Xamarin.Tips – Overriding Android Button Shadows/Elevation

Since Material Design’s implementation in the Android OS, some controls that ship with either the new styles, or with the App Compat packages place some under-the-cover restrictions on what you can do with the control by default. In this example, we will look at updating the App Compat Button Shadows and Elevation that ship with the control.

According to Material Design’s standards, “raised buttons” (versus flat buttons and floating action buttons) should have a resting elevation of 2dp, and an pressed/hover elevation of 8dp.

whatismaterial_3d_elevation_component02

This principle is also implemented in the App Compat Button. However, if you try to update the Elevation of your Button, you’ll notice that it won’t stay that way on the redraw, but will go right back to the 4dp it is by default.


supportButton.Elevation = 9; // set it directly
ViewCompat.SetElevation(supportButton, 9); // set using app compat method

...

Console.WriteLine(supportButton.Elevation); // will return 4...

So why is this? And how is Android creating the pressed animation automatically to increase the elevation? It certainly isn’t any code we’ve written. The answer is in the StateListAnimator property of the Button. The StateListAnimator is responsible for setting properties of the Button during certain states such as Enabled, Disabled, Focused, Pressed, etc. and is what is overriding the manual set of Button.Elevation.

You can override this in a few different ways to claim back full control. First, if you want to handle your different different states manually in your code, you can set the StateListAnimator to a new instance, or null, then set the Elevation to what you want.

In Code

supportButton.StateListAnimator = new StateListAnimator();
ViewCompat.SetElevation(supportButton, 9);

...

Console.WriteLine(supportButton.Elevation); // 9!

The most reusable way to do this is to subclass Button and set the StateListAnimator in the constructor:

CustomElevatingButton.cs

public class CustomElevatingButton : Android.Support.V7.Widget.AppCompatButton
{
    public CustomElevatingButton(Context context): base(context)
    {
        StateListAnimator = new StateListAnimator();
    }
}

Using Styles

Alternatively, you can set it using styles for your Button:

styles.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<resources>
    <style name="AppTheme" parent="AppTheme.Base">
    </style>
    <style name="AppTheme.Base" parent="Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar">
        <item name="android:buttonStyle">@style/NoShadowButton</item>
    </style>
    <style name="NoShadowButton" parent="android:style/Widget.Button">
        <item name="android:stateListAnimator">@null</item>
    </style>
</resources>

You can also do it per-button:

 styles.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<resources>
    <style name="AppTheme" parent="AppTheme.Base">
    </style>
    <style name="AppTheme.Base" parent="Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar">
        ...
    </style>
    <style name="NoShadowButton" parent="android:style/Widget.Button">
        <item name="android:stateListAnimator">@null</item>
    </style>
</resources>

some_layout.axml

...
<Button style="@style/NoShadowButton" ... />
...

In Xamarin.Forms

We can do the same thing in Xamarin.Forms with either a custom renderer or a custom Effect. In this example, we will create a universal Xamarin.Forms.Button custom renderer to set an explicit height:

ElevatedButtonRenderer

public class ElevatedButtonRenderer : Xamarin.Forms.Platform.Android.AppCompat.ButtonRenderer
{
    public override void OnElementChanged(ElementChangedEventArgs<Button> e)
    {
        StateListAnimator = null; // clear the state list animator
        Elevation = 9; // set the elevation
    }
}

Creating Your Own StateListAnimator

Of course, instead of clearing the StateListAnimator and handling your elevation manually, you could create your own to handle the states and animations however you want. Google has documentation included in the discussion about animations here. Here’s an example of creating and applying your own:

anim/reverse_state_list_animator.xml

<!-- animate the elevation property of a view when pressed -->
<selector xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">
  <item android:state_pressed="true">
    <set>
      <objectAnimator android:propertyName="elevation"
        android:duration="@android:integer/config_shortAnimTime"
        android:valueTo="0dp"
        android:valueType="floatType"/>
        <!-- you could have other objectAnimator elements
             here for "x" and "y", or other properties -->
    </set>
  </item>
  <item android:state_enabled="true"
    android:state_pressed="false"
    android:state_focused="true">
    <set>
      <objectAnimator android:propertyName="elevation"
        android:duration="100"
        android:valueTo="2dp"
        android:valueType="floatType"/>
    </set>
  </item>
</selector>

This animation will do the reverse of the Material Design Standard, and will take the Button elevation from 2dp to 0dp when pressed.

Now we just need to apply this animation resource to our Button style either universally or on a specific button:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<resources>
    <style name="AppTheme" parent="AppTheme.Base">
    </style>
    <style name="AppTheme.Base" parent="Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar">
        <item name="android:buttonStyle">@style/NoShadowButton</item>
    </style>
    <style name="NoShadowButton" parent="android:style/Widget.Button">
        <item name="android:stateListAnimator">@anim/reverse_state_list_animator</item>
    </style>
</resources>

Now pressing any button within the AppTheme will reverse the elevation property and go more “into” the view rather than elevating.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to follow me on twitter @Suave_Pirate, check out my GitHub, and subscribe to my blog to learn more mobile developer tips and tricks!

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