Make sure to update your StateFlow safely in Kotlin!

Hi, today I come to you with a quick tip on how to update your StateFlows safely in Kotlin.

Make sure to update your StateFlow safely in Kotlin!

Hi, today I come to you with a quick tip on how to update your StateFlows safely in Kotlin.

Recently a new version of Kotlin Coroutines library was released with a few new extensions functions to help you with StateFlow updates. It all started with this issue:

Expose atomic updates on MutableStateFlow · Issue #2720 · Kotlin/kotlinx.coroutines
qwwdfsad added a commit that referenced this issue May 25, 2021 ...ableStateFlow (#2729) * Add update, updateAndGet…

Let’s see what it’s all about…

One last thing before we start

✉️ Android Dev Newsletter

If you enjoy learning about Android like I do and want to stay up to date with the latest, worth reading articles, programming news and much more, consider subscribing to my newsletter👇

🎙 Android Talks Podcast

If you’re a Polish speaker and want to listen to what I have to say about Android, architecture, security and other interesting topics, check out my podcast👇

First time using StateFlow?

If it’s your first time with StateFlow and you want to know more about it and how it relates to others like SharedFlow or LiveData, you can read my article about it here:

LiveData vs SharedFlow and StateFlow in MVVM and MVI Architecture
See the original article on my website…

Let’s begin

StateFlow is mostly used for handling state and state updates. It can be used for example in Android’s ViewModel to expose state to your views.

Let’s see an example:

How to collect this state now in Fragment for example? All info can be found in my article I mentioned before :)

How can we update the state?

Well, it’s really easy, since we use a data class. We can just use copy like this:

_uiState.value = _uiState.value.copy(title = "Something")

Simple, right? But you have to be careful…

The issue

So what’s the problem? While the code is very simple, there is something you have to be aware of: CONCURRENCY.

If between the time copy function completes and the StateFlow’s new value is emitted another thread tries to update the StateFlow — by using copy and updating one of the properties that the current copy isn’t modifying —we could end up with results we were not expecting.


How do we solve this problem? By using fresh good stuff from Kotlin Coroutines for MutableStateFlow.

The stuff I’m talking about are these three methods:

All of these take a function parameter that returns the new state that will be emitted.

Let’s see what’s inside the update method for a moment:

public inline fun <T> MutableStateFlow<T>.update(function: (T) -> T) {
    while (true) {
        val prevValue = value
        val nextValue = function(prevValue)
        if (compareAndSet(prevValue, nextValue)) {

As we can see, a function is passed as a param and it’s applied to the current StateFlow’s value. Then compareAndSet function is used to determine if the value has changed — for example by another thread. If compareAndSet returns false then the while loop will be running until it’s possible to update the state.

So how to use it? Let’s see an example SAFE update now:

_uiState.update { it.copy(title = "Something") }

That’s it! This ensures us that the state can be changed safely!

That’s all for this article. I hope you’ll update your StateFlow safely now. Be sure to check out my other articles on the website!