Flutter's Dependence on Third-Party Libraries: A Blessing or a Curse?

Flutter's Dependence on Third-Party Libraries: A Blessing or a Curse?

Flutter, Google’s UI toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiled applications, has seen a rise in popularity over the past few years.

A key feature of Flutter is its dependence on third-party libraries.

These ‘off-the-shelf’ pieces of code can be a game-changer, but their use also brings challenges. So, is this dependence a blessing or a curse? Let’s see.

Advantages of Flutter’s Dependence on Third-Party Libraries

Speed and Efficiency

One of the most significant advantages of Flutter’s dependence on third-party libraries is the speed and efficiency they bring to the development process.

In the world of coding, writing from scratch is not only time-consuming, but also requires a certain level of proficiency and expertise.

With third-party libraries, developers have access to pre-written, tested, and optimized code that can be seamlessly integrated into their projects. This accelerates the development process, enabling developers to deliver applications faster and meet tight deadlines.

Implementation of a Wide Variety of Features

The use of third-party libraries also allows developers to implement a wide variety of features without having to code them from scratch.

These libraries range from simple UI components, such as buttons and dialog boxes, to more complex functionalities like image processing, data storage, and networking.

They can even handle modern tasks like machine learning and AI, providing developers with a powerful toolset to build feature-rich applications.

This diversity and availability of features save developers from the difficulties of coding complex functionalities, allowing them to focus on the core logic of their applications.

Strong Community Support

Another notable advantage of using third-party libraries is the strong community support that comes with them. The Flutter community is vibrant, active, and continually growing.

Developers from around the world contribute to the community by creating and sharing their libraries, which are often open-source. This means that if a developer encounters a problem or a bug in the library, chances are someone else in the community has already faced it and found a solution.

This culture of shared learning and support not only resolves issues faster, but also fosters a sense of camaraderie among developers.

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Great Documentation

Moreover, these libraries often come with extensive documentation and examples, making it easier for developers to learn and implement them.

This is particularly beneficial for beginners or less experienced developers, who may find the learning curve of Flutter steep. With third-party libraries, they can learn from examples, understand best practices, and improve their coding skills.

In summary, the use of third-party libraries in Flutter offers multiple benefits. They simplify the development process, reduce the time to market, enable the creation of feature-rich applications, and provide robust community support.

Despite the potential challenges that we will cover in the following section, their advantages are too significant to ignore, making them an important part of Flutter's development experience.

Disadvantages of Flutter’s Dependence on Third-Party Libraries

While third-party libraries bring a lot of benefits to Flutter development, they also come with their share of drawbacks that developers must consider.

Quality Concerns

Firstly, there are quality concerns. The quality of third-party libraries can vary significantly.

Some are written by experienced developers and undergo extreme testing before release, ensuring they are bug-free and efficient. However, others may be written by less experienced developers and may not be as thoroughly tested.

These libraries may contain bugs that lead to unpredictable behavior, or they might not handle edge cases well, causing the app to crash or behave unexpectedly.

Furthermore, poorly written libraries can also have performance issues, causing the app to run slowly or consume excessive system resources.

Maintenance and Support Issues

Secondly, there are maintenance and support issues.

Libraries that are popular and widely used usually receive regular updates, both for adding new features and for fixing bugs.

They also tend to have active community support, which can help resolve any issues quickly. However, not all libraries enjoy this level of support.

Some libraries may be abandoned by their original developers, leaving them without any updates or bug fixes. If a Flutter developer has used such a library in their app, they may find themselves stuck if a bug arises or if the library becomes incompatible with a new version of Flutter.

Risk of Dependency

Another significant disadvantage is the risk of dependency. A common saying in the software development world is “Don’t reinvent the wheel.”

While this is generally sound advice, over-reliance on third-party libraries can lead to a situation where the developer does not fully understand the code they are using.

This can be risky, especially if the third-party library changes, becomes deprecated, or is removed entirely. In such cases, a lack of understanding of the underlying code can make it difficult to find a suitable replacement or modify the app to work without the library.

Security Vulnerabilities

Lastly, there’s the risk of security vulnerabilities. Third-party libraries, like any other software, can have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors.

If a library is not regularly updated or its security is not thoroughly vetted, using it could expose the app and its users to potential security threats.

In conclusion, while third-party libraries can accelerate development and introduce advanced features, they also come with potential pitfalls.

Developers must carefully evaluate each library they use, considering not just its benefits, but also the potential risks it brings.

Case Study: The Challenges of Using Third-Party Libraries in Flutter

For a more accurate illustration of the challenges that can occur when using third-party libraries in Flutter, let’s consider a case study involving the use of a popular networking library, Dio.

Dio is a powerful HTTP client for Dart and is widely used because of its support for Interceptors, Global Configuration, FormData, Request Cancellation, File downloading, Timeout, etc.

However, despite its popularity and robust feature set, using Dio is challenging.

Error Handling

One common issue that developers face with Dio is handling exceptions. While Dio does provide error-handling mechanisms, they can be complex and unintuitive, especially for developers who are new to Flutter or Dio.

For instance, Dio throws a variety of different exceptions, and each needs to be handled appropriately to prevent the app from crashing. This can lead to bloated code and increased complexity in the app.

Verbose API

Another challenge with Dio is its verbose API. While the library is powerful, it can be quite lengthy, meaning developers often have to write more code to accomplish tasks that could be simpler with other libraries.

This can slow down development and increase the likelihood of errors.


Furthermore, Dio’s documentation, while extensive, has been criticized for not being very beginner-friendly.

Developers new to Dio might find it challenging to understand how to use the library effectively. This steep learning curve can delay development and lead to frustration.

Maintenance Stop

Lastly, as with any third-party library, there’s always a risk that the maintainers of Dio might stop updating it.

While Dio is currently well-maintained and regularly updated, if it were to become deprecated, developers relying on it would have to find a new library and refactor their code to accommodate it, which could be a significant undertaking.

By the way: The Dio Developer has set Dio to Deprecated once. This has left a huge amount of people in shock which led to a huge discussion on YouTube, Reddit, and X / Twitter. Even if everything turned out well in the end, this was a perfect example of relying too much on third-party libraries.

In conclusion, while Dio offers powerful features that can enhance a Flutter app’s capabilities, it also shows the potential challenges of using third-party libraries.

Developers must be prepared to handle these issues, which can range from complex error handling and verbose APIs to steep learning curves and the risk of deprecation.


The dependence on third-party libraries in Flutter is a double-edged sword. While they offer speed, efficiency, and variety, they also pose challenges related to quality, maintenance, and dependency. Therefore, whether it’s a blessing or a curse largely depends on how developers navigate these challenges. With careful selection and proper management, the advantages can certainly outweigh the disadvantages, turning a potential curse into a definite blessing.

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