Skip to main content

Const, Static, Final, Oh my!

Posted by Seth Ladd

(This is an "oldie but a goodie" misc@dartlang.org post originally written by Bob Nystrom. It is being posted here as the explanations still ring true.)

Bob writes:


"static", "final", and "const" mean entirely distinct things in Dart:

"static" means a member is available on the class itself instead of on instances of the class. That's all it means, and it isn't used for anything else. static modifies *members*.

"final" means single-assignment: a final variable or field *must* have an initializer. Once assigned a value, a final variable's value cannot be changed. final modifies *variables*.

"const" has a meaning that's a bit more complex and subtle in Dart. const modifies *values*. You can use it when creating collections, like const [1, 2, 3], and when constructing objects (instead of new) like const Point(2, 3). Here, const means that the object's entire deep state can be determined entirely at compile time and that the object will be frozen and completely immutable.

Const objects have a couple of interesting properties and restrictions:
  1. They must be created from data that can be calculated at compile time. A const object does not have access to anything you would need to calculate at runtime. 1 + 2 is a valid const expression, but new DateTime.now() is not. 
  2. They are deeply, transitively immutable. If you have a final field containing a collection, that collection can still be mutable. If you have a const collection, everything in it must also be const, recursively. 
  3. They are *canonicalized*. This is sort of like string interning: for any given const value, a single const object will be created and re-used no matter how many times the const expression(s) are evaluated. In other words: 

getConst() => const [1, 2]; 
main() { 
  var a = getConst(); 
  var b = getConst(); 
  print(a === b); // true 


I think Dart does a pretty good job of keeping the semantics and the keywords nicely clear and distinct. (There was a time where const was used both for const and final. It was confusing.) The only downside is that when you want to indicate a member that is single-assignment and on the class itself, you have to use both keywords: static final.

Popular posts from this blog

Dart in 2016: The fastest growing programming language at Google, 2nd fastest growing in TIOBE Index

Dart was the fastest growing programming language at Google in 2016 with millions of lines of code written. It also made it to TIOBE Index Top 20 this month (see TIOBE's methodology).

It takes time to build something as ambitious as Dart and, in some ways, Dart is still in its infancy. But we're glad the hard work is starting to pay off.

Many thanks to our amazing community!

We're going to celebrate by ... releasing 1.22 next week (as per our usual 6 week release schedule).

AngularDart is going all Dart

Until now, the multiple language flavors of Angular 2 were written as TypeScript source, and then automatically compiled to both JavaScript and Dart. We're happy to announce that we’re splitting the Angular 2 codebase into two flavors – a Dart version and a TypeScript/JavaScript version – and creating a dedicated AngularDart team.

This is amazing news for Dart developers because:

The framework will feel more like idiomatic Dart.It will make use of Dart features that couldn't work with the TypeScript flavor. It will be faster.
This is equally great news for our TypeScript and JavaScript developers, by the way. Cleaner API, performance gains, easier contributions. Read more on the Angular blog.

Angular 2 for Dart is used by many teams at Google. Most famously by the AdWords team, but many other Google teams build large, mobile-friendly web apps. Some of the top requests from these teams were: make the API feel like Dart, provide a faster edit-refresh cycle, and improve applicat…

The new Google AdSense user interface: built with AngularDart

AdSense is a free, simple way to earn money by placing ads on your website. The team just launched a completely new version of their app for publishers. Read all about it here. We asked Daniel White, the tech lead for the project, some questions because the new UI happens to be built with Dart and Angular2.


AdSense launched way back in 2003. How long is it since the last big redesign?
Last big redesign was called ‘AdSense 3’ and launched about 6 years ago. It was written in Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and the UI has evolved through several iterations - but this is the first ground-up redesign in 6 years. There are a number of long-standing UX issues that we’ve taken the opportunity to solve. A big shout-out to our UX team who’ve been 100% behind this project. We couldn’t have done it without them!

How many software engineers worked on the project?
Purely on the AdSense applications, we have a team of close to 100. Around 25% of them write Dart.

How many lines of code?
We have around 160K LO…