. It chose Flutter for its digital savings account due to its speed and efficiency. Birch Finance, Cryptomaniac Pro, and Platypus Crypto are also developed with Flutter.

3. Streaming. Google uses Flutter for many of its products. One of these is Google Stadia, a streaming platform for gamers.

4. Augmented Reality. Flutter is no stranger to Augmented Reality (AR). Moreover, it was used to develop this Wallace & Gromit game called The Bix Fix Up. The developers thought Flutter was the perfect tool for it. It allowed them to use various media and integrate real-time storytelling components.

5. Health and Fitness. Quite a few Health and Fitness apps have banked on Flutter. Reflectly, a journal and AI diary, was rewritten in Flutter. As a result, it was readily available for both iOS and Android. Popular meditation apps like Insight Timer and Coach Yourself are also built with Flutter.

Why is Flutter used?

Flutter is a highly useful framework for app development since it eliminates the need to write separate codebases for different platforms. Powered by Dart, a language optimized for fast app development, Flutter enables developers to create mobile, web, and desktop apps easily. 

The framework comes with rich libraries, and its custom widgets make app development cost-effective and faster. Moreover, the large community of Flutter developers provides many resources and support. Flutter also offers faster development and testing with hot reload while being supported by several IDEs.

Node.js with Flutter for Product Development

Why use Node.js with Flutter?

Flutter can run in any browser. This means Node.js may not be the obvious choice for a runtime environment in this case. Yet, Node.js can handle a large number of simple requests. Also, it makes it possible to write both the front and back-end in JavaScript. As a result, it's accessible to most developers. Now, look at what you can do when these two tools join forces!

1. Minimal Client-Server Interaction

Starting with the basics, you can have Node.js and Flutter interacting as the server and the client. You must install and set up Node.js for your server app using your editor of choice. Then, you’ll set up a Flutter app to test the server.

2. Real-Time Chat Apps

Instant messaging is a popular way to communicate. You have most likely used a real-time messaging app such as WhatsApp or Messenger. You can combine Node.js, Flutter, and the Socket.IO library to build a real-time chat app. To do this, you must set up Node.js for your server (remember to install the Socket.IO package). Further, Flutter will serve your client side. For this, you should remember to add and initialize the Socket.IO client package. You can also use a Node.js REST API backend to authenticate users from a Flutter app.

3. Create Blog Apps

This is another type of app that can combine Node.js and Flutter. In this scenario, you'll use Flutter for UI Development and Node.js for creating the Rest API. Once you've created the Rest API, you'll need to connect it with the Flutter app. This blend will allow you to communicate between the two and ensure that your app is functioning properly. The MongoDB Atlas Server adds the final touch to the stack. By using MongoDB, you can ensure that your app is secure, scalable, and reliable.

Node.js with Flutter for Product Development

Conclusion

Node.js and Flutter are both outstanding development tools in their own right. They have countless features that make the development process more efficient. Not to mention, both have incredible communities behind them. These communities are more than willing to share resources and offer support. Unsurprisingly, they can also provide some excellent results when working together. If you haven’t combined these tools before, we hope this article has sparked some curiosity!