First time looking at Flutter and Dart can be daunting. I will go through each and every line of main.dart when you scaffold your first Flutter application and explain what it is doing.

Prerequisites

You will need Flutter SDK. Installation instructions are here

Setup

To create a new Flutter app, run

flutter create flutter_intro

App naming should be Lowercase with undescores like my_app_name

This scaffolds many files necessary for android and ios.

Let’s Start

The starting point is Located at lib/main.dart. Open the file

On the top you have

import 'package:flutter/material.dart';

Import in flutter is specified with package keyword followed by library or package name. In this case it’s flutter and then followed by file name, here it’s material.dart

material.dart contains android specific widgets like AppBar, FloatingActionButton, Dialog, DropDown to name a few. To explore all Material Widgets click here

There is also cupertino.dart which contains ios specific widgets

Next line is

void main() => runApp(MyApp());

Dart programs has an entry point called main. When you run flutter or dart file it first runs main function. In this case the main function is calling flutter specific function called runApp which takes any widget as an argument and created a layout which fills the screen.

In above example it is calling MyApp Widget to create a layout.

Widgets

In Flutter everything is a Widget. Flutter widgets takes inspiration from React.

Widget represents a visual component (or a component that interacts with the visual aspect of an application).

In Flutter we often use StatelessWidget and StatefulWidget

StatelessWidget

Some visual components do not depend on anything else but their own configuration information, which is provided at time of building it by its direct parent.

? Basically it means once widget only contains static data and won’t change in it’s lifetime

A basic StatelessWidget looks like this

class MyApp extends StatelessWidget {
  
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return new Text("FyndX");
  }
}

Any widget needs to override Widget build method in which you explain the UI of a widget tree, except low level widgets like Text, Container. If you don’t know about override ignore it for now, I will explain later in another post. In above example, It’s returning a primitive Widget Text contianing FyndX.

context is reference to the location of the widget in the widget tree. It can be thought of the address of the widget in a widget tree

In the main.dart file MyApp is returning MaterialApp. This widget can handle bunch of options like theming, routing, locale. The MaterialApp contains three arguments title, theme and home. Title takes a string which is used by the device to identify the app for the user. Basically in android recents screen you see the title. Next is theme which takes ThemeData widget that contains options like primaryColour, accentColour etc whcih are like global variables defined for you and can be used in any Widget.

The next argument is home which is basically a entry point for your app.

In the example it takes MyHomePage

StatefulWidget

Widgets that handle data which may change during it’s lifetime. The data becomes dynamic

class MyHomePage extends StatefulWidget {
  MyHomePage({Key key, this.title}) : super(key: key);

  final String title;

  
  _MyHomePageState createState() => _MyHomePageState();
}

The MyHomePage is a stateful widget which means it can hold some state.

Constructors

In Flutter you create constructors by using class name as follows

MyHomePage({Key key, this.title}) : super(key: key);

It takes title and key as params

The next line is

final String title;

You might be wondering why final?

If you look closer MyHomePage is extending StatefulWidget and this beautiful StatefulWidget inherits Widget. The Widget is basically immutable and it stores mutable state in seperate State object.

A rule of thumb for StatefulWidget is use final for all instance fields.

createState

_MyHomePageState createState() => _MyHomePageState();

createState creates a mutable state for the Widget _MyHomePageState

class _MyHomePageState extends State<MyHomePage> {
  int _counter = 0;

  void _incrementCounter() {
    setState(() {
      _counter++;
    });
  }

  
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return Scaffold(
      appBar: AppBar(
        title: Text(widget.title),
      ),
      body: Center(
        child: Column(
          mainAxisAlignment: MainAxisAlignment.center,
          children: <Widget>[
            Text(
              'You have pushed the button this many times:',
            ),
            Text(
              '$_counter',
              style: Theme.of(context).textTheme.display1,
            ),
          ],
        ),
      ),
      floatingActionButton: FloatingActionButton(
        onPressed: _incrementCounter,
        tooltip: 'Increment',
        child: Icon(Icons.add),
    );
  }
}

Any Widget which is holding state should extend State Widget.

The _MyHomePageState contains one variable \counter_ which holds the state and a method \incrementCounter_ which can increment the state of the counter.

In order to update any variable of widget setState method is used where you update the _counter value to the desired value. If you update the _counter without setState flutter may not trigger the update.

In the widget to use the variable like _counter, use $ before like ‘$_counter’

The FLoatingActionButton contains the onPressed function which calls _incementCounter function to change _counter value

Thanks for Reading 😍