Working with Containers

Containers pour a collection of widgets (and possibly child containers) into specific layouts you like. If you want a form with labels on the left and fields on the right, you will need a container. If you want OK and Cancel buttons to be beneath the rest of the form, next to one another, and flush to right side of the screen, you will need a container. Just from a pure XML perspective, if you have multiple widgets (beyond RadioButton widgets in a RadioGroup), you will need a container just to have a root element to place the widgets inside.

Most GUI toolkits have some notion of layout management, frequently organized into containers. In Java/Swing, for example, you have layout managers like BoxLayout and containers that use them (e.g., Box). Some toolkits stick strictly to the box model, such as XUL and Flex, figuring that any desired layout can be achieved through the right combination of nested boxes.

Android, through LinearLayout, also offers a "box" model, but in addition supports a range of containers providing different layout rules. In this chapter, we will look at three commonly-used containers: LinearLayout (the box model), RelativeLayout (a rule-based model), and TableLayout (the grid model), along with ScrollView, a container designed to assist with implementing scrolling containers. In the next chapter, we will examine some more esoteric containers.

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