I’ve set myself a challenge to attend at least 3 meetups a month, which includes 1 I’ve never attended before. Click here to read about the other meetups I’ve attended this year.

Here is my progress so far:
Meetups attended in 2020: 7/36
New meetups attended in 2020: 3/12
(Last updated 10th March 2020)

Event:Worcester Source January Meetup
Date: 7:00pm Wednesday 29th January 2020
Hosts: Daniel Hollands
Location: The Kiln, Worcester
Talk: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Flutter
Presenter: Dave Brealey (@Laebrye)
Meetup Topic: Mobile UI Development
Website: https://www.worcestersource.club

When deciding which meet-ups to attend, prioritising ones most likely to advance my career seems like the most practical approach. However, I do feel it severely limits my chances of learning something new. One of the key reasons for taking on this meet-up challenge was to learn new things. This is why I’ve chosen not to limit myself to meet-ups that are software testing focused.

I’ve been attending the monthly Worcester Source meetup for just a few months now. This is a general ‘tech’ meetup, so the events aren’t usually focused on a particular topic. Since attending this meetup, I’ve been really impressed by the variety of topics that each session has covered.

The first talk I attended was on code and tool shaming by James Seconde. The second talk was by Jez Higgins about ARCHANGEL, a project involving the national archives and the way we store digital documents. Last weeks talk was about Flutter, a UI Mobile Development toolkit developed by google. All of these were completely new ideas, projects or tools that I’d never encountered before.

Another thing that I love about the Worcester Source meetup is that its named after the delicious and tangy ‘Worcestershire Sauce’. If you haven’t tried it before, I strongly recommend giving it a try……….no, this blog is not sponsored by Worcester Sauce.

An Introduction to UI Mobile Development

Mobile development isn’t something I’ve every really worked with before. As a software tester, most of my experience has involved desktop and web applications – although I do often have to test how web applications work on mobile devices. As a result, I’m unfamiliar with frameworks used in the development of mobile apps. Not only did this talk introduce one of these frameworks, but it also introduced mobile app development.

Flutter is an open source UI Mobile framework, developed by google and uses the Dart programming language. Its adaptive design allows it to be used on multiple platforms, developing applications for any screen or layout.

Flutter has a really useful hot reloading feature. As soon as a change is made, it can be immediately saved and run, and the mobile view is immediately updated. I find features like this extremely useful as it provides fast feedback regarding the state of the application, making it a lot easier to make speedy improvements.

This talk included a brilliant demonstration about how to create a basic mobile app with a counter that goes up or down depending on the button pressed. Dave made the development of this simple application look so easy that its made me want to give mobile app development a go. Another challenge for 2020 – I’d better make sure my list doesn’t get too long.

A quick prayer to the demo gods resulted in an informative demo that went off without a hitch

Challenges with Flutter

Despite his strong advocacy for the toolkit, Dave did highlight a few issues with the Flutter framework.

It is still considered ‘new’, meaning there are few best practice guidelines and some minor teething problems – a common issue with ‘new’ things. It has strong support from google, but the organisations history of ‘killing’ projects is a cause for concern.

Another issue is the lack of job availability, which might put off anyone hoping to build a career in mobile development. For those starting out, they might find other frameworks which are better supported and easier to pick up.

Despite these concerns, there is a growing flutter community with plenty of support for budding Flutter enthusiasts. Watch out for the blue hearts appearing on the twitter profiles of fellow advocates.

Resources

flutter.dev – includes a widget catalog, a ‘cookbook’ and guide to getting started
dart.dev – guide to the dart programming language
Udemy – Course for getting started with Flutter

Videos

Events

Flutter LDN meetup
Next event:
From ReactNative to Flutter & Design Engineering at Flutter Interact (Monday 17th February 2020, Google for startups campus, London)