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Hit the bullseye

Dart 2.1 offers improvements for mobile developers

Sarah Schlothauer
dart
© Shutterstock / Vintage Tone

Dart 2.1 is here! Have you been sleeping on this language? Dart offers new features and is perfect for mobile development. Since its 2.0 update, it’s been reworked and improved.

At the beginning of the year, Dart 2 arrived with major changes and helped reboot the language. It added mandatory strong mode and plenty of client-side improvements. 2.0 aimed to strengthen the language and develop the support for web and mobile frameworks. Now we welcome the next stage in development: Dart 2.1!

Google developers use Dart for apps on the web, iOS, and Android. It compiles to ARM and x86 code, and has a familiar syntax for C++, C#, and Java developers.

What does this update improve upon the language? Let’s also take a look at the bill of health: how has Dart been faring since its big 2.0 transformation?

What’s new in 2.1?

Announced on November 15th, version 2.1 is officially stable and ready to use.

The release announcement by Michael Thomsen highlights four new features:

  • Faster tools, smaller output
  • Compile-time type checking
  • Int to double value inference
  • New mixin syntax & support

SEE ALSO: Kiwi is a healthy dependency injection library for Dart and Flutter

Mixins? What are mixins? For newcomers, this helpful guide will shed the light on mixins and how they change in the newest 2.1 version. When writing Flutter apps, “mixins reuse a class’s code in multiple class hierarchies“. Now with the new release, mixins has a new keyword for defining classes. Mixins can also now extend other classes.

Other notable changes include:

  • Assorted bug fixes
  • Support for protocol buffers (protobuf)
  • Existing incorrect code now shows new errors that previously when undetected
  • dart:core now exports Future and Stream

The release also adds some time-shaving performance improvements and improved overhead. The cost of type checks has also been reduced, as well as code size and compile time for code running on the web. Future versions will continue to improve upon this performance.

Save your code! Be sure to examine the changelog for a few breaking changes.

The state of Dart

Despite its features, Dart is not a chart-topping language. However, the 2.0 rework changed the language for the better with its major improvements to client-side development. It is efficiently structured and holds steadfast to its two themes: “be consistent and be brief“.

Does it truly offer something different than other languages out there? Well, quite honestly, not necessarily.

SEE ALSO: Flutter developer survey: Documentation is key to Flutter’s success

Between heavy hitters such as JavaScript and TypeScript, many developers are looking over Dart and not finding a use for it that isn’t already covered. Its lack of adoption signifies that Dart just doesn’t fill any holes that another language doesn’t already cover.

However, language usage is often subjective and personal preference plays a large role. There are plenty of mobile developers who love the language, so if you are looking for something new it is worth a go. It might just hit the target.

What does Google use it for? The language is used for Google Adwords, so it’s likely that despite its small audience it isn’t going anywhere soon. Google’s internal customer support tool, internal sales tool, and internal marketing tool are also built with Dart.

Personally, we suggest using it for mobile development. When used along with Flutter, it is effective, quick, and fairly easy to learn (especially with experience in similar languages). Flutter may just be what keeps Dart relevant. The upcoming Flutter 1.0 release will come pre-packaged with Dart 2.1.

If you’ve tried it before the 2.0 release, give it another go and see how the latest features work. You can find the Dart SDK Archive here.

Share your Dart experience with us!

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is an assistant editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University in Long Branch, New Jersey and is currently enrolled at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany where she is working on her Masters. She lives in Frankfurt with her husband and cat.