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4 reasons Dart is still a language worth learning

Despite a perception that it is dead, there are a few reasons Dart is still a language worth learning. We explore a few reasons why it may not be as obsolete as some think.

Dart was first introduced to the development community in 2011, heralded as a programming language optimized for Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS and a variety of other device platforms. Dart was originally designed to compete with JavaScript's flexible web compatibility and mobile design features. In fact, Google broadcasted its confidence in Dart's ability to replace JavaScript by incorporating it as one of the foundational languages for its Fuchsia operating system.

The early success of the Dart programming language stems from direct browser support, which chipped away at the need for a JavaScript compiler. However, adoption proved limited, and a 2018 Codementor survey even recommended that developers avoid learning the language due to inadequate community support and Dart-specific job opportunities.

However, Google's launch of the Flutter SDK, which is designed specifically to help developers create natively compiled apps, has arguably reinforced Dart's significance as a language worth learning. Since then, a survey conducted by Stack Overflow identified Flutter as one of 2020's most popular development frameworks. It's foreseeable that the recent push by enterprise-level organizations to build Android and iOS mobile apps may fuel an increased interest in Dart.

Let's take a look at some of the specific strengths of Dart that developers may find attractive enough to add to their coding repertoire.

Dart enforces object-oriented programming

As an object-oriented programming language, Dart designates every application component value as an object. It emphasizes single inheritance of classes, and boasts a syntax similar to other object-oriented languages like Swift and Objective-C.

In general, object-oriented interfaces are used to turn one or more application components into reusable objects, which allows for more advanced coding projects and application service isolation. These objects and the interfaces that generate them are a crucial part of introducing abstraction into an architecture, and also allow for multiple inheritance, where a single object can inherit characteristics and features from more than one parent object.

Dart compilers are quick and reliable

Static typing ensures that once a type is declared, it can't be changed. Thanks to static typing, a Dart compiler can examine the intended applications tasks and alert developers of any errors before the code actually runs. The Dart Development Compiler (dartdevc), in tandem with the Dart webdev CLI, can also spin up a dedicated development server for testing builds and debugging code.

Dart offers ahead-of-time compilations, which automatically compiles code into a format that a native machine can easily read, and allows an application to natively execute binary files. By compiling code during the build process, programmers can also achieve faster UI rendering in browsers. Finally, for applications that run concurrent processes, Dart makes efforts to ensure reliability by reserving private chunks of memory called isolates that can simultaneously execute multiple computations.

Dart has a clean and type-safe syntax

In its early days, there was concern that the use of Dart would complicate web development by confusing developers who were already familiar with JavaScript's reliable syntax, and that untrained developers would accidently implement all sorts of bugs and breakages. But, on the contrary, the ability to identify errors at compilation makes Dart particularly type safe.

Dart's syntax likely won't impose a tough learning curve for programmers who have experience with Java, as well as those comfortable with .NET languages like C++ and C#. The language allows coders to customize variable names, improve the readability of project code and minimize the need for in-line comments. Development teams also have flexibility to customize the visual structure of their code, including the use of spaces, tabs and line breaks.

Dart has a strong developer community

To help those both new and experienced in the language, developers in the Dart community share packages using a public package repository, which includes libraries for databases, routing and functions. For example, Kiwi is a handy dependency injection container package that stores instances and factories that developers can apply custom names to (note that Kiwi only works with Dart 2.0 or later versions of the language).

While the Dart collective may not provide as many learning resources as the JavaScript community, developers can access the open source DartPad tool and practice using the language in any modern browser. First-timers can also find plenty of introductory tutorials, code examples and supporting materials to get started.

In general, Flutter and Dart together provide an in-demand set of tools for mobile and web development. Furthermore, the release of Dart 2 in 2018 represented a major reboot that builds upon Dart's intended purpose: to rise as a true JavaScript alternative. On top of the reasons given above, this update provides even more of an argument that Dart is still a language worth learning.

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