Firebase Cloud Messaging on Flutter

1. Introduction

Last Updated: 2022-04-04

This codelab walks you through the process of developing a multi-platform app with Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) using Flutter. You will write one piece of the implementation of the app, and then build and run it seamlessly on three platforms: Android, iOS, and web. You'll also learn how to integrate FCM in Flutter and how to write code to receive and send messages. Lastly, the codelab introduces the FCM HTTP v1 API's platform-specific blocks feature, which lets you send one message that has different behaviors on different platforms.

Prerequisite

Basic understanding of Flutter.

What you'll learn

  • How to set up and create a Flutter app.
  • How to add FCM dependencies.
  • How to send single FCM messages to your app.
  • How to send topic FCM messages to your app.

What you'll need

  • Latest Stable Version of Android Studio configured with the Dart and Flutter plugins.

You can run the codelab using any of the following devices:

Optionally, to run the codelab using the iOS platform, you need an iOS device, an Apple Developer account, and a macOS device with XCode installed.

2. Flutter setup

If you already have a Flutter development environment set up, skip this section.

To set up a Flutter development environment, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install Flutter for your operating system: Install | Flutter
  2. Make sure that the Flutter tool is added to your path.
  3. Set up your editor for Flutter as shown in Set up an editor | Flutter Be sure to install the Flutter and Dart plugins for your editor. For the rest of the codelab, you will be using Android Studio.
  4. From the command line, run flutter doctor, which scans through your setup and lists any missing dependencies that need to be fixed. Follow the instructions to fix any important missing dependencies. Note that some dependencies may not be necessary. For example, if you are not going to develop for iOS, then a missing CocoaPods dependency won't be a blocking issue.
  5. Run this command to create your Flutter app in the fcmflutter directory flutter create --org com.flutter.fcm --project-name fcmflutter fcmflutter, and then change directories to fcmflutter.
  1. In Android Studio, go to File -> Open, find the path of your Flutter app and then click Open to open the project in Android Studio. The app code is in the ​​file lib/main.dart.

On the Android Studio toolbar, click the Down arrow to select an Android device. If the target selector is empty, install virtual android devices, or Chrome browser or iOS simulator if you prefer to launch the app from a web browser or iOS device. You may need to launch the device manually and refresh the list to find the target device.

An Android Studio toolbar with the build target menu drop down arrow highlighted.

Click Run The run button in Android Studio to launch the app.

The UI of a launched Flutter demo app

Congratulations! You have successfully created a Flutter app.

3. Firebase and FlutterFire setup

To develop an app that integrates with Firebase Cloud Messaging using Flutter, you need:

  • A Firebase project.
  • A working Firebase CLI.
  • An installation of FlutterFire.
  • An app configured and generated with flutterfire configure.

Create your Firebase project

If you already have a Firebase project, you can skip this step.

  1. If you have a Google Account, open Firebase and sign in with your Google Account, and then click Go to console.
  2. In the Firebase Console, click Add project. Follow the instructions to create a project. Do not check Enable Google Analytics for this project because you won't use it in this project.
  3. After the project is created, navigate to the project's Project Settings by clicking the gear icon next to Project Overview.

A cropped screenshot of Firebase Console highlighting the icon for project settings menu and the "Project settings" option

The Project ID is used to uniquely identify the project, and it may be different from the Project name. Project ID will be used to set up FlutterFire later.

A cropped screenshot of Firebase Console highlighting the project id

Congratulations! You have successfully created a Firebase project.

Set up the Firebase CLI

If you have the Firebase CLI set up, you can skip this step.

Go to Firebase CLI reference to download and install the Firebase CLI. Log into Firebase with your Google Account with the following command:

firebase login

Set up FlutterFire

  1. Install the FlutterFire plugin using the command: flutter pub add firebase_core
  2. Install the FCM plugin: flutter pub add firebase_messaging
  3. Set up the FlutterFire CLI: dart pub global activate flutterfire_cli
  4. Configure the Firebase project on Flutter: flutterfire configure --project=fcm4flutter. Use arrow keys and space to select the platforms or press Enter to use the default platforms.

This codelab uses the default platforms (Android, iOS and web), but you can select only one or two platforms. If prompted for the iOS bundle ID, enter com.flutter.fcm.fcmflutter or your own iOS bundle ID in the format of [company domain name].[project name]. After the command completes, refresh the Firebase Console page. You'll see that it has created apps for the selected platforms under the Firebase project.

A cropped screenshot of Firebase Console showing the created apps for the selected platforms

This command generates a firebase_options.dart file under the lib directory, which contains all the options required for initialization.

Set up Cloud Messaging for iOS

  1. Navigate to the Apple developer page, and click Create a key on the Keys tab.

A cropped screenshot of Apple developer page highlighting the page components for key creation

  1. Enter the name for the key and check Apple Push Notifications services (APNs). A cropped screenshot of Apple developer page highlighting the text box for the new key name
  2. Download the key file, which has a .p8 file extension. A cropped screenshot of Apple developer page highlighting the button for downloading a key
  3. In the Firebase console, navigate to the project's Project Settings and choose the Cloud Messaging tab.

A cropped screenshot of Firebase Console page highlighting the components for update project settings

A cropped screenshot of Firebase Console page highlighting the Cloud Messaging tab

  1. Upload the APNs key file for the iOS app in the Cloud Messaging tab. Enter the APNs key ID from the Cloud Messaging tab and the team ID, which can be found in the Apple membership center. A cropped screenshot of Firebase Console page highlighting the buttons for uploading an APNs Authentication Key

4. FCM preparation

Before an app can receive messages from FCM, it needs to:

  • Initialize FlutterFire.
  • Request notification permissions.
  • Register with FCM to get a registration token.

Initialization

To initialize the service, replace the main function (lib/main.dart) with this code:

// core Flutter primitives
import 'package:flutter/foundation.dart';
// core FlutterFire dependency
import 'package:firebase_core/firebase_core.dart';
// generated by 
flutterfire configure
import 'firebase_options.dart';
// FlutterFire's Firebase Cloud Messaging plugin
import 'package:firebase_messaging/firebase_messaging.dart';

// TODO: Add stream controller
// TODO: Define the background message handler

Future<void> main() async {
 WidgetsFlutterBinding.ensureInitialized();
 await Firebase.initializeApp(
   options: DefaultFirebaseOptions.currentPlatform,
 );

 // TODO: Request permission
 // TODO: Register with FCM
 // TODO: Set up foreground message handler
 // TODO: Set up background message handler

 runApp(MyApp());
}

Then run Tools -> Flutter -> Flutter Pub Get in Android Studio to load the packages added at Set up FlutterFire, and display the code with the appropriate Intellisense setting in Android Studio.

This initializes FlutterFire for the current platform DefaultFirebaseOptions.currentPlatform, which is imported from the generated firebase_options.dart file. Note that initializeApp is an asynchronous function, and the await keyword ensures the initialization is complete before running the application.

Request permission

The app needs to ask the user's permission for receiving notifications. The requestPermission method provided by firebase_messaging shows a dialog or popup prompting the user to allow or deny the permission.

First, copy this code to the main function under the comment TODO: Request permission. The returned settings tells you whether the user has granted permission. We recommend requesting permission only when the user needs to use a feature that requires access (e.g., when the user turns on notifications in the app settings). In this codelab, we request permission on app startup for simplicity.

final messaging = FirebaseMessaging.instance;

final settings = await messaging.requestPermission(
 alert: true,
 announcement: false,
 badge: true,
 carPlay: false,
 criticalAlert: false,
 provisional: false,
 sound: true,
);

 if (kDebugMode) {
   print('Permission granted: ${settings.authorizationStatus}');
 }

Next, on the Android Studio toolbar, select Chrome (web) from the target selector and then run the app again.

A cropped screenshot of Android Studio toolbar with the target selector and the Run button

Then, a Chrome tab launches with a popup asking for permission. If you click Allow, you'll see a log in the Android Studio console: Permission granted: AuthorizationStatus.authorized. After you allow or block the permission request, your response is stored along with your app in the browser, and the pop-up is not shown again. Note that when you run the web app again on Android Studio, you may be prompted for the permission again. A cropped screenshot of a Chrome tab with a popup asking for "Show notification" permissions, which the user can allow or block

Registration

Copy this code to the main function below the comment TODO: Register with FCM to register with FCM. The getToken call returns a registration token that can be used by the app server or trusted server environment to send messages to users.

// It requests a registration token for sending messages to users from your App server or other trusted server environment.
String? token = await messaging.getToken();

if (kDebugMode) {
  print('Registration Token=$token');
}

On the Android Studio toolbar, select an Android device and run the app. In the Android Studio console, the registration token is printed out like this:

I/flutter ( 3717): Permission granted: AuthorizationStatus.authorized
I/flutter ( 3717): Registration Token=dch. . . D2P:APA9. . .kbb4

Copy it to a text editor, since you will use it for sending messages later.

uses-sdk:minSdkVersion 16 cannot be smaller than version 19 declared in library [:firebase_messaging]

Extra steps to receive messages on the web

Web apps need two extra steps to get the registration token and listen for incoming messages. Web needs to pass a VAPID key to getToken in order to authorize send requests to supported web push services.

First, open the Cloud Messaging tab of the Firebase project in Firebase Console, scroll down to the Web configuration section to find the existing key pair, or generate a new key pair. Click the highlighted button to copy the key so it can be used as a vapidKey.

A cropped screenshot of the Web Push Certificates component of Web configuration page that highlights the key pair

Next, replace the registration code in the Registration section with this code and then update the vapidKey:

// TODO: replace with your own VAPID key
 const vapidKey = "<YOUR_PUBLIC_VAPID_KEY_HERE>";

 // use the registration token to send messages to users from your trusted server environment
 String? token;

 if (DefaultFirebaseOptions.currentPlatform == DefaultFirebaseOptions.web) {
   token = await messaging.getToken(
     vapidKey: vapidKey,
   );
 } else {
   token = await messaging.getToken();
 }

 if (kDebugMode) {
   print('Registration Token=$token');
 }

Then, create a firebase-messaging-sw.js file below the web/ directory in the root of your project. Copy the following to firebase-messaging-sw.js to allow the web app to receive onMessage events. See Setting notification options in the service worker for more information.

importScripts("https://www.gstatic.com/firebasejs/9.6.10/firebase-app-compat.js");
importScripts("https://www.gstatic.com/firebasejs/9.6.10/firebase-messaging-compat.js");

// todo Copy/paste firebaseConfig from Firebase Console
const firebaseConfig = {
 apiKey: "...",
 authDomain: "...",
 databaseURL: "...",
 projectId: "...",
 storageBucket: "...",
 messagingSenderId: "...",
 appId: "...",
};

firebase.initializeApp(firebaseConfig);
const messaging = firebase.messaging();

// todo Set up background message handler

After that, under Project Settings -> General tab, scroll down and find the Web App, copy the firebaseConfig code section and paste it into firebase-messaging-sw.js. A cropped screenshot of the Web App component of the Firebase config page

Finally, on the Android Studio toolbar, select Chrome (web) in the target selector and run the app. In the Android Studio console, the registration token is printed out like this:

Debug service listening on ws://127.0.0.1:61538/BLQQ3Fg-h7I=/ws
Permission granted: AuthorizationStatus.authorized
Registration Token=fH. . .ue:APA91. . .qwt3chpv

Copy the registration token into a text editor so that you can use it to send messages later.

Extra steps to receive messages on iOS

To receive messages from FCM, iOS devices need to enable Push Notifications and Background Modes on Xcode:

  1. In Android Studio, right-click on the project name and then select Flutter -> Open iOS module in Xcode. A cropped screenshot of "Open iOS module in Xcode" menu item in Android Studio
  2. After Xcode launches, enable Push Notifications and Background Modes in the Signing & Capabilities tab for the project target. See Configure your app for more information.
  3. On the Android Studio toolbar, select an iOS device in the target selector and run the app. After the notification permission is granted, the registration token is printed in the Android Studio console.

A cropped screenshot of an iOS app asking for permission to send notifications

Congratulations, you've successfully registered your app with FCM. You are ready to receive messages, as described in the next section.

5. Receive messages from FCM

Set up message handlers

The app needs to handle onMessage events when messages arrive while the app is in foreground mode, and onBackgroundMessage events when the app is in background.

Foreground message handler

First, add a stream controller after the comment TODO: Add stream controller in file main.dart in order to pass messages from the event handler to the UI.

import 'package:rxdart/rxdart.dart';
// used to pass messages from event handler to the UI
final _messageStreamController = BehaviorSubject<RemoteMessage>();

To add the dependency rxdart, run this command from the project directory: flutter pub add rxdart.

Next, run Tools -> Flutter -> Flutter Pub Get in Android Studio to load the rxdart.dart package and display the code with the appropriate Intellisense settings in Android Studio.

Then, add an event handler to listen for foreground messages after the comment TODO: Set up foreground message handler. It prints logs and publishes the message to the stream controller.

 FirebaseMessaging.onMessage.listen((RemoteMessage message) {
   if (kDebugMode) {
     print('Handling a foreground message: ${message.messageId}');
     print('Message data: ${message.data}');
     print('Message notification: ${message.notification?.title}');
     print('Message notification: ${message.notification?.body}');
   }

   _messageStreamController.sink.add(message);
 });

After that, replace the original State widget in file main.dart with this code, which adds a subscriber to the stream controller in the State widget and displays the last message on the widget.

class _MyHomePageState extends State<MyHomePage> {
 String _lastMessage = "";

 _MyHomePageState() {
   _messageStreamController.listen((message) {
     setState(() {
       if (message.notification != null) {
         _lastMessage = 'Received a notification message:'
             '\nTitle=${message.notification?.title},'
             '\nBody=${message.notification?.body},'
             '\nData=${message.data}';
       } else {
         _lastMessage = 'Received a data message: ${message.data}';
       }
     });
   });
 }

 @override
 Widget build(BuildContext context) {
   return Scaffold(
     appBar: AppBar(
       title: Text(widget.title),
     ),
     body: Center(
       child: Column(
         mainAxisAlignment: MainAxisAlignment.center,
         children: <Widget>[
           Text('Last message from Firebase Messaging:',
               style: Theme.of(context).textTheme.titleLarge),
           Text(_lastMessage, style: Theme.of(context).textTheme.bodyLarge),
         ],
       ),
     ),
   );
 }
}

Background message handler for Android/iOS

Messages are handled by the onBackgroundMessage handler while the app is in the background. The handler should be a top-level function. UI can be updated when the app is brought to the foreground by handling the messages (see Handling interaction) or syncing with the app server.

Create the handler function after the comment TODO: Define the background message handler outside the main function and call it in the main function after the comment TODO: Set up background message handler.

// TODO: Define the background message handler
Future<void> _firebaseMessagingBackgroundHandler(RemoteMessage message) async {
 await Firebase.initializeApp();

 if (kDebugMode) {
   print("Handling a background message: ${message.messageId}");
   print('Message data: ${message.data}');
   print('Message notification: ${message.notification?.title}');
   print('Message notification: ${message.notification?.body}');
 }
}

void main() {
 ...

 // TODO: Set up background message handler
 FirebaseMessaging.onBackgroundMessage(_firebaseMessagingBackgroundHandler);

 runApp(MyApp());
}

Background message handler for web

As of FlutterFire firebase_messaging version 11.2.8, handling background messages on web-based platforms requires a different flow. Therefore, you need to add a separate message handler in the service worker web/firebase-messaging-sw.js.

messaging.onBackgroundMessage((message) => {
 console.log("onBackgroundMessage", message);
});

Set up the app server

  1. Import the starter server code by opening https://github.com/FirebaseExtended/firebase_fcm_flutter/tree/main/server project in Android Studio. The server is a Gradle-based Java project with a dependency on the firebase-admin SDK, which provides FCM message send functionality.
  2. Set up a Firebase Service Account that lets the Firebase Admin SDK authorize calls to FCM APIs. Open the Project Settings in the Firebase console and select the Service accounts tab. Choose ‘Java' and click Generate new private key to download the configuration snippet. A cropped screenshot highlighting Admin SDK configuration snippet of Service accounts component of Project settings page
  3. Rename the file to service-account.json and copy it to src/main/resources path of the server project.

Send a test message

In the FcmSender.java file, sendMessageToFcmRegistrationToken composes a notification message with a data payload. The registration token targets the app instance to which the message is sent.

private static void sendMessageToFcmRegistrationToken() throws Exception {
   String registrationToken = "REPLACE_WITH_FCM_REGISTRATION_TOKEN";
   Message message =
       Message.builder()
           .putData("FCM", "https://firebase.google.com/docs/cloud-messaging")
           .putData("flutter", "https://flutter.dev/")
           .setNotification(
               Notification.builder()
                   .setTitle("Try this new app")
                   .setBody("Learn how FCM works with Flutter")
                   .build())
           .setToken(registrationToken)
           .build();

   FirebaseMessaging.getInstance().send(message);

   System.out.println("Message to FCM Registration Token sent successfully!!");
 }
  1. Copy the Android registration token copied from the Registration section, and paste it to the value for the variable registrationToken.
  2. Click Run The run button in Android Studio to run the main function and send the message to the user through FCM. A cropped screenshot of the Run icon shown next to the FcmSender.java main function in Android Studio

When the Android app is in background, the message appears in the notifications tray.

A cropped screenshot of a message appearing in the Android notification tray

When the Android app is in the foreground, you'll see a log in the Android Studio console: "Handling a foreground message". The message content is also displayed in the UI because the UI is subscribed to the stream controller for new messages.

A cropped screenshot of the message content displayed in the Android app

If you paste the registration token and send the message from the the app server or other trusted server environment, you'll see a similar behavior:

  • When the web app is in the background (i.e., when it's hidden by another window or another tab is active), you'll see a web notification.

A cropped screenshot of a web notification shown in Chrome browser

  • When the web app is in the foreground, you can view the log in the Chrome Console by right-clicking the web and selecting Inspect. The message content is also displayed in the UI. A cropped screenshot of the Chrome Console with debug logs

6. Send a topic message

The FCM HTTP v1 API's platform override feature enables a message send request to have different behaviors on different platforms. One use case of this feature is to display different notification message content based on the platform. The feature is most fully used when targeting multiple devices (which might span multiple platforms) with topic messaging. This section walks you through the steps to make your app receive a topic message customized for each platform.

Subscribe to a topic from the client

To subscribe to a topic, call the messaging.subscribeToTopic method at the end of the main function in the main.dart file of the Flutter app.

// subscribe to a topic.
const topic = 'app_promotion';
await messaging.subscribeToTopic(topic);

[Optional] Subscribe to a topic from the server for web

You can skip this section if you are not developing on the web platform.

The FCM JS SDK currently does not support client-side topic subscription. Instead, you can subscribe using the Admin SDK's server-side topic management API. This code illustrates server-side topic subscription with the Java Admin SDK.

 private static void subscribeFcmRegistrationTokensToTopic() throws Exception {
   List<String> registrationTokens =
       Arrays.asList(
           "REPLACE_WITH_FCM_REGISTRATION_TOKEN"); // TODO: add FCM Registration Tokens to
   // subscribe
   String topicName = "app_promotion";

   TopicManagementResponse response =     FirebaseMessaging.getInstance().subscribeToTopic(registrationTokens, topicName);
   System.out.printf("Num tokens successfully subscribed %d", response.getSuccessCount());
 }

Open the app server and click Run The run button in Android Studio to run the main function in FcmSubscriptionManager.java file:

A cropped screenshot of the Run icon shown next to the FcmSubscriptionManager.java main function in Android Studio

Send a message with platform overrides to a topic

Now you're ready to send a topic platform override message. In the following code snippet:

  • You construct a send request with a base message and title "A new app is available".
  • The message generates a display notification with the title "A new app is available" on iOS and web platforms.
  • The message generates a display notification with title "A new Android app is available" on Android devices.
private static void sendMessageToFcmTopic() throws Exception {
   String topicName = "app_promotion";

   Message message =
       Message.builder()
           .setNotification(
               Notification.builder()
                   .setTitle("A new app is available")
                   .setBody("Check out our latest app in the app store.")
                   .build())
           .setAndroidConfig(
               AndroidConfig.builder()
                   .setNotification(
                       AndroidNotification.builder()
                           .setTitle("A new Android app is available")
                           .setBody("Our latest app is available on Google Play store")
                           .build())
                   .build())
           .setTopic("app_promotion")
           .build();

   FirebaseMessaging.getInstance().send(message);

   System.out.println("Message to topic sent successfully!!");
 }

In the main function of the FcmSender.java file, uncomment sendMessageToFcmTopic();. Click Run The run button in Android Studio to send the topic message.

7. Summary and what's next

To summarize, you've learned about engaging multi-platform app development using Flutter and FCM, which includes environment setup, dependency integration, and message receiving and sending. To dive deeper, see the following materials:

Codelabs

References