setState method

  1. @protected
void setState(
  1. VoidCallback fn

Notify the framework that the internal state of this object has changed.

Whenever you change the internal state of a State object, make the change in a function that you pass to setState:

setState(() { _myState = newValue; });

The provided callback is immediately called synchronously. It must not return a future (the callback cannot be async), since then it would be unclear when the state was actually being set.

Calling setState notifies the framework that the internal state of this object has changed in a way that might impact the user interface in this subtree, which causes the framework to schedule a build for this State object.

If you just change the state directly without calling setState, the framework might not schedule a build and the user interface for this subtree might not be updated to reflect the new state.

Generally it is recommended that the setState method only be used to wrap the actual changes to the state, not any computation that might be associated with the change. For example, here a value used by the build function is incremented, and then the change is written to disk, but only the increment is wrapped in the setState:

Future<void> _incrementCounter() async {
  setState(() {
  Directory directory = await getApplicationDocumentsDirectory(); // from path_provider package
  final String dirName = directory.path;
  await File('$dirName/counter.txt').writeAsString('$_counter');

Sometimes, the changed state is in some other object not owned by the widget State, but the widget nonetheless needs to be updated to react to the new state. This is especially common with Listenables, such as AnimationControllers.

In such cases, it is good practice to leave a comment in the callback passed to setState that explains what state changed:

void _update() {
  setState(() { /* The animation changed. */ });

It is an error to call this method after the framework calls dispose. You can determine whether it is legal to call this method by checking whether the mounted property is true. That said, it is better practice to cancel whatever work might trigger the setState rather than merely checking for mounted before calling setState, as otherwise CPU cycles will be wasted.

Design discussion

The original version of this API was a method called markNeedsBuild, for consistency with RenderObject.markNeedsLayout, RenderObject.markNeedsPaint, et al.

However, early user testing of the Flutter framework revealed that people would call markNeedsBuild() much more often than necessary. Essentially, people used it like a good luck charm, any time they weren't sure if they needed to call it, they would call it, just in case.

Naturally, this led to performance issues in applications.

When the API was changed to take a callback instead, this practice was greatly reduced. One hypothesis is that prompting developers to actually update their state in a callback caused developers to think more carefully about what exactly was being updated, and thus improved their understanding of the appropriate times to call the method.

In practice, the setState method's implementation is trivial: it calls the provided callback synchronously, then calls Element.markNeedsBuild.

Performance considerations

There is minimal direct overhead to calling this function, and as it is expected to be called at most once per frame, the overhead is irrelevant anyway. Nonetheless, it is best to avoid calling this function redundantly (e.g. in a tight loop), as it does involve creating a closure and calling it. The method is idempotent, there is no benefit to calling it more than once per State per frame.

The indirect cost of causing this function, however, is high: it causes the widget to rebuild, possibly triggering rebuilds for the entire subtree rooted at this widget, and further triggering a relayout and repaint of the entire corresponding RenderObject subtree.

For this reason, this method should only be called when the build method will, as a result of whatever state change was detected, change its result meaningfully.

See also:

  • StatefulWidget, the API documentation for which has a section on performance considerations that are relevant here.


void setState(VoidCallback fn) {
  assert(() {
    if (_debugLifecycleState == _StateLifecycle.defunct) {
      throw FlutterError.fromParts(<DiagnosticsNode>[
        ErrorSummary('setState() called after dispose(): $this'),
          'This error happens if you call setState() on a State object for a widget that '
          'no longer appears in the widget tree (e.g., whose parent widget no longer '
          'includes the widget in its build). This error can occur when code calls '
          'setState() from a timer or an animation callback.',
          'The preferred solution is '
          'to cancel the timer or stop listening to the animation in the dispose() '
          'callback. Another solution is to check the "mounted" property of this '
          'object before calling setState() to ensure the object is still in the '
          'This error might indicate a memory leak if setState() is being called '
          'because another object is retaining a reference to this State object '
          'after it has been removed from the tree. To avoid memory leaks, '
          'consider breaking the reference to this object during dispose().',
    if (_debugLifecycleState == _StateLifecycle.created && !mounted) {
      throw FlutterError.fromParts(<DiagnosticsNode>[
        ErrorSummary('setState() called in constructor: $this'),
          'This happens when you call setState() on a State object for a widget that '
          "hasn't been inserted into the widget tree yet. It is not necessary to call "
          'setState() in the constructor, since the state is already assumed to be dirty '
          'when it is initially created.',
    return true;
  final Object? result = fn() as dynamic;
  assert(() {
    if (result is Future) {
      throw FlutterError.fromParts(<DiagnosticsNode>[
        ErrorSummary('setState() callback argument returned a Future.'),
          'The setState() method on $this was called with a closure or method that '
          'returned a Future. Maybe it is marked as "async".',
          'Instead of performing asynchronous work inside a call to setState(), first '
          'execute the work (without updating the widget state), and then synchronously '
          'update the state inside a call to setState().',
    // We ignore other types of return values so that you can do things like:
    //   setState(() => x = 3);
    return true;