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Why is the atProtocol a game-changer for Flutter developers?

Written by Anthony Prakash

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Flutter-Engage, which took place on March 3, brought together the global developer community unlike any other event I have seen in the past. It reminded me of the glory days of Apple when people awaited every new WWDC with bated breath and blocked their calendars so that they would be ready to line up at the Apple store, even without knowing what the latest iPhone had to offer. With all the buzz surrounding the Flutter event, I thought to myself “What is different about Flutter? What is the fuss all about?” The Dashatars, the build-up to the event with #30daysofflutter, the weekly Q&A with the GDEs, the umpteen tweets from all over the world — it was incredible.

I realized that amongst the various advantages that Flutter brings to the table, the most significant is that ‘it makes the lives of the developers so much easier — it allows them to focus on building a beautiful end product than focus on the intricacies of the technology and how to make things work.’

At Atsign, we bet on Dart and Flutter when we started building the atProtocol 18 months ago, and we are very pleased with the decision. To me, what makes the decision even more exciting is the ‘art of the possible’ when we combine the power of the atProtocol, Flutter as a technology, and more importantly what the amazing Flutter developer community brings to the table.

“The atProtocol is providing the blueprints for building privacy-first applications.”

Alejandro Santiago, Flutter Developer (Twitter: @alestiago3)

The concept and idea of the atProtocol has been brewing in the minds of the brilliant co-inventors Colin Constable and Kevin Nickels for almost 15 years. They have tried enabling this solution at different times with a variety of technologies but the technology was not ready for them until now! Though the core focus of the atProtocol is to help everyone have full control of their own data, they also wanted to arm the developer ecosystem with tools and technology that made it easy for them to build apps with a built-in “privacy-first” focus and give the power of making decisions about data in the hands of the consumer.

Before we talk about the mind-blowing benefits of the atProtocol, let’s do a quick refresher: the atProtocol is a new Internet technology created by Atsign. The company has created a unique digital identifier known as an atSign (i.e. @alice), which lets you choose what data you want to share, with whom, and for how long. atSigns open up a world of possibilities, including modern payment solutions like atPay, which allows for fully end-to-end encrypted transactions without requiring account details. The atProtocol was created with the future of the Internet in mind — the technology allows everyone to treat others with respect, handle others’ data with care, and build a chain of trust by using a permissions-based model.

“As developers, we spend a lot of our time securing user data and protecting access to it. With the atProtocol, all of the things we normally have to worry about are handled for us. Instead, we can focus our extra time on writing new features and better code.”

Xavier Chanthavong, Lead Developer of @family (Twitter: @xavierchanth)

As a Flutter developer, you can choose to develop your apps with Dart and Flutter and use the atProtocol as a foundation layer (Diagram 1) to handle all aspects of the data involved in the application. For more information please visit the developer site: https://atsign.dev.

Diagram 1: Where the atProtocol layer fits

How does the atProtocol shift the paradigm for Flutter developers?

1. No infrastructure needed

Yes, you read that right. When developers build Flutter applications on the atProtocol they don’t have to worry about designing and developing several layers of a typical application stack. How is this made possible, you may ask? You may be disappointed to learn that there is no voodoo magic involved. We’ve simply abstracted all that effort while building the atProtocol. In addition, the user authentication and user database efforts have also been rolled into the protocol layer. For example: Developers can use a single line of code to bring chat functionality to life in their applications. As we mentioned earlier, our goal was to make this as easy as possible for developers, and the process is now so much easier that you’ll have to use the protocol for yourself to believe it!

2. 30–40% additional developer velocity

Developers save almost 40% of the time spent building a traditional Flutter app when using the atProtocol. This helps them get their ideas to market and in the hands of the consumers much faster, saving a number of steps in the overall application development life cycle.

3. Peace of mind (for both the developer and the consumer)

Because of the distributed technology enabled by the atProtocol’s architecture, it is almost impossible for mass data breaches to happen. Every consumer is given the keys to their datadom by a unique private key which is only available to the owner of the atSign. The protocol itself is end-to-end encrypted, and it is provably true that even Atsign does not have access to the data that gets transported via the atProtocol. In addition, this model also enables automatic compliance with government regulations such as CCPA and GDPR.

4. Get paid and be your own boss

When I said that the atProtocol was made with developers in mind, I was not kidding! When developers value everyone’s data, everything else takes care of itself. The atProtocol rewards developers who adopt the technology by giving them 20% of the earnings that come from atSign referrals from their apps. If the idea and app gets consumer adoption, this allows developers to build their own businesses and revenue model using the atProtocol.

5. It’s free and open-source, and belongs to the developer community

The atProtocol has been put together by some of the best minds in the industry, but its true potential lies with what the developer community can bring to life with the technology.

Our Discord community of almost 500 developers has been working on several applications over the past 6+ months. Come join us on our Discord server at: https://discord.gg/55sHTQFxfz

The ongoing feedback and the apps that we have in the works from the Flutter developer community validate the benefits that the developers are already gaining from adopting the atProtocol. We are just scratching the surface with the technology and I am super confident that the developers will make it even better.

If you are a developer reading this, you can get started at: https://atsign.dev/gettingstarted.html

If you are an enterprise, the world is your oyster with the atProtocol. Several enterprises are already in the process of reserving their atSigns on the Privacy-first internet that we are building. If you are interested in working with us, please write to me directly at anthony@atsign.com

Anthony Prakash(@anthony) is Head of Developer Relations & Strategic Partnerships at Atsign.

To learn more about Atsign, view our GitHub repo.

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