Google, on August 5, 2020 has launched a version of Flutter 1.20 Stable. In the previous release, Google introduced substantial performance improvements, improved support for Metal on ios and new material widgets. With the new biggest release, Flutter 1.20 has resolved 5485 issues and merged 3029 pull requests. Flutter 1.20 release had 359 contributors from across the world and among them 270 were from the flutter community. Flutter 1.20 stable release includes performance improvements, some UI enhancements, update to the visual studio code extension, autofill for mobile text fields and so on. Each new release of Flutter brings with it increased usage and momentum. Google boasts that, now there are more than 90,000 apps developed with Google Play, which was 50,000 till April. And most of the growth comes from India, which is now the top region for Flutter developers, Google says.
Let’s have a look at the new features and updates of flutter 1.20.
What’s New in Flutter 1.20? Updates & Features-
Performance Improvements For Flutter And Dart-
- Google Flutter 1.20 is improved with a performance fix for tree-shake-icons which are default when building non web apps and reduce the size of your app by removing icons that are not used. Icon font tree shaking is currently restricted to True Type Fonts but can be lifted in the future.
- Janky animations can affect the overall app. It appears negatively in the first run due to a shady compilation jank. With new Skia Shading Language Shader warm-up, the shader compilation jank can be reduced by 2 times.
- Flutter has improved mouse hit testing’s performance in web-based micro-benchmark by 15 times. As a result, Google has been able to add support for mouse cursors which will display in various commonly used widgets.
- Along with all these improvements, Google also enhanced the decoding speed and time of Dart’s UTF-8 Decoder. In UTF-8 decoding benchmarks, the company ahs measured improvements of nearly 200% for english text and 400% for chinese text on low-end ARM devices.
1. Autofill for mobile text fields-
One of the most requested features among developers is text autofill in Flutter apps. With the new Flutter 1.20 release, basic autofill functionality has been added. Now you do not need to ask your users to fill the data again that the OS has already collected. The text autofill feature is also brought for web apps too.
2. Interactive viewer widget-
Another new feature in Flutter 1.20 is interactive viewer. This new widget is designed to build interactive elements in your app like pan, zoom, drag ‘n’ drop and so on. The feature takes boundary margin, minScale, maxScale and any type of child property on which transformation is performed. Put your cursor on the property and you can drag n drop, zoom in out using the cursor.
3. Updated DatePicker, TimePicker, RangeSlider, And Material Slider-
This new release includes many updated widgets to match the latest material guidelines. These include Slider and RangeSlider. DatePicker has been updated to include a new compact design as well as support for date ranges. And TimePicker has a completely new style.
4. New pubspec format for publishing plugins-
The pubspec.yaml has been removed in Flutter 1.20. So now you’ve to adopt the new pubspec.yaml format to update or publish new plugin. The old format did not support specifying which platforms your plugins support, and has been deprecated since Flutter 1.12. The new pubspec.yaml format is now required for publishing new or updated plugins.
For clients of plugins, the tools understand the old pubspec format and will for the foreseeable future. Existing plugins on pub.dev using the legacy pubspec.yaml format will work as usual with Flutter apps for the foreseeable future.
5. Tooling metadata for all tool builders-
This is an update in Flutter 1.20 for developers creating flutter tooling. They have released a complete catalog of metadata for a 395 widgets. For every single widget there are parents, libraries and descriptions available in the Catalog and one icon metadata for material and cupertino icons. Icon metadata includes color mapping, values of the color and icon names and previews as well.
6. Typesafe platform channels for platform interop-
Because of increasing demand from Pigeon authors, google is experimenting the making communication between flutter and host platforms simpler and more secure for Add-to-App and plugins. To fulfill this need google has created Pigeon, a command line tool which uses Dart syntax to generate type-safe messaging code on top of platform channels without including extra runtime dependencies.
With Pigeon, rather than manually matching method strings on platform channels and serializing arguments, you can call Kotlin/Swift/Objective-C/Java class methods and pass non-primitive data objects by directly calling Dart methods. Pigeon is mature enough that we can use it in video_player plugin.
7. Mouse cursor support-
Mouse cursor for desktop is one of the upvoted features of Flutter 1.20. Now you’ll get better, faster and stronger hit testing using your mouse cursor.
8. Updating import statements on file rename-
For visual studio code has a new feature- updating imports on rename. This new feature automatically updates import statements when files are renamed or removed. Right now, it just works for single files, but the support for multiple files will be announced soon.
9. Auto import change in VSCode-
Another improvement is support for auto import changes in Visual Studio Code. Means when you change the location of file from one folder to another, the import will automatically be changed.
Other important changes/updates-
Flutter 1.20 has lots of other new features and developer tools. These are some of few:
- support for automatically updating import statements when files are moved or renamed in Visual Studio Code; and more.
- an updated Flutter plugins
- a new responsive licenses page available from the AboutDialog
- a new pubspec.yaml format requirement for publishing
- an updated Network page in Dart DevTools with support for web socket profiling
These are some new features and updates from new release Flutter 1.20. There can be few others too. Google says that Flutter 1.20 is the framework’s biggest release yet and is still working on implementing sound null safety support, new versions of Ads, Maps and WebView plugins, tooling support and so on.
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