Flutter Forward 2023 Recap

What exciting news has been announced at Flutter Forward 2023? Read about it here!

What is Flutter Forward?

Flutter is a popular open-source mobile app development framework created by Google. It is used to develop Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and web applications.

Flutter Forward is Google's official event to set up Flutter's story arcs for the coming years. During this event, many exciting new features were demonstrated that are still works in progress but exciting nonetheless. Flutter Forward was hosted in Nairobi, Kenya, and it is one of the first world-class product launches in East Africa.

17 Days of Flutter

The last 17 days have been a fantastic rollercoaster for Flutter content. The well-beloved Dash is featured in many adventures, such as building a game with Flutter and Flame and being tested on by the community in the doodle dash challenge!

Flutter Forward Schedule

06:30 - 07:00 Flutter Keynote Pre-Show

With John Ryan, Developer Relations Engineer for Flutter & Dart, and Kate Lovett, Software Engineer for the Flutter Framework.

07:00 - 08:00 Flutter Keynote Presentation


Tim Sneath, Product & UX Director for Flutter & Dart.

Leigha Jarett, Product Manager for Flutter.

Ander Dobo, Product Manager for Flutter.

Michael Thomsen, Product Manager for Dart.

08:00 - 08:30 #AskFlutter Live

A live Q&A with leaders from Dart, Flutter, and Firebase.

With John Ryan, Developer Relations Engineer for Flutter & Dart, and Kate Lovett, Software Engineer for the Flutter Framework.

Flutter Forward Keynote Presentation

Tim Sneath, VP of developer relations for Flutter, took the stage to share a few words about this incredible technology. With Flutter, developers can now build web, mobile, and desktop applications with one single codebase. This is made possible through its five core pillars: Beautiful, Fast, Productive, Portable, and Open. It currently has production support for six platforms: Android, IOS, web, windows, macOS, Linux, and embedded. Now with over 5 million flutter developers who have experienced the technology and 700k+ apps launched using it makes, it is one of the top 3 projects on GitHub by contributors.

Flutter 3.7 has brought with it many exciting new features! It offers enhanced support for Material 3, enabling developers to craft beautiful user interfaces. With Adaptive Layout, apps can automatically adjust their layout to fit any device size. Users can now access menu bars and cascading menus for all sorts of UI customizations. Impeller preview is also available in iOS versions of the app, and a new tool allows for validation upon release for iOS apps. Finally, DevTools have been improved with several updates and improvements.

At the Flutter + Firebase section, Eric Windmill talked about how to build authentication into an App using Firebase. This is made easy through Firebase, which enables developers to quickly and efficiently implement auth in Flutter. 

Abel Mengistu from Flutterflow took the stage and showed developers how to quickly and easily create applications with Flutter. Flutterflow offers integrations that simplify building apps with a few clicks, eliminating the need for tedious coding. Moreover, its generated code is extremely clean and easy to read, ensuring users can start creating their apps immediately.

In the second half of 2020, the PUBG mobile team sought a cross-platform framework to handle their in-game communication module needs. After some research, they realized that Flutter would provide them with the performance they needed and the ease of use offered by Dart made it a perfect fit. With Flutter, they quickly got up and running on their app project and have seen success ever since.

Google has embraced the power of Flutter for many of its app-building needs. Notable apps, such as Google Classroom and other educational tools, have seen massive leaps in user engagement with Flutter's help. Product Manager Sofie Cornelis cites the ability to share 98% of code between platforms, reduce code size by 66%, and use hot reloads that reduce update time from minutes to seconds as key factors for their high growth rate.

Michael Thomsen announced and discussed the powerful features of Dart 3a. New language features such as records and patterns make Dart more responsive, with a new type of built-in collection able to return multiple types. Sound Null safety provides better trust between compilers and types, allowing for faster code that is now down to only three instructions in Dart 3 compared to 26 in Dart 1. High portability is also strengthened with experimental support for WebAssembly and  RISC-V. We expect Dart 3 stable to launch later this year.

Tim Sneath further discussed Flutter Web and its implementation with CanvasKit and WebAssembly. Unlike general-purpose frameworks such as Angular or React, Flutter is architecturally designed around these new standards. It provides a great example of this in the form of the Rive editor, which is one of the first things built on the web for Flutter. To improve performance on the web, improvements are made, such as CanvasKit reductions, redacted font sizes, and deferred loading. Furthermore, Tim Sneath showcased how a master channel and custom CanvasKit can reduce load times by up to 40%.

WebAssembly support for compiling Flutter to the web makes element embedding possible. By taking Dart and Flutter code and compiling it into a div, it can be used as a web component where the Flutter state can be pushed to the Javascript side and vice versa, with both states affecting each other. CSS effects such as shadows, resizing, and device modes are also achievable with live changes to the Flutter section of the web app being made available. Pixel shaders allow low-level functions to be run on GPU for high-end effects that can now be used on the web, giving more power to Flutter for creating attractive designs.

Leigha Jarett's mobile section presentation included several new features, such as improved text input, support for foldable devices, support for variable refresh rate, simplified the release process, enhanced developer tooling, and improving performance. The Flutter News Toolkit is now available to create high-quality news apps quickly and is set to save 80% of developer time. Wonderous, a Flutter reference app, has also been updated with an adaptive design for all screen sizes. It's now possible to call different mobile APIs directly from Dart, such as HealthConnectClient from Android and CMPedometor from iOS, thanks to the new FFigen & Jnigen tool that can create and handle 'bindings' in Flutter and can auto-generate code that calls different APIs from different platforms.

Impeller is the next breakthrough in graphics performance and offers an optimal solution for eliminating shader compilation jank. Impeller increases the smoothness and performance of the graphic engine significantly when compared to Skia, and its new capabilities enable other use cases, such as 3D and animations. Leigha showcased this capability by painting a 3D dash in Flutter using Blender, which can now be changed, and these changes can be seen in real-time through hot reload. Additionally, animations can be added and shown using hot reload. Impeller efficiently handled over 343 animated Dashes with over 10.000 moving animated joints.

Want to know more about Flutter and Flutter Forward?

That was it for the Flutter Forward Keynote Presentation; as the event was quite exciting and significant, we might have missed some information. Be sure to check out the official content and the detailed newly released on-demand content here!

Watch the recording of the full event here.

Pictures provided by flutter.dev.