Generic Enumerations For Dart

Build Status


As of generic_enum 0.3.0 it is not longer required to extend GenericEnum. In fact, this class has been removed. The package now uses extension-methods. The change was inspired by this issue comment and greatly simplifies the complexity of generic_enum_builder. It also reduces the required boiler-plate (generated methods are automatically available without the need to reference them).

The added benefit is that standard Dart enums can be made "generic" by mapping each enumeration instance to a constant value of arbitrary data-type.


Enumerations are ideal when we want to model choosing from a limited set of constant values. In Dart, the value of an enum instance resolves to a String.

The package generic_enum can be used together with generic_enum_builder to build extensions supporting mapping of enum instances to a value of arbitrary data-type as well as json-serialization.


To use this library include generic_enum as dependencies in your pubspec.yaml file. Include generic_enum_builder, and build_runner as dev_dependencies.

The example below shows how to define the enumeration ComplexConstants where the value of each enum instance is mapped to a value of type Complex.

Click to show source code.
   // 0. Add import directives.
   import 'package:generic_enum/generic_enum.dart';
   import 'package:exception_templates/exception_templates.dart';

   // 1. Add part statement.
   part 'complex.g.dart';

   class Complex {
     const Complex(this.real, this.imag);
     final num real;
     final num imag;

     String toString() {
       return '$real + ${imag}i';

     bool operator ==(Object other) =>
         identical(this, other) ||
         other is Complex &&
             runtimeType == other.runtimeType &&
             this.real == other.real &&
             this.imag == other.imag;

     int get hashCode => real.hashCode ^ imag.hashCode;

   // Define an enum and annotate it.
     mappedValueType: ValueType<Complex>(),
     mappedValues: const {
       'Complex(0, 0)',
       'Complex(0, 1)',
   enum ComplexConstant {

The required steps are detailed below:

  1. Add the import directives shown above.

  2. Add a part statement referencing the generated file complex.g.dart.

  3. Define an enumeration and annotate it with:

    • @GenerateValueExtension(),
    • @GenerateJsonExtension().
  4. Configure the build targets (and amend the generate_for entry). In your local build.yaml file add configurations for the builder json_builder provided by the package generic_enum_builder.

    Click to show file content.
             # Configure the builder `pkg_name|builder_name`
               # Only run this builder on the specified input.
               enabled: true
                 - lib/*.dart

    Note: The file complex.dart should be an asset that can be resolved by the builder. To limit the number of files scanned for annotationed classes during the build process one can use a generate_for statement in the builder configuration.

  5. Build the project by running the command:

    $ pub run build_runner build --delete-conflicting-outputs
  6. For the example presented here, the build process will generate the file complex.g.dart.

    Click to show file content.
        part of 'complex.dart';
        // **************************************************************************
        // ValueGenerator
        // **************************************************************************
        /// Extension on `ComplexConstant` providing value-getters.
        extension ComplexConstantValue on ComplexConstant {
          /// Returns the mapped Complex value of
          /// an instance of `ComplexConstant`.
          Complex get value => const <ComplexConstant, Complex>{
       Complex(0, 0),
                ComplexConstant.i: Complex(0, 1),
          /// Returns the String identifier of an instance of `ComplexConstant`.
          String get stringValue => const <ComplexConstant, String>{
                ComplexConstant.i: 'i',
        // **************************************************************************
        // JsonGenerator
        // **************************************************************************
        /// Extension providing the functions `fromJson()`, `toJson()`,
        /// and the getter `jsonEncoded`.
        extension ToComplexConstant on ComplexConstant {
          /// Converts [json] to an instance of `ComplexConstant`.
          static ComplexConstant fromJson(Map<String, dynamic> json) {
            final index = (json['index']) as int;
            if (index == null) {
              throw ErrorOf<ComplexConstant>(
                  message: 'Error deserializing json to ComplexConstant.',
                  invalidState: 'json[index] returned null.',
                  expectedState: 'A map entry: {index: int value}.');
            if (index >= 0 && index < ComplexConstant.values.length) {
              return ComplexConstant.values[index];
            } else {
              throw ErrorOf<ComplexConstant>(
                  message: 'Function fromJson could not find '
                      'an instance of type ComplexConstant.',
                  invalidState: 'ComplexConstant.values[$index] out of bounds.');
          /// Converts `this` to a map `Map<String, dynamic>`.
          Map<String, dynamic> toJson() =>
              {'index': ComplexConstant.values.indexOf(this)};
          /// Converts `this` to a json encoded `String`.
          String get jsonEncoded => '{"index":${ComplexConstant.values.indexOf(this)}}';

Enum - Value Mapping

The annotation @GenerateValueExtension takes the following optional parameters:

  • mappedValueType, an instance of ValueType<T>. The type parameter T is used to specify the data-type of the mapped enum values.
  • mappedValues, a Set with entries of type String. The entries are copied verbatim by the value extension generator and must represent valid instances of data-type T.
  • getterName, a String with default value stringValue. It must be a valid Dart identifier and can be used to configure the name of the getter returning the enum String value.
  • mappedGetterName, a String which defaults to value. It must be a valid Dart identifier and can be used to configure the name of the getter returning the mapped enum value.

In order to generate a getter that maps each enum instance to a constant value of data-type T one must provide an argument for the parameters mappedValueType and mappedValues.

Alternatively, it is possible to manually write a separate extension along the lines of:

 extension MappedValue on ComplexConstant {
   Complex get value => const <ComplexConstant, Complex>{ Complex(0, 0),
         ComplexConstant.i: Complex(0, 1),


Because of this issue it is not possible to pass an instance of enum to the function jsonEncode(Object object) (provided by dart:convert) even if the function toJson() is defined in an extension on the enum.

Alternative ways to serialize an instance of enum are:

  • Use the generated getter toJsonEncoded to retrieve a json encoded String.
  • Pass the result of toJson() to jsonEncode.
  • Use a full blown serialization approach like json_serializable. This is recommended if your project already uses json_serializable.

When it comes to deserialization, the usual approach is to define a factory constructor named fromJson. This is not possible since extensions do not support constructors. Moreover, static extension-methods are accessed by specifying the extension name,

To keep the notation similar to the "usual approach", the extension containing the static method fromJson is named To + Enum Name, see example below.

import 'dart:convert';
import 'package:test/test.dart';

import 'complex.dart';

final i = ComplexConstant.i;

// Encoding to Map<String, dynamic>.
Map<String, dynamic> json = i.toJson();

// Encoding to String.
String jsonEncoded0 = jsonEncode(i);   // Throws error! Extensions not available for dynamic types.
String jsonEncoded1 = jsonEncode(json) // Using dart:convert.
String jsonEncoded2 = i.jsonEncoded;   // Using the generated getter.
expect(jsonEncode1, jsonEncode2);

// Decoding (notice the prefix "To").
expect(ToComplexConstant.fromJson(json), i);
expect(ToComplexConstant.fromJson(jsonDecode(jsonEncoded1)), i);


Further examples on how to define and build generic enumeration classes can be found in the package generic_enum_example.

Features and bugs

Please file feature requests and bugs at the issue tracker.


Library providing the classes: [...]