The new Android architecture components

The new Android architecture components

Google made various exciting announcements this year in Google I/O, such as introducing Android Oreo and declaring Kotlin as an official Android programming language. However, the one that became a hype in the market is the release of new architecture components.

The new lifecycle-aware Android architecture components assists the Android app developers to better preserve the data, write less boilerplate code, fight against the prevailing errors, and ultimately build verifiable, robust and ‘easy-to-maintain’ Android applications.

As Google has recently announced the stable version of the new android architecture components, let’s have a look at what these major components are, what their features and what are the requirements for implementing them into the apps.

THE NEED OF ANDROID ARCHITECTURE COMPONENTS

Since its introduction back in 2005, Android has successfully launched different versions of Android architecture components, but continued to miss one crucial necessity of the Android app developers- a standard architecture pattern that will be easy to understand and use. As you know, Android OS runs on an extensive range of devices and has to manage the resources belligerently for making the applications run on these devices effortlessly, an application architecture was mandatory to find how the different components of the app have to be organized and tied together for building more expandable and successful applications.

MAJOR COMPONENTS OF ANDROID APP ARCHITECTURE

The major components of the newly introduced Android architecture are:

The new Android architecture components

ViewModel

ViewModel is basically used to hold and handle UI-related data in case of configuration changes like keyboard availability, screen rotation and change of device language, and other lifecycle events. It prevents the deletion and recreation of activities due to configuration changes which result in data loss, and thus enable the Android app developers to build more modular and testable UIs.

LifeCycle

Lifecycle allows the creation of lifecycle-aware components that primarily manage their own lifecycle. This library serves the Android app developers with classes and interfaces that let them build components which can automatically alter their behavior on the basis of current lifecycle state of any activity or fragment. Thus, empower the application developers to write well-formulated and lighter-weighted codes, and ultimately, makes the app easier to maintain and less prone to the risk of leaks and crashes.

LiveData

It is an observable lifecycle-aware data holder class that respects the lifecycle of other application components, like fragments, activities or services. With this awareness, the LiveData updates only those component observers that are active, and thus lessen the pathways for memory leakage and minimize the app crashes.

Room

Almost every application demands storing of data locally. Though Android supports SQLite from the beginning itself, using SQLite directly was distressing due to concerns like:

  • There is no compile-time verification of SQL queries.
  • You have to write boilerplate code to transform SQL queries into Java data objects (and vice versa).
  • Every time your schema changes, you are required to update the affected SQL queries manually, which is quite time-consuming and error-prone task.

To deal with these concerns, room component came into practice. Room basically offers an object-mapping layer that provides the full potential of SQLite but with lesser boilerplate. It serves the Android app developers with a robust persistence layer using features such as compile-time query verification and built-in migration. In addition to this, Room helps to create a cache of Android app data on the device running the app, which allows the device users to view a persistent copy of fundamental information within the mobile application, irrespective of the internet connection availability.

Besides these four significant components, Google is working on various other architecture components. One of such components is PagedList (currently in alpha) which will be useful to load data progressively without waiting for large database queries to get executed.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES TO IMPLEMENT ANDROID ARCHITECTURE COMPONENTS

Google has set some architectural guidelines to use these components for creating robust and maintainable Android apps. A few of them are:

  1. The entry points defined in manifest- activities, broadcast receivers or services should not be the source of data.
  2. Strictly make well-defined boundaries of responsibility between several app modules, and avoid placing unrelated responsibilities together, like adding data caching and data binding inside the same class.
  3. Evade exposing the whole internal implementation detail from each module. Try to make the exposure as less as possible.
  4. Plan to make each module testable individually.
  5. Do not waste time in writing the same boilerplate code repeatedly. Let the Android architecture libraries manage this process.
  6. Persevere as much data as possible so that your application can be used even in offline mode.

The new Android app architecture components have solved the most common problems the Android application developers were facing for years, and have empowered them to take the best optimal use of Android operating system features and functionalities. In fact, the stable version of architecture components are released, so what are you waiting for? Implement them into your Android app development process and build effective Android mobile apps.

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