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Dart tables

Further information on Dart tables

Prefer sql? If you prefer, you can also declare tables via CREATE TABLE statements. Drift's sql analyzer will generate matching Dart code. Details.

As shown in the getting started guide, sql tables can be written in Dart:

class Todos extends Table {
  IntColumn get id => integer().autoIncrement()();
  TextColumn get title => text().withLength(min: 6, max: 32)();
  TextColumn get content => text().named('body')();
  IntColumn get category => integer().nullable()();

In this article, we'll cover some advanced features of this syntax.


By default, drift uses the snake_case name of the Dart getter in the database. For instance, the table

class EnabledCategories extends Table {
    IntColumn get parentCategory => integer()();
    // ..

Would be generated as CREATE TABLE enabled_categories (parent_category INTEGER NOT NULL).

To override the table name, simply override the tableName getter. An explicit name for columns can be provided with the named method:

class EnabledCategories extends Table {
    String get tableName => 'categories';

    IntColumn get parentCategory => integer().named('parent')();

The updated class would be generated as CREATE TABLE categories (parent INTEGER NOT NULL).

To update the name of a column when serializing data to json, annotate the getter with @JsonKey.

You can change the name of the generated data class too. By default, drift will stip a trailing s from the table name (so a Users table would have a User data class). That doesn't work in all cases though. With the EnabledCategories class from above, we'd get a EnabledCategorie data class. In those cases, you can use the @DataClassName annotation to set the desired name.


By default, columns may not contain null values. When you forgot to set a value in an insert, an exception will be thrown. When using sql, drift also warns about that at compile time.

If you do want to make a column nullable, just use nullable():

class Items {
    IntColumn get category => integer().nullable()();
    // ...

Default values

You can set a default value for a column. When not explicitly set, the default value will be used when inserting a new row. To set a constant default value, use withDefault:

class Preferences extends Table {
  TextColumn get name => text()();
  BoolColumn get enabled => boolean().withDefault(const Constant(false))();

When you later use into(preferences).insert(PreferencesCompanion.forInsert(name: 'foo'));, the new row will have its enabled column set to false (and not to null, as it normally would). Note that columns with a default value (either through autoIncrement or by using a default), are still marked as @required in generated data classes. This is because they are meant to represent a full row, and every row will have those values. Use companions when representing partial rows, like for inserts or updates.

Of course, constants can only be used for static values. But what if you want to generate a dynamic default value for each column? For that, you can use clientDefault. It takes a function returning the desired default value. The function will be called for each insert. For instance, here's an example generating a random Uuid using the uuid package:

final _uuid = Uuid();

class Users extends Table {
    TextColumn get id => text().clientDefault(() => _uuid.v4())();
    // ...

Don't know when to use which? Prefer to use withDefault when the default value is constant, or something simple like currentDate. For more complicated values, like a randomly generated id, you need to use clientDefault. Internally, withDefault writes the default value into the CREATE TABLE statement. This can be more efficient, but doesn't support dynamic values.

Primary keys

If your table has an IntColumn with an autoIncrement() constraint, drift recognizes that as the default primary key. If you want to specify a custom primary key for your table, you can override the primaryKey getter in your table:

class GroupMemberships extends Table {
  IntColumn get group => integer()();
  IntColumn get user => integer()();

  Set<Column> get primaryKey => {group, user};

Note that the primary key must essentially be constant so that the generator can recognize it. That means:

  • it must be defined with the => syntax, function bodies aren't supported
  • it must return a set literal without collection elements like if, for or spread operators

Supported column types

Drift supports a variety of column types out of the box. You can store custom classes in columns by using type converters.

Dart typeColumnCorresponding SQLite type
booleanboolean()INTEGER, which a CHECK to only allow 0 or 1
DateTimedateTime()INTEGER (Unix timestamp in seconds)

Note that the mapping for boolean, dateTime and type converters only applies when storing records in the database. They don't affect JSON serialization at all. For instance, boolean values are expected as true or false in the fromJson factory, even though they would be saved as 0 or 1 in the database. If you want a custom mapping for JSON, you need to provide your own ValueSerializer.

Custom constraints

Some column and table constraints aren't supported through drift's Dart api. This includes REFERENCES clauses on columns, which you can set through customConstraint:

class GroupMemberships extends Table {
  IntColumn get group => integer().customConstraint('NOT NULL REFERENCES groups (id)')();
  IntColumn get user => integer().customConstraint('NOT NULL REFERENCES users (id)')();

  Set<Column> get primaryKey => {group, user};

Applying a customConstraint will override all other constraints that would be included by default. In particular, that means that we need to also include the NOT NULL constraint again.

You can also add table-wide constraints by overriding the customConstraints getter in your table class.


Foreign key references can be expressed in Dart tables with the references() method when building a column:

class Todos extends Table {
  // ...
  IntColumn get category => integer().nullable().references(Categories, #id)();

class Categories extends Table {
  IntColumn get id => integer().autoIncrement()();
  // and more columns...

The first parameter to references points to the table on which a reference should be created. The second parameter is a symbol of the column to use for the reference.

Optionally, the onUpdate and onDelete parameters can be used to describe what should happen when the target row gets updated or deleted.

Be aware that, in sqlite3, foreign key references aren't enabled by default. They need to be enabled with PRAGMA foreign_keys = ON. A suitable place to issue that pragma with drift is in a post-migration callback.


It is also possible to define SQL views as Dart classes. To do so, write an abstract class extending View. This example declares a view reading the amount of todo-items added to a category in the schema from the example:

abstract class CategoryTodoCount extends View {
  TodosTable get todos;
  Categories get categories;

  Expression<int> get itemCount =>;

  Query as() => select([categories.description, itemCount])
      .join([innerJoin(todos, todos.category.equalsExp(]);

Inside a Dart view, use

  • abstract getters to declare tables that you'll read from (e.g. TodosTable get todos)
  • Expression getters to add columns: (e.g. itemCount =>;
  • the overridden as method to define the select statement backing the view

Finally, a view needs to be added to a database or accessor by including it in the views parameter:

@DriftDatabase(tables: [Todos, Categories], views: [CategoryTodoCount])
class MyDatabase extends _$MyDatabase {