Build.yaml tips to make code generation for your Flutter projects more pleasant.

In this article, I cover a few "build.yaml" tips that can help you generate code for your Flutter projects faster and with less boilerplate.

#dart
#flutter
#build_runner

If you've ever worked on a project that contains lots of generated code, you'll know how much of a pain it can be to manage. Not only do you have to deal with long build times, but you may also have to deal with a bunch of boilerplate.

Using a build.yaml file, you can alleviate some of the pains that come along with using code generation. This article will explore some practical ways you can use the build.yaml file to improve your workflow.

The build.yaml file is not created during flutter create. To get started, create a build.yaml file at the top level of your project (next to pubspec.yaml).

Enabling and disabling builders

Even though this is not the most practical reason for having a build.yaml file, this is a good first exposure to the file.

If you would like to enable or disable a builder for any reason, you can set the enabled property of the builder to false.

build.yaml
targets:
  $default:
    builders:
      freezed|freezed:
        enabled: false

Generating code for specific files

By default, build analyzes all source files regardless of whether they depend on a code generator or not.

So unless all the files in your codebase use generated code 👀, stating the files you want to generate code for can be extremely helpful.

Not only will it reduce the time it takes to generate code depending on the size of your project, but it may also help you to enforce structure in your app.

To do this, add the files you want to generate to the generate_for property of the builder.

build.yaml
targets:
  $default:
    builders:
      json_serializable|json_serializable:
        enabled: true
        generate_for:
          - "lib/model/company.dart"
          - "lib/model/employee.dart"

Of course, you can always use wildcard matching to select files in a specific folder or with a name pattern.

build.yaml
targets:
  $default:
    builders:
      json_serializable|json_serializable:
        # This will only generate code for files 
        # in a "models" or "entities" folder.
        generate_for:
          - "**/models/**.dart"
          - "**/entities/**.dart"
      freezed|freezed:
        # This will only generate code for files 
        # that end with ".f.dart".
        generate_for:
          - "**/**.f.dart"

Specifying global options

To illustrate why you'd bother with this, consider the following example of json_serializable in action.

In this example, we need to ensure that all our models convert their parameters to JSON and that no null parameter exists in the serialized output. However, because explicitToJson is false by default and includeIfNull is true by default, we have to repeat the annotation for all our models.

(
  explicitToJson: true,
  includeIfNull: false,
)
class Company {
  Company({
    required this.id,
    required this.name,
    required this.dateCreated,
    required this.employees,
  });

  final String id;
  final String name;
  final DateTime dateCreated;
  final Set<Employee> employees;
}

(
  explicitToJson: true,
  includeIfNull: false,
)
class Employee {
  Employee({
    required this.id,
    required this.firstName,
    required this.lastName,
    required this.dateCreated,
  });

  final String id;
  final String firstName;
  final String lastName;
  final DateTime dateCreated;
}

Copying the same configuration isn't painful with only two objects. But as that grows, forgetting to do so can become problematic.

Fortunately, generators like json_serializable let you update default values for its configuration in build.yaml.

So instead of copying and pasting the annotation everywhere, we can add this to our build.yaml.

targets:
  $default:
    builders:
      json_serializable|json_serializable:
        options:
          explicit_to_json: true
          include_if_null: false

Read more about the json_serializable build configuration.

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Salut! I'm Wilson 👋

I'm a Flutter Enthusiast and avid French learner 🇫🇷

When I'm not at work, I'm either writing here or building something cool!