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Dart mixins for everyone

Dart mixins for everyone

Published: Sat Oct 14 2023

Mixins in Dart are a way of reusing a class’s code in multiple class hierarchies. You can imagine them like little boxes of functionality, you can pick and add to your classes as you need. Mixins can be added to different classes to extend their capabilities, without the need for complex inheritance structures.

Implementing Mixins

Defining a mixin is very similar to defining a class. The only difference is you use the mixin keyword. Let’s take an example of a real-world application, where we want to add logging functionality to different classes.

mixin Logger {
  void log(String msg) {
    print("Log: $msg");

Here, we’ve created a Logger mixin that contains a single method log. This method takes a String as input and prints it to the console with a “Log:” prefix.

Applying Mixins

To apply a mixin to a class, we use the with keyword followed by the mixin’s name. Here’s how we can apply our Logger mixin to a Service class.

class Service with Logger {
  void doSomething() {
    log("Service is doing something");

In the above example, Service class can now access the log method defined in the Logger mixin. It’s as if the Service class now has the log method, added to its existing functionality.

Composing Mixins

You can also apply multiple mixins to a class. This is called composing mixins.

Consider another mixin, Validator, that we want to add to our Service class:

mixin Validator {
  bool validate(String value) {
    return value.isNotEmpty;

We can apply both Logger and Validator to Service like so:

class Service with Logger, Validator {
  void doSomething(String user) {
    if (validate(user)) {
      log("Doing something for $user");
    } else {
      log("Invalid user");

Now, the Service class has two mixins and can access both the log method and the validate method.

Mixin Inheritance

Just like classes, mixins can also use other mixins.

For instance, if we want to create a SecureLogger mixin that uses the Logger mixin and adds additional functionality, we can do it like this:

mixin SecureLogger on Logger {
  void secureLog(String msg) {
    // Implement some security measures
    // Then log the message
    log("Secure: $msg");

In this example, SecureLogger can use the log method from the Logger mixin. The on keyword signifies that SecureLogger can only be used on classes that also use Logger.

Naming conflict

In Dart, when two mixins applied to a class have a member (property or method) with the same name we say there is a naming conflict. When naming conflict occurs, the mixin declared last overrides the one declared first.

Here’s an example to illustrate this:

mixin A {
  String name = "Mixin A";
  void doSomething() {
    print("Doing something in Mixin A");

mixin B {
  String name = "Mixin B";
  void doSomething() {
    print("Doing something in Mixin B");

class MyClass with A, B {}

void main() {
  MyClass myClass = MyClass();
  print(; // Output: "Mixin B"
  myClass.doSomething(); // Output: "Doing something in Mixin B"

In this example, both mixins A and B define a property name and a method doSomething. However, since B is applied after A in the class MyClass, the members of B override the members of A.

It’s important to keep this behavior in mind when working with mixins to avoid unexpected results.

Mixin Restrictions and on Keyword

In Dart, the on keyword specifies a superclass constraint. Essentially, it defines the classes that a mixin can be applied to. This is similar to saying “This spice can only be used in this specific dish”.

mixin MustInheritFromFoo on Foo {
  void extendedMethod() {
    // Some implementation here

In this example, the MustInheritFromFoo mixin can only be applied to classes that extend Foo.

The difference between extends and with

While both extends (inheritance) and with (mixins) can be used to share code between classes, they have different use cases and rules.

Inheritance (extends) is used when there’s a clear parent-child relationship between classes. For instance, a Dog class would extend an Animal class because a dog is a specific type of animal.

Mixins (with), on the other hand, are used to share functionality that doesn’t fit into a single class hierarchy. For example, if you have a Logger mixin that adds logging functionality, you might want to use this in multiple unrelated classes.

Use of super in a mixin

Like classes, mixins can call their superclass using the super keyword. This is useful when you want to override a method but still want to call the original method.

mixin OverrideMixin on BaseClass {
  void someMethod() {
    // Additional implementation

In this example, OverrideMixin overrides someMethod from BaseClass but still calls the original method with super.someMethod().

Private Members in Mixins

Just like classes, mixins can have private members. These members can only be accessed within the mixin itself, not from the class that uses the mixin.

mixin PrivateMixin {
  String _privateProperty = "You can't see me!";
  void printPrivateProperty() {
    print(_privateProperty); // This is allowed

And that’s it! Mixins are a powerful tool in Dart that allows you to enhance your classes with additional functionality, without complicating the inheritance structure. Remember, the best way to understand and get comfortable with mixins is by using them in your code. Try to identify parts of your code that could benefit from mixins and give it a go. Happy coding!

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