The most basic example using Provider

on Wednesday, 5th of August, 2020

In order to showcase the real, core value proposition of provider, I will show you the simplest example Flutter app I can build. To be sure, we will see some complex and "real world" examples through-out this section, but at it's core, Provider just tells Flutter apps how to interact with non-widget data classes.

First, I want to show the example, and then I will walk through the code showing and explain what's going on.

That's it. It's just an app that displays some text on the screen. Now, let's walk through the code.

// This class is what Provider will work with.
// It will _provide_ an instance of the class to any widget
// in the tree that cares about it. 
class Person {
  Person({, this.age});

  final String name;
  final int age;

// Here, we are running an app as you'd expect with any Flutter app
// But, we're also wrapping `MyApp` in a widget called 'Provider'
// Importantly, `Provider` is itself a widget, so it can live in the widget tree.
// This class uses a property called `create` to make an instance of `Person`
// whenever it's needed by a widget in the tree.
// The object returned by the function passed to `create` is what the rest of our app
// has access to. 
void main() {
      create: (_) => Person(name: "Yohan", age: 25),
      child: MyApp(),

// Just a plain ol' StatelessWidget
class MyApp extends StatelessWidget {
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return const MaterialApp(
      home: MyHomePage(),

// Again, just a stateless widget
class MyHomePage extends StatelessWidget {
  const MyHomePage({Key key}) : super(key: key);

  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return Scaffold(
      appBar: AppBar(
        title: const Text('Provider Class'),
      body: Center(
        child: Text(
          // this string is where we use Provider to fetch the instance
          // of `Person` created above in the `create` property
          Hi ${Provider.of<Person>(context).name}!
          You are ${Provider.of<Person>(context).age} years old''',

For the most basic example, that's all you need. Provider simply exposes an instance of an object to all it's descendent widgets via 'Provider.of(context)'.

In Dart, it's convention to use `T` as a generic type. When you see `Provider.of(context)`, "T" is indicating that a type argument is required. For example, `Provider.of(context)` would be used to indicate you're referring to a `User` object. This is no different than defining collections. For example, a list of strings is defined by writing `List myList = []`.

If you're familiar with InheritedWidget objects, then this should look familiar. And that's because Provider is, in a nutshell, a widget that behaves exactly like the InheritedWidget, but with far less boiler plate. (If you aren't familiar, you may want to follow that link and learn a little bit.)

If you take anything from this lesson, I hope that it's this: Provider just... err... provides classes to your widget tree that aren't widgets.

This example shows the most basic example, in which you can only read data. You can't update data. And even if you could, it wouldn't cause the widget tree to re-render, because there's nothing telling Flutter that the data has changed. Luckily, Provider includes a whole swath of classes that can help you with this which we'll explore in the following lessons.

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