Flutter with Firestore: Mobile App using Real Time and Auto Sync Database

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Flutter is a UI toolkit for building applications for mobile, web and desktop from a single codebase. It is developed by Google.

We can use Rest API to process data in Flutter. Also, there is some database by which we can connect directly from the app. Cloud Firestore is one of them. We will discuss how can we connect our Flutter app with Cloud Firestore and some of its awesome features in this blog.

Cloud Firestore

Firebase comes up with a more advanced version of it which is called Cloud Firestore. It is also a NoSQL Database with a realtime feature. The difference with Firebase is its structure of data storage. Usually, realtime databases stores data in JSON tree. But in Cloud Firestore, it stores as a collection. On collection, It can have any number of Documents; these documents contain data. 

Cloud Firstore with Flutter 

There is a package cloud_firestore for a flutter. From https://pub.dev/, get the package to the Flutter project. 

Using the Firebase Console, add an android app to the project and then follow the steps. And, download the google-services.json file and place it inside android/app after that modify the android/build.gradle file and the android/app/build.gradle file to add the Google services plugin as described by the Firebase assistant. 

The detailed documentation you will find from here https://pub.dev/packages/cloud_firestore.

After connecting the Cloud Firestore to the app, we can create, read and update the database from the app.

Features of Cloud Firestore

1. Stores data as collections of documents.
  • Simple data is easy to store in documents, which are very similar to JSON.
  • Complex, hierarchical data is easier to organize at scale, using sub-collections within documents.
  • Requires less denormalization and data flattening.

2. Offline Support
  • You can use the database as offline. There is no need to worry about other things. The firestore package will handle it. When the database is connected to the internet, it will automatically sync with the firestore database. And, if the database is changed by others, the app will update it’s UI according to new data in real-time.

3. Reliability and Performance
  • Cloud Firestore is a multi-region solution that scales automatically.

4. Scaling
  • It automatically scales the database. Currently, the limits are around 1 million concurrent connections and 10,000 writes/second.

Cloud Firestore is a fast, fully managed, serverless document database that simplifies it to store, sync, and query data for mobile, web and IoT apps at a global scale.

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Flutter is developed using the Dart language. It is a Google’s UI toolkit to develop beautiful native applications for mobile, web and desktops. It was first unveiled in 2015 at the Dart Developer Summit that was a beta version for a while. Then Google officially released its 1.0 version in December 2018.

Though Flutter is around since 2015, the buzz around it has grown stronger only lately. Flutter is developed using Dart, which is a simple object-oriented programming language.

A developer may choose between these options. One is building the same app for different operating systems using different technology. Another one is to accept a solution which gives a single app for multiple operating systems with accuracy and speed. With Flutter we have a solution for this. 

Characteristics of Flutter

  1. Creating beautiful apps.
  2. Flutter is more productive. Test your app real-time using hot reload.
  3. It is fast because of the Dart language.
  4. Flutter is, of course, Open Source.
  5. Animations are very easy to develop in Flutter.
  6. Reusable widgets. Developing a widget once and use it anywhere.

As a cross-platform framework, Flutter has some similarities with React Native as it allows the reactive and declarative style of programming. However, Flutter does not require JavaScript, which improves app startup times and performances. Dart achieves this by using Ahead-Of-Time or AOT compilation. 

Flutter VS React Native

Flutter vs React Native
  • React Native uses JavaScript and Flutter uses Dart language. Dart is a strong mixture of Javascript and Java. For a web developer who already knows JavaScript, it is easy to integrate with React Native.

  • React Native has some number of built-in components. Equivalently it is called widget in Flutter, and there are a lot more widgets in Flutter that components in React Native.

  • React Native has been around for longer than Flutter. React Native has a richer ecosystem as a result. It also can use some JavaScript libraries which is out of the box feature.

  • Both frameworks are fast enough to satisfy users. But there is an interesting difference in how both frameworks compile their code. React Native has some drawback here because JavaScript is not a well-written language.

In conclusion, Flutter is very young. A lot of positive feedback is coming from developers. Google seems to push it more, and its popularity is increasing as a result. 

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