Creating User Interfaces


> Using Views and layouts

> Optimizing layouts

> XML Drawable resources

> Creating resolution-independent user interfaces

> The Android menu system

> Extending, grouping, creating, and using Views

It's vital that you create compelling and intuitive user interfaces for your applications. Ensuring that they are as stylish and easy to use as they are functional should be a top design priority.

To quote Stephen Fry on the importance of style as part of substance in the design of digital devices:

As if a device can function if it has no style. As if a device can be called stylish that does not function superbly. ... yes, beauty matters. Boy, does it matter. It is not surface, it is not an extra, it is the thing itself.

— Stephen Fry, The Guardian (October 27, 2007)

Increasing screen sizes, display resolutions, and mobile processor power have made mobile applications increasingly visual. While the diminutive screens pose a challenge for those creating complex visual interfaces, the ubiquity of mobiles makes it a challenge worth accepting.

In this chapter you'll learn about the basic Android UI elements and discover how to use Views, View Groups, and layouts to create functional and intuitive user interfaces for your Activities.

After being introduced to some of the controls available from the Android SDK, you'll learn how to extend and customize them. Using View Groups, you'll see how to combine Views to

create atomic, reusable UI elements made up of interacting subcontrols. You'll also learn how to create your own Views to implement creative new ways to display data and interact with users.

The individual elements of an Android user interface are arranged on screen by means of a variety of layout managers derived from viewGroup. The correct use of layouts is essential for creating good interfaces; this chapter introduces several native layout classes and demonstrates how to use them and how to create your own.

With the range of Android devices rapidly increasing, the range of screen sizes and resolutions your app will be expected to run on has also increased. You'll learn how to create resolution-independent layouts and Drawables and the best practices for developing and testing your UIs so they look great on all host screens.

Android's application and context menu systems use a new approach, optimized for modern touch screen devices. As part of an examination of the Android UI model, this chapter ends with a look at how to create and use Activity and context menus.

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