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Show HN: InKino – An open-source movie app made with Flutter (github.com/roughike)
148 points by roughike on April 12, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments

How feasible is a dev setup with Flutter where one uses Emacs (or any other general purpose text editor like vi) for coding and the flutter cli for compiling and testing? I do have a couple app ideas, and I'd definitely prefer to avoid the IDEs when possible (especially Android Studio which just strangles my laptop); Flutter seems to fit that workflow, but has anybody got actual experience doing that?

I use Emacs, and I'm one of the lead contributors to Flutter. Hopefully that answers your question. :-)

We have various tools that can help you configure your setup without an IDE. For example, `flutter run` listens to SIGUSR1 to do a hot reload, `flutter analyze` has a flag to write the latest results to a file, etc.

I'm also a Flutter contributer and code entirely in vim. I use dart-vim-plugin for syntax highlighting and 'flutter analyze --watch' for live analysis.

If you're after code completion, vim-lsc plugin combined with dart_language_server should work.

[1] https://github.com/dart-lang/dart-vim-plugin

Yeah, that definitely motivates me :) Thanks!

I actually don't have any experience in that, but I think that you can absolutely do it. From what I understand, the IDEs just call the Flutter CLI and Dart analysis server, among other tools to get stuff done. From the top of my head, "flutter run", "flutter test", "flutter analyze", "flutter packages get" would be the commands you'd be using the most and could survive without using any IDEs. Of course you'd lose the autocompletion along with other IDE niceties, but I really believe that could be done. One thing is you might have to open XCode once to do the provisioning profile setup, but after that you should be good.

I'm hoping someone with more experience could chime in.

Thanks. Is having XCode necessary in order to build and publish for iOS (I guess yes)? I don't use apple computers and use linux, so if that's the case I'd need to buy a Mac and XCode to do so, no?

For iOS apps, you need a Mac. Maybe (and this is theoretical) you could set up a combined Fastlane & CI integration that builds the apps using some cloud service, such as Macincloud, Bitrise, etc. Fastlane would then build and upload the iOS test builds automatically so can use them on your phone using the internal testing group in TestFlight. When everything seems fine, then you can just promote the internal test build to production. Since Flutter custom renders everything, you could do most of the development on a Linux machine and test on Android emulator/device.

For just Android, you don't need a Mac at all.

WRT cloud building: yes, it'd be more ideal to have a Mac especially if you want any platform specific UX or features but you can definitely get around it using just a Linux machine, an iOS device and some CI system.

The Flutter project itself does it at https://github.com/flutter/flutter/blob/master/examples/flut.... You can then self-add to your TestFlight and check that way. Though you can't debug.

You can also get around it using just a Linux and an Android device. You can press 'o' after you flutter run to change the platform on the fly to get iOS scroll physics, page transitions etc etc. But again, testing on the devices your users will be using is more ideal.

[disclaimer: I'm on the Flutter team]

This looks really nice considering it's built with a cross platform framework. Did you also consider using React Native, and if so what made you decide to use Flutter instead? My team is looking to move away from Cordova for our cross platform mobile projects to either one of these so I'd be interested to hear about this. And thanks for open sourcing!

I've been using Flutter for a year now, and I've loved it since the first time I gave it a try.

In my work, I've been using other cross-platform technologies, such as Xamarin and React Native briefly (actually currently doing a customer project with RN). In my experience, RN is not that bad and mostly gets the job done, but I've grown to like Flutter more. The tooling and documentation are top-notch ("it just works"), and since it custom renders everything, the UIs are consistent across devices and platforms. For example, with React Native I had to recently fight with a third-party library to have gradients (RN doesn't support them), but couldn't get the library working.

Another thing that I heard from colleagues was that React Native can introduce a lot of breaking changes between versions. I have a one-year-old hobby Flutter project and I was still able to run that without any pain when the first beta came out.

Being a native Android & Java guy for the last 5 years or so, having the strong type system of Dart also felt more natural to me than Javascript.

I've been starting work with Flutter over the past couple weeks. The tooling and general experience so far has been pretty nice, though it doesn't always "just work". The fact that flutter is so coupled to Cocoapods is a disappointment and it means your build system is dependent on Cocoapods not screwing up - quite a tall order. I already ran into an issue that required me to generate a new project, copy my source over to get a working app again, then inspect the source trees to see what went wrong. It turned out to be a Cocoapod symlink issue or something to that effect. Not entirely a Flutter issue but something to be wary of.

Some good points of Flutter so far:

* Hot reloading is fast, much easier to iterate on designs and experiments

* Plugins seem to be easy to make, they made an architecture that focuses on minimal boilerplate

* Being able to use async-await syntax on a whole UI view is a cool idea (like Android's onActivityResult() with much less typing involved). Push a view onto the navigation stack, let it collect input from the user, pop off the stack with a data structure representing the user input)

* Animations are easy

* Minimal opening of Xcode. Most days I can get by without ever opening it.

* Data flow architectures like the Elm Architecture or Redux are well supported

Some not-so-good points:

* Having null

* Material design is pushed way too hard - Cupertino widget documentation/examples are lacking

* Code generation needed for JSON parsing

* State for StatefulWidgets are generic over the Widget and not the other way around - I would have expected a StatefulWidget to be generic over a State e.g. `MyHomePage extends StatefulWidget<MyHomePageState>`

* Because of the previous point, the UI building function, build(), is usually on the State class and not the Widget class

* My relatively barebones app is around 33MB on iOS

Overall though I like it! Lots of good ideas and tooling. I one day want to create something with a similar architecture using a language like Rust instead of Dart, and native UI components instead of reimplementing the entirety of Android and iOS component behavior.

I don't really agree about pushing hard on Material Design. Sure, the current widget situation might be skewed towards Material components and Cupertino is lacking. For Material widgets, they've implemented almost everything, even the most obscure ones. But I think they're pushing more for customized UIs. Meaning, UIs that don't look Material or Cupertino, but are more of a branded experience, think Spotify, Tinder, Snapchat, etc. Designs that don't really conform to Material or iOS design languages. The Hamilton app is a good example of this. Sadly, I'm not a UI designer so I went with Material Design on this inKino app since that's an easy route for me.

With your other points, I generally agree. Didn't mean to imply that it "just works" 100% of the time. But compared to other cross-platform dev tools / SDKs I've used, I feel like Flutter does such a great job in the tooling department.

>* Having null

I must have been spoiled by Flow, Typescript, Kotlin, and Rust, because this (having null implicitly be a member of every type rather than a separate type) has been the major factor in my decision to avoid playing with Dart yet. It's so nice to not have to often manually re-check functions I'm editing to see whether or not each of the parameters are supposed to handle null, and to not have to document that in comments (the same way you usually end up documenting types in a dynamically typed language; this is what I'm using a typed language to get away from!).

I've been using React Native too and my experience is: I accomplish a lof of stuff in a few days, then lose a whole day trying to hack a custom Picker element or similar. Grrr.

And what's your experience vs xamarin ?

Disclaimer: It's been over a year and Xamarin could've improved a lot during that time.

Coming from a Java/Kotlin background, I found C# to be really nice, but I had some issues with Xamarin tooling. I used Xamarin Studio and for the most part, it worked fine. Sometimes, there were some random crashes and project build errors that mysteriously resolved themselves. I also needed pie charts per the customer requirements and the best pie charting library I could find had licensing issues, so ended up implementing the pie chart myself which wasn't that bad.

To compare, I would say the Flutter tooling is really good, compared to Xamarin where sometimes I would not be confident with the tools. Also, with Flutter, I can share the UI layer entirely, compared to the Xamarin project where we only shared some plain business logic with written purely with C# without Android/iOS SDK dependencies. I know about Xamarin.Forms, but have no experience to compare it with Flutter. At the time the project team didn't want to use Forms, but I don't remember why.

Okay, trying xamarin soon. I'd like to add for fellow readers that Xamarin has 2 implementation for cross platform development:

- Xamarin Forms

- Xamarin Native

Where forms has the most shared code features ( Dev efficiency). Fyi, the op is talking about Xamarin Native

Just FYI, Expo which is bundled with create-react-native-app would solve the problems with linear.

- https://docs.expo.io/versions/latest/sdk/linear-gradient

I was just wondering today why Finnkino hasn't released their own app since their web experience is horrible. Nice!

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Cineworld in the UK released an "app", which is just a WebView for their mobile website, so it replicates all the horrible aspects of that experience.

I thought from title it would actually show films.

By far the prettiest app for Helsinki kino/cinema though.

cross platform = mobile only? What about desktop targets..

Like I said before in another comment, there's only so much I can fit in a Hacker News title. :) I'd like to think that a lot of people use the term "a cross-platform app" to mean "an app that works on Android and iOS" though. Or "an app that works on more than one platform using shared code".

That being said, Flutter does have unofficial Linux and MacOS desktop embedders: https://github.com/google/flutter-desktop-embedding

I haven't had the time to look into it, but having seen a couple example Flutter desktop apps, it seems really promising!

Maybe use 'mobile' instead of 'cross platform'. Its shorter and implies nowadays iOS and Android.

> I'd like to think that a lot of people use the term "a cross-platform app" to mean "an app that works on Android and iOS" though

uh.. wat ?

I was able to get flutter to run in Windows, using this https://github.com/ds84182/flutter_sdl (so thank you ds84182 - whoever you are :))

but had to do some hacks. At the end I had flutter_sdl.dll (~10-15mb, depending how you compile it), and was able to add flutter_gallery (among other things).

Things that are missing - keyboard input, but there is a very hihg-level plugin system how to achieve this. Just haven't had the time to do it.

Tried implementing mousewheel, by simulating pad touches - but it ain't the same. Feels kind of obvious now, why it's not the same, but generally the controls themselves need to know about mousewheel. For example a gauge-like spinner can't be emulated this way.

Still very snappy, and someone on the flutter-dev mailing list mentioned that he, or she got live reloading.

I have been recently looking into flutter, because I want to start developing multiplatform apps. What is the coding time compared to android? How does it behave with networking/camera?

For the difference in coding time, it's hard to estimate. I'd say once you get the hang of it, which for me was quite fast, it's much more pleasant and generally faster than working with native Android. Hard UI related things on Android (rounded corners or customizing the design library components) are pleasant to do and make a lot of sense in Flutter.

Flutter and Dart come with a nice HTTP library out of the box. In my experience, it does everything you'd expect from a networking library. If you're looking for something like Retrofit on Android, there's a package called "jaguar_http" that does the job.

For taking/picking images, you'd use the officially supported "image_picker" plugin. It exposes a nice API based on Dart's Futures and handles Android's onActivityResult dance for you in the background. If you're looking into embedding a camera preview in a Flutter app, there's a package called "camera" for that.

There's generally a plugin that handles the platform stuff you need to do. If not, you can always create one and use Java/Kotlin/Swift/ObjC code to call the native SDK APIs you need yourself. Having published a couple plugins myself, I've found the plugin system to be really nice.

Nice! Looks like it could be the base of a new PopcornTime-style app, as well .. definitely a cool way to learn Flutter - thanks for sharing! :)

Beautiful work. I was actually looking for a mobile platform to build my newest project on, looks like I'm learning a bit of Dart. Hope you don't mind if I dig through your project every time I get stuck, it looks like you're using a lot of similar functionality :)

Thanks, glad you find it useful! And that's exactly the reason I open sourced it - I thought there was a need for a quite comprehensive but still simple sample app for people to learn :)

Hmm, the HN title is grossly misleading.. I wonder why?

There's only so much I could fit in the title, and I honestly didn't mean to mislead anyone. I can definitely see how it could be a little misleading now that you mentioned it.

Sorry about that!

Yeah I definitely thought this was sth. about making videos on mobile, but I don't think the title is purposefully trying to mislead anybody. Maybe titles should be allowed to have ~100-120 chars instead of 80, it's a bit too limiting.

What is misleading, and what would be a better title?

From the project Github page:

"inKino - A cross platform movie and showtime browser for Finnkino cinemas, made with Flutter."

"inKino - a showtime browser for Finnkino cinemas"

As someone who has never heard of Finnkino, I think the current title is easier to understand for most people.

It is an app exclusively for "Finnkino" cinemas. Most people would interpret "movie app"to be something broader than that.

Mainly "cross platform". Many people would interpret that as [desktop] platforms, e.g. Linux/Windows/Mac OS. Especially if you weren't previously aware of what Flutter is.

Adding a "mobile" in there somewhere would be a significant improvement.

In addition "movie app" is a bit underspecified. Maybe it's for managing movies? Editing them? Playing them?

Especially when both confusions are combined, it can be easy to get the wrong idea of what the submission is.

Yes but "app" is usually what you run on your phone, "application" is what you run on your computer, no?

Back before the popularization of smart phones, it was not that uncommon to use "apps" as an abbreviation for [desktop] applications.

Of course, "apps" is usually used to refer to [mobile] applications today, but it's still used in the other sense.

Ok we can just take "cross platform" out of the title.

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