Declaring Layout

Your layout is the architecture for the user interface in an Activity. It defines the layout structure and holds all the elements that appear to the user. You can declare your layout in two ways:

• Declare UI elements in XML. Android provides a straightforward XML vocabulary that corresponds to the View classes and subclasses, such as those for widgets and layouts.

• Instantiate layout elements at runtime. Your application can create View and ViewGroup objects (and manipulate their properties) programmatically.

The Android framework gives you the flexibility to use either or both of these methods for declaring and managing your application's UI. For example, you could declare your application's default layouts in XML, including the screen elements that will appear in them and their properties. You could then add code in your application that would modify the state of the screen objects, including those declared in XML, at run time.

The advantage to declaring your UI in XML is that it enables you to better separate the presentation of your application from the code that controls its behavior. Your UI descriptions are external to your application code, which means that you can modify or adapt it without having to modify your source code and recompile. For example, you can create XML layouts for different screen orientations, different device screen sizes, and different languages. Additionally, declaring the layout in XML makes it easier to visualize the structure of your UI, so it's easier to debug problems. As such, this document focuses on teaching you how to declare your layout in XML. If you're interested in instantiating View objects at runtime, refer to the ViewGroup and View class references.

The Android Development Tools (ADT) plugin for Eclipse offers a layout preview of your XML — with the XML file opened, select the Layout tab.

You should also try the Hierarchy Viewer tool, for debugging layouts — it reveals layout property values, draws wireframes with padding/margin indicators, and full rendered views while you debug on the emulator or device.

In general, the XML vocabulary for declaring UI elements closely follows the structure and naming of the classes and methods, where element names correspond to class names and attribute names correspond to methods. In fact, the correspondence is often so direct that you can guess what XML attribute corresponds to a class method, or guess what class corresponds to a given xml element. However, note that not all vocabulary is identical. In some cases, there are slight naming differences. For example, the EditText element has a text attribute that corresponds to EditText.setText().

Tip: Learn more about different layout types in Common Layout Objects. There are also a collection of tutorials on building various layouts in the Hello Views tutorial guide.

Write the XML

Using Android's XML vocabulary, you can quickly design UI layouts and the screen elements they contain, in the same way you create web pages in HTML — with a series of nested elements.

Each layout file must contain exactly one root element, which must be a View or ViewGroup object. Once you've defined the root element, you can add additional layout objects or widgets as child elements to gradually build a View hierarchy that defines your

For your convenience, the API reference documentation for UI related classes lists the available XML attributes that correspond to the class methods, including inherited attributes. To learn more about the available XML elements and attributes, as well as the format of the XML file, see Layout Resources.

layout. For example, here's an XML layout that uses a vertical LinearLayout to hold a TextView and a Button:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" android:layout_width="fill_parent" android:layout_height="fill_parent" android:orientation="vertical" > <TextView android:id="@+id/text"

android:layout_width="wrap_content" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:text="Hello, I am a TextView" /> <Button android:id="@+id/button"

android:layout_width="wrap_content" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:text="Hello, I am a Button" /> </LinearLayout>

After you've declared your layout in XML, save the file with the .xml extension, in your Android project's res/layout/ directory, so it will properly compile.

We'll discuss each of the attributes shown here a little later.

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