Represent enum in Dart

Enums (short for enumerations) are a special type of class in Dart that is used to define a fixed set of constants. They are particularly useful for representing a group of related values in a way that makes your code more readable and less error-prone.

Why Enums are Important in Dart:

  • Readability: Enums make your code more understandable. Instead of using arbitrary numbers or strings, you use a well-defined set of constants.
  • Safety: With enums, you avoid the risk of using invalid values, as the compiler knows the possible values an enum can take.
  • Maintenance: Enums make your code easier to maintain. Adding or removing values from an enum doesn’t require changes where it’s used.

Declaring and Using Enums in Dart

Basic Syntax for Enum Declaration:

In Dart, you declare an enum using the enum keyword, followed by the enum’s name and a list of values:

enum Color {

Here, Color is an enum type that can take one of the three values: red, green, or blue.

Using Enums in Dart:

To use an enum, you simply refer to its values using the dot notation:

Color myFavoriteColor =;

This sets myFavoriteColor to Enums in Dart are full-fledged objects, and each value has an index. You can retrieve it using the .index property:

int index = myFavoriteColor.index; // This will be 1 for

Enum Values and Indexes:

  • Each value in an enum has an automatically assigned index, starting from 0. For example, in the Color enum, red has an index of 0, green has 1, and blue has 2.
  • You can also access all the values of an enum using EnumName.values. For instance, Color.values will return [,,].

Advanced Enum Features in Dart

Dart provides several advanced features for enums that enhance their functionality and usability in more complex scenarios. Let’s delve into these features, including the use of index, values, and how to extend enums using extension methods.

Index and Values in Enums

  • Index: As mentioned earlier, each enum value in Dart has an index associated with it. This index is an integer that starts from 0 for the first value and increments by 1 for each subsequent value.
enum Season { spring, summer, autumn, winter }

// Accessing the index
int winterIndex = Season.winter.index; // This will be 3

Values: The values property on an enum is a list that contains all of the values defined in the enum. It is commonly used to iterate over all possible values of an enum.

// Iterating over all values
for (var season in Season.values) {

Extending Enums with Extension Methods

Extension methods in Dart allow you to add new functionality to existing types, including enums. This is particularly useful for adding methods to enums, which Dart’s basic enum construct doesn’t support directly.

  • Creating an Extension: To create an extension, use the extension keyword followed by a name and the type you’re extending (in this case, your enum).
extension SeasonDescription on Season {
  String get description {
    switch (this) {
      case Season.spring:
        return "A season of growth";
      case Season.summer:
        return "A season of warmth";
      case Season.autumn:
        return "A season of transition";
      case Season.winter:
        return "A season of cold";
        return "Unknown";

Using the Extension: Once defined, you can use the methods defined in the extension as if they were part of the original enum.

var currentSeason = Season.summer;
print(currentSeason.description); // Outputs: A season of warmth

Enums and Null Safety in Dart

With the introduction of null safety in Dart, handling enums requires some additional considerations to ensure that your code is safe and robust.

Handling Enums with Null Safety

Non-Nullable Enums: By default, enum values cannot be null in Dart. This means when you declare an enum variable, it must be initialized with one of the enum’s values, or explicitly declared nullable.

enum Status { active, inactive }

Status status =; // Non-nullable
Status? nullableStatus; // Nullable, can be null

Checking for Null: When dealing with nullable enums, you should always check for null before using them. This can be done using conditional access or null-aware operators.

Status? status;

// Checking for null
if (status != null) {

// Using null-aware operators

Writing Null-Safe Enum Code

Default Values: When you have nullable enum variables, consider providing a default value to handle potential null cases gracefully.

Status? status;
Status effectiveStatus = status ??;

Assertions: In cases where an enum should never be null, use assertions to enforce this rule during development.

void processStatus(Status status) {
  assert(status != null, "Status must not be null");
  // Process status

Serializing Enums in Dart

Serialization of enums in Dart is essential when you need to store or transmit data, such as in web or mobile applications.

Techniques for Serializing and Deserializing Enums

Using Index: One simple way to serialize an enum is by using its index. However, this approach can be risky if the enum changes over time.

int statusIndex =; // Serialize
Status status = Status.values[statusIndex]; // Deserialize

Using Strings: A safer way is to convert enums to and from strings, especially when working with external systems like APIs.

String statusString = status.toString().split('.').last; // Serialize
Status status = Status.values.firstWhere((e) => e.toString().split('.').last == statusString); // Deserialize

Step-by-Step Guide for Custom Enum Serialization

Define the Enum: Start by defining your enum.

enum Status { active, inactive }

Serialization Function: Create a function to serialize the enum to a string.

String serializeStatus(Status status) {
  return status.toString().split('.').last;

Deserialization Function: Write a function to deserialize the string back to an enum.

Status deserializeStatus(String statusString) {
  return Status.values.firstWhere((e) => e.toString().split('.').last == statusString);

Performance and Enums in Dart

Understanding the performance implications of using enums in Dart is crucial, especially when optimizing your application for efficiency and speed.

Performance Implications of Using Enums

  • Memory Efficiency: Enums in Dart are very memory efficient. Since they are compile-time constants, each enum value is a singleton instance, meaning there’s only one instance of each value in memory, no matter how many times it’s used.
  • Speed: Accessing an enum value is very fast in Dart. It’s comparable to accessing a static constant.
  • Comparisons: Comparing enum values is also efficient, as it’s essentially a comparison of object references.

Comparisons with Other Data Structures

  • Enums vs. Strings or Integers: Enums are often used as a safer and more readable alternative to strings or integers for representing a set of fixed values. While strings and integers might seem more flexible, enums provide better type safety and reduce the risk of invalid values.
  • Enums vs. Classes: For complex scenarios where values have associated data or behavior, classes might be a better choice. Enums are best for simpler cases where the focus is on a fixed set of identifiable values.

Best Practices and Common Mistakes in Using Enums

Best Practices for Enums

  • Use Enums for Fixed Sets of Values: Use enums when you have a fixed set of related constants, like days of the week, colors, modes, etc.
  • Leverage Null Safety: Make sure to utilize Dart’s null safety features when using enums to avoid null-related errors.
  • Utilize Extensions: For added functionality, use extension methods to expand the capabilities of your enums without cluttering the enum declaration itself.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • Overusing Enums: Avoid using enums for values that are not fixed. If your set of values is subject to change or expansion, consider other data structures like classes.
  • Ignoring Null Safety: Not handling nullable enums properly can lead to runtime errors. Always check for null values if your enum can be null.
  • Hardcoding Serialized Values: Be cautious when serializing enums by their index or string representation. Changes to the enum can break your serialization logic. It’s often better to define explicit serialization logic for enums.

Practical Examples and Use Cases of Enums in Dart

Enums in Dart find their applications in a variety of real-world scenarios. Let’s explore some practical examples to demonstrate how enums can be effectively used in different types of Dart applications.

Example 1: User Interface State Management in Flutter

In Flutter applications, enums are frequently used for managing UI states. For instance, in a loading screen, you can define an enum to represent different states:

enum LoadingState { loading, success, error }

class MyWidget extends StatelessWidget {
  final LoadingState loadingState;

  // Constructor
  MyWidget({required this.loadingState});

  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    switch (loadingState) {
      case LoadingState.loading:
        return CircularProgressIndicator();
      case LoadingState.success:
        return Text('Data Loaded Successfully!');
      case LoadingState.error:
        return Text('Error Loading Data');

Example 2: Handling User Roles and Permissions

Enums can effectively represent different user roles in an application, simplifying the management of user permissions:

enum UserRole { admin, editor, viewer }

void checkPermission(UserRole role) {
  switch (role) {
    case UserRole.admin:
      print('Has all permissions');
    case UserRole.editor:
      print('Can edit content');
    case UserRole.viewer:
      print('Can view content');

Example 3: Configuring Application Settings

Enums are useful for defining application settings with a fixed set of options, making the code more readable and less error-prone:

enum DisplayMode { light, dark, system }

void updateDisplayMode(DisplayMode mode) {
  // Update the UI based on the selected display mode


Enums in Dart are a powerful feature, offering readability, safety, and ease of maintenance. The examples above illustrate just a few ways in which enums can be used in Dart and Flutter applications. Whether it’s managing UI states in Flutter, handling roles and permissions, or configuring settings, enums provide a structured and clear approach.

Key Takeaways

  • Enums enhance the clarity and safety of your code.
  • They are ideal for representing a fixed set of related constants.
  • Use enums to make your code more maintainable and less prone to errors.
Hussain Humdani

Hussain Humdani

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