Introduction to Dart

This page provides a brief introduction to the Dart language through samples of its main features.

To learn more about the Dart language, visit the in-depth, individual topic pages listed under Language in the left side menu.

For coverage of Dart’s core libraries, check out the library tour. You can also visit the Dart cheatsheet codelab, for a more hands-on introduction.

Hello World

Every app requires the top-level main() function, where execution starts. Functions that don’t explicitly return a value have the void return type. To display text on the console, you can use the top-level print() function:

void main() {
  print('Hello, World!');

Read more about the main() function in Dart, including optional parameters for command-line arguments.


Even in type-safe Dart code, you can declare most variables without explicitly specifying their type using var. Thanks to type inference, these variables’ types are determined by their initial values:

var name = 'Voyager I';
var year = 1977;
var antennaDiameter = 3.7;
var flybyObjects = ['Jupiter', 'Saturn', 'Uranus', 'Neptune'];
var image = {
  'tags': ['saturn'],
  'url': '//path/to/saturn.jpg'

Read more about variables in Dart, including default values, the final and const keywords, and static types.

Control flow statements

Dart supports the usual control flow statements:

if (year >= 2001) {
  print('21st century');
} else if (year >= 1901) {
  print('20th century');

for (final object in flybyObjects) {

for (int month = 1; month <= 12; month++) {

while (year < 2016) {
  year += 1;

Read more about control flow statements in Dart, including break and continue, switch and case, and assert.


We recommend specifying the types of each function’s arguments and return value:

int fibonacci(int n) {
  if (n == 0 || n == 1) return n;
  return fibonacci(n - 1) + fibonacci(n - 2);

var result = fibonacci(20);

A shorthand => (arrow) syntax is handy for functions that contain a single statement. This syntax is especially useful when passing anonymous functions as arguments:

flybyObjects.where((name) => name.contains('turn')).forEach(print);

Besides showing an anonymous function (the argument to where()), this code shows that you can use a function as an argument: the top-level print() function is an argument to forEach().

Read more about functions in Dart, including optional parameters, default parameter values, and lexical scope.


Dart comments usually start with //.

// This is a normal, one-line comment.

/// This is a documentation comment, used to document libraries,
/// classes, and their members. Tools like IDEs and dartdoc treat
/// doc comments specially.

/* Comments like these are also supported. */

Read more about comments in Dart, including how the documentation tooling works.


To access APIs defined in other libraries, use import.

// Importing core libraries
import 'dart:math';

// Importing libraries from external packages
import 'package:test/test.dart';

// Importing files
import 'path/to/my_other_file.dart';

Read more about libraries and visibility in Dart, including library prefixes, show and hide, and lazy loading through the deferred keyword.


Here’s an example of a class with three properties, two constructors, and a method. One of the properties can’t be set directly, so it’s defined using a getter method (instead of a variable). The method uses string interpolation to print variables’ string equivalents inside of string literals.

class Spacecraft {
  String name;
  DateTime? launchDate;

  // Read-only non-final property
  int? get launchYear => launchDate?.year;

  // Constructor, with syntactic sugar for assignment to members.
  Spacecraft(, this.launchDate) {
    // Initialization code goes here.

  // Named constructor that forwards to the default one.
  Spacecraft.unlaunched(String name) : this(name, null);

  // Method.
  void describe() {
    print('Spacecraft: $name');
    // Type promotion doesn't work on getters.
    var launchDate = this.launchDate;
    if (launchDate != null) {
      int years = ~/ 365;
      print('Launched: $launchYear ($years years ago)');
    } else {

Read more about strings, including string interpolation, literals, expressions, and the toString() method.

You might use the Spacecraft class like this:

var voyager = Spacecraft('Voyager I', DateTime(1977, 9, 5));

var voyager3 = Spacecraft.unlaunched('Voyager III');

Read more about classes in Dart, including initializer lists, optional new and const, redirecting constructors, factory constructors, getters, setters, and much more.


Enums are a way of enumerating a predefined set of values or instances in a way which ensures that there cannot be any other instances of that type.

Here is an example of a simple enum that defines a simple list of predefined planet types:

enum PlanetType { terrestrial, gas, ice }

Here is an example of an enhanced enum declaration of a class describing planets, with a defined set of constant instances, namely the planets of our own solar system.

/// Enum that enumerates the different planets in our solar system
/// and some of their properties.
enum Planet {
  mercury(planetType: PlanetType.terrestrial, moons: 0, hasRings: false),
  venus(planetType: PlanetType.terrestrial, moons: 0, hasRings: false),
  // ···
  uranus(planetType:, moons: 27, hasRings: true),
  neptune(planetType:, moons: 14, hasRings: true);

  /// A constant generating constructor
  const Planet(
      {required this.planetType, required this.moons, required this.hasRings});

  /// All instance variables are final
  final PlanetType planetType;
  final int moons;
  final bool hasRings;

  /// Enhanced enums support getters and other methods
  bool get isGiant =>
      planetType == PlanetType.gas || planetType ==;

You might use the Planet enum like this:

final yourPlanet =;

if (!yourPlanet.isGiant) {
  print('Your planet is not a "giant planet".');

Read more about enums in Dart, including enhanced enum requirements, automatically introduced properties, accessing enumerated value names, switch statement support, and much more.


Dart has single inheritance.

class Orbiter extends Spacecraft {
  double altitude;

  Orbiter(, DateTime super.launchDate, this.altitude);

Read more about extending classes, the optional @override annotation, and more.


Mixins are a way of reusing code in multiple class hierarchies. The following is a mixin declaration:

mixin Piloted {
  int astronauts = 1;

  void describeCrew() {
    print('Number of astronauts: $astronauts');

To add a mixin’s capabilities to a class, just extend the class with the mixin.

class PilotedCraft extends Spacecraft with Piloted {
  // ···

PilotedCraft now has the astronauts field as well as the describeCrew() method.

Read more about mixins.

Interfaces and abstract classes

Dart has no interface keyword. Instead, all classes implicitly define an interface. Therefore, you can implement any class.

class MockSpaceship implements Spacecraft {
  // ···

Read more about implicit interfaces.

You can create an abstract class to be extended (or implemented) by a concrete class. Abstract classes can contain abstract methods (with empty bodies).

abstract class Describable {
  void describe();

  void describeWithEmphasis() {

Any class extending Describable has the describeWithEmphasis() method, which calls the extender’s implementation of describe().

Read more about abstract classes and methods.


Avoid callback hell and make your code much more readable by using async and await.

const oneSecond = Duration(seconds: 1);
// ···
Future<void> printWithDelay(String message) async {
  await Future.delayed(oneSecond);

The method above is equivalent to:

Future<void> printWithDelay(String message) {
  return Future.delayed(oneSecond).then((_) {

As the next example shows, async and await help make asynchronous code easy to read.

Future<void> createDescriptions(Iterable<String> objects) async {
  for (final object in objects) {
    try {
      var file = File('$object.txt');
      if (await file.exists()) {
        var modified = await file.lastModified();
            'File for $object already exists. It was modified on $modified.');
      await file.create();
      await file.writeAsString('Start describing $object in this file.');
    } on IOException catch (e) {
      print('Cannot create description for $object: $e');

You can also use async*, which gives you a nice, readable way to build streams.

Stream<String> report(Spacecraft craft, Iterable<String> objects) async* {
  for (final object in objects) {
    await Future.delayed(oneSecond);
    yield '${} flies by $object';

Read more about asynchrony support, including async functions, Future, Stream, and the asynchronous loop (await for).


To raise an exception, use throw:

if (astronauts == 0) {
  throw StateError('No astronauts.');

To catch an exception, use a try statement with on or catch (or both):

Future<void> describeFlybyObjects(List<String> flybyObjects) async {
  try {
    for (final object in flybyObjects) {
      var description = await File('$object.txt').readAsString();
  } on IOException catch (e) {
    print('Could not describe object: $e');
  } finally {

Note that the code above is asynchronous; try works for both synchronous code and code in an async function.

Read more about exceptions, including stack traces, rethrow, and the difference between Error and Exception.

Important concepts

As you continue to learn about the Dart language, keep these facts and concepts in mind:

  • Everything you can place in a variable is an object, and every object is an instance of a class. Even numbers, functions, and null are objects. With the exception of null (if you enable sound null safety), all objects inherit from the Object class.

  • Although Dart is strongly typed, type annotations are optional because Dart can infer types. In the code above, number is inferred to be of type int.

  • If you enable null safety, variables can’t contain null unless you say they can. You can make a variable nullable by putting a question mark (?) at the end of its type. For example, a variable of type int? might be an integer, or it might be null. If you know that an expression never evaluates to null but Dart disagrees, you can add ! to assert that it isn’t null (and to throw an exception if it is). An example: int x = nullableButNotNullInt!

  • When you want to explicitly say that any type is allowed, use the type Object? (if you’ve enabled null safety), Object, or—if you must defer type checking until runtime—the special type dynamic.

  • Dart supports generic types, like List<int> (a list of integers) or List<Object> (a list of objects of any type).

  • Dart supports top-level functions (such as main()), as well as functions tied to a class or object (static and instance methods, respectively). You can also create functions within functions (nested or local functions).

  • Similarly, Dart supports top-level variables, as well as variables tied to a class or object (static and instance variables). Instance variables are sometimes known as fields or properties.

  • Unlike Java, Dart doesn’t have the keywords public, protected, and private. If an identifier starts with an underscore (_), it’s private to its library. For details, see Libraries and imports.

  • Identifiers can start with a letter or underscore (_), followed by any combination of those characters plus digits.

  • Dart has both expressions (which have runtime values) and statements (which don’t). For example, the conditional expression condition ? expr1 : expr2 has a value of expr1 or expr2. Compare that to an if-else statement, which has no value. A statement often contains one or more expressions, but an expression can’t directly contain a statement.

  • Dart tools can report two kinds of problems: warnings and errors. Warnings are just indications that your code might not work, but they don’t prevent your program from executing. Errors can be either compile-time or run-time. A compile-time error prevents the code from executing at all; a run-time error results in an exception being raised while the code executes.

Additional resources

More code samples are in the the library tour and the Dart API reference,. This site’s code follows the conventions in the Dart style guide.