🦺 Null Safety Explained

A practical guide to null safety in Dart

Sound null safety is a feature added to Dart 2.0. It means variables can no longer be assigned null by default. This reduces the risk of runtime bugs and general makes our code more concise because “null checking” is no longer necessary.

Non-Nullable by Default

Variables cannot be null by default. Attempting to assign a null value will result in a compile-time error.

file_type_dartlang main.dart
int age = 75; // non-nullable
int age = null; // error

Allow Null

In some cases, it is useful to allow a variable to be null, which is achieved by adding question mark to the end of the variable’s type.

file_type_dartlang main.dart
int? age; // nullable

Late Variable Initialization

In many cases, we can’t set the value of a variable during initialization, BUT we know that it WILL be assigned at runtime. This is known as late variable initialization and can be achieved by adding an late keyword to the variable’s declaration. This is also known as a “lazy” variable and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

file_type_dartlang main.dart
class Animal {
  late final String _size;

  void goBig() {
    _size = 'big';

Assertion Operator

Another possible situation is that you want to assign a nullable value TO a non-nullable variable. Dart will not allow this by default, but you can use the assertion operator ! to force the compiler to think the value it is non-null.

file_type_dartlang main.dart
String? answer;

String result = answer; // error

String result = answer!; // works

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