pub package Welcome to state_notifier~

This package is a recommended solution for managing state when using Provider or Riverpod.

Long story short, instead of extending ChangeNotifier, extend StateNotifier:

class City {
  City({required this.name, required this.population});
  final String name;
  final int population;
}


class CityNotifier extends StateNotifier<List<City>> {
  CityNotifier() : super(const <City>[]);

  void addCity(City newCity) {
    state = [
      ...state,
      newCity,
    ];
  }
}

Motivation

The purpose of StateNotifier is to be a simple solution to control state in an immutable manner.
While ChangeNotifier is simple, through its mutable nature, it can be harder to maintain as it grows larger.

By using immutable state, it becomes a lot simpler to:

  • compare previous and new state
  • implement undo-redo mechanism
  • debug the application state

Good practices

DON'T update the state of a StateNotifier outside the notifier

While you could technically write:

class Counter extends StateNotifier<int> {
  Counter(): super(0);
}

final notifier = Counter();
notifier.state++;

That is considered anti-pattern (and your IDE should show a warning).

Only the StateNotifier should modify its state. Instead, prefer using a method:

class Counter extends StateNotifier<int> {
  Counter(): super(0);

  void increment() => state++:
}

final notifier = Counter();
notifier.increment();

The goal is to centralize all the logic that modifies a StateNotifier within the StateNotifier itself.

FAQ

Why are listeners called when the new state is == to the previous state?

You may realize that a StateNotifier does not use == to verify that the state has changed before notifying for changes.

This behavior is voluntary, for performance reasons.

The reasoning is that StateNotifier is typically used with complex objects, which often override == to perform a deep comparison.
But performing a deep comparison can be a costly operation, especially since it is common for the state to contain lists/maps.
Similarly, for complex states, it is rare that when calling notifier.state = newState, the new and previous states are the same.

As such, instead of using ==, StateNotifier relies on identical to compare objects.
This way, when using StateNotifier with simple states like int/enums, it will correctly filter identical states. At the same time, this preserves performance on complex states, at identical will not perform a deep object comparison.

Usage

Integration with Freezed

While entirely optional, it is recommended to use StateNotifier in combination with Freezed.
Freezed is a code-generation package for data-classes in Dart, which automatically generates methods like copyWith and add support for union-types.

A typical example would be using Freezed to handle data vs error vs loading states. With its union-types, it can lead to a significant improvement in maintainability as, it:

  • ensures that your application will not enter illogical states (such as both having a "data" and being in "loading" state)
  • ensures that logic handles all possible cases. Such as forcing to check loading/error cases before trying to access the data.

The idea is that, rather than defining the data, error and loading state in a single object like:

class MyState {
  MyState(...);
  final Data data;
  final Object? error;
  final bool loading;
}

We can use Freezed to define it as:

@freezed
class MyState {
  factory MyState.data(Data data) = MyStateData;
  factory MyState.error(Object? error) = MyStateError;
  factory MyState.loading() = MyStateLoading;
}

That voluntarily prevents us from doing:

void main() {
  MyState state;
  print(state.data);
}

Instead, we can use the generated map method to handle the various cases:

void main() {
  MyState state;
  state.when(
    data: (state) => print(state.data),
    loading: (state) => print('loading'),
    error: (state) => print('Error: ${state.error}'),
  );
}

Integration with provider/service locators

StateNotifier is easily compatible with provider through an extra mixin: LocatorMixin.

Consider a typical StateNotifier:

class Count {
  Count(this.count);
  final int count;
}

class Counter extends StateNotifier<Count> {
  Counter(): super(Count(0));

  void increment() {
    state = Count(state.count + 1);
  }
}

In this example, we may want to use Provider.of/context.read to connect our Counter with external services.

To do so, simply mix-in LocatorMixin as such:

class Counter extends StateNotifier<Count> with LocatorMixin {
// unchanged
}

That then gives you access to:

  • read, a function to obtain services
  • update, a new life-cycle that can be used to listen to changes on a service

We could use them to change our Counter incrementation to save the counter in a DB when incrementing the value:

class Counter extends StateNotifier<Count> with LocatorMixin {
  Counter(): super(Count(0))

  void increment() {
    state = Count(state.count + 1);
    read<LocalStorage>().writeInt('count', state.count);
  }
}

Where Counter and LocalStorage are defined using provider this way:

void main() {
  runApp(
    MultiProvider(
      providers: [
        Provider(create: (_) => LocalStorage()),
        StateNotifierProvider<Counter, Count>(create: (_) => Counter()),
      ],
      child: MyApp(),
    ),
  );
}

Then, Counter/Count are consumed using your typical context.watch/Consumer/context.select/...:

@override
Widget build(BuildContext context) {
  int count = context.watch<Count>().count;

  return Scaffold(
    body: Text('$count'),
    floatingActionButton: FloatingActionButton(
      onPressed: () => context.read<Counter>().increment(),
      child: Icon(Icons.add),
    ),
  );
}

Testing

When using LocatorMixin, you may want to mock a dependency for your tests.
Of course, we still don't want to depend on Flutter/provider to do such a thing.

Similarly, since state is protected, tests need a simple way to read the state.

As such, LocatorMixin also adds extra utilities to help you with this scenario:

myStateNotifier.debugMockDependency<MyDependency>(myDependency);
print(myStateNotifier.debugState);
myStateNotifier.debugUpdate();

As such, if we want to test our previous Counter, we could mock LocalStorage this way:

test('increment and saves to local storage', () {
  final mockLocalStorage = MockLocalStorage();
  final counter = Counter()
    ..debugMockDependency<LocalStorage>(mockLocalStorage);

  expect(counter.debugState, 0);

  counter.increment(); // works fine since we mocked the LocalStorage

  expect(counter.debugState, 1);
  // mockito stuff
  verify(mockLocalStorage.writeInt('int', 1));
});

Note: LocatorMixin only works on StateNotifier, if you try to use it on other classes by with LocatorMixin then it will not work.

Libraries

state_notifier