Web draft

Draft for upcoming stable Drift web support.

This draft document describes different approaches allowing drift to run on the web. After community feedback, this restructured page will replace the existing web documentation.


Drift first gained its initial web support in 2019 by wrapping the sql.js JavaScript library. This implementation, which is still supported today, relies on keeping an in-memory database that is periodically saved to local storage. In the last years, development in web browsers and the Dart ecosystem enabled more performant approaches that are unfortunately impossible to implement with the original drift web API. This is the reason the original API is still considered experimental - while it will continue to be supported, it is now obvious that there are better approaches coming up.

This page describes the fundamental challenges and required browser features used to efficiently run drift on the web. It presents a guide on the current and most reliable approach to bring sqlite3 to the web, but older implementations and approaches to migrate between them are still supported and documented as well.


The recommended solution to run drift on the web is to use

  • The File System Access API with an Origin-private File System (OPFS) for storing data, and
  • shared web workers to share the database between multiple tabs.

Drift and the sqlite3 Dart package provide helpers to use those OPFS and shared web workers easily. However, even though both web APIs are suppported in most browsers, they are still relatively new and your app should handle them not being available. Drift provides a feature-detection API which you can use to warn your users if persistence is unavailable - see the caveats section for details.


First, you'll need a version of sqlite3 that has been compiled to WASM and is ready to use Dart bindings for its IO work. You can grab this sqlite3.wasm file from the GitHub releases of the sqlite3 package, or compile it yourself. You can host this file on a CDN, or just put it in the web/ folder of your Flutter app so that it is part of the final bundle. It is important that your web server serves the file with Content-Type: application/wasm. Browsers will refuse to load it otherwise.

Drift web worker

Since OPFS is only available in dedicated web workers, you need to define a worker responsible for hosting the database in its thread. The main tab will connect to that worker to access the database with a communication protocol handled by drift.

In its web/worker.dart library, Drift provies a suitable entrypoint for both shared and dedicated web workers hosting a sqlite3 database. It takes a callback creating the actual database connection. Drift will be responsible for creating the worker in the right configuration. But since the worker depends on the way you set up the database, we can't ship a precompiled worker JavaScript file. You need to write the worker yourself and compile it to JavaScript.

The worker's source could be put into web/database_worker.dart and have a structure like the following:

import 'package:drift/drift.dart';
import 'package:drift/wasm.dart';
import 'package:drift/web/worker.dart';
import 'package:sqlite3/wasm.dart';

void main() {
  driftWorkerMain(() {
    return LazyDatabase(() async {
      // You can use a different OPFS path here is you need more than one
      // persisted database in your app.
      final fileSystem = await OpfsFileSystem.loadFromStorage('my_database');

      final sqlite3 = await WasmSqlite3.loadFromUrl(
        // Uri where you're hosting the wasm bundle for sqlite3
        environment: SqliteEnvironment(fileSystem: fileSystem),

      // The path here should always be `database` since that is the only file
      // persisted by the OPFS file system.
      return WasmDatabase(sqlite3: sqlite3, path: 'database');

Drift will detect whether the worker is running as a shared or as a dedicated worker and call the callback to open the database at a suitable time.

How to compile the worker depends on your build setup:

  1. With regular Dart web apps, you're likely using build_web_compilers with build_runner or webdev already. This build system can compile workers too. This build configuration shows how to configure build_web_compilers to always compile a worker with dart2js.
  2. With Flutter wep apps, you can either use build_web_compilers too (since you're already using build_runner for drift), or compile the worker with dart compile js. When using build_web_compilers, explicitly enable dart2js or run the build with --release.

Make sure to always use dart2js (and not dartdevc) to compile a web worker, since modules emitted by dartdevc are not directly supported in web workers.

Worker mode

Depending on the storage implementation you use in your app, different worker topologies can be used. when in doubt, DriftWorkerMode.dedicatedInShared is a good default.

  1. If you don't need support for multiple tabs accessing the database at the same time, you can use DriftWorkerMode.dedicated which does not spawn a shared web worker.
  2. The File System Acccess API can only be accessed in dedicated workers, which is why DriftWorkerMode.dedicatedInShared is used. If you use a different file system implementation (like one based on IndexedDB), DriftWorkerMode.shared is sufficient.
Dedicated Shared Dedicated in shared
Each tab uses its own worker with an independent database. A single worker hosting the database is used across tabs Like "shared", except that the shared worker forwards requests to a dedicated worker.

Using the database

To spawn and connect to such a web worker, drift provides the connectToDriftWorker method:

Future<DatabaseConnection> connectToWorker() async {
  return await connectToDriftWorker('/database_worker.dart.js',
      mode: DriftWorkerMode.dedicatedInShared);

The returned DatabaseConnection can be passed to the constructor of a generated database class.

Technology challenges

Drift wraps sqlite3, a popular relational database written as a C library. On native platforms, we can use dart:ffi to efficiently bind to C libraries. This is what a NativeDatabase does internally, it gives us efficient and synchronous access to sqlite3. On the web, C libraries can be compiled to WebAssembly, a native-like low-level language. While C code can be compiled to WebAssembly, there is no builtin support for file IO which would be required for a database. This functionality needs to be implemented in JavaScript (or, in our case, in Dart).

For a long time, the web platform lacked a suitable persistence solution that could be used to give sqlite3 access to the file system:

  • Local storage is synchronous, but can't efficiently store binary data. Further, we can't efficiently change a portion of the data stored in local storage. A one byte write to a 10MB database file requires writing everything again.
  • IndexedDb supports binary data and could be used to store chunks of a file in rows. However, it is asynchronous and sqlite3, being a C library, expects a synchronous IO layer.
  • Finally, the newer File System Access API supports synchronous access to app data and synchronous writes. However, it is only supported in web workers. Further, a file in this API can only be opened by one JavaScript context at a time.

While we can support asynchronous persistence APIs by keeping an in-memory cache for synchronous reads and simply not awaiting writes, the direct File System Access API is more promising due to its synchronous nature that doesn't require caching the entire database in memory.

In addition to the persistence problem, there is an issue of concurrency when a user opens multiple tabs of your web app. Natively, locks in the file system allow sqlite3 to guarantee that multiple processes can access the same database without causing conflicts. On the web, no synchronous lock API exists between tabs.

Legacy approaches