Iterable collections

This codelab teaches you how to use collections that implement the Iterable class — for example List and Set. Iterables are basic building blocks for all sorts of Dart applications, and you’re probably already using them, even without noticing. This codelab helps you make the most out of them.

Using the embedded DartPad editors, you can test your knowledge by running example code and completing exercises.

To get the most out of this codelab, you should have basic knowledge of Dart syntax.

This codelab covers the following material:

  • How to read elements of an Iterable.
  • How to check if the elements of an Iterable satisfy a condition.
  • How to filter the contents of an Iterable.
  • How to map the contents of an Iterable to a different value.

Estimated time to complete this codelab: 60 minutes.

What are collections?

A collection is an object that represents a group of objects, which are called elements. Iterables are a kind of collection.

A collection can be empty, or it can contain many elements. Depending on the purpose, collections can have different structures and implementations. These are some of the most common collection types:

  • List: Used to read elements by their indexes.
  • Set: Used to contain elements that can occur only once.
  • Map: Used to read elements using a key.

What is an Iterable?

An Iterable is a collection of elements that can be accessed sequentially.

In Dart, an Iterable is an abstract class, meaning that you can’t instantiate it directly. However, you can create a new Iterable by creating a new List or Set.

Both List and Set are Iterable, so they have the same methods and properties as the Iterable class.

A Map uses a different data structure internally, depending on its implementation. For example, HashMap uses a hash table in which the elements (also called values) are obtained using a key. Elements of a Map can also be read as Iterable objects by using the map’s entries or values property.

This example shows a List of int, which is also an Iterable of int:

Iterable<int> iterable = [1, 2, 3];

The difference with a List is that with the Iterable, you can’t guarantee that reading elements by index will be efficient. Iterable, as opposed to List, doesn’t have the [] operator.

For example, consider the following code, which is invalid:

Iterable<int> iterable = [1, 2, 3];
int value = iterable[1];

If you read elements with [], the compiler tells you that the operator '[]' isn’t defined for the class Iterable, which means that you can’t use [index] in this case.

You can instead read elements with elementAt(), which steps through the elements of the iterable until it reaches that position.

Iterable<int> iterable = [1, 2, 3];
int value = iterable.elementAt(1);

Continue to the next section to learn more about how to access elements of an Iterable.

Reading elements

You can read the elements of an iterable sequentially, using a for-in loop.

Example: Using a for-in loop

The following example shows you how to read elements using a for-in loop.

Example: Using first and last

In some cases, you want to access only the first or the last element of an Iterable.

With the Iterable class, you can’t access the elements directly, so you can’t call iterable[0] to access the first element. Instead, you can use first, which gets the first element.

Also, with the Iterable class, you can’t use the operator [] to access the last element, but you can use the last property.

In this example you saw how to use first and last to get the first and last elements of an Iterable. It’s also possible to find the first element that satisfies a condition. The next section shows how to do that using a method called firstWhere().

Example: Using firstWhere()

You already saw that you can access the elements of an Iterable sequentially, and you can easily get the first or last element.

Now, you learn how to use firstWhere() to find the first element that satisfies certain conditions. This method requires you to pass a predicate, which is a function that returns true if the input satisfies a certain condition.

String element = iterable.firstWhere((element) => element.length > 5);

For example, if you want to find the first String that has more than 5 characters, you must pass a predicate that returns true when the element size is greater than 5.

Run the following example to see how firstWhere() works. Do you think all the functions will give the same result?

In this example, you can see three different ways to write a predicate:

  • As an expression: The test code has one line that uses arrow syntax (=>).
  • As a block: The test code has multiple lines between brackets and a return statement.
  • As a function: The test code is in an external function that’s passed to the firstWhere() method as a parameter.

There is no right or wrong way. Use the way that works best for you, and that makes your code easier to read and understand.

In the example, firstWhereWithOrElse() calls firstWhere() with the optional named parameter orElse, which provides an alternative when an element isn’t found. In this case, the text 'None!' is returned because no element satisfies the provided condition.

Exercise: Practice writing a test predicate

The following exercise is a failing unit test that contains a partially complete code snippet. Your task is to complete the exercise by writing code to make the tests pass. You don’t need to implement main().

This exercise introduces singleWhere() This method works similarly to firstWhere(), but in this case it expects only one element of the Iterable to satisfy the predicate. If more than one or no element in the Iterable satisfies the predicate condition, then the method throws a StateError exception.

Your goal is to implement the predicate for singleWhere() that satisfies the following conditions:

  • The element contains the character 'a'.
  • The element starts with the character 'M'.

All the elements in the test data are strings; you can check the class documentation for help.

Checking conditions

When working with Iterable, sometimes you need to verify that all of the elements of a collection satisfy some condition.

You might be tempted to write a solution using a for-in loop like this one:

for (var item in items) {
  if (item.length < 5) {
    return false;
return true;

However, you can accomplish the same using the every() method:

return items.every((element) => element.length >= 5);

Using the every() method results in code that is more readable, compact, and less error prone.

Example: Using any() and every()

The Iterable class provides two methods that you can use to verify conditions:

  • any(): Returns true if at least one element satisfies the condition.
  • every(): Returns true if all elements satisfy the condition.

Run this exercise to see them in action.

In the example, any() verifies that at least one element contains the character a, and every() verifies that all elements have a length equal to or greater than 5.

After running the code, try changing the predicate of any() so it returns false:

if (items.any((element) => element.contains('Z'))) {
  print('At least one element contains "Z"');
} else {
  print('No element contains "Z"');

You can also use any() to verify that no element of an Iterable satisfies a certain condition.

Exercise: Verify that an Iterable satisfies a condition

The following exercise provides practice using the any() and every() methods, described in the previous example. In this case, you work with a group of users, represented by User objects that have the member field age.

Use any() and every() to implement two functions:

  • Part 1: Implement anyUserUnder18().
    • Return true if at least one user is 17 or younger.
  • Part 2: Implement everyUserOver13().
    • Return true if all users are 14 or older.


The previous sections cover methods like firstWhere() or singleWhere() that can help you find an element that satisfies a certain predicate.

But what if you want to find all the elements that satisfy a certain condition? You can accomplish that using the where() method.

var evenNumbers = numbers.where((number) => number.isEven);

In this example, numbers contains an Iterable with multiple int values, and where() finds all the numbers that are even.

The output of where() is another Iterable, and you can use it as such to iterate over it or apply other Iterable methods. In the next example, the output of where() is used directly inside the for-in loop.

var evenNumbers = numbers.where((number) => number.isEven);
for (var number in evenNumbers) {
  print('$number is even');

Example: Using where()

Run this example to see how where() can be used together with other methods like any().

In this example, where() is used to find all numbers that are even, then any() is used to check if the results contain a negative number.

Later in the example, where() is used again to find all numbers larger than 1000. Because there are none, the result is an empty Iterable.

Example: Using takeWhile

The methods takeWhile() and skipWhile() can also help you filter elements from an Iterable.

Run this example to see how takeWhile() and skipWhile() can split an Iterable containing numbers.

In this example, takeWhile() returns an Iterable that contains all the elements leading to the element that satisfies the predicate. On the other hand, skipWhile() returns an Iterable while skipping all the elements before the one that satisfies the predicate. Note that the element that satisfies the predicate is also included.

After running the example, change takeWhile() to take elements until it reaches the first negative number.

var numbersUntilNegative =
    numbers.takeWhile((number) => !number.isNegative);

Notice that the condition number.isNegative is negated with !.

Exercise: Filtering elements from a list

The following exercise provides practice using the where() method with the class User from the previous exercise.

Use where() to implement two functions:

  • Part 1: Implement filterUnder21().
    • Return an Iterable containing all users of age 21 or more.
  • Part 2: Implement findShortNamed().
    • Return an Iterable containing all users with names of length 3 or less.


Mapping Iterables with the method map() enables you to apply a function over each of the elements, replacing each element with a new one.

Iterable<int> output = => number * 10);

In this example, each element of the Iterable numbers is multiplied by 10.

You can also use map() to transform an element into a different object — for example, to convert all int to String, as you can see in the following example.

Iterable<String> output = => number.toString());

Example: Using map to change elements

Run this example to see how to use map() to multiply all the elements of an Iterable by 2. What do you think the output will be?

Exercise: Mapping to a different type

In the previous example, you multiplied the elements of an Iterable by 2. Both the input and the output of that operation were an Iterable of int.

In this exercise, your code takes an Iterable of User, and you need to return an Iterable that contains strings containing user name and age.

Each string in the Iterable must follow this format: '{name} is {age}'—for example 'Alice is 21'.

Exercise: Putting it all together

It’s time to practice what you learned, in one final exercise.

This exercise provides the class EmailAddress, which has a constructor that takes a string. Another provided function is isValidEmailAddress(), which tests whether an email address is valid.

Constructor/function Type signature Description
EmailAddress() EmailAddress(String address) Creates an EmailAddress for the specified address.
isValidEmailAddress() bool isValidEmailAddress(EmailAddress) Returns true if the provided EmailAddress is valid.

Write the following code:

Part 1: Implement parseEmailAddresses().

  • Write the function parseEmailAddresses(), which takes an Iterable<String> containing email addresses, and returns an Iterable<EmailAddress>.
  • Use the method map() to map from a String to EmailAddress.
  • Create the EmailAddress objects using the constructor EmailAddress(String).

Part 2: Implement anyInvalidEmailAddress().

  • Write the function anyInvalidEmailAddress(), which takes an Iterable<EmailAddress> and returns true if any EmailAddress in the Iterable isn’t valid.
  • Use the method any() together with the provided function isValidEmailAddress().

Part 3: Implement validEmailAddresses().

  • Write the function validEmailAddresses(), which takes an Iterable<EmailAddress> and returns another Iterable<EmailAddress> containing only valid addresses.
  • Use the method where() to filter the Iterable<EmailAddress>.
  • Use the provided function isValidEmailAddress() to evaluate whether an EmailAddress is valid.

What’s next

Congratulations, you finished the codelab! If you want to learn more, here are some suggestions for where to go next: