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Tabbed Applications in Android

, 6 Sep 2010
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Tutorial on creating tabbed applications in Android

Introduction

Sometimes, we want to wrap multiple views in a single window and navigate through them with a Tab Container. This can be done in Android using TabHost control.

There are two ways to use a TabHost application in Android:

  1. Using the TabHost to navigate through multiple views within the same activity.
  2. Using the TabHost to navigate through Actual multiple Activities using intents.

We will explain both ways through this tutorial.

Anatomy of Tabbed Application

An activity with a TabHost may look like this:

Tabs1.jpg

The Activity consists of:

  1. A TabHost: The root element of the layout
  2. The TabHost wraps a TabWidget which represents the tab bar.
  3. The TabHost wraps a FrameLayout which wraps the contents of each tab.

There are some rules that we must stick to when using a Tabbed activity:

  1. If the activity is of type TabActivity [optional], then the TabHost must have the id @android:id/tabhost.
  2. The TabWidget must have the id @android:id/tabs.
  3. The FrameLayout must have the id @android:id/tabcontent.

Now, let's see an example to an activity with multiple tabs.

This is the layout:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

    <TabHost android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:id="@+id/tabHost"
    xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    >
    <TabWidget
    android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    android:id="@android:id/tabs"
    />
     <FrameLayout
     android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:id="@android:id/tabcontent"
     >
     <LinearLayout
     android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    android:id="@+id/tab1"
    android:orientation="vertical"
    android:paddingTop="60px"
     >
     <TextView  
    android:layout_width="fill_parent" 
    android:layout_height="100px" 
    android:text="This is tab1"
    android:id="@+id/txt1"
    />    
    
     </LinearLayout>
     
     <LinearLayout
     android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:id="@+id/tab2"
    android:orientation="vertical"
    android:paddingTop="60px"
     >
     <TextView  
    android:layout_width="fill_parent" 
    android:layout_height="100px" 
    android:text="This is tab 2"
    android:id="@+id/txt2"
    />
   
     </LinearLayout>
     
      <LinearLayout
     android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:id="@+id/tab3"
    android:orientation="vertical"
    android:paddingTop="60px"
     >
     <TextView  
    android:layout_width="fill_parent" 
    android:layout_height="100px" 
    android:text="This is tab 3"
    android:id="@+id/txt3"
    />
   
     </LinearLayout>
     </FrameLayout>
    
    </TabHost>

Then in the code of our activity:

public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
setContentView(R.layout.main);
TabHost tabHost=(TabHost)findViewById(R.id.tabHost);
tabHost.setup();

TabSpec spec1=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 1");
spec1.setContent(R.id.tab1);
spec1.setIndicator("Tab 1");

TabSpec spec2=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 2");
spec2.setIndicator("Tab 2");
spec2.setContent(R.id.tab2);

TabSpec spec3=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 3");
spec3.setIndicator("Tab 3");
spec3.setContent(R.id.tab3);

tabHost.addTab(spec1);
tabHost.addTab(spec2);
tabHost.addTab(spec3);
}

is going to look like this:

Tabs2.jpg

  1. We create tabs using TabSpecs class.
  2. We set the title of each tab using TabSpecs.setIndicator() method.
  3. We set the content of each tab using TabSpecs.setContent() method.
  4. If you use TabActivity as a base class to your activity, you do not need to call TabHost.Setup() method.

We can add an icon to the title of the tab like this:

TabSpec spec1=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 1");
spec1.setContent(R.id.tab1);
spec1.setIndicator("Tab 1",getResources().getDrawable(R.drawable.flash));

TabSpec spec2=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 2");
spec2.setIndicator("Tab 2",getResources().getDrawable(R.drawable.sun));
spec2.setContent(R.id.tab2);

TabSpec spec3=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 3");
spec3.setIndicator("Tab 3",getResources().getDrawable(R.drawable.chart));
spec3.setContent(R.id.tab3);

It will look like this:

Tabs3.jpg

We can also specify the indicator to be a view:

TabSpec spec1=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 1");
spec1.setContent(R.id.tab1);
TextView txt=new TextView(this);
txt.setText("Tab 1");
txt.setBackgroundColor(Color.RED);
spec1.setIndicator(txt);

Setting the Content of Tabs

We saw how to set the contents of tabs by specifying multiple layout resources to be displayed within the same activity.

What if we have multiple Activities in our application and we want to navigate between them using tabs? In this case, we will have one activity as the root activity of the application.

This activity will have the TabHost and will navigate to other activities using Intents.

Note: The root activity must inherit from TabActivity. The root activity will have layout file like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <TabHost android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:id="@android:id/tabhost"
    xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    >
    <TabWidget
    android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    android:id="@android:id/tabs"
    />
     <FrameLayout
     android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:id="@android:id/tabcontent"
     >
     </FrameLayout>
    </TabHost>

The other activities will have a simple layout consisting of a TextView.

Now to the code of the root activity:

public class TabDemo extends TabActivity {
    /** Called when the activity is first created. */
    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
        setContentView(R.layout.main);

        TabHost tabHost=getTabHost();
        // no need to call TabHost.Setup()        
        
        //First Tab
        TabSpec spec1=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 1");
        spec1.setIndicator("Tab 1",getResources().getDrawable(R.drawable.sun));
        Intent in1=new Intent(this, Act1.class);
        spec1.setContent(in1);
        
        TabSpec spec2=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 2");
        spec2.setIndicator("Tab 2",getResources().getDrawable(R.drawable.chart));
        Intent in2=new Intent(this,Act2.class);
        spec2.setContent(in2);

        tabHost.addTab(spec2);
        tabHost.addTab(spec3);
    }
}

Tabs4.jpg

Adding Tabs at Run-time

We can add tabs to TabHost at run-time using TabSpec.setContent(TabContentFactory) method.

The TabContentFactory is an interface that requires the implementation of a callback method createTabContent(String tag) which returns the view to be added to the content of the tab. So in the last example, if we changed code that adds the content of the second tab to this:

TabSpec spec1=tabHost.newTabSpec("Tab 1");
        spec1.setIndicator("Tab 1",getResources().getDrawable(R.drawable.sun));

        spec1.setContent(new TabContentFactory() {
   
   @Override
   public View createTabContent(String tag) {
    // TODO Auto-generated method stub
    
    return (new AnalogClock(TabDemo.this));
   }
  });

the activity will look like this:

Tabs5.jpg

View more tutorials on http://android-pro.blogspot.com.

History

  • 6th September, 2010: Initial post

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Mina Samy
Software Developer Symbyo Technologies
Egypt Egypt
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionHello Mina! I have question about your tab example! PinmemberMo Kash5-Sep-13 20:54 
QuestionHow can I make swipe screen with tabwidget? PinmemberMember 1023628227-Aug-13 12:58 
AnswerRe: How can I make swipe screen with tabwidget? PinmemberMina Samy27-Aug-13 23:04 
QuestionThe type TabActivity is deprecated!!!!!!!!! Pinmembermoosa from iran2-Aug-13 13:05 
AnswerRe: The type TabActivity is deprecated!!!!!!!!! PinmemberMina Samy3-Aug-13 22:44 
Questionexcelente! PinmembervJjurado6-May-13 4:16 
QuestionTab Content Listener PinmemberPratik Butani26-Feb-13 20:27 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberPratik Butani26-Feb-13 20:26 
QuestionTabbed Applications in Android PinmemberAndroid00721-Jan-13 2:00 
Questionsetting up different layout from different activities Pinmemberc-lu2-Jan-13 23:24 
QuestionListView Pinmembernocodecrazy20-Nov-12 4:44 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberA.J Bosch21-Oct-12 23:23 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberkaramusti10-Sep-12 20:17 
QuestionBroadcastReceiver Pinmemberni306-Sep-12 23:17 
QuestionForce closure of tab application PinmemberAndyJava4-Sep-12 4:45 
AnswerRe: Force closure of tab application PinmemberMina Samy8-Sep-12 21:21 
QuestionNice and easy intro to tabs PinmemberMember 935106311-Aug-12 6:54 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberHatem Mostafa28-Mar-12 0:05 
QuestionBroken code PingroupMrFill24-Mar-12 4:58 
Questionsuper ??? Pinmemberfranmr23-Jul-11 13:45 
GeneralRe: super ??? PinmemberJaydeep Jadav24-Nov-11 17:33 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmemberwinroses2-Apr-11 2:07 
Questionsource codes? PinmemberSilenceCleaner3-Oct-10 2:12 

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