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FlutterFlow vs Flutter: A comparison for 2024

FlutterFlow vs Flutter: A comparison for 2024

Ever wondered about the differences between Flutter and FlutterFlow? The shared part of their names might have sparked some curiosity, maybe even a touch of confusion.

In this article, we'll dissect both Flutter and FlutterFlow, exploring their roles in app development.  We'll cover the fundamentals, the unique features each brings to the table, and how they fit into the bigger picture of crafting applications. Ready to learn more about the world of Flutter and FlutterFlow? Let's dive in.

TL;DR

Flutter is an open-source UI toolkit for building natively compiled applications, offering extensive customization through coding. On the flip side, FlutterFlow is a no-code platform simplifying app development with a visual interface, allowing drag-and-drop design. While Flutter provides granular control and is ideal for complex projects, FlutterFlow's strength lies in rapid prototyping and user-friendly design without manual coding.

Overview

What is Flutter?

Flutter is an open-source UI software development toolkit created by Google and launched in 2017. But what exactly is a development kit? Flutterflow is a framework that includes tools, libraries, and resources that aid developers in building user interfaces (UIs) that can run on various platforms, including mobile, web, and desktop. Using the Dart programming language, Flutter facilitates the creation of visually stunning and performant applications.

While Flutter uses Dart, writing Dart code from scratch doesn't inherently imply using Flutter. Dart is a general-purpose programming language that can be employed for various applications, including server-side development. 

When you're developing with Flutter, you're not just writing Dart code; you're using the Flutter framework to create a user interface and manage the application's lifecycle. Flutter extends Dart, providing a reactive framework for building UIs, complete with a rich set of pre-designed widgets and a hot reload feature that accelerates the development cycle.

What is Flutterflow?

Flutterflow is a no-code platform designed to simplify the app development process. It is built on top of Flutter, so it takes advantage of all its capabilities while offering a visual interface for designing and developing applications without traditional coding

What are their main differences?

The development approach

The fundamental distinction between Flutter and Flutterflow lies in their development approaches. Flutter follows a traditional coding approach, where developers write code to define the app's behavior, appearance, and functionality. 

In contrast, Flutterflow is a platform for no-code development. As the name suggests, in no-code development, users can design and build applications without the need for manual coding. Instead, users arrange pre-built components, such as buttons, forms, and interactive elements, to define the structure and functionality of their applications.

The process extends beyond mere visual design; it includes the creation of workflows. No-code platforms often feature a workflow builder where users can define the logic and sequence of actions within their applications. This can involve specifying what happens when a button is clicked, setting up data connections, or establishing conditional behaviors. 

The platform then automatically translates these actions and generates the underlying code. And this is where Flutterflow and Flutter cross paths: everything you build in Flutterflow will translate into clean, Flutter code.

The speed

No-code platforms like Flutterflow inherently offer a quicker development process. With pre-built components and simplified workflows, users can swiftly piece together an application without delving into intricate code structures. Flutter, while powerful, requires developers to write and debug code, which can extend the development timeline.

The control you get

The level of control over the codebase represents another significant difference. Flutter allows developers to have granular control over every aspect of their application. This includes fine-tuning performance, implementing custom features, and optimizing for specific devices. In contrast, Flutterflow's no-code approach sacrifices some of this granular control in favor of simplicity. While it provides a user-friendly environment, there might be limitations in customization for advanced scenarios. We’ll cover the best use cases for each approach later on.

Flutterflow and Flutter working together

So, we stated that FlutterFlow generates clean and readable code that follows the best practices of Flutter development. You can also download the code at any time and tweak it in your preferred Integrated Development Environment (IDE) or code editor. What practical benefits does this feature offer?

  • Enhancing an existing Flutter project with FlutterFlow:

Consider this scenario: You've got a Flutter project and want a better-looking UI, but you're not keen on spending too much time coding. FlutterFlow can be the perfect fix. Use its drag-and-drop interface to create UI components and animations. Once you're happy, you can export that refined UI code straight into your existing Flutter project. 

  • Transitioning from FlutterFlow to full Flutter development:

On the flip side, if you've kickstarted your project in FlutterFlow and now wish to dive deeper into the full capabilities of Flutter and Dart, you have the freedom to do so. After exporting the code, you can continue developing on an IDE editor, and access the complete suite of Flutter's features for further development and customization outside the FlutterFlow environment.

Something important to note: the download code feature is exclusively available to users with at least a "standard" plan subscription on FlutterFlow. Also, it's a one-way street – once you've taken your project out of FlutterFlow, there's no turning back. 

FlutterFlow doesn't currently allow the import of edited Flutter code back into its environment, so plan your steps wisely. Also, getting out of Flutterflow might not be necessary at all if you consider you can add custom code to include more complex features. Let’s dive into that:

  • Advanced features adding custom code to FlutterFlow

FlutterFlow allows developers to introduce complex features beyond its in-built capabilities. By integrating Flutter code into the main.dart file, developers can tailor specific functionalities and customize their apps without the need to download and modify the entire project.

Of course, be mindful that this requires a solid understanding of Dart and coding experience to ensure a smooth and effective implementation. But it’s good to know that, at the end of the day, Flutterflow allows for a powerful hybrid approach, combining its simplicity with the tailored precision of coding. 

Our developers can get the most out of Flutterflow for your project. Learn more about our services!

Maintenance and costs

When adopting Flutter for traditional coding, the costs and maintenance considerations unfold over an extended timeline. Initial development costs may include hiring skilled developers proficient in Dart, the language used with Flutter. While this incurs an upfront investment, the long-term benefits include the ability to tailor every aspect of the application to meet specific requirements.

Maintenance costs with Flutter often involve periodic updates, ensuring compatibility with evolving operating systems and devices. Additionally, if your application undergoes significant feature enhancements or expansions, ongoing development costs can accrue.

The price of developers, in the long run, can fluctuate, especially considering the market demand for skilled Flutter developers. As your application matures, continuity in developer expertise becomes crucial, potentially affecting costs associated with team retention and knowledge transfer.

With Flutterflow's no-code paradigm, costs are streamlined and focused on a subscription-based model. The platform's subscription fee becomes a predictable aspect of your budget, offering a clear understanding of ongoing expenditures.

Maintenance, security, and updates are handled by the Flutterflow platform, reducing the burden on individual development teams. This not only ensures a more secure environment but also alleviates the need for dedicated resources to manage routine maintenance tasks.

The speed of development is a key cost-saving aspect of Flutterflow. Rapid development cycles mean quicker time-to-market, allowing you to iterate on your product efficiently. The platform provides a set of features out of the box, minimizing the need for extensive custom coding and further expediting the development process. In essence, while Flutter may require a more substantial initial investment and ongoing development costs, Flutterflow's subscription model offers cost predictability.

Learn more: Flutterflow security: A Review and best practices

When should you use Flutter, and when should you use Flutterflow?

Both Flutter and Flutterflow will shine if used for the right use case. So, you should choose which one to use with the specific requirements of your project in mind.

Use cases for Flutterflow

  • User-friendly applications: When the primary focus is on creating user-friendly applications with a smooth and intuitive interface, Flutterflow is perfect. With its visual design and pre-made components, it simplifies the process, ensuring a clean and intuitive UI for your app.
  • Efficient workflow automation: Flutterflow is well-suited for applications that heavily rely on workflow automation. The platform's no-code workflow builder simplifies the process of defining logic and sequences of actions, making it an excellent choice for applications with complex but standardized workflows. It also integrates with Make and Zapier, which offer quick solutions to connect services and automate processes.
  • Rapid prototyping and MVPs: Flutterflow is particularly advantageous for rapid prototyping and building Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). Its no-code approach enables quick ideation and testing of concepts without the need for extensive coding, making it ideal for projects with tight timelines.

Want to see what a Flutterflow app looks like? Check out Toycyle, an MVP we built at LowCode Agency!

Use cases for Flutter

  • Highly customized applications: Flutter is the go-to choice when your project demands a high level of customization. If you need precise control over every aspect of your application's behavior, appearance, and performance, Flutter's traditional coding approach provides the flexibility required for intricate customization.
  • Performance-critical apps: For applications where performance is paramount, such as graphics-intensive games or applications with complex animations, Flutter's direct control over the code allows developers to fine-tune performance and optimize for specific devices.
  • Cross-platform development: If your goal is to create a single codebase that can run seamlessly on multiple platforms, including mobile, web, and desktop, Flutter excels in cross-platform development.

Conclusion

FlutterFlow has undergone remarkable growth, evolving into a comprehensive platform that enables developers to create sophisticated apps efficiently. Its no-code approach and variety of pre-built third-party integrations speed up development, removing the need to start from scratch.

The ability to integrate custom code adds more adaptability to the platform and makes it possible to create very complex apps. FlutterFlow has proven to be a dynamic force that encourages innovation and creativity. 

Flutter is a wonderful option for complex projects since it provides a great deal of customization and control. However, as we’ve seen, Flutter and FlutterFlow can be complementary rather than competitive. 

Do you have an exciting project in mind? Schedule a call now for a detailed quote and let's bring your vision to life.

FAQs

Can I export code from FlutterFlow and use it in a Flutter project?

Is FlutterFlow's download code feature available for all users?

What are the benefits of using FlutterFlow for app development?

Can I incorporate custom code in FlutterFlow?