Improving mobile app development

Flutter 1.17 and Dart 2.8: New packagement tool & improvements

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / LedyX

The newest releases for Flutter and Dart are here. Flutter works on performance improvements and Dart includes a new package management tool. This is the first stable release of Flutter in 2020, so let’s see what it and Dart add.

The newest release of the Dart SDK, version 2.8 was announced on May 6, 2020. It, alongside Flutter 1.17 are both now available.

Dart and Flutter go hand-in-hand. In 2019, GitHub’s State of the Octoverse named Dart the fastest-growing language according to the number of contributors, partly due in fact to the popularity of the Flutter framework.

This is the first stable release of Flutter in 2020, so let’s see what it contains and what Dart added in the update.

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Flutter 1.17

This Flutter release focuses mainly on fixing a large number of bugs for improved performance and stable user experience.

According to the announcement by Chris Sells, in 2020 the Flutter community fixed roughly 800 issues, with over 3,000 pull requests and 231 contributors.

Furthermore, Flutter’s update improves mobile performance with a speed-up of up to 37% for the default navigation case. It also reduces CPU/GPU usage during iOS animations by up to 40%.

The size of applications has also been reduced, as well as new memory reductions during fast scrolling through large images.

Support for Apple’s Metal on iOS improves up to 50% on devices that fully support it. (See the FAQ for Metal and Flutter.)

Additional Flutter changes

Besides performance improvements, 1.17 sees a long list of changes, including:

  • New and improved Material widgets. 1.17 adds the NavigationRail widget, which is used for responsive app navigation tools and excels in apps that can easily switch mobile and desktop forms.
  • Updates to the Material DatePicker includes new visuals and a new text input mode.
  • New Google Fonts added for easy implementation into apps.
  • An update for the TextThemeAPI completes the Type Scale portion of the 2018 Material Design specification, powered by Google Fonts.
  • Various accessibility improvements. See the full list of closed issues on GitHub.
  • For those developers targeting Android, AndroidX is now the only option when creating a new project.
  • Support added for an experimental “fast start” option when targeting Android.

See the full changelog for Flutter 1.17.

Dart 2.8

Developed by Google, Dart is an open source, client-optimized language. It compiles to JavaScript for the web or to ARM and x64 machine code for mobile, desktop, and backend.

Work on null safety continues in Dart 2.8. The upcoming feature is currently not fully stable, but a few small breaking changes to the language and some libraries have been made in preparation for it.

See the list of breaking changes here on GitHub.

You can test out the null safety feature in the in-browser playground DartPad.

SEE ALSO: 7 JVM arguments of highly effective applications

Pub outdated

A new tool arrives in Dart 2.8 for managing the package ecosystem. Pub outdated automatically checks your dependencies and determines which require an update. It will maintain the health of your dependencies and keep them up to date.

The tool also receives performance improvements and supports parallel package fetching when running pub get . Dart 2.8 also speeds up the time it takes to run flutter pub get on a new project.

Review the new tool and see an example of how to use it in the documentation.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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