Google’s Flutter showcases new graphics capabilities, WebAssembly and RISC-V support
Flutter, Google’s open-source framework for building multi-platform apps for mobile, web and desktop, is hosting its Flutter Forward event in Nairobi, Kenya today. As the name implies, the team is using the event to showcase up-and-coming features of the framework — most of which are still very early in their development cycle. The main highlights here are massively improved graphics performance, the ability to more easily embed Flutter code into existing web and mobile apps, and support for new architectures like Web Assembly and RISC-V. Virtually all of these capabilities still sit in canary branches and behind experiment flags, but they do show where Google plans to take this project in the months ahead — and help the overall open-source ecosystem around it understand where some complimentary work could be useful (about 40% of contributors to Flutter are outside of Google).
Tim Sneath, Google’s director of product and UX for Flutter and the Dart programming language, told me that the team decided to completely rewrite Impeller, Flutter’s rendering runtime. This new version aims to fix some of the existing glitches of the previous engine but also greatly improves performance — all while still offering support for hot reloads and other core Flutter features. “It’s such a different sort of experience. It’s just so silky smooth,” he said. “Essentially, we’re able to build a graphics rendering engine that’s tailored for Flutter rather than leveraging a general-purpose renderer.”