shawn.blais

Shawn has worked as programmer and product designer for over 20 years, shipping several games on Steam and Playstation and dozens of apps on mobile. He has extensive programming experience with Dart, C#, ActionScript, SQL, PHP and Javascript and a deep proficiency with motion graphics and UX design. Shawn is currently the Technical Director for gskinner.

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Flutter: Deep dive into the new `skeleton` app template

For many years Flutter has provided the basic “Counter App” each time you created a new project. While that example provides a nice introduction to the foundational concepts of StatefulWidget and basic font/asset management, it does not really resemble the structure of a “complete app”. This has left developers without guidance for anything beyond a basic single page app.

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Flutter: Accelerate your testing with Keyboard listeners

Often when working on a new library or widget, you would like to wire up many temporary testing hooks during development.

Usually in Flutter you would create some buttons, and assign some handlers to trigger all the actions you need. The problem with this is the boilerplate and time required to constantly be writing UI. It takes time, and can clutter up your example code substantially, not to mention the on-screen clutter that half a dozen tappable areas introduces.

Coming from a Unity background, (and also Flash), we were accustomed to using keyboard listeners to quickly test things; only building UI when we actually want to see it. It turns out this is quite easy! Just run on one of the desktop targets and use RawKeyboard.instance.addListener and listen for the keys you are interested in.

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Flutter: Creating your own Inherited Widgets

While we generally use Provider or GetIt to pass things around in Flutter, there are times when you don’t want to have any dependencies on these libraries, and instead just want to define your own MyFoo.of(context) lookup. Often this is when you’re creating packages yourself.

There are quite a few deep dives tutorials into this around, but in this post we wanted to keep it extremely short and sweet.

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Flutter: Lazy instantiation with the `late` keyword

With the introduction of NNBD in Dart 2.12, a new keyword was created: late. The primary reason this was created was to allow for non-null fields, that did not have to be immediately initialized.

// Allow this to be null for now, compiler trusts us, that we will assign it.
late final int i; 
MyConstructor(){
   i = getStartIndex(); // Compiler checks at this point, everything is ok!
   i = null; // This will cause an error, compiler is enforcing non-null
}

This was a necessary feature/workaround for Flutter, because of darts requirement to use const initializers, and most Flutter developers are likely familiar with it by now. In this post we’re going to look at some of the other benefits of late!

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Flokk – How we built a Desktop App Using Flutter

Earlier this year Google and Ubuntu approached us with an open brief, to try and create a full-scale desktop application for Linux, macOS, Web, and Windows. The result was Flokk, which we released (and open-sourced) back in July.

In this post, we’re going to dive into some of the challenges we faced, the discoveries we made, and desktop-specific features that we added.

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