Anko Layouts

Yaroslav Yadrov edited this page Sep 1, 2018 · 21 revisions

Contents

Why Anko Layouts?

Why a DSL?

By default, UI in Android is written using XML. That is inconvenient in the following ways:

  • It is not typesafe;
  • It is not null-safe;
  • It forces you to write almost the same code for every layout you make;
  • XML is parsed on the device wasting CPU time and battery;
  • Most of all, it allows no code reuse.

While you can create UI programmatically, it's hardly done because it's somewhat ugly and hard to maintain. Here's a plain Kotlin version (one in Java is even longer):

val act = this
val layout = LinearLayout(act)
layout.orientation = LinearLayout.VERTICAL
val name = EditText(act)
val button = Button(act)
button.text = "Say Hello"
button.setOnClickListener {
    Toast.makeText(act, "Hello, ${name.text}!", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show()
}
layout.addView(name)
layout.addView(button)

A DSL makes the same logic easy to read, easy to write and there is no runtime overhead. Here it is again:

verticalLayout {
    val name = editText()
    button("Say Hello") {
        onClick { toast("Hello, ${name.text}!") }
    }
}

Note that onClick() supports coroutines (accepts suspending lambda) so you can write your asynchronous code without explicit async(UI) call.

Supporting existing code

You don't have to rewrite all your UI with Anko. You can keep your old classes written in Java. Moreover, if you still want (or have) to write a Kotlin activity class and inflate an XML layout for some reason, you can use View properties, which would make things easier:

// Same as findViewById() but simpler to use
val name = find<TextView>(R.id.name)
name.hint = "Enter your name"
name.onClick { /*do something*/ }

You can make your code even more compact by using Kotlin Android Extensions.

How it works

There is no :tophat:. Anko consists of some Kotlin extension functions and properties arranged into type-safe builders, as described under Type Safe Builders.

Since it's somewhat tedious to write all these extensions by hand, they're generated automatically using android.jar files from Android SDK as sources.

Is it extensible?

Short answer: yes.

For example, you might want to use a MapView in the DSL. Then just write this in any Kotlin file from where you could import it:

inline fun ViewManager.mapView() = mapView {}

inline fun ViewManager.mapView(init: MapView.() -> Unit): MapView {
    return ankoView({ MapView(it) }, theme = 0, init = init)
}

{ MapView(it) } is a factory function for your custom View. It accepts a Context instance.

So now you can write this:

frameLayout {
    val mapView = mapView().lparams(width = matchParent)
}

If you want your users to be able to apply a custom theme, write also this:

inline fun ViewManager.mapView(theme: Int = 0) = mapView(theme) {}

inline fun ViewManager.mapView(theme: Int = 0, init: MapView.() -> Unit): MapView {
    return ankoView({ MapView(it) }, theme, init)
}

Using Anko Layouts in your project

Include these library dependencies:

dependencies {
    // Anko Layouts
    implementation "org.jetbrains.anko:anko-sdk25:$anko_version" // sdk15, sdk19, sdk21, sdk23 are also available
    implementation "org.jetbrains.anko:anko-appcompat-v7:$anko_version"

    // Coroutine listeners for Anko Layouts
    implementation "org.jetbrains.anko:anko-sdk25-coroutines:$anko_version"
    implementation "org.jetbrains.anko:anko-appcompat-v7-coroutines:$anko_version"
}

Please read the Gradle-based project section for the detailed information.

Understanding Anko

Basics

In Anko, you don't need to inherit from any special classes: just use standard Activity, Fragment, FragmentActivity or whatever you want.

First of all, import org.jetbrains.anko.* to use Anko Layouts DSL in your classes.

DSL is available in onCreate():

override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
    super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
    
    verticalLayout {
        padding = dip(30)
        editText {
            hint = "Name"
            textSize = 24f
        }
        editText {
            hint = "Password"
            textSize = 24f
        }
        button("Login") {
            textSize = 26f
        }
    }
}
:penguin: There's no explicit call to setContentView(R.layout.something): Anko sets content views automatically for Activities (but only for them).

hint and textSize are synthetic extension properties bound to JavaBean-style getters and setters, padding is an extension property from Anko. Either of these exists for almost all View attributes allowing you to write text = "Some text" instead of setText("Some text").

verticalLayout (a LinearLayout but already with a LinearLayout.VERTICAL orientation), editText and button are extension functions that construct the new View instances and add them to the parent. We will reference such functions as blocks.

Blocks exist for almost every View in Android framework, and they work in Activities, Fragments (both default and that from android.support package) and even for Context. For example, if you have an AnkoContext instance, you can write blocks like this:

val name: EditText = with(ankoContext) {
    editText {
        hint = "Name"
    }
}

AnkoComponent

Although you can use the DSL directly (in onCreate() or everywhere else), without creating any extra classes, it is often convenient to have UI in the separate class. If you use the provided AnkoComponent interface, you also get a DSL layout preview feature for free.

class MyActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?, persistentState: PersistableBundle?) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState, persistentState)
        MyActivityUI().setContentView(this)
    }
}

class MyActivityUI : AnkoComponent<MyActivity> {
    override fun createView(ui: AnkoContext<MyActivity>) = with(ui) {
        verticalLayout {
            val name = editText()
            button("Say Hello") {
                onClick { ctx.toast("Hello, ${name.text}!") }
            }
        }
    }
}

Helper blocks

As you probably noticed earlier, the button() function in the previous section accepts a String parameter. Such helper blocks exist for the frequently used views such as TextView, EditText, Button or ImageView.

If you don't need to set any properties for some particular View, you can omit {} and write button("Ok") or even just button():

verticalLayout {
    button("Ok")
    button(R.string.cancel)
}

Themed blocks

Anko provides "themeable" versions of blocks, including helper blocks:

verticalLayout {
    themedButton("Ok", theme = R.style.myTheme)
}

Layouts and LayoutParams

The positioning of widgets inside parent containers can be tuned using LayoutParams. In XML it looks like this:

<ImageView 
    android:layout_width="wrap_content"
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    android:layout_marginLeft="5dip"
    android:layout_marginTop="10dip"
    android:src="@drawable/something" />

In Anko, you specify LayoutParams right after a View description using lparams():

linearLayout {
    button("Login") {
        textSize = 26f
    }.lparams(width = wrapContent) {
        horizontalMargin = dip(5)
        topMargin = dip(10)
    }
}

If you specify lparams(), but omit width and/or height, their default values are both wrapContent. But you always can pass them explicitly: use named arguments.

Some convenient helper properties to notice:

  • horizontalMargin sets both left and right margins,
  • verticalMargin set top and bottom ones, and
  • margin sets all four margins simultaneously.

Note that lparams() are different for different layouts, for example, in the case of RelativeLayout:

val ID_OK = 1

relativeLayout {
    button("Ok") {
        id = ID_OK
    }.lparams { alignParentTop() }
  
    button("Cancel").lparams { below(ID_OK) }
}

Listeners

Anko has listener helpers that seamlessly support coroutines. You can write asynchronous code right inside your listeners!

button("Login") {
    onClick {
    	val user = myRetrofitService.getUser().await()
        showUser(user)
    }
}

It is nearly the same as this:

button.setOnClickListener(object : OnClickListener {
    override fun onClick(v: View) {
    	launch(UI) {
    	    val user = myRetrofitService.getUser().await()
            showUser(user)
    	}
    }
})

Anko is very helpful when you have listeners with lots of methods. Consider the following code written without using Anko:

seekBar.setOnSeekBarChangeListener(object : OnSeekBarChangeListener {
    override fun onProgressChanged(seekBar: SeekBar, progress: Int, fromUser: Boolean) {
        // Something
    }
    override fun onStartTrackingTouch(seekBar: SeekBar?) {
        // Just an empty method
    }
    override fun onStopTrackingTouch(seekBar: SeekBar) {
        // Another empty method
    }
})

And now with Anko:

seekBar {
    onSeekBarChangeListener {
        onProgressChanged { seekBar, progress, fromUser ->
            // Something
        }
    }
}

If you set onProgressChanged() and onStartTrackingTouch() for the same View, these two "partially defined" listeners will be merged. For the same listener method, the last one wins.

Custom coroutine context

You can pass a custom coroutine context to the listener helpers:

button("Login") {
    onClick(yourContext) {
    	val user = myRetrofitService.getUser().await()
        showUser(user)
    }
}

Using resource identifiers

All examples in the previous chapters used raw Java strings, but it is hardly a good practice. Typically you put all your string data into res/values/ directory and access it at runtime calling, for example, getString(R.string.login).

Fortunately, in Anko you can pass resource identifiers both to helper blocks (button(R.string.login)) and to extension properties (button { textResource = R.string.login }).

Note that the property name is not the same: instead of text, hint, image, we now use textResource, hintResource and imageResource.

:penguin: Resource properties always throw AnkoException when read.

Instance shorthand notation

Sometimes you need to pass a Context instance to some Android SDK method from your Activity code. Usually, you can just use this, but what if you're inside an inner class? You would probably write SomeActivity.this in case of Java and this@SomeActivity if you're writing in Kotlin.

With Anko you can just write ctx. It is an extension property which works both inside Activity and Service and is even accessible from Fragment (it uses getActivity() method under the hood). You can also get an Activity instance using act extension property.

UI wrapper

Before the Beginning of Time Anko always used UI tag as a top-level DSL element:

UI {
    editText {
        hint = "Name"
    }
}

You can still use this tag if you want. And it would be much easier to extend DSL as you have to declare only one ViewManager.customView function. See Extending Anko for more information.

Include tag

It is easy to insert an XML layout into DSL. Use the include() function:

include<View>(R.layout.something) {
    backgroundColor = Color.RED
}.lparams(width = matchParent) { margin = dip(12) }

You can use lparams() as usual, and if you provide a specific type instead of View, you can also use this type inside {}:

include<TextView>(R.layout.textfield) {
    text = "Hello, world!"
}

Anko Support plugin

Anko Support plugin is available for IntelliJ IDEA and Android Studio. It allows you to preview AnkoComponent classes written with Anko directly in the IDE tool window.

Installing Anko Support plugin

You can download the Anko Support plugin here.

Using the plugin

Suppose you have these classes written with Anko:

class MyActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?, persistentState: PersistableBundle?) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState, persistentState)
        MyActivityUI().setContentView(this)
    }
}

class MyActivityUI : AnkoComponent<MyActivity> {
    override fun createView(ui: AnkoContext<MyActivity>) = ui.apply {
        verticalLayout {
            val name = editText()
            button("Say Hello") {
                onClick { ctx.toast("Hello, ${name.text}!") }
            }
        }
    }.view
}

Put the cursor somewhere inside the MyActivityUI declaration, open the Anko Layout Preview tool window ("View" → "Tool Windows" → "Anko Layout Preview") and press Refresh.

This requires building the project, so it could take some time before the image is actually shown.

XML to DSL Converter

The plugin also supports converting layouts from the XML format to Anko Layouts code. Open an XML file and select "Code" → "Convert to Anko Layouts DSL". You can convert several XML layout files simultaneously.

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