When should I use a FutureBuilder?


Asked by Little M on August 23, 2018 (source).

I was wondering when I should use the future builder. For example, if I want to make an http request and show the results in a list view, as soon as you open the view, should I have to use the future builder or just build a ListViewBuilder like:

new ListView.builder(
        itemCount: _features.length,
        itemBuilder: (BuildContext context, int position) {
...stuff here...

Moreover, if I don't want to build a list view but some more complex stuff like circular charts, should I have to use the future builder?

Hope it's clear enough!


Question answered by Dinesh B (source).

FutureBuilder removes boilerplate code.

Let's say you want to fetch some data from the backend on page launch and show a loader until data comes.

Tasks for ListBuilder:

  • Have two state variables, dataFromBackend and isLoadingFlag
  • On launch, set isLoadingFlag = true, and based on this, show loader.
  • Once data arrives, set data with what you get from backend and set isLoadingFlag = false (inside setState obviously)
  • We need to have a if-else in widget creation. If isLoadingFlag is true, show the loader else show the data. On failure, show error message.

Tasks for FutureBuilder:

  • Give the async task in future of Future Builder
  • Based on connectionState, show message (loading, active(streams), done)
  • Based on data(snapshot.hasError), show view

Pros of FutureBuilder

  • Does not use the two state variables and setState
  • Reactive programming (FutureBuilder will take care of updating the view on data arrival)


    future: _fetchNetworkCall, // async work
    builder: (BuildContext context, AsyncSnapshot<String> snapshot) {
       switch (snapshot.connectionState) {
         case ConnectionState.waiting: return Text('Loading....');
           if (snapshot.hasError)
              return Text('Error: ${snapshot.error}');
          return Text('Result: ${snapshot.data}');

Performance impact:

I just looked into the FutureBuilder code to understand the performance impact of using this.

  • FutureBuilder is just a StatefulWidget whose state variable is _snapshot
  • Initial state is _snapshot = AsyncSnapshot<T>.withData(ConnectionState.none, widget.initialData);
  • It is subscribing to future which we send via the constructor and update the state based on that.


widget.future.then<void>((T data) {
    if (_activeCallbackIdentity == callbackIdentity) {
      setState(() {
        _snapshot = AsyncSnapshot<T>.withData(ConnectionState.done, data);
}, onError: (Object error) {
  if (_activeCallbackIdentity == callbackIdentity) {
    setState(() {
      _snapshot = AsyncSnapshot<T>.withError(ConnectionState.done, error);

So the FutureBuilder is a wrapper/boilerplate of what we do typically, hence there should not be any performance impact.