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Let Your Flutter App Shine: Integrating the Flutter Shimmer Effect

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Nidhi Sorathiya

September 19, 2023

Nidhi Sorathiya

September 19, 2023

With the increasing number of mobile app users across the globe, building an intuitive and engaging user interface (UI) is essential for all modern-day applications. This is where the Shimmer effect steps in, providing a magnificent animation effect that not only enhances the UI but also helps in loading your app's content gracefully. A Shimmer effect in Flutter apps is an unmissable tool in any app developer's kit.

The Importance of Loading Animations

While fetching data from a distant server or even a local database, it often takes time for the actual data to load onto your screen. During this stretching span of time, seeing a static loading message or a mundane loading indicator can affect the user's engagement with the app. Here is where the Shimmer loading effect fits in perfectly. It's a beautiful animation effect that retains user engagement and interaction with the app during data fetch or loading.

Welcome the Shimmer Effect

Crucial to enhancing users' experience and keeping them entertained while they wait, the shimmer effect provides a friendly and engaging loading animation. Its name comes from the gleaming animation effect it creates, similar to a shimmer. This contributes to the Flutter app's overall aesthetic and improves user patience during data load, causing a positive loading impact. Shimmer, the package enabling this effect in Flutter, is easy to integrate and versatile.

Understanding the Basics

Flutter Overview

For those who are new to Flutter, it's a comprehensive open-source UI software development kit created by Google. Flutter enables us to build visually stunning, natively compiled mobile, web, and desktop applications from a single piece of Dart code. The framework introduces us to widgets, which are critical units of the app's UI with a distinct purpose. For instance, the widget responsible for providing the padding to its child widget is the Padding widget.

An Excursion Into Shimmer

Shimmer is a package that provides a Shimmer widget in Flutter apps. It aims to offer an upgrade to the traditional static loading indicators, bringing a beaming animation effect, hence the name "Shimmer". The subtlety of this Shimmer effect is what makes it an elegant loading solution.

The central idea behind Shimmer is relatively straightforward - the Shimmer widget is first loaded as a placeholder. It is then replaced by the actual content (child widget) once data is received. Shimmer achieves this by creating an animation effect on its gradient, which sweeps from the Shimmer ancestor widget to its children.

Apart from improving aesthetics, Shimmer impacts the perceived loading time. This reduces the chance of users getting impatient when fetching data, thereby improving the overall user experience.

Diving into Work: Flutter Shimmer Effect

Flutter Development Environment Setup

Before you can implement the shimmer effect in your app, you need to set up the development environment. Beginners can download Flutter from the official site, install it as per the documentation's instructions, and set up an editor or Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Please ensure that Flutter and Dart extensions are also installed if you're using editors like VS Code.

To create a new Flutter project, the following command can be run in the terminal:

Crafting a Sample Flutter App

The following code demonstrates how to create a basic Flutter app:

This Dart file will render a screen with a single line of text - "Hello Flutter". Developers familiar with Flutter will recognise this as a common base to start with before incorporating more complex functionalities.

Imbuing the Shimmer Effect

Integrating Flutter Shimmer Package

Shimmer is a Flutter package that provides the Shimmer widget. This widget is what enables us to create the engaging Shimmer animation in our app. The first step towards adding the shimmer loading effect to your app involves incorporating the Shimmer package.

Finding the Package

The official Flutter Shimmer package can be located in the Flutter Package Repository By searching "Shimmer" on this site, we can find the package's latest version along with additional details like popularity, pub points, and likes.

Installing the Package

Once we have located the Shimmer package, we can move to installing it. For that, add the Shimmer package dependency to your pubspec.yaml file, under dependencies:

Substitute "^version" with the latest version number from the Flutter Package Repository. Running flutter packages get in your terminal, within the project directory, will fetch the package into your project.

Applying the Shimmer Effect in Your Flutter App

Code Integration

Now that we have the package installed, begin by importing the shimmer package at the top of your Dart file:

To use the shimmer widget, wrap your child widget (the one which you want to load with the shimmer effect) with the Shimmer widget. Here's an example of how to do this:

In the above snippet, 'Shimmer Effect' renders with the shimmer effect.

Shimmer Modes and Customization

Shimmer comes with a set of properties that you can tweak to create a custom loading indicator. The interesting part about using Shimmer is experimenting with its properties to create unique effects in your Flutter app.

Two fundamental properties that you can change for Shimmer are baseColor and highlightColor. Both of these help in determining the shades of color that will be used for the shimmer gradient.

Shimmer Mode Styles

Shimmer allows developers to alter the direction of the animation with a few simple changes. The animation's direction is controlled by the 'Direction' property, which accepts four values: RTL (Right to Left), LTR (Left to Right), TTB (Top to Bottom), and BTT (Bottom to Top).

Here's a code snippet that demonstrates the use of the Direction property:

In the above code, the ShimmerDirection.rtl makes the Shimmer animation effect from the right to the left of the screen.

Shimmer Customization

Beyond controlling the animation direction, Shimmer also allows us to modify how our shimmering text (or any other child widget) looks. We can define the gradient colors, animation duration, animation curve, and much more.

Here is how you can customise your shimmer animation:

In this code, the period property specifies the duration of the shimmer animation, loop determines the number of times shimmer animation repeats, and enabled decides whether the Shimmer effect is active.

Best Practices for Flutter Shimmer Effect

Adopting best practices in applying the Shimmer effect to your Flutter apps ensures efficient performance and preserves the main goal of Shimmer—to enhance user experience.

  1. Proper Usage of Shimmer: Use the shimmer effect where necessary. Although it enhances user experience, overusing it might give your app an overwhelming look and feel.
  2. Choose the Right Colors: Choose your base and highlight colors wisely. They should match your app's color scheme to maintain the consistency of your UI/UX.
  3. Replace with Actual Data Promptly: Ensure that when real data arrives, the Shimmer effect gets replaced instantly. Try avoiding unnecessary delays, as they may degrade the user experience.
  4. Use Suitable Shimmer Gradient: The gradient specifies how your shimmer looks in terms of color transition. Therefore, use a shimmer gradient that aligns well with the rest of your app's appearance.
  5. Limit Shimmer Use in One Screen: Try to limit a shimmer widget's usage on a single screen. Overflowing the UI with the shimmer effect might degrade the app's aesthetic appeal.

Flutter Shimmer Effect Enriches Your ToolKit!

The sheer charm of Flutter is its ability to create versatile and attractive applications. Flutter Shimmer is a package that enables us to build a captivating Shimmer Enlivening effect, enhancing user interface aesthetics and engaging users during loading times.

This blog post aims to guide you in integrating the Shimmer loading effect in your Flutter apps, starting from setting up Flutter development to crafting a basic app, bringing life to widgets using the Shimmer effect and applying best practices to optimize visual results.

As a Flutter app developer, knowing how to use the Shimmer effect enriches your toolkit and broadens the array of techniques you can employ to increase user interaction and satisfaction.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

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