Quick tip: Quick Formatting of Android XML Files

One of the most useful tools in Android’s Eclipse plug-in is the Layout Editor. It is easy to experiment with layouts using the drag-and-drop enabled editor without having to worry about the correct syntax or if you are using the correct attribute name.

After creating your layout this way, however, you can end up with a messy XML file. I say “messy” in the sense that elements can run on in one veeeeeeeeeeeery long line, and if you are about to edit the XML file manually, this can be a nightmare.

I used to format the XML file by hand, putting in line breaks and correcting indentation. But one edit using the graphical layout editor and it’s messed up again. And then I had a light bulb moment. Eclipse allows auto-formatting of code, but what about XML files? AHA!

It turns out that auto-formatting works for XML files too! Simply select all the contents of the XML file (CTRL-A) and then press the ultra magical shortcut CTRL-I and your XML file is clean and orderly as can be! YAY!

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What happened to my layout editor?

There you are, happily creating your layout files in the Eclipse plug-in’s layout editor. Dragging and dropping is a breeze. But then one day, you open a layout XML file and boom! No UI! All you see is the XML tree with all the nodes and attributes. What happened?

This happened to me and I was in a panic for a few seconds. Why do things like these have to happen to me? I tried opening a layout file from another project in the same workspace, and it has the UI! What happened?

It probably has something to do with the interpreter you used to open the XML file, a voice in my head said. So I tried right-clicking on the XML file, and lo and behold, I found it. I may have accidentally clicked on some file in one of my mad-clicking moments and changed the setting.

So anyway, to bring back the Layout UI Editor, right click on an XML file > Choose Open With > Android Layout Editor.

I would say that everything is handy dandy, but apparently, the engineers at Google decided that we developers need a little less help and removed the very useful up and down arrow keys in the Outline View when editing XML layouts. Why do they hurt us like this?


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What grammar?

My OC side was alarmed when suddenly, my Problems view in Eclipse was filled with warnings on my XML files. Each of my XML files had a warning with it, and that little yellow exclamation mark on the side:<div>No grammar constraints (DTD or XML schema) detected for the document</div><div>
</div><div>So how do you get rid of it? Go to Window > Preferences > XML > XML Files > Validation then set Indicate when no grammar is specified to Ignore. Click on Apply.</div><div>
</div><div>Clean up your project (Project > Clean). </div><div>
</div><div>If the problem doesn’t go away, you may need to re-validate the XML files. Right click on the file then choose Validate from the popup menu. You can also right click on the folder (such as your res folder) and validate from there.</div>

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TextView and MaxLines

I have a TextView (who doesn’t?) and I want to adjust its height automatically, depending on the length of the text it will contain. Should be easy. It was, but it took me a couple of minutes to figure it out.<div>
</div><div>So I want my TextView to be by default one line tall, but be able to expand up to two lines. My initial set up was to set lines=1 and maxLines=2, but it was making the TextView always two lines. Not what I wanted! I went through the documentation again, read each word carefully, and then:
<pre class="brush:xml"><TextView android:id=”@+id/title”
android:text=”This is the text” /></pre>So it turned out that you have to set both minLines and maxLines. TADA!</div>

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Missing hierarchyviewer in SDK 7

If you have SDK version 7, you are most probably missing the hierarchyviewer from your /tools folder. To check your SDK version, launch the SDK manager UI from your installation path, usually C:\android-sdk-windows, then click About.
To run hierarchyviewer, you need to manually create the </code>hierarchyviewer.bat</code> file and add it to your <install_path>/tools directory. The text of the batch file can be copied from here.

And so, you can now run hierarchyviewer as you would if the SDK release isn’t effed up. Don’t know how to run it? Follow these steps:
a. In Windows, open up a terminal by running cmd.
b. Navigate to your SDK’s install path. Since I installed mine in C:\, I would have to type in cd C:\android-sdk-windows\tools
c. Type in hierarchyviewer at the prompt.

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More plurals: decimal values

In my previous post, I showed you how to set string plurals. If you noticed, the methods to get the plurals strings only accept ints. What if (like me) you want to display a decimal value? I am getting my raw value from a progress bar with a range of 1-10, with 0.1 increments.

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String Pluralization

Last week, I discovered Android’s support for plural strings by accident. And a good accident it was since I am working on an app that will display a float to the user. I used to display:

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It’s so fluffyyyyyyyyy!!!

<img src=http://www.despicable.me/pops/minionMaker/userpics/910156207.jpg width=”380” height=”473” alt=”I’ve created a Minion to join Gru’s Minion army.” />

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Quick string resource formatting

Sooner or later, you would want to display a message to your user with dynamic content. This may be the number of results, the user’s name, etc.

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