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Google Taps VS Code for Flutter Mobile SDK, Dart Programming Language

Visual Studio Code, ever growing in popularity and flexibility, has been named by Google as a first-class code editor for working with the company's Flutter SDK and Dart programming language for mobile development.

Among the plethora of news emanating from this week's Google I/O conference was the announcment of the third beta of Flutter, the company's mobile SDK for building iOS and Android apps using the company's homegrown Dart programming language.

"Visual Studio Code is now fully supported as a first-class development tool, with a dedicated Flutter extension," the company said in a blog post.

That Flutter extension in the Visual Studio Marketplace already has more than 10,000 installs, promising "support for effectively editing, refactoring, running, and reloading Flutter mobile apps, as well as support for the Dart programming language." So far, it has a perfect 5.0 rating from three developer reviewers.

It joins the existing Dart extension, which has been installed more than 252,000 times, earning a nearly perfect 4.9 rating from 20 developers.

Seeking a new approach to mobile app development, Google earlier this year rebooted its Dart programming language in the preview of Dart 2, focusing on new features for client-side development.

In the Flutter approach, those UIs are built from a single codebase, compiled directly to native ARM code, leverage GPUs, and can access native platform APIs and services.

According to Google, this is a much-needed, new way forward for mobile development.

"We believe mobile development needs an upgrade," the company said this week. "All too often, developers are forced to compromise between quality and productivity: either building the same application twice on both iOS and Android, or settling for a cross-platform solution that makes it hard to deliver the native experience that customers demand. This is why we built Flutter: to offer a new path for mobile development, focused foremost on native performance, advanced visuals, and dramatically improving developer velocity and productivity."

Enhancements to Flutter are explored in detail in a Medium post by Tim Sneath.

He said the new release focused on three primary areas: fundamentals, ecosystem and tooling.

Going forward to the 1.0 release, Google said the focus is on specific areas such as performance and size; compatibility; and its ecosystem.

"Like every software project, the trade-offs are between time, quality and features," Google said. "We are targeting a 1.0 release within the next year, but we will continue to adjust the schedule as necessary. As we're an open source project, our open issues are public and work scheduled for upcoming milestones can be viewed on our GitHub repo at any time."

For the time being, Google has published guidance for configuring VS Code to work with Flutter, whose development can also be done via plug-ins for Android Studio and IntelliJ.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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