ReactiveWidget and ReactiveValue for Flutter


I am deprecating this library, because I found an even simpler (and much better) mechanism for creating reactive UIs in Flutter: please use the flutter_reactive_value library instead of this one.

The documentation and code for this flutter_reactive_widget library will still be hosted here, but this code will not see further development.


This library provides a simple mechanism for creating a reactive UI in Flutter.

(1) Declare your state using ReactiveValue<T> (which extends ValueNotifier<T>):

final counter = ReactiveValue<int>(0);

(2) Wrap any code that needs to react to changes to counter.value in a ReactiveWidget (which accepts a zero-arg lambda to be called by the ReactiveWidget's build method).

If counter.value is read while the ReactiveWidget's build() method is running, then the ReactiveWidget will start listening for changes to counter.value. (This listener is automatically removed if the widget is disposed.)

  () => Text('${counter.value}'),

(3) Any event handler that modifies counter.value will now trigger the ReactiveWidget to be re-built with the new value, by scheduling setState to be called on the ReactiveWidget in a post-frame callback.

  icon: const Icon(Icons.plus_one),
  onPressed: () {

counter.value can be modifed from anywhere except for a build method (since build methods should never mutate state).

Adding the library dependency

flutter_reactive_widget is hosted on

To be able to import the library, you need to add a dependency upon it in pubspec.yaml (replace any with the latest version, if you want to control the version), then run flutter pub get:

    sdk: flutter
  flutter_reactive_widget: any

Import the library in your code:

import 'package:flutter_reactive_widget/flutter_reactive_widget.dart';

PersistentReactiveValue subclass

ReactiveValue resets to its initial value every time the app is restarted. You can also persist values across app restarts by using PersistentReactiveValue rather than ReactiveValue.

First in main, you need to initialize WidgetsFlutterBinding and then you need to call await initPersistentReactiveValue() (defined in flutter_reactive_widget.dart), which starts SharedPreferences and loads any persisted values from the backing store.

main() async {
  // Both of the following lines are needed, in this order
  await initPersistentReactiveValue();
  // Then run the app

Then you can use PersistentReactiveValue rather than ReactiveValue:

final counter = PersistentReactiveValue<int>(
      /* key */ 'counter', /* defaultValue */ 0);

counter.value will be set to the default value 0 if it has never been set before, but if it has been set before in a previous run of the app, the previous value will be recovered from SharedPreferences, using the key 'counter'.

Whenever counter.value is set in future, not only is any wrapping ReactiveWidget updated, but the new value is asynchronously written through to the SharedPreferences persistence cache, using the same key.

PersistentReactiveNullableValue subclass

Note that for PersistentReactiveValue<T>, T cannot be a nullable type (T?), since null values cannot be distinguished from a value not being present in SharedPreferences.

If you want to be able to "store" null values in SharedPreferences (which amounts to removing the key from SharedPreferences if you try to set a null value), then use PersistentReactiveNullableValue<T?>. For this class, defaultValue is optional.

ValidatingReactiveValue subclass

The ValidatingReactiveValue subclass of ReactiveValue has an additional field, validationError, which is itself a ReactiveValue<String?>. This field is updated whenever the ValidatingReactiveValue's value changes, by calling the validate function that is passed into the ValidatingReactiveValue constructor. For example:

final age = ValidatingReactiveValue<int?>(null,
        (a) => a == null ? 'Please specify age' : null);

// You can now listen to either `age.validationError` or `age.value` in a `ReactiveWidget`.

Manually notifying listeners of deeper changes to value

If you create final set = ReactiveValue<Set<String>>({}); and then you call set.value.add('abc'), set's listeners will not be notified of the change, because the reference to the set itself (i.e. set.value) has not changed. You can manually call listeners in this case by doing something like:

_addFlag(bool flag) {
  bool changed = flag ? set.value.add('flag') : set.value.remove('flag');
  if (changed) {

Removing ReactiveValue listeners in StatefulWidgets' State.dispose() method

If you are instantiating a ReactiveValue in a field of a StatefulWidget's State<T> object, make sure your State<T>'s dispose() method calls the ReactiveValue's dispose() method to remove all listeners when the widget is disposed, in order to prevent memory leaks.

Lifecycle, and where to store state

If you want a ReactiveValue's to exist for the lifetime of the app, there are good suggestions in this Medium post about how to use GetIt to organize state in your application. Applying that idea to flutter_reactive_widget:


Call setUpGetIt() from main:

import 'package:my_app/pages/home_page.dart';
import './service_locator.dart';

main() async {
  await initPersistentReactiveValue();

  // Register state singletons (defined in service_locator.dart)



Register all your state-containing classes as singletons using GetIt, with one state class per page (i.e. create home_page_state.dart for page home_page.dart):

import 'package:my_app/pages/home_page_state.dart';
import 'package:get_it/get_it.dart';

final getIt = GetIt.instance;

void setUpGetIt() {
  getIt.registerLazySingleton<HomePageState>(() => HomePageState());


Define each state class:

import 'package:flutter_reactive_widget/flutter_reactive_widget.dart';

/// The persistent state of [HomePage]
class HomePageState {
  final count = PersistentReactiveValue<int>('count', 0);


Get the state singleton class instance(s) you need to read state from, using GetIt.instance<T>() (or getIt<T>, if you import service_locator.dart):

import 'package:my_app/pages/home_page_state.dart';
import 'package:flutter_reactive_widget/flutter_reactive_widget.dart';
import 'package:flutter/material.dart';
import './service_locator.dart';

// Get the state of the page
final _homePageState = getIt<HomePageState>();

class HomePage extends StatelessWidget {
  const HomePage({Key? key}) : super(key: key);
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return Scaffold(
      appBar: AppBar(
        title: const Text('HomeView'),
        centerTitle: true,
      body: Column(
        children: [
            () => Text(
              style: const TextStyle(fontSize: 20),
            icon: const Icon(Icons.plus_one),
            onPressed: () {


flutter_reactive_widget was written by Luke Hutchison, and is released under the MIT license.