In this example we will look at how to use Flutter with a serverless API to create a simple click counter app. We’ll be using the Serverless Stack Framework (SST).

Requirements

Create an SST app

Let’s start by creating an SST app.

$ npm init sst typescript-starter flutter-app
$ cd flutter-app
$ npm install

By default, our app will be deployed to the us-east-1 AWS region. This can be changed in the sst.json in your project root.

{
  "name": "flutter-app",
  "region": "us-east-1",
  "main": "stacks/index.ts"
}

Project layout

An SST app is made up of a couple of parts.

  1. stacks/ — App Infrastructure

    The code that describes the infrastructure of your serverless app is placed in the stacks/ directory of your project. SST uses AWS CDK, to create the infrastructure.

  2. backend/ — App Code

    The code that’s run when your API is invoked is placed in the backend/ directory of your project.

  3. frontend/ — Flutter App

    The code for our frontend Flutter app.

Create our infrastructure

Our app is made up of a simple API and a Flutter app. The API will be talking to a database to store the number of clicks. We’ll start by creating the database.

Adding the table

We’ll be using Amazon DynamoDB; a reliable and highly-performant NoSQL database that can be configured as a true serverless database. Meaning that it’ll scale up and down automatically. And you won’t get charged if you are not using it.

Replace the stacks/MyStack.ts with the following.

import {
  Api,
  ReactStaticSite,
  StackContext,
  Table,
} from "@serverless-stack/resources";

export function MyStack({ stack }: StackContext) {
  // Create the table
  const table = new Table(stack, "Counter", {
    fields: {
      counter: "string",
    },
    primaryIndex: { partitionKey: "counter" },
  });
}

This creates a serverless DynamoDB table using the SST Table construct. It has a primary key called counter. Our table is going to look something like this:

counter tally
clicks 123

Creating our API

Now let’s add the API.

Add this below the Table definition in stacks/MyStack.ts.

// Create the HTTP API
const api = new Api(stack, "Api", {
  defaults: {
    function: {
      // Allow the API to access the table
      permissions: [table],
      // Pass in the table name to our API
      environment: {
        tableName: table.tableName,
      },
    },
  },
  routes: {
    "POST /": "functions/lambda.handler",
  },
});

// Show the URLs in the output
stack.addOutputs({
  ApiEndpoint: api.url,
});

We are using the SST Api construct to create our API. It simply has one endpoint (the root). When we make a POST request to this endpoint the Lambda function called handler in backend/functions/lambda.ts will get invoked.

We also pass in the name of our DynamoDB table to our API as an environment variable called tableName. And we allow our API to access (read and write) the table instance we just created.

Reading from our table

Our API is powered by a Lambda function. In the function we’ll read from our DynamoDB table.

Replace backend/functions/lambda.ts with the following.

import { DynamoDB } from "aws-sdk";

const dynamoDb = new DynamoDB.DocumentClient();

export async function handler() {
  const getParams = {
    // Get the table name from the environment variable
    TableName: process.env.tableName,
    // Get the row where the counter is called "clicks"
    Key: {
      counter: "clicks",
    },
  };
  const results = await dynamoDb.get(getParams).promise();

  // If there is a row, then get the value of the
  // column called "tally"
  let count = results.Item ? results.Item.tally : 0;

  return {
    statusCode: 200,
    body: count,
  };
}

We make a get call to our DynamoDB table and get the value of a row where the counter column has the value clicks. Since we haven’t written to this column yet, we are going to just return 0.

Let’s install the aws-sdk package in the backend/ folder.

$ npm install aws-sdk

And let’s test what we have so far.

Starting your dev environment

SST features a Live Lambda Development environment that allows you to work on your serverless apps live.

$ npm start

The first time you run this command it’ll take a couple of minutes to deploy your app and a debug stack to power the Live Lambda Development environment.

===============
 Deploying app
===============

Preparing your SST app
Transpiling source
Linting source
Deploying stacks
dev-flutter-app-my-stack: deploying...

 ✅  dev-flutter-app-my-stack


Stack dev-flutter-app-my-stack
  Status: deployed
  Outputs:
    ApiEndpoint: https://sez1p3dsia.execute-api.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com

The ApiEndpoint is the API we just created.

Let’s test our endpoint with the SST Console. The SST Console is a web based dashboard to manage your SST apps. Learn more about it in our docs.

Go to the API tab and click Send button to send a POST request.

Note, The API explorer lets you make HTTP requests to any of the routes in your Api construct. Set the headers, query params, request body, and view the function logs with the response.

API explorer invocation response

You should see a 0 in the response body.

Setting up our Flutter app

We are now ready to use the API we just created. Let’s use Flutter CLI to setup our Flutter app.

If you don’t have the Flutter CLI installed on your machine, head over here to install it.

Run the following in the project root.

$ flutter create frontend
$ cd frontend

This sets up our Flutter app in the frontend/ directory.

We also need to load the environment variables from our SST app. To do this, we’ll be using the flutter_dotenv package.

Install the flutter_dotenv package by running the following in the frontend/ directory.

$ flutter pub add flutter_dotenv

Create a .env file inside frontend/ and create two variables to hold the development and production API endpoints. Replace the DEV_API_URL with the one from the steps above.

DEV_API_URL=https://sez1p3dsia.execute-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com
PROD_API_URL=OUTPUT_FROM_SST_DEPLOY

We’ll add the PROD_API_URL later in this example.

Add the .env file to your assets bundle in pubspec.yaml by uncommenting the assets section under flutter.

flutter:
  # The following line ensures that the Material Icons font is
  # included with your application, so that you can use the icons in
  # the material Icons class.
  uses-material-design: true

  # To add assets to your application, add an assets section, like this:
  assets:
    - .env

Ensure that the path corresponds to the location of the .env file!

We also need the http package to call the endpoint.

In the frontend/ directory run.

$ flutter pub add http

Let’s start our Flutter development environment.

In the frontend/ directory run.

$ flutter run

This will open up an emulator and load the app.

Add the click button

We are now ready to add the UI for our app and connect it to our serverless API.

Replace frontend/lib/main.dart with.

import 'package:flutter/material.dart';
import 'package:flutter_dotenv/flutter_dotenv.dart';
import 'package:http/http.dart' as http;
import 'package:flutter/foundation.dart';

Future main() async {
  await dotenv.load(fileName: ".env");
  runApp(MyApp());
}

class MyApp extends StatefulWidget {
  MyApp({Key? key}) : super(key: key);

  @override
  State<MyApp> createState() => _MyAppState();
}

class _MyAppState extends State<MyApp> {
  update() async {
    Uri uri = kReleaseMode ? Uri.parse(dotenv.env['PROD_API_URL']!) : Uri.parse(dotenv.env['DEV_API_URL']!);
    var result = await http.post(uri);
    setState(() {
      counter = int.parse(result.body);
    });
  }

  int counter = 0;

  @override
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return MaterialApp(
      title: "Counter App",
      theme: ThemeData(
        primarySwatch: Colors.blue,
      ),
      home: Scaffold(
        appBar: AppBar(
          title: Text("Counter App"),
        ),
        body: Container(
          child: Center(
            child: Column(
              mainAxisAlignment: MainAxisAlignment.center,
              children: [
                Text("This button is pressed $counter times"),
                MaterialButton(
                  onPressed: () {
                    setState(() {
                      update();
                    });
                  },
                  child: Text(
                    "Click Me",
                    style: TextStyle(color: Colors.white),
                  ),
                  color: Colors.blue.shade500,
                ),
              ],
            ),
          ),
        ),
      ),
    );
  }
}

Here we are adding a simple button that when clicked, makes a request to our API. We are getting the API endpoint from the environment variable depending on the build mode.

The response from our API is then stored in our app’s state. We use that to display the count of the number of times the button has been clicked.

Now if you head over to your emulator, your Flutter app should look something like this.

Click counter UI in Flutter app

Of course if you click on the button multiple times, the count doesn’t change. That’s because we are not updating the count in our API. We’ll do that next.

Making changes

Let’s update our table with the clicks.

Add this above the return statement in backend/functions/lambda.ts.

const putParams = {
  TableName: process.env.tableName,
  Key: {
    counter: "clicks",
  },
  // Update the "tally" column
  UpdateExpression: "SET tally = :count",
  ExpressionAttributeValues: {
    // Increase the count
    ":count": ++count,
  },
};
await dynamoDb.update(putParams).promise();

Here we are updating the clicks row’s tally column with the increased count.

And if you head over to your emulator and click the button again, you should see the count increase!

Click counter updating in Flutter app

Also let’s go to the DynamoDB tab in the SST Console and check that the value has been updated in the table.

Note, The DynamoDB explorer allows you to query the DynamoDB tables in the Table constructs in your app. You can scan the table, query specific keys, create and edit items.

DynamoDB table view of counter table

Deploying to prod

To wrap things up we’ll deploy our app to prod.

$ npx sst deploy --stage prod

This allows us to separate our environments, so when we are working locally it doesn’t break the app for our users.

Once deployed, you should see something like this.

 ✅  prod-flutter-app-my-stack


Stack prod-flutter-app-my-stack
  Status: deployed
  Outputs:
    ApiEndpoint: https://k40qchmtvf.execute-api.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com

Add the above endpoint to the .env file in frontend/.env as a production API endpoint.

DEV_API_URL=https://sez1p3dsia.execute-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com
PROD_API_URL=https://k40qchmtvf.execute-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com

Run the below command to open the SST Console in prod stage to test the production endpoint.

npx sst console --stage prod

Go to the API tab and click Send button to send a POST request.

API explorer prod invocation response

Now we are ready to ship our app!

Cleaning up

Finally, you can remove the resources created in this example using the following commands.

$ npx sst remove
$ npx sst remove --stage prod

Conclusion

And that’s it! We’ve got a completely serverless click counter app in Flutter. A local development environment, to test and make changes. And it’s deployed to production as well, so you can share it with your users. Check out the repo below for the code we used in this example. And leave a comment if you have any questions!