Common Flutter errors

Introduction

This page explains several frequently-encountered Flutter framework errors and gives suggestions on how to resolve them. This is a living document with more errors to be added in future revisions, and your contributions are welcomed. Feel free to open an issue or submit a pull request to make this page more useful to you and the Flutter community.

‘A RenderFlex overflowed…’

RenderFlex overflow is one of the most frequently encountered Flutter framework errors, and you probably have run into it already.

What does the error look like?

When it happens, you’ll see yellow & black stripes indicating the area of overflow in the app UI in addition to the error message in the debug console:

The following assertion was thrown during layout:
A RenderFlex overflowed by 1146 pixels on the right.

The relevant error-causing widget was
    Row 	    lib/errors/renderflex_overflow_column.dart:23
The overflowing RenderFlex has an orientation of Axis.horizontal.
The edge of the RenderFlex that is overflowing has been marked in the rendering 
with a yellow and black striped pattern. This is usually caused by the contents 
being too big for the RenderFlex.
(Additional lines of this message omitted)

How might you run into this error?

The error often occurs when a Column or Row has a child widget that is not constrained in its size. For example, the code snippet below demonstrates a common scenario:

Widget build(BuildContext context) {
  return Container(
    child: Row(
      children: [
        Icon(Icons.message),
        Column(
          mainAxisSize: MainAxisSize.min,
          crossAxisAlignment: CrossAxisAlignment.start,
          children: [
            Text("Title", style: Theme.of(context).textTheme.headline4),
            Text(
                "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed"
                " do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna "
                "aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud "
                "exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea "
                "commodo consequat."),
          ],
        ),
      ],
    ),
  );
}

In the above example, the Column tries to be wider than the space the Row (its parent) can allocate to it, causing an overflow error. Why does the Column try to do that? To understand this layout behavior, you need to know how Flutter framework performs layout:

To perform layout, Flutter walks the render tree in a depth-first traversal and passes down size constraints from parent to child… Children respond by passing up a size to their parent object within the constraints the parent established.” – Flutter architectural overview

In this case, the Row widget doesn’t constrain the size of its children, nor does the Column widget. Lacking constraints from its parent widget, the second Text widget tries to be as wide as all the characters it needs to display. The self-determined width of the Text widget then gets adopted by the Column which clashes with the maximum amount of horizontal space its parent the Row widget can provide.

How to fix it?

Well, you need to make sure the Column won’t attempt to be wider than it can be. To achieve this, you need to constrain its width. One way to do it is to wrap the Column in an Expanded widget:

child: Row(
  children: [
    Icon(Icons.message),
    Expanded(
      child: Column(
        // code omitted
      ),
    ),
  ]
)

Another way is to wrap the Column in a Flexible widget and specify a flex factor. In fact, the Expanded widget is equivalent to the Flexible widget with a flex factor of 1.0, as its source code shows. To further understand how to use the Flex widget in Flutter layouts, please check out this Widget of the Week video on the Flexible widget.

Further information:

The resources linked below provide further information about this error.

‘RenderBox was not laid out’

While this error is pretty common, it’s often a side effect of a primary error occurring earlier in the rendering pipeline.

What does the error look like?

The message shown by the error looks like this:

RenderBox was not laid out: 
RenderViewport#5a477 NEEDS-LAYOUT NEEDS-PAINT NEEDS-COMPOSITING-BITS-UPDATE

How might you run into this error?

Usually, the issue is related to violation of box constraints, and it needs to be solved by providing more information to Flutter about how you’d like to constrain the widgets in question. You can learn more about how constraints work in Flutter on the page Understanding constraints.

The RenderBox was not laid out error is often caused by one of two other errors:

  • ‘Vertical viewport was given unbounded height’
  • ‘An InputDecorator…cannot have an unbounded width’

‘Vertical viewport was given unbounded height’

This is another common layout error you could run into while creating a UI in your Flutter app.

What does the error look like?

The message shown by the error looks like this:

The following assertion was thrown during performResize():
Vertical viewport was given unbounded height.

Viewports expand in the scrolling direction to fill their container. 
In this case, a vertical viewport was given an unlimited amount of 
vertical space in which to expand. This situation typically happens when a 
scrollable widget is nested inside another scrollable widget.
(Additional lines of this message omitted)

How might you run into this error?

The error is often caused when a ListView (or other kinds of scrollable widgets such as GridView) is placed inside a Column. A ListView takes all the vertical space available to it, unless it’s constrained by its parent widget. However, a Column doesn’t impose any constraint on its children’s height by default. The combination of the two behaviors leads to the failure of determining the size of the ListView.

Widget build(BuildContext context) {
  return Center(
    child: Column(
      children: <Widget>[
        Text('Header'),
        ListView(
          children: <Widget>[
            ListTile(
              leading: Icon(Icons.map),
              title: Text('Map'),
            ),
            ListTile(
              leading: Icon(Icons.subway),
              title: Text('Subway'),
            ),
          ],
        ),
      ],
    ),
  );
}

How to fix it?

To fix this error, specify how tall the ListView should be. To make it as tall as the remaining space in the Column, wrap it using an Expanded widget (see the example below). Otherwise, specify an absolute height using a SizedBox widget or a relative height using a Flexible widget.

Widget build(BuildContext context) {
  return Center(
    child: Column(
      children: <Widget>[
        Text('Header'),
        Expanded(
          child: ListView(
            children: <Widget>[
              ListTile(
                leading: Icon(Icons.map),
                title: Text('Map'),
              ),
              ListTile(
                leading: Icon(Icons.subway),
                title: Text('Subway'),
              ),
            ],
          ),
        ),
      ],
    ),
  );
}

Further information:

The resources linked below provide further information about this error.

‘An InputDecorator…cannot have an unbounded width’

The error message suggests that it’s also related to box constraints, which are important to understand to avoid many of the most common Flutter framework errors.

What does the error look like?

The message shown by the error looks like this:

The following assertion was thrown during performLayout():
An InputDecorator, which is typically created by a TextField, cannot have an 
unbounded width.
This happens when the parent widget does not provide a finite width constraint. 
For example, if the InputDecorator is contained by a `Row`, then its width must 
be constrained. An `Expanded` widget or a SizedBox can be used to constrain the 
width of the InputDecorator or the TextField that contains it.
(Additional lines of this message omitted)

How might you run into the error?

This error occurs, for example, when a Row contains a TextFormField or a TextField but the latter has no width constraint.

Widget build(BuildContext context) {
  return MaterialApp(
    home: Scaffold(
      appBar: AppBar(
        title:
            Text('Unbounded Width of the TextField'),
      ),
      body: Row(
        children: [
          TextField(),
        ],
      ),
    ),
  );
}

How to fix it?

As suggested by the error message, fix this error by constraining the text field using either an Expanded or SizedBox widget. The following example demonstrates using an Expanded widget:

  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return MaterialApp(
      home: Scaffold(
        appBar: AppBar(
          title: Text('Unbounded Width of the TextField'),
        ),
        body: Row(
          children: [
            Expanded(
                child: TextFormField()
            ),
          ],
        ),
      ),
    );
  }

‘Incorrect use of ParentData widget’

This error is about missing an expected parent widget.

What does the error look like?

The message shown by the error looks like this:

The following assertion was thrown while looking for parent data:
Incorrect use of ParentDataWidget.
(Some lines of this message omitted)
Usually, this indicates that at least one of the offending ParentDataWidgets 
listed above is not placed directly inside a compatible ancestor widget.

How might you run into the error?

While Flutter’s widgets are generally flexible in how they can be composed together in a UI, a small subset of those widgets expect specific parent widgets. When this expectation can’t be satisfied in your widget tree, you’re likely to see this error.

Here is an incomplete list of widgets that expect specific parent widgets within the Flutter framework. Feel free to submit a PR (using the doc icon in the top right corner of the page) to expand this list.

Widget Expected parent widget(s)
Flexible Row, Column, or Flex
Expanded (a specialized Flexible) Row, Column, or Flex
Positioned Stack
Flexible Row, Column, or Flex
TableCell Table

How to fix it?

The fix should be obvious once you know which parent widget is missing.

‘setState called during build’

The build method in your Flutter code is not a good place to call setState either directly or indirectly.

What does the error look like?

When the error occurs, the following message gets displayed in the console:

The following assertion was thrown building DialogPage(dirty, dependencies: 
[_InheritedTheme, _LocalizationsScope-[GlobalKey#59a8e]], 
state: _DialogPageState#f121e):
setState() or markNeedsBuild() called during build.

This Overlay widget cannot be marked as needing to build because the framework 
is already in the process of building widgets.
(Additional lines of this message omitted)

How might you run into the error?

In general, this error occurs when the setState method is called within the build method.

A common scenario where this error occurs is when attempting to trigger a Dialog from within the build method. This is often motivated by the need to immediately show information to the user, but setState should never be called from a build method.

Below is a snippet that seems to be a common culprit of this error:

Widget build(BuildContext context) {

  // Don't do this. 
  showDialog(
      context: context,
      builder: (BuildContext context) {
        return AlertDialog(
          title: Text("Alert Dialog"),
        );
      });

  return Center(
    child: Column(
      children: <Widget>[
        Text('Show Material Dialog'),
      ],
    ),
  );
}

You don’t see the explicit call to setState, but it’s called by showDialog. The build method is not the right place to call showDialog because build can be called by the framework for every frame, for example, during an animation.

How to fix it?

One way to avoid this error is to use the Navigator API to trigger the dialog as a route. In the example below, there are two pages. The second page has a dialog to be displayed upon entry. When the user requests the second page from clicking on a button on the first page, the Navigator pushes two routes in a row – one for the second page and another for the dialog.

class FirstScreen extends StatelessWidget {
  @override
  Widget build(BuildContext context) {
    return Scaffold(
      appBar: AppBar(
        title: Text('First Screen'),
      ),
      body: Center(
        child: RaisedButton(
          child: Text('Launch screen'),
          onPressed: () {
            // Navigate to the second screen using a named route.
            Navigator.pushNamed(context, '/second');
            // Immediately show a dialog upon loading the second screen.
            Navigator.push(
              context,
              PageRouteBuilder(
                barrierDismissible: true,
                opaque: false,
                pageBuilder: (_, anim1, anim2) => MyDialog(),
              ),
            );
          },
        ),
      ),
    );
  }
}

References

To learn more about how to debug errors, especially layout errors in Flutter, check out the following resources: