A fond farewell to Flutter and Dart
I love the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes for its meditations on our purpose on this earth. In sharp contrast to a world today, where many claim simple answers to life’s most profound questions, the book’s author dwells on his human frailty in a universe of which our existence is a blink of an eye.
Perhaps the most well-known part of Ecclesiastes today is chapter 3, the start of which was immortalized by The Byrds in the hit song Turn! Turn! Turn!
To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under Heaven.
And so, it’s the end of a season for me, and a time to ‘turn’.
Leading PM and UX for Flutter, Dart, and more recently Go has been the most rewarding role in my professional career so far. And so it’s with very mixed feelings that I’m sharing today the news that I’m leaving Google at the end of the week.
It’s been a wonderful journey. I joined the team in November 2017, when Flutter was still an early-stage alpha with a couple of hundred daily users and Dart was a weakly-typed language that advertised itself as ‘boring’. Even then, the potential of the projects were very apparent to me: it had the classic Google attributes of a humble team with incredible engineering. We decided to accelerate the path to Flutter 1.0 and the rest was history. Flutter is now the most popular multi-platform UI framework, is deeply embedded in big brands and huge Google properties, and over one million apps have been published with it. Dart has transformed itself into a strongly-typed, sound null safe, highly expressive language that is almost unique in offering production-quality support across web, mobile and desktop.
Of course, I can only claim the smallest credit. I’ve merely been a passenger along for the ride. I’ve always felt that the main thing I can offer is to draw the spotlight on the incredible engineering work the team has done. It has seemed outrageous luck on my part that I have been able to represent everyone’s work at events from Flutter Live to Flutter Forward. And not a week goes by without other teams at Google asking how they can replicate the success of Flutter, whether through community engagement, user satisfaction, or openness.
Flutter Forward always felt like it might be a capstone for my involvement in the project. What a way to go out on a high: bringing a world-class product launch to Africa; setting out an incredible roadmap of innovation across web, mobile and desktop; connecting with the incredible Flutterista community and watching their energy and confidence; and shipping early previews of Dart 3! Seeing so many talented people from across the team pull together engineering innovation, marketing and community execution, and stunning demos was a great reminder to me that Flutter and Dart are far bigger than any one individual, myself in particular.
So I’m passing the baton on. After eighteen stable feature releases of Flutter, the product is finally an adult. And I know I leave it in good hands. The Flutter and Dart teams are healthy and well-funded; they have vision and clarity of purpose; and the community that surrounds them is like no other.
To end back at Ecclesiastes, the author claims no ‘solution’ to the human condition other than to marvel at God’s world and his own insignificance in it. But he also emphasizes the value of positivity and of not giving in to fatalism. In this paraphrase of Ecc 5:13–20, the author has some good advice for us all:
“A man hoards far more wealth than is good for him
And then loses it all in a bad business deal.
He arrived naked from the womb of his mother;
He’ll leave in the same condition — with nothing.
Take care of yourself, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work.”
As ever, I’m in debt to the remarkable Flutter and Dart community. Thank you for an incredible ride. I hope to stay connected with many of you, and wish you ongoing delight with what we’ve all built together!
Yours always, Tim