An attempt at a Flutter file logger using Dart isolates alvin November 19, 2019 - 4:12pm

Filed in the “FWIW” category ... I wrote the following Dart/Flutter code as an attempt to create a Flutter file logger using Dart isolates, but as it turns out, at the time of this writing the Flutter platform won’t let you do that. So I thought I’d share/save my code here in case I can use it in the future.

First, here’s my Flutter file logging code that uses Dart isolates:

Flutter Quick Reference alvin October 27, 2019 - 6:41pm

Flutter Quick Reference - book cover

When I started working with Flutter a couple of months ago to develop iOS and Android apps from one code base, I started keeping notes about how to do things with Flutter and Dart (the programming language behind Flutter). These notes became my own personal cheatsheet, and then those notes just kept getting larger, and larger.

From there, I started to create a book I titled “Flutter Quick Reference” based on those notes. Right now this “book” is really just a very large Flutter/Dart cheatsheet, but because some of the content in it can’t be found elsewhere on the internet, I thought I’d share it here. Also, because I don’t know if I’ll ever take the time to finish making this into a real book, I made this first release free.

Dart: How to return a known, constant, or literal value in a Future alvin October 27, 2019 - 9:58am

Sometimes a Dart or Flutter API may require you to return a Future even if you already have a known, constant, or literal value. If/when that happens, you can use this approach:

return new Future(() { return 42; });

In this example the known value is 42, but it could have been a string like "Hello", a boolean like true, or any other known or literal value.

A Dart string capitalize function alvin October 24, 2019 - 4:03pm

I was surprised to learn that Dart doesn’t have a string capitalize method, so if you ever need a capitalize method/function, here’s a start towards a solution:

String capitalize(String s) => s[0].toUpperCase() + s.substring(1);

That function will work with Dart strings like these:

A Dart Isolates example (Actors in Dart) alvin October 11, 2019 - 11:29am

Dart Isolates give you a way to perform real multi-threading in Dart applications, the ability to truly run code on another thread. (For more information on that statement, see Dart futures are NOT run in a separate thread.)

When I first read that Isolates were like actors I was very interested in them, but then I was surprised to see that (IMHO) they are implemented in a more low-level/primitive way than something like the Akka Actors library. (The entrepreneur out there might see this as an opportunity to create an Akka-like port for Dart and Flutter.)

A Dart function to get the current date/time in a “seconds since the epoch” format alvin October 10, 2019 - 3:39pm

As a brief note, if you need a Dart function to get the current date/time in a “seconds since the epoch” format, I can confirm that this function works:

/// the current time, in “seconds since the epoch”
static int currentTimeInSeconds() {
    var ms = (new DateTime.now()).millisecondsSinceEpoch;
    return (ms / 1000).round();
Dart: How to remove leading spaces in a multiline string (using splitMapJoin) alvin October 7, 2019 - 7:50pm

As far as I know, there’s no built-in way to remove spaces from a multiline string in Dart, but you can write your own function to do this. For example, I just dug into the splitMapJoin method of the Dart String class, and wrote a stripMargin function like this:

String stripMargin(String s) {
    return s.splitMapJoin(
        RegExp(r'^', multiLine: true),
        onMatch: (_) => '\n',
        onNonMatch: (n) => n.trim(),

Flutter, sqflite, and escaping quotes with SQL INSERT and UPDATE statements

When you want to do a SQL INSERT or UPDATE using the Flutter sqflite package, I’ve found that it’s best to use their insert and update methods (as shown below) so you don’t have to worry about escaping single- and double-quotes. This is similar to the reason why Java developers switched from Statement to PreparedStatement way back in the late 1900s.

As an example, given this SQLite database table:

How to create a Dart project manually

If you want to create a Dart project, probably the best way to do that currently is to use Stagehand:

Once you install that you can create new Dart command-line applications like this:

// create a command-line application
stagehand console-full

However, if you just want to create a little Dart project manually, you can also just follow the steps below:

Dart futures are NOT run in a separate thread (they are run in the event loop) alvin September 26, 2019 - 11:04am

I’ve been working with Flutter and Dart for several weeks now, and I was surprised to read several times that Dart is single-threaded, knowing that it has a concept of a Future (or futures) and async methods. Last night I read this excellent article about Dart’s event loop, which sums up Dart futures very nicely in that statement:

“the code of these Futures will be run as soon as the Event Loop has some time. This will give the user the feeling that things are being processed in parallel (while we now know it is not the case).”

Earlier in the article the author also states:

“An async method is NOT executed in parallel but following the regular sequence of events, handled by the Event Loop, too.”

So, in summary, Dart has a single-threaded event loop, and futures and async methods aren’t handled by a separate thread; they’re handled by the single-threaded event loop whenever it has nothing else to do.

I just wanted to note this here for myself today, but for many more details, please see that article, which also discusses Dart isolates, which are like a more primitive form of Akka actors.