Whether you are just starting out or you're a seasoned Android developer already, you know how difficult it is to perform seemingly simple tasks. Thankfully, many have been there before you and created Android libraries and frameworks to help you develop with ease. I asked our Android team what they thought were the essential Android libraries/frameworks out there and this is what they said.
Programming nowadays is mostly imperative, meaning you have to tell the system when something changes. However, if you’re using reactive programming, your application can react to changes without you telling it what to do. The top library for reactive programming on Android is RxJava, part of the ReactiveX libraries on many platforms. Its official description is “a library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs by using observable sequences”.
RxJava is considered to be one of the top Android libraries out there because of how it makes Android app developers' lives easier. You can chain asynchronous operations much simpler, and help you represent data in real-time. It’s much easier to switch threads and handle errors when using RxJava. Although it might tricky to learn and get used to at first, it’s definitely worth it.
Android development from boring to wow! That’s the RxJava motto.
-Muhammed Youssef, Android Developer
When it comes to dependency injection, Dagger is your best bet. This compile-time framework helps you by generating plain Java source code. Dependency injection is basically injecting a smaller component into a larger model as easily as possible. Dagger sets itself apart from other dependency injection libraries by working in compile-time to estimate and analyze dependencies. And this compared to the limited libraries relying on XML makes Dagger one of the top Android libraries out there. It is an adaptation of an earlier version created by Square and now officially maintained by Google.
Similar to RxJava it is not the easiest to learn and get used to at first, but definitely worth the commitment. One of the main issues with dependency injection is when developing large applications, it can be difficult to maintain. Dagger offers some help with this by creating a dependency injection graph in compile-time to help you keep track of everything.
A new Dagger update called Hilt was very recently released. Hilt aims at tackling some of Dagger's biggest issues. It focuses on making it easier to use Dagger in an Android project by building on top of the functionality that Dagger already provides. It is still early days, but the impressions are very positive.
Looks like Dagger is now dead simple. I wonder if it can still keep up the promise that it’s a better solution for bigger projects.
-Muhammed Youssef, Android Developer
Retrofit is a type-safe HTTP client for Android and Java. It allows you to define your REST API as an interface. By using annotations you can control the API requests’ headers, body, query parameters, and a lot more. Retrofit really sets itself apart as a clean and simple Android library and it even allows you to make synchronous and asynchronous API calls.
You no longer need to rely on HttpsUrlConnection to fetch data, which isn’t great with large amounts of data. And since Retrofit has its own Rx module, it works great with RxJava already on our list. Your API will be returned as an Observable, allowing you to integrate with your app. Similar to Dagger, Square square originally made it, but they still maintain it.
If you’ve ever had to deal with images on Android, then you probably know it is a nightmare. Android’s image handling API is really difficult to deal with and it’s very likely that you will cause your app to crash if you try to alter images. Glide is one of the best Android libraries around for image loading and media management. It’s fast and open-source and its official description is that it “wraps media decoding, memory and disk caching, and resource pooling into a simple and easy to use interface”. Glide is managed by Bumptech and is recommended by Google.
Glide’s default stack is HttpUrlConnection but it includes a flexible API allowing developers to plug in any network stack. It supports fetching, decoding, and displaying video stills, images, and animated GIFs.
When looking for a persistence library for Android look no further than Room. The official ORM Android library will make it much easier to build offline apps. Room lets you utilize the full power of SQLite while maintaining an abstraction layer on top of it to manage data as Java objects. One of the great things about Room is how simple it is. It relies on standard SQL syntax and annotations making it a lot easier to use than other ORMs that have complex APIs.
Room also includes out-of-the-box support for Rx and they work great together. You will be able to quickly understand and utilize it without having to spend a lot of time reading its documentation.
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