While Flutter first made its name for making it easy to create apps for iOS and Android, the app development framework has since grown to become the massively cross-platform epitome of “write once, run anywhere.” The latest improvement to Flutter makes it easy to create apps for Windows computers.
At launch, Flutter solely supported creating apps for Android and iOS, with a particular focus on mobile devices. In the years since then, Flutter has massively expanded its reach with support for creating apps for the web, embedded platforms, macOS, and most recently Linux. The only remaining major platform for Flutter, which Google has teased once before, is Windows.
Today, the Flutter team is launching Flutter for Windows Alpha which can build standard .exe files — and the supporting libraries — to be run on PCs as far back as Windows 7, all the way through Windows 10. More importantly, just like Flutter’s other platforms, you can use the exact same Dart code for your Android/iOS app as you do for Windows and every other desktop platform.
To get started with Flutter for Windows, you just need to switch to Flutter’s “dev” update channel, enable building for Windows, and set up your project with the necessary files, all of which is fairly easy to do from the command prompt. Google has also included instructions for exactly which files to zip up to send your Windows app to other computers.
Of course, the real benefits of putting your Flutter app onto a desktop platform like Windows — as opposed to just relying on a web app — are using the built-in capabilities that Windows has to offer and the ability to use existing third-party desktop libraries. On that front, the Flutter team’s Tim Sneath has been hard at work on a library to make some of the most common tasks of Windows apps easy to use from Flutter’s Dart code.
To show off the potential of Flutter on Windows, Google has included a showcase of open source example apps including Flokk — a Google Contacts managing app — and a revamped Flutter Gallery built with desktop in mind.
For now, Windows apps built with Flutter are based on the classic Win32 API platform making the apps compatible with most Windows computers, but looking ahead the team has plans to support Microsoft’s newer UWP platform used by Windows 10 as well as Xbox One. In fact, an experimental UWP based version of Flutter Gallery is available on the Windows Store now, complete with support for Xbox One.
More on Flutter:
- Google Pay (Tez) gets Flutter rewrite that will serve as global foundation
- Flutter SDK 1.20 brings autofill support, updated Material UI, more
- Google and Canonical partner to bring Linux apps support to Flutter
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