Jason Mill

@jasonmsaidwhat

From Build to Launch in 5 weeks: A Firebase, Flamelink & Flutter Fairytale.

I’ve been involved in the tech industry for the best part of 5 years now, in varying roles across the board ranging from freelance Digital Copywriter, Business Relationship Manager/Account Exec and most recently as Marketing Lead at Flamelink.

I’ve learnt in this time, that tech projects take time. More often than not, more time than was originally anticipated.

I’m not going to unpack the reasons for my above statement any further - that’s something I’m not willing to stick my neck out for - Not even for the GDP of a small island nation somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. ;-)

The point is that these projects take time. And time is money. So it stands to reason, the longer it takes to build an app, or website, the more money it costs, whether the client foots the bill or it comes down to the Developer/Dev shop having to carry the costs of a project running over time.

However, one of the massively exciting things for me having worked on Flamelink, and by association, Firebase, is seeing how these platforms are helping Developers all over the world build applications faster, better and with less stress and anxiety.

It’s meant that there is a shift towards empowering Developers with tools that can really do a lot of the heavy lifting to build incredible apps that have the potential to solve real problems in their immediate communities. It’s starting to make platforms and tech more accessible to people who were previously not able to invest 6 months to a year of their lives (in whatever capacity) to build something close to their hearts.

An example of an app we’ve recently seen built and launched really quickly is the The Awakening Prayer App. The app makes it easier for anyone wanting to grow in their prayer life by sending users daily reminders, global prayer topics and the ability to submit prayer requests and praise reports to the app community. It also offers a resource blog with articles and tips for people wanting to learn more.

With a very tight 5 week deadline, including a demo in front of a live audience of a few thousand people, the very small Dev team at New Life Worship Centre had to deliver an App for both Android and iOS App stores. The team, consisting of 1 full time developer (that’s right!) and a handful of volunteers, knew they needed to follow some kind of hybrid approach and after much research, settled on Flutter for the app framework, given that it performed as fast as a native app but required little-to-no platform specific code.

Once the team had decided on Flutter for the app framework, Firebase quickly became the easiest, fastest and best option for a backend — especially considering the tight deadline. An important part of the app was a daily reminder push notification which was also a consideration that lead the team to consider Firebase since Flutter has great integration with Firebase.

Other Firebase services include Authentication, Realtime Database, Cloud Messaging, Storage, Cloud Functions, and they’re gradually implementing more analytics into the app to help understand how users interact with the app and what new features to add.

But while Firebase is easy-to-use for developers, it isn’t as easy for content managers to manage content. The team needed a CMS that was ready to go and Flamelink was perfect for that.

Having never used Firebase or Flutter, Flamelink gave the team the ability to set up schemas within an hour at the beginning of the project, giving content creators an easy-to-use CMS they could begin uploading content from day one. As the Dev team began to link Flutter up they were able to use real content to work with right away.

Normally with a deadline that tight, a lot of the interface would have to be faked but with the Firebase, Flutter, & Flamelink stack the team had a fully functioning demo ready for the event and were able to launch iOS and Android within the same week.

Get the Awakening Prayer App for Android and iOS

That’s a pretty powerful story, and showcases a real-world, production app that, by utilising Firebase, Flamelink and Flutter, helped a very small Dev team go from build to launch in 5 weeks, for both Android & iOS.

I’m excited to see what other Developers will build utilising this stack, so if you’re building anything awesome on Firebase, Flamelink & Flutter (or any other framework), let me know. I’d love to check it out.

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