An Android TableLayout and TableRow Tutorial

When the work began on the next chapter of this book it was originally intended that it would include the steps to design the user interface layout for the Room database example application. It quickly became evident, however, that the best way to implement the user interface was to make use of the Android TableLayout and TableRow views and that this topic area deserved a self-contained chapter. As a result, this chapter will focus solely on the user interface design of the database application to be completed in the next chapter, and in doing so, take some time to introduce the basic concepts of table layouts in Android Studio.

The TableLayout and TableRow Layout Views

The purpose of the TableLayout container view is to allow user interface elements to be organized on the screen in a table format consisting of rows and columns. Each row within a TableLayout is occupied by a TableRow instance, which, in turn, is divided into cells, with each cell containing a single child view (which may itself be a container with multiple view children).

The number of columns in a table is dictated by the row with the most columns and, by default, the width of each column is defined by the widest cell in that column. Columns may be configured to be shrinkable or stretchable (or both) such that they change in size relative to the parent TableLayout. In addition, a single cell may be configured to span multiple columns.

Consider the user interface layout shown in Figure 63-1:



Android Table Layout UI Completed



From the visual appearance of the layout, it is difficult to identify the TableLayout structure used to design the interface. The hierarchical tree illustrated in Figure 63-2, however, makes the structure a little easier to understand:

The view hierarchy for an Android tableLayout example



Clearly, the layout consists of a parent LinearLayout view with TableLayout, LinearLayout RecyclerView children. The TableLayout contains three TableRow children representing three rows in the table. The TableRows contain two child views, with each child representing the contents of a table column cell. The LinearLayout child view contains three Button children.

The layout shown in Figure 63-2 is the exact layout that is required for the database example that will be completed in the next chapter. The remainder of this chapter, therefore, will be used to work step by step through the design of this user interface using the Android Studio Layout Editor tool.

Creating the Room Database Project

Start Android Studio and create a new project, entering RoomDemo into the Application name field and ebookfrenzy.com as the Company Domain setting before clicking on the Next button.

On the form factors screen, enable the Phone and Tablet option and set the minimum SDK setting to API TBD: Android TBD). Continue through the setup screens, requesting the Activity & Fragment+ViewModel option and using the default activity, fragment and view model names.


Converting to a LinearLayout

Locate the main_fragment.xml file in the Project tool window (app -> res -> layout) and double-click on it to load it into the Layout Editor tool. By default, Android Studio has used a ConstraintLayout as the root layout element in the user interface. This needs to be converted to a vertically oriented LinearLayout. With the Layout Editor tool in Design mode, locate the main ConstraintLayout component in the Component tree and right-click on it to display the menu shown in Figure 63-3 and select the Convert View... option:

Converting a layout in Android Studio



In the resulting dialog (Figure 63-4) select the option to convert to a LinearLayout before clicking on the Apply button:

Convert ConstraintLayout to LinearLayout in Android Studio



By default, the layout editor will have converted the Constraintlayout to a horizontal LinearLayout so select the layout component in the Component Tree window, refer to the Attributes tool window and change the orientation property to vertical:

Changing LinearLayout orientation


With the conversion complete, select and delete the default TextView widget from the layout.

Adding the TableLayout to the User Interface

Remaining in the main_fragment.xml file and referring to the Layouts category of the Palette, drag and drop a TableLayout view so that it is positioned at the top of the LinearLayout canvas area.

Once these initial steps are complete, the Component Tree for the layout should resemble that shown in Figure 63-3.

TableLayout selected in Android Studio Component Tree



Clearly, Android Studio has automatically added four TableRow instances to the TableLayout. Since only three rows are required for this example, select and delete the fourth TableRow instance. Additional rows may be added to the TableLayout at any time by dragging the TableRow object from the palette and dropping it onto the TableLayout entry in the Component Tree tool window.

With the TableLayout selected, use the Attributes tool window to change the layout_height property to wrap_content and layout_width to match_parent.

Configuring the TableRows

From within the Text section of the palette, drag and drop two TextView objects onto the uppermost TableRow entry in the Component Tree (Figure 63-4):

TextViews added to an Android TableRow



Select the left most TextView within the screen layout and, in the Attributes tool window, change the text property to “Product ID”. Repeat this step for the right most TextView, this time changing the text to “Not assigned” and specifying an ID value of productID.

Drag and drop another TextView widget onto the second TableRow entry in the Component Tree and change the text on the view to read “Product Name”. Locate the Plain Text object in the palette and drag and drop it so that it is positioned beneath the Product Name TextView within the Component Tree as outlined in Figure 63-5. With the TextView selected, change the inputType property from textPersonName to None, delete the “Name” string from the text property and set the ID to productName.

Second TableRow configured



Drag and drop another TextView and a Number (Decimal) Text Field onto the third TableRow so that the TextView is positioned above the Text Field in the hierarchy. Change the text on the TextView to Product Quantity and the ID of the Text Field object to productQuantity.

Shift-click to select all of the widgets in the layout as shown in Figure 63-6 below, and use the Attributes tool window to set the textSize property on all of the objects to 18sp:

All TableRows in TableLayout selected



Before proceeding, be sure to extract all of the text properties added in the above steps to string resources.

Adding the Button Bar to the Layout

The next step is to add a LinearLayout (Horizontal) view to the parent LinearLayout view, positioned immediately below the TableLayout view. Begin by clicking on the small discolusre arrow to the left of the TableLayout entry in the Component Tree so that the TableRows are folded away from view. Drag a LinearLayout (Horizontal) instance from the Layouts section of the Layout Editor palette, drop it immediately beneath the TableLayout entry in the Component Tree panel and change the layout_height property to wrap_content:

LinearLayout Button bar added


Drag and drop three Button objects onto the new LinearLayout and assign string resources for each button that read “Add”, “Find” and “Delete” respectively. Buttons in this type of button bar arrangement should generally be displayed with a borderless style. For each button, use the Attributes tool window to change the style setting to Widget.AppCompat.Button.Borderless. Change the IDs for the buttons to addButton, deleteButton and findButton respectively.

The Frameless Button option



With the new horizontal LinearLayout view selected in the Component Tree change the gravity property to center_horizontal so that the buttons are centered horizontally within the display.

Adding the RecyclerView

In the Component Tree, click on the disclosure arrow to the right of the newly added horizontal LinearLayout entry to fold all of the children from view.

From the Containers section of the Palette, drag a RecyclerView instance and drop it onto the Component Tree so that it positioned beneath the button bar LinearLayout as shown in Figure 63-12. Take care to ensure the RecyclerView is added as a direct child of the parent vertical LinearLayout view and not as a child of the horizontal button bar LinearLayout.

Adding the RecyclerView to the layout



With the RecyclerView selected in the layout, change the ID of the view to product_recycler. Before proceeding, check that the hierarchy of the layout in the Component Tree panel matches that shown in the following figure:

The completed TableLayout tree


Adjusting the Layout Margins

All that remains is to adjust some of the layout settings. Begin by clicking on the first TableRow entry in the Component Tree panel so that it is selected. Hold down the Cmd/Ctrl-key on the keyboard and click in the second and third TableRows, the horizontal LinearLayout and the RecyclerView so that all five items are selected. In the Attributes panel, list all attributes, locate the Layout_Margin attributes category and, once located, change all the all value to 10dp as shown in Figure 63-10:

Adjusting Layout Margins



With margins set, the user interface should appear as illustrated in Figure 63-1.

Summary

The Android TableLayout container view provides a way to arrange view components in a row and column configuration. While the TableLayout view provides the overall container, each row and the cells contained therein are implemented via instances of the TableRow view. In this chapter, a user interface has been designed in Android Studio using the TableLayout and TableRow containers. The next chapter will add the functionality behind this user interface to implement the SQLite database capabilities using a repository and the Room persistence library.