Google and Ubuntu-maker Canonical have teamed up to bring desktop Linux support to Flutter, enabling developers to build apps for Linux desktops, starting with Ubuntu through Canonical’s app store.
Flutter is Google’s UI framework for building iOS, Android, Fuchsia, the web and now more desktop apps. The promise of Flutter is that developers can target multiple platforms with a single code base.
Developers have been able to use Google’s Flutter UI framework on Linux hardware to build apps for iOS and Android, but now developers can also use Flutter to create Linux apps and distribute them on Canonical’s Snap Store.
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“By enabling desktop Linux support in Flutter, Canonical is making it very easy for application developers to publish their apps for Linux users via the Snap Store, the app store for Linux,” Google’s Chris Sells and Canonical’s Ken VanDine said in a joint blogpost.
“By making Linux a first-class Flutter platform, Canonical is inviting application developers to publish their apps to millions of Linux users and broaden the availability of high-quality applications available to them.”
That’s a win for both Google and Canonical. Google gets more apps built with Flutter and Canonical hopefully can bring more high-quality Linux apps to the Snap Store.
Desktop Linux support in Flutter is the next phase of expansion for Google’s cross-platform UI framework, which started out targeting only mobile devices, but is now expanding to the desktop.
Last May, Google announced Flutter’s expansion from mobile to desktop platforms, though desktop is still in technical preview and it kicked off with a macOS alpha, allowing developers to compile Flutter source code to a native desktop app for macOS. Linux support in Flutter is also in alpha.
Windows support in Flutter is yet to arrive, but the Flutter team are working to ensure developers will be able to target Microsoft’s Android Surface Duo smartphone and Windows 10X, as well as create Win32 apps.
Recent work to prepare Flutter for desktop targets includes refactoring Flutter’s engine to support mouse and keyboard input, and enabling resizable top-level windows.
Canonical says it is backing Flutter with a team of developers who will work with Google’s developers to bring the Flutter experience to most Linux distributions.
Canonical will also collaborate with Google to improve Linux support and maintain feature parity with the other supported platforms.
According to the pair, Canonical was attracted to Flutter because of its fast-growing population of application developers, optimized native applications, its support for widgets, and editor support from VS Code, Android Studio and IntelliJ.
According to the Flutter team, about 500,000 developers use Flutter each month. Now there are 80,000 Flutter-built Android apps in the Google Play store, up from 50,000 apps in April.