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Flutter Navigation with GoRouter: Go vs Push

Source code on GitHub

GoRouter is a popular package for declarative routing in Flutter. It based on the Navigator 2.0 API, and supports deep linking and other common navigation scenarios, all behind an easy to use API.

If you're coming from Navigator 1.0, you'll be familiar with the concept of pushing a route to the navigation stack.

But when using GoRouter, you have two separate options:

  • going to a route
  • pushing a route

This article will explore the difference between the two, so that you can choose the most appropriate one on a case-by-case basis.

Declarative routing with GoRouter

To start off, let's consider a simple route hierarchy made of one top route with two sub-routes:

GoRouter( initialLocation: '/', routes: [ // top-level route GoRoute( path: '/', builder: (context, state) => const HomeScreen(), routes: [ // one sub-route GoRoute( path: 'detail', builder: (context, state) => const DetailScreen(), ), // another sub-route GoRoute( path: 'modal', pageBuilder: (context, state) => const MaterialPage( fullscreenDialog: true, child: ModalScreen(), ), ) ], ), ], )

Let's also define 3 pages for our routes:

Home, Detail, and Modal pages
Home, Detail, and Modal pages

Navigating from the top route

Now, suppose that we're in the HomeScreen, which is just a simple page with three buttons, with callbacks defined like this:

// onPressed callback for the first button context.go('/detail'), // onPressed callback for the second button context.push('/detail'), // onPressed callback for the third button context.go('/modal'),

The first and second callback have the same target location (/detail), and as a result they behave in the same way.

That is, in both cases we'll end up with two routes in the navigation stack (home → detail).

From the home page to the detail page
From the home page to the detail page

The difference between Go and Push

From the detail page, we can now navigate to /modal in two different ways:

// onPressed callback for the first button context.go('/modal'), // onPressed callback for the second button context.push('/modal'),
From the detail page to the modal page
From the detail page to the modal page

This time the result is different:

  • If we use go, we end up with the modal page on top of the home page
  • If we use push, we end up with the modal page on top of the detail page
How Go and Push affect the navigation stack
How Go and Push affect the navigation stack

That's because go jumps to the target route (/modal) by discarding the previous route (/detail), since /modal is not a sub-route of /detail:

Route hierarchy with 3 routes: note that modal is not a sub-route of detail
Route hierarchy with 3 routes: note that modal is not a sub-route of detail

Meanwhile, push always adds the target route on top of the existing one, preserving the navigation stack.


This means that once we dismiss the modal page, we navigate back to:

  • the home page, if we used go
  • the detail page, if we used push

Here's a short video showing this behavior:

Routing with go vs push: animated video
Routing with go vs push: animated video

And here's a gist with the full source code:

Conclusion

The bottom line?

Think of go as a way to jump to a new route. This will modify the underlying navigation stack if the new route is not a sub-route of the old one.

On the other hand, push will always push the destination route on top of the existing navigation stack.


For more info about GoRouter, you can check the API docs or head over to the old documentation site (which is a bit outdated but still an excellent resource).

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