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Android User Interface Development - Beginners Guide.pdf

Android User Interface Developm…

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Android User Interface Development Beginner's Guide Quickly design and develop compelling user interfaces for your Android applications Jason Morris BIRMINGHAM - MUMBAI D ow n lo a d f ro m W o w ! e B o o k < w w w .w o w e b o o k. co m > Android User Interface Development Beginner's Guide Copyright 2011 Packt Publishing All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews. Every effort has been made in the preparation of this book to ensure the accuracy of the information presented. However, the information contained in this book is sold without warranty, either express or implied. Neither the author nor Packt Publishing, and its dealers and distributors will be held liable for any damages caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this book. Packt Publishing has endeavored to provide trademark information about all of the companies and products mentioned in this book by the appropriate use of capitals. However, Packt Publishing cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information. First published: February 2011 Production Reference: 1160211 Published by Packt Publishing Ltd. 32 Lincoln Road Olton Birmingham, B27 6PA, UK. ISBN 978-1-849514-48-4 www.packtpub.com Cover Image by Charwak A (charwak86@gmail.com) Credits Author Jason Morris Reviewers David J. Groom Martin Skans Acquisition Editor Chaitanya Apte Development Editor Reshma Sundaresan Technical Editor Harshit Shah Copy Editor Neha Shetty Indexer Tejal Daruwale Editorial Team Leader Akshara Aware Project Team Leader Priya Mukherji Project Coordinator Shubhanjan Chatterjee Proofreader Joel T. Johnson Graphics Nilesh R. Mohite Production Coordinators Kruthika Bangera Aparna Bhagat Cover Work Kruthika Bangera About the Author Jason Morris has worked on software as diverse as fruit tracking systems, insurance systems, and travel search and booking engines. He has been writing software for as long as he can remember. He is currently working as a Software Architect for Travelstart in South Africa. He works on multiple front-end and middleware systems, leveraging a variety of Java based technologies. The people I'd like to thank most for their direct, or indirect help in writing this book are my wife Caron Morris, my father Mike Morris, my mom Jayne Morris, and the rest of my family for their love and support. I'd also like to thank Wayne, Stuart, Angela, and James, and everyone on my team at Travelstart. Finally a very big thanks to Martin Skans for his invaluable input. About the Reviewer Martin Skans graduated from Lund University in Sweden, with a Master's degree in Computer Science. After a couple of years in the online marketing industry, he moved on to become a developer for Travelstart, an online travel agency. He relocated to Cape Town and is currently working on Travelstart's African travel platform which has been recently launched for the mobile market. www.PacktPub.com Support files, eBooks, discount offers and more You might want to visit www.PacktPub.com for support files and downloads related to your book. Did you know that Packt offers eBook versions of every book published, with PDF and ePub files available? You can upgrade to the eBook version at www.PacktPub.com and as a print book customer, you are entitled to a discount on the eBook copy. Get in touch with us at service@packtpub.com for more details. At www.PacktPub.com, you can also read a collection of free technical articles, sign up for a range of free newsletters and receive exclusive discounts and offers on Packt books and eBooks. http://PacktLib.PacktPub.com Do you need instant solutions to your IT questions? PacktLib is Packt's online digital book library. Here, you can access, read and search across Packt's entire library of books. Why Subscribe? ‹ Fully searchable across every book published by Packt ‹ Copy and paste, print and bookmark content ‹ On demand and accessible via web browser Free Access for Packt account holders If you have an account with Packt at www.PacktPub.com, you can use this to access PacktLib today and view nine entirely free books. Simply use your login credentials for immediate access. Table of Contents Preface 1 Chapter 1: Developing a Simple Activity 11 Developing our first example 11 Creating the project structure 12 Time for action – setting up the Android SDK 12 Time for action – starting a new project 13 Examining the Android project layout 14 Time for action – running the example project 14 The screen layout 15 The layout XML file 16 Resource selection qualifiers 16 Time for action – setting up the question activity 18 Populating a View and a ViewGroup 19 Time for action – asking a question 19 Time for action – adding a space for answers 21 Time for action – adding more buttons 23 Defining common dimensions 25 Limitations of the layout XML format 27 Populating the QuestionActivity 29 Time for action – writing more Java code 30 Dynamically creating widgets 32 Time for action – putting the questions on the screen 32 Handling events in Android 34 Summary 36 Chapter 2: Presenting Data for Views 37 Listing and selecting data 38 ListView choice modes 38 No selection mode – CHOICE_MODE_NONE 38 Single selection mode – CHOICE_MODE_SINGLE 39 Multiple selection mode – CHOICE_MODE_MULTIPLE 40 Table of Contents [ ii ] Adding header and footer widgets 40 Creating a simple ListView 41 Time for action – creating a fast food menu 41 Styling the standard ListAdapters 43 Defining standard dimensions 43 Time for action – improving the restaurant list 44 Creating custom adapters 47 Creating a menu for The Burger Place 47 Time for action – creating a Burger item layout 48 Time for action – presenting Burger objects 50 Creating TheBurgerPlaceActivity class 52 Time for action – implementing TheBurgerPlaceActivity 53 Registering and starting TheBurgerPlaceActivity 54 Using the ExpandableListView class 56 Creating ExpandableListAdapter implementations 57 Using the GridView class 58 Time for action – creating the fruit icon 59 Displaying icons in a GridView 60 Time for action – building the fruit menu 61 Time for action – creating the FourBucketsActivity 62 Summary 64 Chapter 3: Developing with Specialized Android Widgets 67 Creating a restaurant review application 68 Time for action – creating the robotic review project structure 68 Building a TabActivity 70 Creating tab icons 70 Android tabs and icons 71 Implementing the ReviewActivity 72 Time for action – writing the ReviewActivity class 72 Time for action – creating the Review layout 74 Working with switcher classes 75 Time for action – turning on the TextSwitcher 76 Creating a simple photo gallery 78 Time for action – building the Photos tab 79 Creating a thumbnail widget 80 Implementing a GalleryAdapter 80 Time for action – the GalleryAdapter 81 Time for action – making the gallery work 83 Building the reservation tab 86 Time for action – implementing the reservation layout 86 Time for action – initializing the reservation tab 89 Table of Contents [ iii ] Time for action – listening to the SeekBar 92 Time for action – selecting date and time 93 Creating complex layouts with Include, Merge, and ViewStubs 96 Using Include tags 97 Merging layouts 97 Using the ViewStub class 99 Summary 100 Chapter 4: Leveraging Activities and Intents 103 Exploring the Activity class 104 Using Bundle objects 105 Time for action – building an example game: "guess my number" 106 Creating and consuming intents 110 Defining Intent actions 111 Passing data in an Intent 112 Adding extra data to an Intent 112 Using advanced Intent features 113 Getting data back from an Intent 113 Time for action – viewing phone book contacts 114 Summary 118 Chapter 5: Developing Non-linear Layouts 119 Time for action – creating a layouts example project 120 FrameLayout 121 Common uses 121 Time for action – developing a FrameLayout example 122 Table Layout 126 Common uses 127 Using TableLayout for a memory game 127 Time for action – developing a simple memory game 128 AbsoluteLayout/Custom Layouts 133 Developing your own Layouts 134 Time for action – creating a custom layout 134 Using the CircleLayout 137 Time for action – finishing the CircleLayout example 137 RelativeLayout 140 Common uses 140 Integrating the RelativeLayout 141 Time for action – creating a contact editor 141 Time for action – integration with the layout example 144 SlidingDrawer 146 Common uses 146 Table of Contents [ iv ] Creating a SlidingDrawer example 147 Time for action – creating a SlidingDrawer 147 Time for action – sliding drawer integration 148 Summary 150 Chapter 6: Validating and Handling Input Data 153 Dealing with undesirable input 153 Correctly labeling input 154 Signaling undesirable input 154 Recovering from undesirable input 155 Giving users direct feedback 155 Avoiding invalid input entirely 156 Capturing date and time 156 Using spinners and ListView for selection 159 Changing the data set 159 Disabling selections 159 Capturing text input 160 Autocompleting text input 160 Building activities for results 162 Generic filtering search Activity 162 Time for action – creating the ListItemSelectionActivity 163 Time for action – creating an ArrayAdapter 164 Time for action – creating the CursorAdapter 165 Time for action – setting up the ListView 169 Time for action – filtering the list 170 Time for action – returning the selection 171 Using the ListItemSelectionActivity 172 Summary 174 Chapter 7: Animating Widgets and Layouts 175 Using standard Android animations 176 Time for action – animating a news feed 176 Using flipper and switcher widgets 181 Using the ImageSwitcher and TextSwitcher implementations 182 Animating layout widgets 182 Time for action – animating a GridView 183 Creating Custom Animations 187 Time for action – writing a custom animation 188 Time for action – making a Button vanish 189 Summary 192 Chapter 8: Designing Content-centric Activities 193 Considering design options when displaying content on an Android device 194 Table of Contents [ v ] Considering user behavior 195 Drawing user attention 196 Displaying content with the WebView class 197 Using a WebView object 198 Time for action – creating a recipe viewer application 198 Taking WebView further 203 Creating relative layouts for content display 204 Taking full advantage of RelativeLayout 205 Considering Android layout constraints 206 Styling TextView objects 207 Time for action – developing specialized content views 210 Developing an online music store 213 Designing the music store 213 Developing the music store 215 Time for action – building a track item 218 Time for action – developing the main user interface layout 219 Time for action – developing the main user interface Java code 222 Summary 225 Chapter 9: Styling Android Applications 227 Working with style resources 228 Using shape resources 230 How shapes behave 231 Rendering lines 231 Time for action – drawing a broken line 231 Rendering rectangles 232 Time for action – creating a rounded border 232 Rendering ovals 234 Time for action – applying a gradient to an oval shape 235 Rendering rings 236 Time for action – rendering a spinner ring 237 Defining layers 238 Stretching using nine-patch images 239 Creating nine-patch images 240 Using bitmap images in Android 241 Handling different screen sizes 242 Handling different screen densities 243 Handling configuration changes 244 Providing landscape layouts 245 Providing text input on a landscape layout 246 Altering screen content 247 Summary 247 D ow n lo a d f ro m W o w ! e B o o k < w w w .w o w e b o o k. co m > Table of Contents [ vi ] Chapter 10: Building an Application Theme 249 Creating a basic calculator layout 250 Designing a standard calculator 251 Time for action – building the standard calculator 252 Building the calculator styling 254 Time for action – creating the button images 255 Time for action – styling the calculator buttons 257 Time for action – styling the display 260 Scientific landscape layout 263 Defining string resources for the scientific layout 263 Styling the scientific layout 265 Building the scientific layout 265 Time for action – coding the scientific layout 266 Handling the Activity restart 269 Supporting hardware keyboards 270 Adding in display animations 271 Time for action – animating the display 271 Summary 274 Appendix: Pop quiz answers 275 Chapter 1 275 Layouts as XML fles 275 Populating an activity 275 Chapter 2 276 List views and adapters 276 Chapter 3 276 Gallery objects and ImageViews 276 Chapter 4 276 Intents & Activities 276 Chapter 5. 277 Custom layouts 277 Chapter 6 277 Text input 277 Chapter 8 277 The WebView widget 277 WebView versus native layouts 277 Chapter 10 278 Layout resources 278 Nine-Patch Images 278 Android resources 278 Index 279 Preface On 9th January, 2007, Apple officially launched the iPhone, and the world of user interface design shifted. While tablet PCs had been around for a while, the iPhone was the first device to give so many people a portable touchscreen, and people loved it. Just over a year later, Google and the Open Handset Alliance announced Android which in many ways is the direct competitor to iPhone. What is it about touchscreen phones that we love? The answer is simple—feedback. Touchscreens offer a way to directly manipulate on-screen objects, which in the past had to be driven through a keyboard, mouse, joystick, or other input device. The touchscreen model of direct manipulation has a large impact on the way we think about our user interfaces as developers, and changes the expectations a user has for the application. Touchscreen devices require us to stop thinking in terms of forms, and start thinking about object-oriented user interfaces. Android is used as the primary operating system for a rapidly expanding range of consumer electronics, including: ‹ Smartphones ‹ Netbooks ‹ Tablets ‹ Some desktop systems While all of these devices have different purposes and specifications, all of them run Android. This is unlike many other operating environments which are almost always have a special purpose. The services and the APIs they provide to developers generally reflect their target hardware. Android on the other hand makes the assumption that a single application may be required to run on many different types of devices, with very different hardware capabilities and specifications, and makes it as easy as possible for developers to handle the differences between these devices simply and elegantly. Preface [ 2 ] New challenges As Android and the touchscreen devices it powers become increasingly common, they will bring a new set of challenges to user interface design and development: ‹ You generally don't have a mouse ‹ You may have more than one pointing device ‹ You often don't have a keyboard ‹ Any keyboard that does exist may be a software keyboard ‹ A software keyboard may consume some of your application's screenspace The software keyboard reduces the amount of screen space available to your application, and in much the same vein, if there is a hardware keyboard present it may or may not always be exposed to the user. Therefore, not only are different Android devices different, but they may also appear to change features while your application is running. The rule of finger Most Android devices have touchscreens (although this is not a requirement). The first restriction placed on any touchscreen user interface is the size of the human forefinger, which of course varies widely from one person to another. If a widget is too small on the screen, it won't be clear what the user is trying to touch. You'll notice that most Android widgets take up plenty of space, and have more than the normal amount of padding around them. On a touchscreen device, you can't rely on pixel-perfect precision. You need to make sure that when the user touches a widget, they make contact, and they don't accidentally touch another widget. The magic touch Another impact touchscreens have on user interface design is that an application and all the widgets that it uses must be entirely self-explanatory (even more than usual). Far too often, we substitute good user interface planning and design with a roll-over or tooltip to indicate a widget's function. On a touchscreen device, there is no mouse or pointing device. The first interaction it has with the user is when they touch it, and they will expect something to happen. A touchy subject Most Android devices have a touchscreen, but it's not a requirement. The quality of a touchscreen also varies wildly from device to device. The category of touchscreens and their capabilities will also vary from one device to the next, depending on the intended use of the device and often its intended market segment. Preface [ 3 ] A smaller view on the world Most Android devices are small, and as a result have smaller screens and generally fewer pixels than a normal PC or laptop. This lack of size limits the size of the widgets. Widgets must be big enough to touch safely, but we also need to pack as much information onto the screen as possible. So don't give your users information that they don't want, and also avoid asking them for information you don't need. Classic user interface principals Here are some core guidelines which every user interface should follow. These guidelines are what will keep your users happy, and ensure your application is successful. Throughout the rest of the book, we'll be walking through these guidelines with practical examples of improvements that can be made to a user interface. Consistency This is the cornerstone of good user interface design. A button should look like a button. Make sure that the layout of each screen has a relationship with every other screen in your application. People often mistake this principle for "stick to the platform look and feel". Look and feel is important, consistency mostly applies to the layout and overall experience of the application, rather than the color scheme. Recycling your interface The easiest way to maintain a consistent user interface, is to recycle as much of it as possible. At first glance, this suggestion looks merely like a "good object-oriented" practice. However, a closer look will reveal ways to reuse graphical widgets in ways you hadn't thought of. By changing the visibility of various widgets, or you can reuse an edit screen to view list items of the intended type. Simplicity This is especially important in a phone-based application. Often, when a user encounters a new application, it's because they are looking for something. They may not have the time (or more often patience) to learn a new user interface. Make sure that your application asks for as little as possible, and guides the user to the exact information they want in as few steps as possible. Preface [ 4 ] The Zen approach Generally, when you are using a mobile device, your time is limited. You may also be using an application in less-than-ideal circumstances (perhaps, in a train). The lesser information a user needs to give an application, and the lesser they need to absorb from it, the better. Stripping away options and information also leads to a shorter learning-curve. Android's hidden menu A very useful feature of Android is the hidden menu structure. The menu is only visible when the user presses the "Menu" button, which would generally mean, they're looking for something that isn't currently

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