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WebImage for Android

WebImage is an Android library which asynchronously downloads images from the internet and caches them for quick access. It has the following features:

  • Images are downloaded in a background thread pool, keeping the GUI thread responsive. The size of the thread pool is based on the device's network speed, with more threads for faster connection types.
  • Separate background thread for loading cached images from disk, which reduces I/O bottlenecks on most Android phones.
  • Images are cached to SD card, or if unavailable, to the app's internal storage cache.
  • Images saved in the cache are periodically checked to see if they have expired and must be re-downloaded. This query only fetches HTTP headers and is done in a separate low-priority thread.
  • Good performance, even on older Android 2.1 devices.
  • Compatible with API level 7 and up.
  • No additional library or framework dependencies!
  • Builds quickly and easily with ant, or simply drop the tiny jarfile to your project's libs directory.

Project History

WebImage was written for Wrapp for use in our Android client in the summer of 2011 by Nik Reiman. We needed a library capable of handling a large number of asynchronous image downloads from the web without effecting the GUI, and with the exception of droid-fu the only code to do this exists in the form of StackOverflow answers.

This seemed to be a common wheel which many Android developers continue to re-invent, so we broke off some of our image handling code into a separate, modular library. Hopefully other developers will find it useful in their projects.


To use WebImage in your Android application, simply download the latest WebImage.jar file and copy it to your project's "libs" directory. You may need to configure your IDE to include jarfiles from this directory if you have not already done so.

Your project will need to declare the following permissions in the AndroidManifest file:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET"/>
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE"/>
<!-- Only required if you want to dynamically change thread pool size -->
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE"/>

To actually download images, use the included WebImageView class, which is a subclass of ImageView and has a method named setImageUrl(). This class can be used either from XML layout files or in your classes. Subclassing this class is a good way to provide extra functionality, such as rescaling the download images or showing progress spinners while the image is loading.

Although you can subclass WebImageView to provide post-processing on the image (which is done outside of the GUI thread), you can also fetch raw bitmaps asynchronously via WebImage.load(). This approach is not usually recommended, but may be preferable in some cases.


During your application's initialization, you can configure WebImage's caching, threading, and logging behavior. WebImage tries to use sane defaults, so in most cases you should not need to change these behaviors, but if you do, you must do so before attempting to fetch any images.

By default, WebImage is designed to work best in an environment where a large number of images are being requested from the internet, like in a ListView where each item is an image from the web. If your application only needs to fetch a single image every now and then, you should probably set the maximum number of worker threads to 1.

For more details, check out the source code, which is also bundled in the distribution jarfile. WebImage also has includes a demo application which shows how the library can be used in your project.


WebImage is licensed under the MIT license. See the file LICENSE.txt for more details.

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