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How to Scan A Code in Flutter? Step-By-Step Tutorial

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Nidhi Sorathiya

August 17, 2023

Nidhi Sorathiya

August 17, 2023

Before embarking on the voyage to understand how to scan a code, it's crucial to know what QR codes are and how they're applied in digital communication tools.

Understanding QR Codes

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are a type of matrix barcode first designed in the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside the industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Anyone with a smartphone can download a QR code reader, making it easy to carry out functions such as website log-in or access to a URL.

Applications of QR Codes

QR codes have a wide array of applications. Businesses use QR codes on product packaging or food packaging, offering a quick response method for consumers to access information or a web address. Moreover, in mobile operating systems, especially Android, many applications can scan QR codes to connect to Wi-Fi networks or browse web pages. Many smartphones automate this process with tools built into their camera app or QR code reader app. Isn't this exciting! Scanning QR codes certainly plays an integral part in this technological era.

Getting Started

To start scanning QR codes, we first need to set up the Flutter development environment, followed by a brief overview of QR code scanners.

Setting Up Flutter Development Environment

To start working with Flutter, the first thing required is to have Flutter installed on your machine, followed by an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) set up for Flutter.

Installing Flutter

Start by downloading the latest stable version of Flutter from the official Flutter website. After downloading and extracting the zip file, add the Flutter tool to your path. If you're working with Unix/Linux, you can do this by determining the path to the Flutter directory, and then adding it to your PATH variable.

Configuring IDE for Flutter

Setting up an IDE for Flutter involves a couple of steps:

  • Install the Flutter and Dart plugins. You may use popular IDEs like Android Studio, IntelliJ or VS Code. These plugins offer code analysis that adds Flutter-specific functionality.
  • After installation, you should verify the installation by executing the command "flutter doctor". This command checks your environment and displays a report in the terminal window.

Overview of QR Code Scanners

QR Code scanners are applications or tools that can decode the QR Code image to the data behind it. For Flutter developers, several plugins enable QR code scanning, with a host of features on offer. Some of these include the ability to customize the scanning experience, the ease of adding extra features like controlling the flash while scanning, and a neat, clean user interface.

Scanning a Code on Android

Creating a QR code scanner for Android using Flutter involves a series of steps — from selecting the suitable QR scanner library to the final stage of testing your QR scanner app. Let's get started!

How to Scan A Code in Flutter? Step-By-Step Tutorial

Choosing a QR Scanner Library for Android

Flutter has several QR scanner libraries to help developers. Some of them are qr_flutter, qr_mobile_vision, and barcode_scan2. For this guide, we'll use the qr_mobile_vision plugin because of its robust performance in scanning QR codes quickly, even under less ideal conditions like low light.

Installing the QR Scanner Plugin

To begin the practical journey of learning how to scan a QR code on an Android phone, we need to install and set up the qr_mobile_vision plugin in our Flutter project.

In your Flutter project's pubspec.yaml, add the following line under dependencies:

Save the pubspec.yaml file and run flutter pub get in your console to install the library.

Building a QR Code Scanner App for Android

We will develop a simple app that opens a full-screen camera view for scanning QR codes.

Creating a New Flutter Project

Create a new Flutter project by running Flutter create qr_scanner in your console. Switch to the new project directory, cd qr_scanner, and open it in your preferred IDE.

Setting up Permissions and Decoding the QR Code

QR scanners need camera permissions to function properly. So, we will add permissions to AndroidManifest.xml located at android/app/src/main. You should insert the following line into the manifest tag:

The qr_mobile_vision plugin will decode the QR code image and return the data behind it. We have to write a piece of logic that waits for the decoded data and decides what should be done based on the scanned QR code.

Designing the Scanner Interface

The plugin provides a full-screen camera view for scanning QR codes. Our interface will have a "Start" button. Once we tap this button, the app will open the scanner, scan the QR code, and display the QR code data.

Implementing the Android QR Scanner

To implement the QR code scanner functionality in the app, use the qr_camera widget from qr_mobile_vision. Place it in a MaterialPageRoute to ensure it's opened as a new page when the "Start" button is tapped.

Here's a basic example of how to start the scanner:

When a QR code is successfully scanned, the scanner will stop, and the qrCodeCallback will return the scanned QR code data.

Testing the Android QR Code Scanner

It is important to test your scanner in multiple scenarios to ensure proper functionality. You might want to print different QR codes and simulate various real-life situations, including different light conditions and distances.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Learning how to scan a QR code on Android involves dealing with a series of common problems. For instance, you might face issues with camera permissions, or the app might crash if the permissions are not granted. In such cases, a necessary step would be to update your troubleshooting strategies and debug your code on multiple Android versions and devices.

Scanning a Code on iPhone

Scanning a QR code on an iPhone is similar to the process on Android, with slight variations in choosing a QR scanner library, setting the permissions, and creating the interface for the scanner.

How to Scan A Code in Flutter? Step-By-Step Tutorial

Selecting a QR Scanner Library for iPhone

Like Android, Flutter has a multitude of QR scanner libraries that can be used for iPhone applications. Among them, barcode_scan is a versatile choice that supports both iOS and Android. It offers a great range of features, including null safety, auto-focus, flash control, and front/back camera switch.

Integrating the QR Scanner Plugin

To activate QR code scanning abilities, we must include our chosen plugin, barcode_scan2, in our project. This involves adding the pertinent line to the pubspec.yaml file under dependencies:

Once you have added the line, save the file and run flutter pub get in your console to install the new plugin.

Building a QR Code Scanner App for iPhone

Creating a QR code scanner app on iPhone involves a step-by-step approach just like on Android but with several slight differences.

Developing a New Flutter Project

Beginning a new project involves opening your terminal and navigating to the directory where you wish to create your new project. Enter flutter create iphone_qr_scanner in the terminal, and Flutter will generate a new project in the designated directory.

Handling Permissions and Decoding the QR Code

Contrary to Android, here, you don't need to explicitly handle permissions in iOS. Also, you have to add the camera usage description to your Info.plist file. This capability is already built into the barcode_scan2 plugin. Just like in Android, the barcode_scan2 plugin will decode the QR code image and return the data.

Creating the Scanner Interface

The design of the interface on iPhone is similar to Android. A "Start" button initiates the scanner, and scanned QR code data will be displayed.

Implementing the iPhone QR Scanner

To implement the QR scanner in your application, use the scan function provided by the barcode_scan2 plugin. This function will initiate the scanner and return the scanned QR code data.

Here's a basic example of how to start the scanner:

Testing the iPhone QR Code Scanner

Once the iPhone QR code scanner is implemented, it is prudent to test the scanner under multiple use-case scenarios. This involves scanning QR codes in various lighting conditions, angles, and distances.

Resolving Common Issues

Developers often encounter common issues related to camera permissions, QR code reader libraries, and UI responsiveness, among others. The key is to remain patient, go through the plugin documentation meticulously, and utilize online communities and forums for problem-solving.

Advanced Topics

While functioning QR code scanning apps bring joy to any developer, building one that provides a superior user experience distinguishes great apps from good ones. These advanced functionalities and customization options give more control over the scanning process to the users, enhancing their overall experience.

Customizing the QR Code Scanner

How to Scan A Code in Flutter? Step-By-Step Tutorial

Contrary to built-in camera apps on phones, flutter plugins provide means of customizing the QR Code Scanner. For instance, you can add a feature to toggle the flash, switch cameras, or overlay a frame on the camera view. All these will lend a helping hand in improving the data extraction accuracy and user experience.

In this code snippet, a red border is added to the scanner website, and informative texts are displayed according to the state of the scanner.

Adding Additional Features

Exceptional QR Code scanning apps often include additional features such as scanning multiple QR codes simultaneously or generating new QR codes.

Handling Multiple QR Codes

Most QR scanner libraries can scan only one QR code at a time. For situations where you want to scan multiple QR codes in one go, modifications are needed. It involves a continuous scanning mode that doesn't stop after decoding the first QR code, and a user interface that makes it simple to view and manage multiple results.

To conclude, this section offers a broad understanding of several advanced techniques that could be integral in creating a robust, efficient, and user-friendly QR code scanner.


How to Scan A Code in Flutter? Step-By-Step Tutorial

Let's summarize our adventure of exploring how to scan a QR code. We started from scratch and steered our way through topics like setting up the development environment, creating a dedicated QR code scanner app for Android and iOS, exploring some advanced scanning techniques, and receiving a glimpse into improving the usability aspects of QR code scanner apps.

The journey taught us that a QR code scanner app needs more than just the bare-bone functionality of scanning QR codes. It needs to handle permissions, provide meaningful responses to users at all times, and manage to look good while doing so! Despite the complexity it might appear to have, Flutter makes it easier to build this scanner due to its simplicity and extensive community support.

What's more? Flutter's broad support not only allows developers to build applications for both Android and iOS platforms but ensures responsiveness, providing a consistent UI/UX across all Android versions and iPhone models.

Frequently asked questions

What are QR codes and where are they used?

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are a type of barcode that can store a lot of information. They are easily scanned using a smartphone's built-in camera app, and are widely used in various sectors such as businesses, advertising, and packaging due to their quick readability and large storage capacity.

How to scan a QR code on Android and iPhone using Flutter?

Flutter provides a multitude of plugins for scanning QR codes. You may use qr_flutter, qr_mobile_vision, or barcode_scan. Typically, the process involves installing the plugin, setting up permissions for the camera, implementing the scanning functionality, designing the user interface, and adding any additional features.

Are there certain permissions needed to scan a QR code?

Absolutely. To scan a QR code, an app would need permission to access the camera of your smartphone. The process to grant permission varies between Android and iOS.

How can I make a QR code scanner more user-friendly?

To provide a superior user experience, consider implementing features such as a loading spinner and providing user-friendly error messages. You might also want to allow customization options like toggling the flash on/off, switching front/back cameras, or overlaying a frame to guide in capturing the QR code.

Frequently asked questions

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