Tag Archives: Xamarin Android

Advanced Prism Tab Navigation with MVVM & Test friendly manner in Xamarin.Forms!

If you’re looking for how to navigate inside a Xamarin.Forms Tab Page programatically in a MVVM friendly and Test-able manner, without having any XAML-Code-Behind garbage. Welcome to my post!

Keep in mind, since this is an advanced topic, there’s not going to be any step by step intro’s to Prism or MVVM or whatnot ;)!

Sneak Peak!

Here’s a little sneak peak of the outcome of it.

PERKS:

  • Switch between Child-Tabs when you are,
    • Coming into the TabbedPage
    • Already in the TabbedPage
    • Coming back to the TabbedPage
  • Fully MVVM compatible
  • Fully Test-able, yaay!
  • Binding, Commands and Interfaces FTW!
  • Almost no XAML-code-behind garbage
  • Coming back to the TabbedPage, the Child-Tab switching occurs only when the TabbedPage is actually visible

How cool is that eh! 😉

 

Woot! Let’s get started then…

My MVVM addiction…

You know me, I’m all about that MVVM & Test-able Software Architecture life forever yol! xD

Being hustling with one of the best dot net application craftsman, has made a massive impact on my perspective of software engineering, rather than just writing some code, putting some shit together and make it work. I’m extremely obsessed with architecture of any given application I develop now, long last extendability, and fully test driven approach. High quality, clean code with all of dot net standards and complete separation of Views and ViewModels.

Backstory…

So recently, I was working on this Xamarin.Forms application which was using Prism as the MVVM framework with a fully test driven architecture. There we had all of our Views and ViewModels separately implemented with a clean architecture, whereas we didn’t have a single line of extra XAML-code-behind garbage. 😛

So the requirement was to implement a TabbedPage and which should be able to switch between its Child-Tabs programatically at runtime, to be more specific, we should be able switch the selected Child-Tab when the user is:

  • Coming into the TabbedPage
  • Already in the TabbedPage
  • Coming back to the TabbedPage after navigating forward.

And the most interesting part was this we had to handle this in a fully MVVM and Testable manner. 😮

Now this would have been much easier, if you had taken out the whole MVVM and Test-first aspect out of the equation, with some dirty XAML-code-behind garbage you can easily handle this. But in this situation, I was backed against the wall, How on earth could anyone achieve this?

but as usual, I figured it out!

The Recipe time…

So here’s how I implemented it, in conclusion we’re going to use an Interface that will allow us to bridge the View-ViewModel separation and a Bindable property inside the TabbedPage, that will react to the changes of the ViewModel’s “SelectedTab” property.

That interface is going to be implemented into the ViewModel. Then through the ViewModel we’re going to register that whole instance in our IoC container, when the user navigates into the TabbedPage. The bindable-property of the TabbedPage will be bound to the property in ViewModel. 😀

Which will allow us to access the interface instance from the IoC container from anywhere in our code and change the Selected Child-Tab.

Oh also I forgot to mention that with Prism, by default we can set the selected Tab-Child when we ‘first navigate into the Tab Page’, so handling that scenario is going to be a no-brainer, thus I will not focus on it in this post.

We shall work on navigating inside the TabbedPage when we’re already inside it, and when we’re coming back to the TabbedPage from another page after navigating forward. Which is going to be a piece of cake with our interface implementation approach.

Just to add something extra, we will maintain a flag property inside the TabbedPage, to make sure to allow the Selected Child-Tab switching happens only when the TabbedPage is visible to the user. Just to make it look nicer!

Since all of this is a simple combination of Bindable-Properties, Interfaces and Commands, this whole implementation is fully test-able. Yeah fine, I’ll show you how to write some tests for it as well! 😛

Sounds pretty straight forward eh! 😀 time for coding! 😉

Implementation time…

So just a heads up, my project configuration is as follows.

I’m using a Xamarin.Forms project (dot net Standard 2.0) created with Prism Templates for Visual Studio. And the IoC container is the default Unity container comes with Prism.Forms setup. As of the Tests I’m using a xUnit Dot net project, which I will get into details later.

So before you begin make sure you have the above setting in place.

1. interface to save the day…

First, the simple Interface which is going to save the day like we discussed above…

public interface IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab
{
	int SelectedTab { get; set; }

	void SetSelectedTab(int tabIndex);
}

 

There we have a SelectedTab property, and a separate setter method for it, just in case for backup scenario. If you don’t need both then stick to one of them. 😀

2. the TabbedPage…

Alright then let’s get started with our TabbedPage implementation, let’s call it MyTabbedPage.

<TabbedPage
    x:Class="AdvPrismTabNavigation.Views.MyTabbedPage"
    xmlns="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2009/xaml"
    xmlns:local="clr-namespace:AdvPrismTabNavigation.Views;assembly=AdvPrismTabNavigation"
    xmlns:prism="clr-namespace:Prism.Mvvm;assembly=Prism.Forms"
    Title="{Binding Title}"
    prism:ViewModelLocator.AutowireViewModel="True"
    SelectedTabIndex="{Binding SelectedTab}">
    <TabbedPage.Children>
        <local:TabChild1Page />
        <local:TabChild2Page />
        <local:TabChild3Page />
    </TabbedPage.Children>
</TabbedPage>

 

There’s the XAML code for our MyTabbedPage, notice how we’re binding the SelectedTabIndex property to the ViewModel’s property which I’ll show later in this post. Meanwhile let’s have add some child pages to our MyTabbedPage as well.

Alright next take a look at the MyTabbedPage‘s code behind stuff, which is very minimal.

public partial class MyTabbedPage : TabbedPage
{
	private bool _isTabPageVisible;

	...
        // SelectedTabIndex 
	// bindable property goes here...
	...

	public MyTabbedPage()
	{
		InitializeComponent();
	}
	
	protected override void OnAppearing()
	{
		base.OnAppearing();

		// the tabbed page is now visible...
		_isTabPageVisible = true;

		// go ahead and update the Selected Child-Tab page..
		this.CurrentPage = this.Children[SelectedTabIndex];
	}

	protected override void OnDisappearing()
	{
		base.OnDisappearing();

		// the Tabbed Page is not visible anymore...
		_isTabPageVisible = false;
	}

	protected override void OnCurrentPageChanged()
	{
		base.OnCurrentPageChanged();

		// when the user manually changes the Tab,
		// we need to update it back to the ViewModel...
		SelectedTabIndex
			= this.Children.IndexOf(this.CurrentPage);
	}
}

 

As I mentioned in the recipe, there’s the flag _isTabPageVisible, we’re going to use to keep track of the Visibility of the TabbedPage. There when we’re coming back to the TabbedPage from a backward navigation, we’re executing the selected Child-Tab according to the SelectedTabIndex bindable property.

Important Note: You can even make the above little chunks of code go away from the XAML-Code-behind, by using triggers and attached properties, which I’m not going to get into here, to maintain the simplicity of the implementation. Come on, use your own creativity people! 😉

Next we’re creating the Bindable Property inside the TabbedPage which will handle the View-ViewModel communication. Let’s call it SelectedTabIndex property.

public static readonly BindableProperty SelectedTabIndexProperty =
	BindableProperty.Create(
		nameof(SelectedTabIndex), 
		typeof(int),
		typeof(MyTabbedPage), 0,
		BindingMode.TwoWay, null,
		propertyChanged: OnSelectedTabIndexChanged);
static void OnSelectedTabIndexChanged
	(BindableObject bindable, object oldValue, object newValue)
{
	if (((MyTabbedPage)bindable)._isTabPageVisible)
	{
		// update the Selected Child-Tab page 
		// only if Tabbed Page is visible..
		((MyTabbedPage)bindable).CurrentPage 
		= ((MyTabbedPage)bindable).Children[(int)newValue];
	}
}
public int SelectedTabIndex
{
	get { return (int)GetValue(SelectedTabIndexProperty); }
	set { SetValue(SelectedTabIndexProperty, value); }
}

 

Looks neat eh, so its a simple Bindable property as you can see, but however we’re handling it’s OnSelectedTabIndexChanged event ourselves because when the value changes from ViewModel’s end we need to update it on our UI’s end, as you can see we’re having a little flag property inside our MyTabbedPage 

3. the ViewModel…

Now is the time for MyTabbedPageViewModel stuff to come along. Nothing fancy just a standard ViewModel, but we need a reference to the IoC container (whichever it is you’re using) because we need to register our interface instance in it. This ViewModel as we discussed before is going to implement our IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab interface and its method and property.

public class MyTabbedPageViewModel 
          : ViewModelBase, IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab
{
     private readonly IUnityContainer _unityContainer;

     private int _selectedTab;
     /// <summary>
     /// Binds to the View's property
     /// View-ViewModel communcation
     /// </summary>
     public int SelectedTab
     {
          get { return _selectedTab; }
          set
          {
             SetProperty(ref _selectedTab, value);
             Title = $"My Tabbed Page - Tab [{SelectedTab + 1}]";
          }
     }
     
     public MyTabbedPageViewModel
          (INavigationService navigationService,
                         IUnityContainer unityContainer)
          : base(navigationService)
     {
          Title = $"My Tabbed Page - Tab [{SelectedTab + 1}]";

          this._unityContainer = unityContainer;

          // register this instance so we can access 
          // IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab anywhere in the code
          _unityContainer.RegisterInstance<IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab>
                    (this, new ContainerControlledLifetimeManager());
     }

     public void SetSelectedTab(int tabIndex)
     {
          SelectedTab = tabIndex;
     }
}

 

The SelectedTab property in the ViewModel is the one that’s binding to the SelectedTabIndex property in the MyTabbedPage, now you can see the bridge between the View-ViewModel.

Here we’re registering this ViewModel instance by the type of IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab so that we can access it from anywhere using the same type and also we’re passing in ContainerControlledLifetimeManager() parameter because we need to make sure that instance is properly managed by the container and garbage collected later when not in use.

4. finally Consume it…

So here is the little Magic code snippet you need to execute, wherever you wish to have access to programatically switching the Selected Child-Tab of our MyTabbedPage.

_unityContainer.Resolve<IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab>().SetSelectedTab(tabIndex);

 

You simply access the registered service interface and call on the SetSelectedTab() or simply you could also call the IMyTabbedPageSelectedTab.SelectedTab property directly as well. 😉

Just a little note, well this may not be the best of all approaches but this is what I believe is a better solution given my experience and expertise. But if you have a better alternative, please feel free to share!

Let’s fire it up!

So here’s this bad boy in action…

 

That’s the Child-Tab being switched programatically while inside the TabbedPage!

 

And here’s how nicely the Child-Tabs are switching programatically while outside the TabbedPage! As you can see when coming back to the TabbedPage, it nicely moves to the Selected Child-Tab…

Eyyy look at that! 😀

How about UnitTest-ing…

Uh fine, let me show you. 😛

In my case I used xUnit.net for my Test project, along side Prism.Forms and Xamarin.Forms.Mocks for mocking Xamarin.Forms run time.

Switching between Child-Tabs inside the TabbedPage:

//  Let's Tab-Navigate to TabChild2Page
_appInstance.Container.Resolve<TabChild1PageViewModel>()
			.GoToNextTabCommand.Execute("1");

//  Am I in the MyTabbedPage-> TabChild2Page?
Assert.IsType<TabChild2PageViewModel>
			(myTabbedPage.CurrentPage.BindingContext);

//  Let's Tab-Navigate to TabChild3Page
_appInstance.Container.Resolve<TabChild2PageViewModel>()
			.GoToNextTabCommand.Execute("2");

//  Am I in the MyTabbedPage-> TabChild2Page?
Assert.IsType<TabChild3PageViewModel>
			(myTabbedPage.CurrentPage.BindingContext);

 

I’m calling the Commands through my child page’s ViewModel and switching the Selected Child-Tab and then asserting to make sure the myTabbedPage instance has updated accordingly.

Switching between Child-Tabs outside the TabbedPage:

//  Am I inside the DetailPage?
Assert.IsType<DetailPageViewModel>
		    (navigationStack.Last().BindingContext);

// Let's go back to Tabbed Page -> TabChild3Page
_appInstance.Container.Resolve<DetailPageViewModel>()
		    .GoBackToTabChild3PageCommand.Execute();

//  Am I inside the MyTabbedPage?
Assert.IsType<MyTabbedPageViewModel>
		    (navigationStack.Last().BindingContext);

//  Am I in the MyTabbedPage-> TabChild3Page?
Assert.IsType<TabChild3PageViewModel>
		    (myTabbedPage.CurrentPage.BindingContext);

 

Here you can clearly see I’m calling the GoBackToTabChild3PageCommand in an page(DetailPage) which Ihave navigated to after the TabbedPage, and what happens in that command is I’m changing the Selected Child-Tab in the MyTabbedPage and immediately going back to it by exiting the DetailPage. Then I’m coming back to the MyTabbedPage, and the Child-Tab 3 is selected in the TabbedPage.

Here’s where you could take a look at the full test implementation : https://github.com/AdvPrismTabNavigation.xUnitTest

Voila! 😀 UnitTest-ing Done!

Github it if yo lazy!

So all of this is hosted on my git repo: https://github.com/AdvPrismTabNavigation

Feel free to grab your copy if you’re too lazy to DIY! 😛

That’s it for today.

Cheers all! 😀 Share the love!

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Build yo own awesome Activity/Loading Indicator Page for Xamarin Forms…

Have you ever wanted to have an Activity or Loading indicator dialog screen overlay, that is transparent, and fully customized by you? in your Xamarin.Forms project?

Then you stopped at the right place.

Today I’m gonna share how to build a fully customizable Activity Indicator /Loading Screen from Xamarin.Forms with a bit of native magic. To be honest, more of a continuation of my previous blog post! 😉 lol

Perks:

  • Fully customizable View on the go from Xamarin.Forms
  • Overlays on top of your ContentPage / Navigation Stack
  • Service based, full MVVM & testing friendly
  • Fully transparent and controllable dimmer
  • Cancellation & back button disabled

Here’s a sneak peek…

  

TADAAA! That’s what yol gonna build! 😀

The Concept…

So basically if you think about it, when you want to display an Loading/Activity indicator overlay screen, it is something that would indicate,

“Oh there’s some important processing going on that Page and we need you to wait until it finishes…” 😛

“In the meantime we’re going to block the interactivity of that Page with this overlay, but you can still see the progress of it with the transparency…”

So in the language of Xamarin.Forms, on top of your ContentPage, we need something that would block the interactivity of background content but allows us to see what’s going in the background, in other words, it should be a transparent or dimmed View. 😀

A ghost from the past…

So I’m going to revert your attention to the previous blog post I wrote, Build your own Transparent Page from scratch for Xamarin.Forms, which was all about creating a Transparent page for Xamarin.Forms using a bit of native code. And I’ll be using the same concept and the code here as well, but I’m not going to drill down to the technical details of that specific implementation here, so if you’re looking for it, go ahead and give it a read first and come back.

The Recipe time…

So if you’re coming back  from my previous blog post you could probably consider this post as a continuation of it. Today we’re going to create a Transparent Page in Xamarin.Forms using a bit of native magic, that will overlay on top of any Xamarin.Forms ContentPage or the Navigation Stack, and has the capability to customize the Transparent content view on demand. 😀

So to do this, we’re going to implement a native Transparent page in our Platform projects (iOS and Android), then we’re going to create a Service implementation that can display and dismiss our Transparent pages on demand while being able to pass in the desired Content View as we wish to display as parameters. The actual concrete implementation of that service will bed laid down in platform specific projects, along side the native Transparent page rendering implementation. So that we can do the rendering or displaying or dismissing our Loading/Activity indicator overlay on demand as we wish.

So to map the Service interface and its concrete implementations we are going to use Xamarin.Forms Dependency service, but then if you have your own IoC container you could use it as well. 😉

Sounds pretty straight forward eh! 😀 time for coding! 😉

Xamarin.Forms bits…

Alright then let’s hit it with the Service interface implementation. Let’s call it ILodingPageService.

public interface ILodingPageService
{
	void InitLoadingPage
                  (ContentPage loadingIndicatorPage = null);

	void ShowLoadingPage();

	void HideLoadingPage();
}

 

So we will have three interface methods, one to initiate and prepare the Transparent page we’re going to display as our Loading/Activity indicator overlay. Then two more to Show it or Hide it on the app.

Speaking of InitLoadingPage() method, the reason we need is to facilitate the feature of displaying different Loading pages or designs on demand at the run time. So let’s say in Page 1 we want to display one Loading page, then in Page 2 we want to display a different kind of Loading Page, that right there is possible here with this method. You just pass in whatever the Loading Page design you want to show, and you’re done! 😉 How cool is that!

Since this a Xamarin.Forms Transparent Page, let’s first create our usual ContentPage, with usual stuff. Let’s call it the LoadingIndicatorPage1

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<ContentPage
    x:Class="XFLoadingPageService.LoadingIndicatorPage1"
    xmlns="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2009/xaml"
    BackgroundColor="#80000000">
    <ContentPage.Content>
        <StackLayout
            Padding="30"
            BackgroundColor="Black"
            HorizontalOptions="Center"
            VerticalOptions="Center">
            <ActivityIndicator IsRunning="True" Color="White" />
            <Label
                FontAttributes="Bold"
                Text="Loading..."
                TextColor="White" />
        </StackLayout>
    </ContentPage.Content>
</ContentPage>

 

So you can see we have a very simple ContentPage design, with an ActivityIndicator and a Label to show that, “Oh look it’s a loading screen… boo!” lol 😀

Android bits….

Here come the actual magic, let me begin with Android! So let’s start off with our ILoadingPageService’s concrete implementation for Android and register it with the Xamarin Dependency Service.

[assembly: Xamarin.Forms.Dependency(typeof(LodingPageServiceDroid))]
namespace XFLoadingPageService.Droid
{
    public class LodingPageServiceDroid : ILodingPageService
    {
        private Android.Views.View _nativeView;

        private Dialog _dialog;

        private bool _isInitialized;

        public void InitLoadingPage(ContentPage loadingIndicatorPage)
        {
            // check if the page parameter is available
            if (loadingIndicatorPage != null)
            {
                // build the loading page with native base
                loadingIndicatorPage.Parent = Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage;

                loadingIndicatorPage.Layout(new Rectangle(0, 0,
                    Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Width,
                    Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Height));

                var renderer = loadingIndicatorPage.GetOrCreateRenderer();

                _nativeView = renderer.View;

                _dialog = new Dialog(CrossCurrentActivity.Current.Activity);
                _dialog.RequestWindowFeature((int)WindowFeatures.NoTitle);
                _dialog.SetCancelable(false);
                _dialog.SetContentView(_nativeView);
                Window window = _dialog.Window;
                window.SetLayout(ViewGroup.LayoutParams.MatchParent, ViewGroup.LayoutParams.MatchParent);
                window.ClearFlags(WindowManagerFlags.DimBehind);
                window.SetBackgroundDrawable(new ColorDrawable(Android.Graphics.Color.Transparent));

                _isInitialized = true;
            }
        }

        public void ShowLoadingPage()
        {
            // check if the user has set the page or not
            if (!_isInitialized)
                InitLoadingPage(new LoadingIndicatorPage1()); // set the default page

            // showing the native loading page
            _dialog.Show();
        }

        public void HideLoadingPage()
        {
            // Hide the page
            _dialog.Hide();
        }
    }
}

 

Most of the above Xamarin Android specific code is already explained in detailed line by line in my previous post. So in short, here we have the concrete implementation of our service for Android, inside the InitLoadingPage() we’re passing in the Xamarin.Forms Page which we want to render as a transparent page which will act as our Activity Indicator.  Then we’re rendering that page and embed into a Android Dialog view with a transparent background, and back button cancelled properties enabled. We’re keeping a reference of the _dialog instance so that we can show or hide the Page upon respective ShowLoadingPage() and HideLoadingPage() executions.

So every time a user wants to display a different Loading page, they will call the InitLoadingPage() which will build the new page instance and keep it in the service memory.

At the same time you may have seen inside ShowLoadingPage() if you haven’t instantiated the transparent page, then we’re using a default page, LoadingIndicatorPage1 as a template ad instantiating it on the go, just to avoid exceptions. This choice of default page is totally up to you.

Also don’t forget at the top of the namespace we’re registering this concrete implementation with Xamarin Dependency service. 😉

iOS bits….

Then let’s move on with our ILoadingPageService’s concrete implementation for iOS and register it with the Xamarin Dependency Service.

[assembly: Xamarin.Forms.Dependency(typeof(LodingPageServiceiOS))]
namespace XFLoadingPageService.iOS
{
    public class LodingPageServiceiOS : ILodingPageService
    {
        private UIView _nativeView;

        private bool _isInitialized;
        
        public void InitLoadingPage(ContentPage loadingIndicatorPage)
        {
            // check if the page parameter is available
            if (loadingIndicatorPage != null)
            {
                // build the loading page with native base
                loadingIndicatorPage.Parent = Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage;

                loadingIndicatorPage.Layout(new Rectangle(0, 0,
                    Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Width,
                    Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Height));

                var renderer = loadingIndicatorPage.GetOrCreateRenderer();

                _nativeView = renderer.NativeView;

                _isInitialized = true;
            }
        }

        public void ShowLoadingPage()
        {
            // check if the user has set the page or not
            if (!_isInitialized)
                InitLoadingPage(new LoadingIndicatorPage1()); // set the default page

            // showing the native loading page
            UIApplication.SharedApplication.KeyWindow.AddSubview(_nativeView);
        }

        public void HideLoadingPage()
        {
            // Hide the page
            _nativeView.RemoveFromSuperview();
        }
    }
}

 

So the implementation here is also similar to Android code above, except for the native bit. So we’re instantiating the Xamarin.Forms Page instance inside, InitLoadingPage() method we’re initiating the transparent page instance and holding inside the service.

Then showing it or hiding it based on the ShowLoadingPage() or HideLoadingPage() calls.

Pretty straightforward eh! 😀

So what next…

Now one of the best features of this implementation is that your could use any number of Loading Indicator Pages as you wish with various kinds of designs. 😀 So just for the kicks of it here’s another page that we’ll use. let’s call it LoadingIndicatorPage2

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<ContentPage
    x:Class="XFLoadingPageService.LoadingIndicatorPage2"
    xmlns="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2009/xaml"
    BackgroundColor="#80000000">
    <ContentPage.Content>
        <StackLayout
            Padding="30"
            BackgroundColor="#D93463"
            HorizontalOptions="Center"
            VerticalOptions="Center">
            <ActivityIndicator IsRunning="True" Color="White" />
            <Label
                FontAttributes="Bold"
                Text="Yo! Hold on..."
                TextColor="White" />
        </StackLayout>
    </ContentPage.Content>
</ContentPage>

 

If that’s not enough you can add more and more as you go 😀 but just make sure to call the InitLoadingPage() method! 😉

Let’s fire it up…

So to fire this up we need to call this service from your Xamarin.Forms code using the DependencyService.

// show the loading page...
DependencyService.Get<ILodingPageService>()
                 .InitLoadingPage(new LoadingIndicatorPage1());
DependencyService.Get<ILodingPageService>().ShowLoadingPage();

 

There we’re first initiating our page and then show it on the app. Once you initiate the page you don’t have to call it ever again as you saw in the implementation, it is retained in the memory of the service.

// close the loading page...
DependencyService.Get<ILodingPageService>().HideLoadingPage();

 

Once you’re done, you can close our awesome Activity / Loading Indicator Page with the above code.

And here we go on iOS and Android in action…. 😀

That’s our first Loading screen in action…

And click on the second button, there’s our second Loading screen in action, on the go…

Look at that, even during navigation between pages our Loading page stays intact on top of the Xamarin.Forms Pages stack. 😉

The reason why it acts so independently is because we are directly accessing the native elements in the service implementation, therefore even during navigation of Xamarin.Forms Stack or whatever the UI activity our Loading page will not be affected, it will keep on, of its own.

How awesome is that eh! 😀

Github it if yo lazy!

So all of this is hosted on my git repo: https://github.com/XFLoadingPageService

Now your own imagination is the limit for what’s possible or not fellas!

That’s it for today.

Cheers! 😀

Build your own Transparent Page from scratch for Xamarin.Forms…

There was this one time I wanted to build my own Transparent Page in Xamarin Forms, from scratch, all by myself, due to my ego and to challenge myself.

Usually when it comes to Transparent page related situations I would always recommend the awesome Rg.Plugins.Popup  library, which I had praised one of my previous blog posts as well, So I created a Popup with Transparent background in Xamarin Forms… 😉

Backstory…

But for real there was one instance I couldn’t use any 3rd party library for the project and all the code bits should be from scratch. So I had no option but to resort myself to creating my own Transparent Page in that Xamarin.Forms project.

And I did…

Sneak Peak…

So this how it would look like.

And limit of the expansion is all up to your imagination and developer skills.

If not work on it! 😛

Recipe time!

So to create a transparent page in Xamarin.Forms out of the box is impossible, which I’m not going to explain in detail. Obviously in short, for reasons such as Xamarin.Forms abstracts the most common subset of properties of the native platforms, we don’t have much power of customization of the UI.

There is no way to use Xamarin.Forms ContentPage with transparency. (Yes I have tried!) So we need something beyond Xamarin.Forms stuff, Aha! Natively Rendered View, that could overlay on top of a give ContentPage.

But that doesn’t mean Xamarin.Forms would block you from implementing something platform specific, it only empowers you 😉

Also since we’re drilling down in the native levels, we have absolute control over Xamarin.Forms Pages, including the power to push any View on top of Xamarin.Forms ContentPage Navigation stack.

Recipe in-depth!

So to do this we need to have some Native platform level access, so if you’re using a Xamarin.Forms shared project, this should be pretty easy, but for PCL projects, you may have to create a dependency service implementation to invoke this implementation.

So in Android, we’re going to use Dialog View to implement the transparent Page and with the access of the Activity instance, we’ll push it to over any give ContentPage of Xamarin.Forms.

Then in iOS, we’ll be using UIApplication instance’s KeyWindow property to push the transparent Page over any given ContentPage of Xamarin.Forms.

Sounds pretty straight forward eh! 😀

Xamarin.Forms bits…

Alright since this a Xamarin.Forms Transparent Page, let’s first create our usual ContentPage, with usual stuff.

var xamFormsPage = new ContentPage() 
{
  BackgroundColor = new Color(0, 0, 0, 0.5),
  Content =
  new StackLayout() 
  {
    Padding = 30,
    Spacing = 20,
    WidthRequest = 250,
    BackgroundColor = Color.Black,
    Children = 
	{
	 new Xamarin.Forms.Label() {
	  Text =
	   "Welcome to my own Transparent Page!",
	   FontAttributes = FontAttributes.Bold,
	   TextColor = Color.White,
	   FontSize = 20,
	 },
	 new Xamarin.Forms.Label() {
	  Text =
	   "This is from Xamarin.Forms with a " +
	   "bit mix of simple native magic!",
	   TextColor = Color.White,
	   FontSize = 17,
	 },
	 new Xamarin.Forms.Button() {
	  Text = "Close me!",
	   BackgroundColor = Color.Gray,
	   TextColor = Color.White,
	 }
    },
    VerticalOptions = LayoutOptions.Center,
    HorizontalOptions = LayoutOptions.Center,
  }
};

 

So here we have an instance of a simple Xamarin.Forms.Content page, with a bunch of labels and a button. This is the page we’re going to render into a transparent page. 😉

Android Implementation…

So like we discussed before, on Android we’re going to make use of the Android Dialog View to populate our transparent page. In order to do this we need to get access to the current Activity of our Xamarin.Forms Android run time.

In order to do that we’re going to use CrossCurrentActivity plugin by James Montemagno. So before we begin, go ahead and add that plug in to your Xamarin.Forms solution using Nuget.

Now the basic idea here is all about actually rendering our Xamarin.Forms ContentPage instance, and converting it to a native Android View at run time. Then we take that native View instance and attach into a Android Dialog View, making it visible along with the transparent effect. Oh yes the CrossCurrentActivity plugin comes handy when we instantiate our Android Dialog View. 😉

// Assign the Parent hook for our page instance 
xamFormsPage.Parent = Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage;

// Run the Layout Rendering Cycle for the page
xamFormsPage.Layout(new Rectangle(0, 0,
 Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Width,
 Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Height));

// Get the native renderered instance for our page
var nativePageRendererInstance = xamFormsPage.GetOrCreateRenderer();

// Get the native page for our page
Android.Views.View nativePageView = nativePageRendererInstance.View;

// Create the native transparent Dialog instance to embed our page
Dialog dialog = new Dialog(CrossCurrentActivity.Current.Activity);
dialog.RequestWindowFeature((int) WindowFeatures.NoTitle);
dialog.SetCancelable(false);
dialog.SetContentView(nativePageView);
Window window = dialog.Window;
window.SetLayout(ViewGroup.LayoutParams.MatchParent, ViewGroup.LayoutParams.MatchParent);
window.ClearFlags(WindowManagerFlags.DimBehind);
window.SetBackgroundDrawable(new ColorDrawable(Android.Graphics.Color.Transparent));

// Show the page
dialog.Show();

 

There you have the magical code 😉 lol.

You can see how we’re setting the Parent hook to our Xamarin.Forms page instance, then running the Layout() rendering circle allowing the Views to be actually measured and rendered in the memory. Then we convert our Xamarin.Forms page instance into a native Android View using the GetOrCreateRenderer() extension method which I will describe next.

Then as I discussed before we’re attaching the native View into a Dialog View and setting it visible resulting in total awesome transparency of a page, along with the exact Xamarin.Forms content we wanted to display.

Oh before I forget here is the precious Xamarin.Forms.View -> Android.Views.View Converter extension implementation. Special thanks to rotorgames for the below magical code block. 😉

internal static class PlatformExtension
{
	public static IVisualElementRenderer GetOrCreateRenderer(this VisualElement bindable)
	{
		var renderer = XFPlatform.GetRenderer(bindable);
		if (renderer == null)
		{
			renderer = XFPlatform.CreateRendererWithContext(bindable, CrossCurrentActivity.Current.Activity);
			XFPlatform.SetRenderer(bindable, renderer);
		}
		return renderer;
	}
}

Source Credit: Rg.Plugins.Popup.Droid/PlatformExtension.cs

As you can see it’s a simple implementation that takes in the Xamarin.Forms View instance and retrieve the native renderer for that View.

Now when you need to hide the above Transparent page, you simply call Hide() on the Android Dialog instance.

// Hide the page
dialog.Hide();

 

Then we go to the iOS stuff..

iOS Implementation….

Here we’ve come to the iOS implementation, so just like we discussed in the beginning, we’re going to access the global UIApplication singleton to push our transparent page the application view through the KeyWindow property.

So in a nutshell iOS renders every native View with the transparency give the proper background spacing, so we don’t really have to worry about using any placeholder view. The idea here is to get our Xamarin.Forms Page instance, run its Layout rendering cycle, convert that instance to an iOS native View. Then finally push it to the KeyWindow property by adding as a SubView.

Pretty straightforward, almost similar as to what we did in Android but simpler! 😉

// Assign the Parent hook for our page instance 
xamFormsPage.Parent = Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage;

// Run the Layout Rendering Cycle for the page
xamFormsPage.Layout(new Rectangle(0, 0,
 Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Width,
 Xamarin.Forms.Application.Current.MainPage.Height));

// Get the native renderered instance for our page
var nativePageRendererInstance = xamFormsPage.GetOrCreateRenderer();

// Get the native page for our page
UIView nativePageView = nativePageRendererInstance.NativeView;

// Show the page by pushing to the stack
UIApplication.SharedApplication.KeyWindow.AddSubview(nativePageView);

 

I’m not going repeat myself here because I’m too lazy and the explanation is almost same as I did in Android implementation. 😀

But in the context of iOS, you can see we’re getting the iOS native UIView of our Xamarin.Forms ContentPage instance and pushing it directly to the Application UI, by calling AddSubView() on KeyWindow property.

Oh before I forget here is the precious Xamarin.Forms.View -> UIKit.UIView Converter extension implementation. Special thanks to rotorgames for the below magical code block. 😉

internal static class PlatformExtension
{
	public static IVisualElementRenderer GetOrCreateRenderer(this VisualElement bindable)
	{
		var renderer = XFPlatform.GetRenderer(bindable);
		if (renderer == null)
		{
			renderer = XFPlatform.CreateRenderer(bindable);
			XFPlatform.SetRenderer(bindable, renderer);
		}
		return renderer;
	}
}

Source Credit: Rg.Plugins.Popup.IOS/PlatformExtension.cs

Now when you want to hide the above created Transparent Page, then you simple call the RemoveFromSuperview() on our iOS UIView instance, which will result in it removing itself from UIWindow.

// Hide the page
nativePageView.RemoveFromSuperview();

 

bloopity blah! 😀

Alright, so let me address something you might be wondering…

How about Xamarin.Forms to Xamarin Native bridge?

Now you might ask how am I going to bridge the above explained Xamarin.Forms and Xamarin Native implementation counterparts together? Now that’s some easy peasy nibbles I’m gonna leave up to your creativity or requirement.

There’s many ways to call back and forth between Xamarin.Forms or Xamarin Native project levels, or in other words, between the PCL project and the Platform Specific projects. For starters, you could use Xamarin Dependency Service to register a service interface and concrete implementation to communicate between these two layers back and forth. 😉 And many other possibilities, so your creativity is the limit.

However I will probably be writing another blog post regarding this with a full implementation of this with some cool application of it! 😉

Well frankly, that’s it fellas.

Cheers! 😀

Advanced decorating of Xamarin Forms Slider for Android…

Alright so today I’m gonna take you guys through a journey of decorating a Xamarin Forms Slider control in Android…

Well we all know how basic the default Slider control in Xamarin Forms, but worry not, there are plenty of ways to decorate it with awesome features,specifically for Xamarin Android! 😀

It all started a few weeks back when I was playing around with the Slider control to add  a whole bunch of complex visual features in one of my company apps.

Let’s get started…

Alright, first thing first, we need set up our Custom Slider control first and attach it’s Custom renderer in Android.

So here goes the Custom Slider control subclassing in Xamarin Forms project…

namespace WhateverYourNamespace
{
    public class CustomSlider : Slider
    {

    }
}

 

Next set up the Custom Slider Renderer in your Android project…

[assembly:ExportRenderer(typeof(CustomSlider), typeof(CustomSliderRenderer))]
namespace WhateverYourNamespace.Droid
{
    public class CustomSliderRenderer : SliderRenderer
    {
        protected override void
                 OnElementChanged(ElementChangedEventArgs<Slider> e)
        {
            base.OnElementChanged(e);

            if (e.NewElement != null)
            {
		// All the customization will go here
            }
        }
    }
}

 

How would I consume this in XAML you ask? Just as another ordinary view… 😉

<StackLayout>

	<local:CustomSlider 
	HeightRequest="7" 
	WidthRequest="350" 
	HorizontalOptions="Center"
	Minimum="0" Maximum="100" />

</StackLayout>

 

Now keep in mind all the customization that we are doing later will be done within this custom renderer.

Something to keep in mind is that,

the Xamarin Forms Slider control’s Android run time native counterpart is the SeekBar…

So the more you aware of the SeekBar’s properties, the more customization you could play around with! 😉

Alright let’s start decorating… 😀

Decoration 1 : Change color theme!

Want to change the color theme of your Slider? Here we go…

Let’s see the code.

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	// progressbar and progressbar background color
	Control.ProgressDrawable.SetColorFilter(
		new PorterDuffColorFilter(
		Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#ff0066").ToAndroid(),
		PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn));
}

 

Use the ProgressDrawable Property and set the ColorFilter to it as you wish… 😉 which will set the color theme to your Progress Bar , Progress Thumb, and the background bar…

Decoration 2 : Change only the Slider’s Thumb Color?

How about changing just the Progress Thumb’s color? Yes you may…

Look at that funky looking Progress Thumb! 😉

Code?

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	// Set Progress bar Thumb color
	Control.Thumb.SetColorFilter(
		Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#8000ff").ToAndroid(), 
		PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn);
}

 

Android SeekBar (which is the native handler of Xamarin Forms Slider on Android) has the Thumb property which allows you to customize the appearance of the little thumbnail head of the Slider control as we have used above.

Next! 😀

Decoration 3 : Change progress background Color?

How about changing only the Progress Bar’s background color? As you can see below..

Look at the boring default progress bar’s background color vs the purple background color! 😉 pretty cool!

Here’s how you do it,

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	//Set Background Progress bar color
	Control.ProgressBackgroundTintList 
           = ColorStateList.ValueOf(
            Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#8000ff").ToAndroid());
	Control.ProgressBackgroundTintMode
           = PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn;
}

 

Use the ProgressBackground property to set the TintList and the TintMode! 🙂

TADAA!

Decoration 4 : How about adding a secondary progress indicator?

Now we all have seen secondary progress indicators in progress bars, specially in online video stream players… 🙂 example take the Youtube player! 😉 So have you ever wanted to add such a cool feature to your Xamarin Forms Slider in Android? Let me show you how its done… 😉

Look how cool that is yeah! 😉

Alright let’s get into coding…

Now in Android we have this built in property called SecondayProgress which allows you to set a secondary progress value to your Slider or Seekbar as of native Android handler.

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	// secondary progress value in Xamarin Forms units
	int secondaryProgressValue = 50;
	
	// secondary progress value in 
	// Android native Seekbar units
	int secondaryProgressValueInAndroidUnits =
	(int)((secondaryProgressValue - 
			((CustomSlider)Element).Minimum) /
	(((CustomSlider)Element).Maximum -  
			 ((CustomSlider)Element).Minimum) * 1000.0);

	// set the secondary progress value
	Control.SecondaryProgress = 
	secondaryProgressValueInAndroidUnits;
}

 

There you go, you can see that we are setting the SecondaryProgress value, but also take a closer look at the calculation that we are doing before setting it.

Now Xamarin Forms Slider and Xamarin Android Seekbar which is the handler for the Slider control, uses different value types or unit types for setting the Progress and the Secondary Progress values in native level. If we want to set the value from Xamarin Forms value units then we need to convert that value to Android Seekbar’s native values which is exactly what we are doing at the calculation. So basically we are setting the Xamarin Forms unit value according to the native units to Seekbar control.

Oh if you want to set the Secondary Progress from Xamarin Forms level then you can easily create a property in the CustomSlider class and use it down here in your Custom Renderer class 🙂 Imagination is the limit! 😉

Decoration 5 : May be change the Color of secondary progress indicator?

How about we spice it up by changing the color a little of the secondary progress? 😉

Look at that!

Time for coding…

Android Seekbar has this property called SecondaryProgressTintList and SecondaryProgressTintMode which allows you to achieve the above results and set the secondary progress color as you wish…

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	//Set Seconday Progress bar color
	Control.SecondaryProgressTintList = 
	      ColorStateList.ValueOf(
		Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#8000ff").ToAndroid());
	Control.SecondaryProgressTintMode = 
	      PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn;

	// secondary progress value in Xamarin Forms units
	int secondaryProgressValue = 50;
	
	// secondary progress value in 
	// Android native Seekbar units
	int secondaryProgressValueInAndroidUnits =
	(int)((secondaryProgressValue - 
	((CustomSlider)Element).Minimum) /
	(((CustomSlider)Element).Maximum - 
	 ((CustomSlider)Element).Minimum) * 1000.0);

	// set the secondary progress value
	Control.SecondaryProgress = 
		secondaryProgressValueInAndroidUnits;
}

 

And hey of course don’t forget to set the SecondaryProgress value while you’re at it!

Decoration 6 : I would call it Funky delight!

Alright, now all that being said, how about blending some of those different colors adding some funky delight-ness to the Slider? 😉

Well what I mean is, let’s try adding different color’s to Thumb, Progress Bar, Progress Bar background and Secondary Progress Bar!

Too much funky? I thought so!

How about these??? 😉

I know, I love playing with colors being a Visual oriented developer! 😀 lol

Your imagination is the limit fellas!

Here’s how you play around with the colors…

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	// Different colors for ProgressBar components
	// Set Primary Progress bar color
	Control.ProgressTintList = 
		ColorStateList.ValueOf(
		Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#6200ea").ToAndroid());
	Control.ProgressTintMode 
		= PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn;

	//Set Seconday Progress bar color
	Control.SecondaryProgressTintList = 
		ColorStateList.ValueOf(
		Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#b388ff").ToAndroid());
	Control.SecondaryProgressTintMode 
		= PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn;

	//Set Progress bar Background color
	Control.ProgressBackgroundTintList = 
		ColorStateList.ValueOf(
		Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#b39ddb").ToAndroid());
	Control.ProgressBackgroundTintMode 
		= PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn;

	// Set Progress bar Thumb color
	Control.Thumb.SetColorFilter(
		Xamarin.Forms.Color.FromHex("#311b92").ToAndroid(),
		PorterDuff.Mode.SrcIn);
}

 

Decide your flavor of colors and go crazy fellas! 😉

Decoration 7 : Remove Thumb Header may be?

Absolutely, check this out…

It’s pretty simply actually, simply set a Tranparent ColorDrawable to the Thumb property.

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	// Hide thumb
	Control.SetThumb(
		new ColorDrawable(Color.Transparent));
}

 

Woot!

Decoration 8 : Let’s kick it up a notch!

Let’s add some more vibrant and complex customization to our Slider for Android! 🙂

How about throwing in some cool gradient effects…

So to achieve that, we shall be using Android native Styling with Drawables such as Shape, Gradients and so on.

We will create a native android xml Style file in your Resources/Drawable folder with the name “custom_progressbar_style.xml”

Here’s what you’ll be placing inside of it…

<layer-list xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" >

  <item android:id="@android:id/background">
    <shape>
      <corners android:radius="15dip" />
      <gradient
       android:startColor="#d9d9d9"
       android:centerColor="#e6e6e6"
       android:endColor="#d9d9d9"
       android:centerY="0.50"
       android:angle="270" />
    </shape>
  </item>
  
  <item android:id="@android:id/secondaryProgress">
    <clip>
      <shape>
        <corners android:radius="15dip" />
        <gradient
             android:startColor="#e6b3e6"
             android:centerColor="#ffcce0"
             android:endColor="#e6b3e6"
             android:centerY="0.50"
             android:angle="270" />
      </shape>
    </clip>
  </item>
  
  <item android:id="@android:id/progress">
    <clip>
      <shape>
        <corners android:radius="15dip" />
        <gradient
         android:startColor="#ff0066"
         android:centerColor="#ff00ff"
         android:centerY="0.50"
         android:endColor="#cc0052"
         android:angle="270" />
      </shape>
    </clip>
  </item>
  
</layer-list>

 

So to explain the above a little bit, we have created a Style layer-list which assigns the given styling items to the specific id’s of the SeekBar native control, such as the background, secondaryprogress, progress as you have noticed. Those drawable objects will replace the default styles of those segments in the SeekBar with these defined drawable objects.

First we are using a Shape drawable to to the Background property, which creates a gradient layer with the given colors and angle for creating a gradient effect! Also we are setting a radius value to corner so that the corners will be curved nicely.

Next for the Progress and the SecondaryProgress properties we are creating a similar Shape gradient as before but we are clipping it according to the given values of each of them.

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	// Set custom drawable resource
	Control.SetProgressDrawableTiled(
	Resources.GetDrawable(
	Resource.Drawable.custom_progressbar_style,
	(this.Context).Theme));

	// Hide thumb to make it look cool lol
	Control.SetThumb(new ColorDrawable(Color.Transparent));
}

 

There’s how you set it in the custom renderer level, simply call the SetProgressDrawableTiled() method by passing the custom style of what we created above.

Also I have disabled the Thumb, just to make it look cooler. Its up to you though.

If you want to do more extensible customization like above and may be preserve the Thumb view and style that as well? then refer to this stackoverflow article: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16163215/android-styling-seek-bar

Additionally you could have bitmap images or nine patch images as drawables to styling and so may other stuff.

Now this is like the holy grail.. where as you can see with Android you get full flexibility for any kind of complex customization!

Its only limited by your imagination! 😉

WooT! 😀

Decoration 9 : Can I reduce the above overridden Height?

So you’re worried of the height after setting the custom styling drawables as above? simply reduce the HeightRequest value in your Xamarin Forms code for our custom Slider view.

Right after we set the Custom ProgressDrawable styles in the renderer level, it overrides the Height property of native SeekBar  that’s assigned from Xamarin Forms level for each of those sub-views (ProgressBar, SecondaryProgressBar and Background sub views), so they expands themselves to the fullest as possible with the new Drawable objects.

<local:CustomSlider HeightRequest="7" WidthRequest="350"  HorizontalOptions="Center"
        Minimum="0" Maximum="100" />

 

So the above should give you control over the Height issue!

Or else you could set the dip IntrinsicHeight values in your XML style drawables itself as well (something extra)! 😉

Decoration 9 : Can I  have the above cool-ness programmatically without resources?

So you don’t like to deal with Android Resources and creating the Style XMLs and stuff?

Oh sure, no worries! but you will have to do a little bit of work to get the above simple XML Styling into pure code generated objects!

Let me begin by giving credit to this example written in Java which I found while I was in the same situation: FlatUI/FlatSeekBar.cs

So let’s see how we could create Drawable Style objects in C# code!

Now keep in mind all the Drawable objects we used in our XML file “custom_progressbar_style.xml” has their own programmatical counterparts such as Shape, Gradient and Clip by the names as ShapeDrawable, GradientDrawable, and ClipDrawable and so on likewise.

So we can convert any given XML style to a C# generated style drawable. (any native Android developer should be well aware of this)

So let’s do something similar! 😉

So we are going to create our own Drawable objects and set them to the sub-views of our Slider control for Android, just like how we did with the XML styling, but this time programmatically. Here is how it will look like…

There you haveit, let’s see how we did this…

if (e.NewElement != null)
{
	// Setting drawable styling programatically

	// progress
	var progress = new PaintDrawable(Color.Red);
	progress.SetCornerRadius(
		(int)DpToPixels(this.Context, 10));
	progress.SetIntrinsicHeight(
		(int)DpToPixels(this.Context,10));
	var progressClip = 
		new ClipDrawable(progress, GravityFlags.Left,
		ClipDrawableOrientation.Horizontal);

	// secondary progress
	var secondary = new PaintDrawable(Color.Gray);
	secondary.SetCornerRadius(
		(int)DpToPixels(this.Context, 10));
	secondary.SetIntrinsicHeight(
		(int)DpToPixels(this.Context, 10));
	var secondaryProgressClip = 
		new ClipDrawable(secondary, GravityFlags.Left, 
		ClipDrawableOrientation.Horizontal);

	// background
	PaintDrawable background = new 
                 PaintDrawable(Color.LightGray);
	background.SetCornerRadius(
		(int)DpToPixels(this.Context, 10));
	background.SetIntrinsicHeight(
		(int)DpToPixels(this.Context, 10));

	// retrieve LayerDrawable reference of the SeekBar control
	LayerDrawable layeredDrawableReference 
		= (LayerDrawable)Control.ProgressDrawable;
		
	// apply our custom drawable objects to the 
	// given sub-views through their IDs
	layeredDrawableReference.
	    SetDrawableByLayerId(
		Android.Resource.Id.Background, background);
	layeredDrawableReference.
	    SetDrawableByLayerId(
		Android.Resource.Id.Progress, progressClip);
	layeredDrawableReference.
	    SetDrawableByLayerId(
		Android.Resource.Id.SecondaryProgress, 
                  secondaryProgressClip);
}

 

So basically we are creating our our Drawable objects programatically, in this case PainDrawable objects and giving them different styling values such as Radius, Clipping, IntrinsicHeight and so on.

And then at the end we are going to retrieve the references for the sub-views of our native SeekBar in Android which is the after-rendering counterpart of Xamarin Forms Slider as I mentioned at the beginning. This is going to be a LayerDrawable object, which is going to allow us to set our own custom Drawable objects to each drawable layer by their IDs.

As you can see we are calling the SetDrawableByLayerId() on our LayerDrawable object and passing in the each sub-view reference and custom drawable objects we want to set to them. 😀

Now keep this in mind, here you could have any kind of drawable objects to create your custom drawable styling just like you previously did with GradientDrawable in XML style, have the exact same beautiful visual result rendered programatically! 🙂

That’s it…

Well fellas that’s it for now, well at least that’s all I came across while I was playing around with my Custom Renderer for Xamarin Forms Slider on Android! 😀

Enjoy and share!

CHEERS!

FormsAppCompatActivity is not calling OnOptionsItemSelected Xamarin Android…

So have you Sub-classed your MainActivity from FormsAppCompatActivity which is also the default Parent Class for MainActivity in Xamarin Forms Android project? but you can’t get a hit on the OnOptionsItemSelected override?

Welcome to another flash post!

Recently I tried..

So recently I tried to override the navigation bar Back button click on Android in one of my Xamarin Forms applications.

but Unfortunately…

So one way to handle this is by overriding the OnOptionsItemSelected method in MainActivity, which is the Single Activity that all our Xamarin Forms Views get’s laid upon. But unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a hit on the above override method.

then I noticed…

So this project solution was created on Visual Studio with Xamarin version 4.2.2.11, where as I noticed that the MainActivity was sub-classing from the FormsAppCompactActivity instead of good old FormsApplicationActivity which was the previous parent class for MainActivity.

No sense…

Since it did not make sense I turned to the Xamarin Forums, and lucky enough I found this thread, where few others were also experiencing the same issue.

https://forums.xamarin.com/discussion/comment/218663#Comment_218663

Reason? Probably…

So according to the forums, it appears to be some missing bug in Xamarin Android version, where as the Android Toolbar doesn’t get referenced to the Activity. Where as since we are using FormsAppCompactActivity as the base, the Toolbar in action is the Android.Support.V7.Widget.Toolbar, not the good old Android.Widget.Toolbar, which for some reason doesn’t get attached to the Activity.

Solution…

Well if you had gone through the above forum you may have found the solution already… Basically we just need to set the Action Bar reference in the Activity in your OnCreate() method.. 😉

Android.Support.V7.Widget.Toolbar toolbar 
	= this.FindViewById<Android.Support.V7.Widget.Toolbar>(Resource.Id.toolbar);
SetSupportActionBar(toolbar);

 

or if I’m to share my MainActivity…

public class MainActivity : FormsAppCompatActivity
{
	protected override void OnCreate(Bundle bundle)
	{
		TabLayoutResource = Resource.Layout.Tabbar;
		ToolbarResource = Resource.Layout.Toolbar;

		base.OnCreate(bundle);

		global::Xamarin.Forms.Forms.Init(this, bundle);
		LoadApplication(new App());
		
		Android.Support.V7.Widget.Toolbar toolbar 
			= this.FindViewById<Android.Support.V7.Widget.Toolbar>(Resource.Id.toolbar);
		SetSupportActionBar(toolbar);
	}
}

 

Well there you have it! Solved! 😀

Cheers!

DpToPixels and PixelsToDp for Xamarin Android…

We all know the sea of Android devices consists of different kinds of Screen Densities, this is why in Android programming we always refer to Density Pixels instead of actual Pixels, so that we could use the exact value of Pixels that best catered for the given Screen Density of the  physical device.

Now this is going to be another flash post, where I share stuff in sweet and short form without any spoon feeding! 😛

Straight on Point:

(px) Pixels –

corresponds to actual pixels on the screen.

(dp or dip) Density-independent Pixels –

an abstract unit that is based on the physical density of the screen. These units are relative to a 160 dpi screen, so one dp is one pixel on a 160 dpi screen. The ratio of dp-to-pixel will change with the screen density, but not necessarily in direct proportion. Note: The compiler accepts both “dip” and “dp”, though “dp” is more consistent with “sp”.

Extracted from: Android Developer Documentation

Well now when it comes to Xamarin Android development this is the same scenario, but the way we actually use it code could be a bit tricky.

So here I’m sharing the two Helper methods I came up with for the conversion inbetween actual Pixels and Device Independ Pixels value and Device Independ Pixels to actual Pixels value… 😀

/// <summary>
/// Device Independent Pixels to Actual Pixles conversion
/// </summary>
/// <param name="context"></param>
/// <param name="valueInDp"></param>
/// <returns></returns>
public static float DpToPixels(Context context, float valueInDp)
{
	DisplayMetrics metrics = context.Resources.DisplayMetrics;
	return TypedValue.ApplyDimension(ComplexUnitType.Dip, valueInDp, metrics);
}

/// <summary>
/// Actual Pixels to Device Independent Pixels conversion
/// </summary>
/// <param name="context"></param>
/// <param name="pixelValue"></param>
/// <returns></returns>
public static int PixelsToDp(Context context, float pixelValue)
{
	var dp = (int)((pixelValue) / context.Resources.DisplayMetrics.Density);
	return dp;
}

 

There you have it!

Enjoy! 😀

I encountered “GenerateJavaStubs” task failed unexpectedly in Xamarin Android

I encountered this during error during a compilation of one of my Xamarin Android apps. After installation of a new 3rd party library, I tried compiling my project, but BOOM! this happened!

What happened ?

So I took a little look-around. Well my project solution is a multi-hierarchical project, where as I have an Android Library, Core Library, and Client Project App referenced in a hierarchical manner .

So what has happened was, after some third party library installation, a duplicate MainApplication class had been generated somehow. 😮

Solution ?

Remove the duplicate  MainApplication class in your project, hence Android requires only one point to fire up. 😉

Make sure you don’t have duplicate MainApplication classes that derives from Application base class in your Xamarin.Android project. Specially if you have a hierarchical project implementation, such as a Android Library project attached to your Main application project.

In such cases make sure you maintain only one MainApplication class that derives from Application base class, in either of your projects. 😀

TADAAA! 😀

Xamarin Android deployment error INSTALL_FAILED_ UPDATE_INCOMPATIBLE

While your trying to build and deploy your Xamarin Android solution, have you ever encountered an error such as,

Deployment failed because of an internal error: Failure [INSTALL_FAILED_UPDATE_INCOMPATIBLE]

or with a similar error code as below?

[INSTALL_FAILED_DUPLICATE_PERMISSION]

If so, I should let you know, I’ve been there too!

This is usually because the last time you uninstalled your app from the emulator or device, you haven’t done it properly or something may have gone wrong during the uninstallation and some chunks of the old package is still lying around the system, therefore it preventing the reinstallation of your new package.

As the solution?

Therefore we need to completely uninstall the package manually through the adb command.

adb uninstall my.package.id

You must replace the my.package.id with your Xamarin Android app’s id.

And try again! Should be good to go! 😉

Is your Visual Studio stuck at, Emulator is already running?

So few days back after doing a fresh installation on my WIndows 10 laptop, and installing Visual Studio, I tried running a Xamarin Forms project, with the Visual Studio Android Emulator.

The project was successfully building itself, and the Visual Studio Android Emulator also started running successfully, but then the build process was on a hang state after the Emulator started running. Specifically the build log was on a hang state after “Emulator is already running” step, as I saw in the output log in VS.

So after Googling a while I figured out the problem thanks to wasting a bunch on hours on google search and forums, since many others were also having the same issue.

So let me post the solution for you right here.

Cause?

You must keep in mind that my project was building fine, and the Emulator also started running successfully and booted up itself. I was having a already built solution and up and running Emulator, but the VS couldn’t connect to the Emulator.

The cause for this is Visual Studio debugger was unable to connect to the started Emulator through the ADB (Android Debug Bridge).

This is due a wrong registry entry in the system, where as Visual Studio is looking to start up the ADB and connect to it, in order to connect to the Emulator, but due to this wrong registry entry, VS is unable to find the path to ADB, to start it up.

This is very well explained in this Visual Studio troubleshoot article:

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt228282.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396#ADB

This seem to be happening by default with fresh installations of VS lately, where as the Android SDK installation path in the above registry entry doesn’t seem to be matching with the actual SDK installation location in our system, which is probably done by default when installing Visual Studio 2015.

Solution!

So yeah as the article explains we just have to update the registry entry with the accurate path to the Android SDK installation in our system, so that Visual Studio can start up ADB to connect to the Emulator.

Step1 : Copy the actual Android SDK installation path

to find the actual Android SDK path in your system, that is referred by Visual Studio, go to the top tool bar of Visual Studio, and open the Android SDK Manager as shown below.

capture-3

If you did the default Visual Studio installation with the Cross-Platform mobile dev tools, then your path location should also look similar as above.

Copy that path, or type the same exact path on Run command and open the folder and copy the full path from there.

Step2 : Update the invalid registry entry

Open registry editor, by “regedit” in Run window and navigate to the following Registry.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Android SDK Tools

Now open the Path registry key and change the value with the above Android SDK path which you copied earlier.

capture-2

Well, that’s it.

There goes the solution. Now you should close the Emulator and Visual Studio and reopen your solution, hit F5! you’re all good! 😀

Cheers!

An infamous(or not?) fact(something important?) about Xamarin Forms Navigation in Android…

Xamarin Forms uses a very neat and simplified Navigation Architecture which can be easily justified among Android, iOS and WinPhone mobile platforms under common grounds.

Xamarin Forms Navigation

Alright, now this is not an article about Xamarin Forms Navigation article, as it is very well explained in Xamarin official documentation. If you want to go check it out right now before you get into this article. https://developer.xamarin.com/guides/xamarin-forms/user-interface/navigation/hierarchical/

Now the way Xamarin Forms handles this navigation during the actual runtime, specifically in native levels are different for each mobile platforms. Of course they have to somehow map Xamarin Forms Navigation paradigm to the Native app navigation paradigm, which is extremely complex and Xamarin has done a great job so far. 😀

Why is Navigation so Important?

Navigation plays a huge part in your Mobile Application development, specially when it becomes more complex when you need to implement deeper customisations to your cross platform app.

So when we get down to complex customisations related to your Navigation, it is very important to be aware of the underlying mechanics of the platform.

Hence with Xamarin Forms, we are dealing with a cross-platform situation, where it is very crucial that we pay attention to three different mobile platforms, and how their navigation is actually handled in Xamarin Forms.

Xamarin has done a great job in handling a common cross-platform navigation pattern, and faded out the Native-compatibility mechanics to the background, to the point a developer doesn’t really have to pay any attention to it. So kudos Xamarin! 😉

Recently I…

So the reason I’m writing this article is because, recently I came across a situation where I had to pay detailed attention for Xamarin Forms Navigation and how it actually handles it in native execution. 🙂

And there’s something very interesting I spotted in how Xamarin Forms handles Navigation in Android runtime..

So I thought of sharing it with everyone, hence most developers doesn’t seem to be aware of this.

Specially amongst the fresh developers of the Xamarin Community, where a lot of developers assume Xamarin Forms follows everything exactly as the Native Framework patterns and properties, which is not actually accurate and they have taken some unique (or may be different) approaches for mapping Native stuff to the Xamarin Forms level, which are quite out of the box. So you need to pay a good attention to their details when you are dealing with complex implementations in Xamarin Forms.

So what’s the big deal I found with Xamarin Forms Navigation in Android ?

Xamarin Forms Navigation in Android?

Now when it comes to handling Xamarin Forms Navigation in Android run time, I noticed something very interesting, which I should blame myself for not paying any attention way earlier for this aspect. However…

If you’re familiar with Native Android development, the standard pattern of how we navigate in-between Activities and Fragments, how the activity lifecycle is handled so on and so forth yeah? (Nope, I’m not gonna get into the details of Android Navigation pattern in this article, if you aren’t aware, please stop reading this article and Google about it, then you may get back here… other wise you might get confused!)

Now have you ever thought how Xamarin Forms actually handles this complex Android Navigation Pattern? And actually map the Xamarin Forms Navigation paradigm to the Native Android Execution?

Now this is where it gets interesting…

Go on to this link which explains the NavigationPage (the page that manages the navigation) of Xamarin Forms, and read the REMARKS! READ IT!

https://developer.xamarin.com/api/type/Xamarin.Forms.NavigationPage/

Let me quote it,

“Note that on the Android platform, INavigation operations do not generate activity lifecycle notifications. For each Page that you push or pop, the Android implementation of NavigationPage simply adds or removes the content of the page to or from a single activity.”

Interesting right?

Now I did some more research about it, and came across more interesting facts.

At Xamarin Evolve 2014…

Watch this Youtube clip where an attendee asks Jason Smith about the Navigation pattern of Xamarin Forms in Android.

Attendee: I was curious why you designed the Xamarin Forms Android to be a Single Activity as opposed to Multiple Activity?

Jason: Couple of minor considerations I guess. At the time Fragments weren’t fully back ported when we started the project. So we couldn’t actually target Fragments, which was really annoying. And Google was advocating the Single Activity approach and on top of that Navigations Paradigms of Activity didn’t fully map to the Xamarin Forms Navigation Paradigm.

Furthermore from Jason Smith…

So I found a post in Xamarin Forms Community Forum  where Jason Smith has commented regarding the navigation further more a s follows…

https://forums.xamarin.com/discussion/17668/running-xamarin-forms-as-one-single-activity-vs-performance-design

TheRealJasonSmith [Jason Smith]

“Xamarin.Forms pre-dates the backporting of Fragments on Android, however it is written in a fashion similar to how fragments work. The Views we add/remove from the view hierarchy are fully cleaned up and disposed of when they go away. This works around the standard issue people had with single activity apps where all the views would stick around eating lots of memory.

Even if you as the user pre-allocate all of your Xamarin.Forms views, we do not realize them into actually android objects until they are needed on screen. We then will remove and dispose those same objects dynamically when they are no longer needed. This means that you should not be paying a significant memory overhead, even if you are not mindful of this yourself.”

So now what does this all tell us?

So after all these findings what is the conclusion we could come to?

In Native Android Development…

Untitled-3

When we develop Native Android application we usually use the standard Multiple Activities approach to propagate the pages and to navigate in between them, and sometimes we throw in some Fragments here and there as needed for memory saving and re-usability.

There is also an approach called “Single Activity Architecture” approach where you maintain only one activity and render all the pages on top of it in Native Android development.

Xamarin Forms Navigation in Android?

Untitled-2

Short and sweet Xamarin Forms does not follow the same standard multiple activity pattern in Android

Instead,

Xamarin Forms uses a unique Single Activity Architecture based pattern in Android which is similar to the use of Fragments, but with a better management of memory with its approach…

As with all our findings this is quite a unique approach that Xamarin Forms has implemented under the hood for Android. Which is very important to keep in mind when you get down to complex implementation of Xamarin Forms in Android.

Advantages and also Disadvantages ?

This gives many advantages and also disadvantages for us developers. Advantages such as good memory management, ease of navigation, instead of dealing with Activities and Fragments directly.

But this also brings many disadvantages which I had struggled in great deals with in Xamarin Forms complex implementations for Android, such as management of a custom ActionBar across your views, adding custom page transition animations for pages, unpleasant UX behavior when hiding ActionBar and so on.

But then again, there is always a way to solve problems in programming. 🙂

That’s it… 🙂

Well there you go, hope this clears any confusion anyone had just like I did sometime back… 🙂 And if you weren’t aware of this before, now you know how to handle stuff when it’s in need during your Xamarin Forms mobile development.

Cheers! 😀