AndroidBound

Additional

Language
Java
Version
v0.6.9 (Jan 6, 2017)
Created
Mar 22, 2015
Updated
May 20, 2018
Owner
Alter Ego Solutions (alter-ego)
Contributors
hamen
mrsasha
bblackbelt
3
Activity
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Source code
APK file

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What is AndroidBound?

This library offers easy view bindings for Android.

The what now?

View bindings - you know, so that you don't have to keep writing TextView tv = findViewById(R.id.texView) and then tv.setText("some text") and then later tv.setText("some new text"). It can also automatically update the views or be bound in the other direction so that you can receive events in your app that come from the view.

The basic idea is similar to MVP model, except that this is MVVM - Model (data), View (layout) and ViewModel (object that communicates between the data to the view). The difference between MVP and MVVM is that the ViewModel introduces the concept of a binder - which uses automatic mechanisms to connect to views - so that the programmer doesn't have to write lots of boilerplate code to connect the views to the data. Otherwise, logically, it's very similar to MVP and MVC in general.

Why?

Activity then only needs to take care of its lifecycle and the external events (onNewIntent, onActivityResult) and funnel them to the ViewModel. That way, the Android stuff remains in the Activity and the data logic is in the ViewModel. Combined with losing lots of boilerplate code managing the views, you will have smaller classes that are easier to write, test and maintain with clearly separated responsibilities.

This approach leads to cleaner code and enables you to separate the development (you can have one person working on the layouts and another on the ViewModels). Also, should you change the idea and want to switch from Activities to Fragments or vice versa, it's easier because the logic is separated already.

It's easier to test that way because you can write quick unit tests for most of the code, use slower integration tests for Android things, and then if those work, the problems can only arise in the layouts so UI tests lose the importance they currently have on Android.

What is in there then?

Regarding bindings, this library supports one-way and two-way bindings (from ViewModel to View, from View to ViewModel, and both at the same time). Regarding views, most of the Android UI widgets are supported (with a notable exception of RecyclerView, which is in our roadmap). Regarding events, most of the widget methods are supported, like setting text, color, background color, items for ListViews etc.

Sooner or later, we will write a complete list of supported Views and events. In the meantime, you can check the code and if you think something's missing, either open an issue or fork it, write it and open a pull request.

How does it work internally?

It's magic.

No, really, how does it work internally?

It reads the XML, parses the binding string, then through reflection finds the methods and properties in the ViewModel and then uses RxJava Observer/Observable pattern to subscribe to changes and subsequently notify the ViewModel or change the widget states.

Isn't that slow?

Well, it's slower than not using reflection, yes. But it isn't that noticeable, especially if you're loading content when creating screen layout. Depending on the layout complexity, it takes few tens to few hundreds of ms to the normal layout inflation, but that also takes into account setting the default values for views.

The main advantage is that writing code and tests is quicker then normally, so it's very useful for smaller and mid-sized apps. For large, complicated apps that already needs lots of memory and are generally slow, this will probably make things worse. But at that point you probably don't care about the speed that much. ;)

Anyway, we don't have any detailed benchmarks at the moment. Feel free to do some and send them to us.

So how is this different from Android Data Binding?

Compared to Android Data Binding, the execution is similar but the idea is different. Their binding implementation is pretty similar, but they don't solve the problem of a 1K+-line Activity, they just shuffle those lines to the layout, so you will have 500-line activity and 500-line layout, with logic divided between them, somehow. It takes the Single Reponsibility Principle, shoots it in the head, pisses on its corpse, goes to its funeral and then kills everyone present. Good luck testing that.

AndroidBound doesn't let you put logic in the views because the logic should be in the ViewModel or Presenter or wherever except in the View or layout. Again - Android stuff in the Activity/Fragment, logic (minus viewbinding boilerplate) in the ViewModel. That way you can test the ViewModel/Presenter using unit tests, which is much quicker.

But is it better than Android Data Binding?

There are pros and cons.

Cons

  • it uses reflection and not generated code - hence, it's slightly slower at the moment of generating binds (binding itself is not affected)
  • not all attributes can be used for bindings - wanted attributes have to be added manually to the library if there are no get/set methods already available (Android framework is generally not good at this)
  • there's no notation for converters, they have to be written manually

Pros

  • you don't need adapters for supported views (ListView, GridView, RecyclerView)
  • value converters are based on type, but are also named. That means that you can have multiple converters that convert, say, Boolean to Integer
  • it supports hierarchical binding so instead of binding to an object MyObject, you can also bind to MyObject.MySubObject etc.
  • total support for two-way binding, and return binds (view -> method) pass on the object that's bound to the view and not the view itself (cleaner code, don't have to keep/fetch the objects)
  • uses RxJava internally - so if there are bugfixes or improvements there, they will trickle down
  • automatic URL loading when using ImageView (if you set the IImageLoader in the ViewBinder, you can see how to do this in the example code)

OK, you convinced me. How do I use this?

Here's a quick guide.

  1. Add these to your build.gradle file:

     repositories {
      ...
      maven { url "https://dl.bintray.com/alterego-solutions/android" }
     }
    
     dependencies {
      ...
      compile 'solutions.alterego:androidbound:0.6.9'
     }
    
  2. Create your ViewModel for the Activity by extending a ViewModel class: public class MainActivityViewModel extends ViewModel...

  3. Setup the Activity and ViewModel.

    If you extend normal (non-Binding) Activities:

     ViewBinder viewBinder = new ViewBinder(this);
     ViewModel viewModel = new MainActivityViewModel(this, logger);
    
     View view = viewBinder.inflate(this, viewModel, R.layout.activity_main, null);
     setContentView(view);
    

    If you extend a Binding Activity, like BindingAppCompatActivity:

     ViewBinder viewBinder = new ViewBinder(this);
     ViewModel viewModel = new MainBindableActivityViewModel(this, logger);
    
     setViewBinder(viewBinder);
     setBoundData(viewModel);
     setContentView(R.layout.activity_bindable_main);
    
  4. Add binding to you widget in the layout file, e.g.

     <TextView
         android:id="@+id/activity_title"
         android:layout_width="wrap_content"
         android:layout_height="wrap_content"
         binding="{ Text @= MainActivityTitle }; { TextColor @= MainActivityTitleColor }"/>
    
  5. In your ViewModel, either add the property called MainActivityTitle, like this:

     public String MainActivityTitle = "Title";
    

    or add the accessor method starting with get:

     public String getMainActivityTitle() {
      return "Title";
     }
    

    When the view is initialized, it will automatically pass this value to the TextView. If you want to refresh it later, you should call raisePropertyChanged("MainActivityTitle") and the TextView will receive the new value of the bound property ( MainActivityTitle) or it will call the bound method again ( getMainActivityTitle()). For example, this is what a setter would like for the property:

     public void setMainActivityTitle(String title) {
      MainActivityTitle = title;
      raisePropertyChanged("MainActivityTitle");
     }
    
  6. When you don't need the ViewModel any more, simply call ViewModel.dispose() which should release all the references and unsubscribe from all the subscriptions. This is done automatically if you use any of the Binding* activities!

For more details, please see the example and don't forget to read the Wiki.

It doesn't work!!!

Yes it does.

  1. Check that the binding string in the widget is correct: you start a binding declaration with { and close it with }. If you want to put more of them, put ; between them. Don't forget to enclose them in ". Check that the bound widget property is correct (e.g. Text, Color etc.). Check that the binding command is correctly written ( - for one-time binding, = for continuous binding; @ on one or both sides; when in doubt, just put = and it should work).

  2. Check that the declared bound property/method corresponds to the property name or properly-prefixed method name ( is, get, set for values, can & do couple for commands + declared name).

  3. Check that the value is actually set by the time the binder makes a pass (it's either initialized when instantiating a ViewModel or you have to call raisePropertyChanged when set later).

Who wrote this best library ever/biggest peace of crap ever?

Most of the code in the first version was written by Fabrizio Chignoli even though the commits don't show it. Then Ivan Morgillo and Sasa Sekulic made things worse.

COMPATIBILITY

This library was tested with the version 25.1.0 of the support library. It hasn't been tested with the design support library.

ROADMAP

0.6 First public release with basic wiki.

0.7 Add support for RecyclerView and ViewPager. Extract Universal Image Loader and add support for other image-loading libraries like Picasso and Fresco.

0.8 Bugfixes, improvements and internal refactor.

1.0 Replace reflection with generated code through gradle plugin.

Think we're missing something? Open an issue!

LICENSE

This library is licensed under Apache License, Version 2.0.