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Flutter Indicators: A Secret Ingredient for a Smooth UX Recipe


Kesar Bhimani


August 21, 2023

August 21, 2023

Brief about Flutter

Google created Flutter, a well-known open-source UI software development kit. From a single codebase, it is possible to develop applications for Google Fuchsia, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and the web. The expressive and adaptable UI, rapid development, and native performance of Flutter are well known.

Importance of Flutter Indicators

In the dynamic world of Flutter, indicators assume a pivotal role in elevating the user experience. These indicators, encompassing progress indicators among others, wield significant influence as essential components tasked with conveying the status of ongoing operations. For example, when data retrieval from a server is underway, the temporal nature of the task becomes evident. At this juncture, the judicious presentation of a loading indicator emerges as a best practice. By adopting this approach, users are informed that the application remains active and responsive, diligently handling their requests even as data processing unfolds.

There are several types of indicators in Flutter, including the circular progress indicator, linear progress indicator, indeterminate progress indicator, determinate progress indicator, indeterminate linear progress indicator, and determinate circular progress indicator. Each of these progress indicators serves a different purpose and can be used in different scenarios.

Progress indicators in Flutter are flexible and customizable. You can change their color, size, and other properties to match your app's style. They are also easy to implement. With just a few lines of code, you can add a progress indicator to your Flutter app.

In this blog post, we will delve deeper into Flutter indicators, their types, how to implement them, and how to customize them. We will also provide examples to help you understand how to use these indicators effectively in your Flutter project.

Understanding Indicators in Flutter

Definition of Indicators

In the context of Flutter, indicators are visual cues that represent the completion status of a task or operation. They are often used to show that an operation is ongoing, especially when it's not clear how long the operation will take. Indicators are a type of progress widget that displays progress in a visual form.

There are several types of indicators in Flutter, including the circular progress indicator, linear progress indicator, indeterminate progress indicator, determinate progress indicator, indeterminate linear progress indicator, and determinate circular progress indicator. Each of these progress indicators serves a different purpose and can be used in different scenarios.

In the above code snippet, we have created a simple linear progress indicator with a blue background color and an orange progress color. As you can see, implementing a progress indicator in Flutter is as simple as that!

Role of Indicators in Flutter Apps

Indicators play a crucial role in Flutter apps. They are used to inform users about the status of ongoing tasks. For instance, when an app is loading data or processing a user's request, an indicator (such as a loading indicator or a progress bar) is displayed to let the user know that the task is underway.

Indicators are especially important in situations where the duration of the task is unknown. They help to keep the user informed and prevent them from thinking that the app has frozen or crashed.

In addition to providing feedback, indicators can also guide the user's attention. For example, a progress indicator can draw the user's attention to the progress of a task, while a loading indicator can direct the user's attention to the content that's being loaded.

In summary, indicators in Flutter apps serve to enhance the user experience by providing visual feedback, guiding the user's attention, and preventing confusion or frustration.

Types of Flutter Indicators

Flutter provides several types of indicators to cater to different use cases. Let's explore the three main types: CircularProgressIndicator, LinearProgressIndicator, and RefreshIndicator.


The CircularProgressIndicator is a circular progress indicator that spins to indicate that an operation is ongoing. It's an indeterminate progress indicator, meaning it doesn't show the exact amount of progress. Instead, it spins continuously to show that work is ongoing.

Here's a simple example of how to use CircularProgressIndicator in Flutter:

In this example, we've created a CircularProgressIndicator with a blue color. It will spin continuously until the ongoing operation is complete.


The LinearProgressIndicator is a horizontal progress bar that shows progress linearly. It can be used as both a determinate and indeterminate progress indicator.

Here's a simple example of how to use LinearProgressIndicator in Flutter:

In this example, we've created a determinate LinearProgressIndicator with a grey background color and a blue progress color. The value property is set to 0.5, indicating that the progress is 50% complete.


The RefreshIndicator is a material design refresh indicator. It's used to implement pull-to-refresh functionality in a ListView or a GridView.

Here's a simple example of how to use RefreshIndicator in Flutter:

In this example, we've created a RefreshIndicator for a ListView. The _handleRefresh function is called when the user pulls down the ListView. This function should return a Future that completes when the refresh operation is finished.

These are just a few examples of the types of indicators available in Flutter. Depending on your needs, you might also use other types of indicators such as the indeterminate linear progress indicator, determinate circular progress indicator, and more.

Advanced Indicator Concepts

As we delve deeper into the world of Flutter indicators, it's important to understand some advanced concepts that can help optimize your app's performance and enhance the user experience.

Indicator Performance Considerations

When using indicators in your Flutter app, it's crucial to consider their impact on performance. While indicators are generally lightweight and don't consume much processing power, they can still affect your app's performance if not used properly.

One key consideration is the number of active indicators. Having too many active indicators can consume a significant amount of processing power, leading to slower performance. Therefore, it's advisable to limit the number of active indicators and only use them when necessary.

Another consideration is the type of indicator. Determinate progress indicators, such as the determinate circular progress indicator and the linear progress indicator, are more resource-intensive than indeterminate progress indicators. This is because determinate indicators require updating the progress value, which involves additional computation.

Here's an example of a determinate LinearProgressIndicator:

In this example, progressValue is a variable that represents the current progress. Updating this value frequently can consume more processing power.

Indicator Animation Techniques

Animation is a key aspect of indicators. It provides visual feedback and makes the indicators more engaging. Flutter provides several techniques to animate indicators.

One common technique is to use the AnimationController class, which provides methods to control animation. You can use it to start, stop, or reverse the animation.

Here's an example of how to animate a CircularProgressIndicator

In this example, we've created an AnimationController with a duration of 2 seconds. We then use the controller's value as the value of the CircularProgressIndicator. As the controller's value changes over time, the indicator's progress also changes, creating an animation effect.

These advanced concepts can help you use indicators more effectively in your Flutter app. By considering performance and leveraging animation techniques, you can create engaging and efficient indicators that enhance the user experience.

Building Custom Indicators

While Flutter provides a variety of built-in indicators, there might be situations where you need to create custom indicators to meet specific design requirements.

Steps to Create Custom Indicators

Creating a custom indicator in Flutter involves subclassing the ProgressIndicator class and overriding its paint method. Here's a simple example of a custom indicator:

In this example, we've created a custom progress indicator that changes color from grey to blue over a duration of 5 seconds.

Best Practices for Custom Indicators

When creating custom indicators, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it simple: While it's possible to create complex animations and designs, it's often best to keep custom indicators simple. Complex indicators can be distracting and may confuse users.
  2. Consider performance: Custom indicators can be more resource-intensive than built-in indicators, especially if they involve complex animations. Always test your custom indicators to ensure they don't negatively impact your app's performance.
  3. Ensure accessibility: Make sure your custom indicators are accessible. Provide alternative text for screen readers and ensure they have sufficient contrast for visibility.
  4. Reuse code: If you're creating similar custom indicators for different parts of your app, consider creating a reusable custom indicator widget. This can help reduce code duplication and make your code easier to maintain.

By following these steps and best practices, you can create custom indicators that not only meet your design requirements but also provide a great user experience.

Testing Indicators in Flutter

Testing is a crucial part of the app development process. It helps ensure that your app works as expected and provides a good user experience. This includes testing the indicators in your Flutter app.

Importance of Testing Indicators

Indicators play a vital role in providing feedback to users about ongoing operations. Therefore, it's important to test them to ensure they work correctly. Testing indicators can help you catch and fix issues such as indicators not showing up when they should, indicators not disappearing after an operation is complete, or indicators not accurately reflecting the progress of an operation.

Moreover, testing indicators can help ensure they meet accessibility standards. For example, you can test whether your indicators provide alternative text for screen readers or whether they have sufficient contrast for visibility.

Techniques for Testing Indicators

There are several techniques for testing indicators in Flutter. Here are a few examples:

  1. Widget testing: This involves creating a test environment for a specific widget and verifying its behavior. For example, you can create a widget test for your progress indicator and verify that it's displayed when an operation is ongoing and hidden when the operation is complete.
  2. Integration testing: This involves testing your app as a whole, including the interaction between different parts of your app. For example, you can create an integration test that simulates a user interaction that triggers an operation, and verify that the progress indicator is displayed during the operation and hidden after the operation is complete.

Ready to Experiment with Different Types of Indicators?

In conclusion, indicators play a crucial role in enhancing the user experience in Flutter apps. They provide visual feedback about ongoing operations, keeping users informed about the app's status. Flutter provides a variety of built-in indicators, including the CircularProgressIndicator, LinearProgressIndicator, and RefreshIndicator, each serving different use cases.

Moreover, Flutter offers the flexibility to create custom indicators to meet specific design requirements. While creating custom indicators, it's important to keep them simple, consider their impact on performance, ensure they are accessible, and reuse code where possible.

Testing is another crucial aspect of working with indicators. It helps ensure that the indicators work as expected and meet accessibility standards. Techniques such as widget testing and integration testing can be used to test indicators.

We hope this blog post has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of Flutter indicators. Whether you're a beginner just starting out with Flutter or a seasoned developer looking to expand your knowledge, we believe that mastering indicators is a valuable skill that can help you create better Flutter apps. So, don't hesitate to experiment with different types of indicators, create your own custom indicators, and test them thoroughly.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

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