Xamarin.Tip – Adding a Password Toggle Button in Android

Here’s another quick tip to use when building your Android apps whether in Xamarin, or native in Java/Kotlin. Depending on the target audience of your application, you may find it necessary to add a password toggle button to your password EditText to allow users to view and hide their password while typing it.

In this post, we will explore how to do this in Android natively while future posts will cover iOS (which is more involved) as well as building a Xamarin.Forms custom Entry view (no renderer’s required!) to handle the toggling.

There are two places to achieve this in Android – in the xml of the layout resource, or in the code behind where manipulating the view. Luckily, Android (unlike iOS) has this feature built in to the properties of the TextInputLayout control.

We get the ability to show the button as well as apply a custom Drawable if we want!

Using the Layout Resource

Here is an example using the TextInputLayout from the xml side to wrap an EditText:

activity_login.axml

<android.support.design.widget.TextInputLayout
    android:id="@+id/password_layout"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    app:passwordToggleEnabled="true"
    app:passwordToggleTint="@android:color/white">
    <android.support.design.widget.TextInputEditText
        android:id="@+id/password_editText"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:password="true"
        android:hint="Password"
        android:textColor="@android:color/white"
        android:inputType="textPassword" />
</android.support.design.widget.TextInputLayout>

Notice the two properties:

app:passwordToggleEnabled="true"

and

app:passwordToggleTint="@android:color/white"

These are the two that control showing the password toggle. Alternatively, you can set the

app:passwordToggleDrawable="@drawable/someDrawable"

Using Code

If you’re manipulating your TextInputLayout in your code, you can also update these fields very easily:

LoginActivity.cs

public class LoginActivity : AppCompatActivity
{
    protected override void OnCreate(Bundle savedInstance)
    {
        base.OnCreate(savedInstance);
        SetContentView(Resource.Layout.activity_login);

        var editTextLayout = FindViewById<TextInputLayout>(Resource.Id.password_layout);

        editTextLayout.PasswordVisibilityToggleEnabled = true;
    }
}

That’s it!

Results

Take a look for yourself!

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 11.04.31 AM
Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 11.04.40 AM


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!

Interested in sponsoring developer content? Message @Suave_Pirate on twitter for details.

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Xamarin.Tip – Embed Your Xamarin.Forms Pages in Your Android Activities

The number one complaint I hear about Xamarin.Forms is the slow startup time of the applications that use it. The team at Xamarin has done a lot to help with this and give some more options such as XAML Compilation, Lazy Loading, and Ahead of Time Compilation. Check out some of David Ortinau’s suggestions here: 5 Ways to Boost Xamarin.Forms App Startup Time.

However, one of the best ways I’ve found to help with this issue is to use Xamarin.Forms Embedding to its full potential. Embedding became available in Xamarin.Forms 2.5 and at a high level allows you to embed your Xamarin.Forms pages into your Native Xamarin views by using the extension methods .CreateFragment(Context context); for Android and .CreateViewController(); for iOS. This is most commonly used for when you want to share some UI in your Xamarin Native apps using Xamarin.Forms, however you still need to call Xamarin.Forms.Init() which is one of the main culprits in the slow startup time.

The solution proposed here still allows you to create almost all of your views in Xamarin.Forms by using embedding, but requires some architecture and design changes. The premise is this:

  • First Activity is non-Xamarin.Forms and loads your app right away
  • Init Xamarin.Forms after this activity is loaded
  • Embed Xamarin.Forms pages in other Activities
  • Lift navigation out of Xamarin.Forms and into the native navigation.

This also has advantages outside the startup time such as better performance on transitions, more natural look and feel to end-users, performance gains in other areas, and a smaller app-size.

This means:

  • No NavigationPage
  • No Xamarin.Forms toolbar (using the native Toolbar control instead)
  • Still have MVVM and all our bindings we would expect

So if you’re already using a framework that is not tied down to Xamarin.Forms such as MvvmLight, you don’t have to change much behind the scenes since the INavigationService is abstracted.

Let’s kick this off by creating an inheritable Activity that handles the embedding and layout how we want.

xamarin_forms_activity.axml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"    
    xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:orientation="vertical">
    <android.support.design.widget.AppBarLayout     
        android:id="@+id/appbar"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="?android:attr/actionBarSize"
        android:layout_gravity="top"
        app:elevation="0dp">
        <android.support.v7.widget.Toolbar
            android:id="@+id/toolbar"
            android:layout_width="match_parent"
            android:layout_height="?android:attr/actionBarSize"
            app:popupTheme="@style/ThemeOverlay.AppCompat.Light" />
    </android.support.design.widget.AppBarLayout>
    <FrameLayout
        android:id="@+id/fragment_container"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="match_parent" />
</LinearLayout>

This layout gives us the native Android toolbar (with the shadow! Another plus!) and a space for us to embed in this FrameLayout.

Now let’s create the Activity:

XamarinFormsActivity.cs

/// <summary>
/// Base xamarin forms activity.
/// This activity contains a single fragment in the layout and renders the fragment pulled from the Xamarin.Forms page
/// </summary>
public abstract class XamarinFormsActivity<TPage> : AppCompatActivity
    where TPage : ContentPage, new()
{
    protected readonly TPage _page;
    protected int _containerLayoutId = Resource.Layout.activity_fragment_container;
    public Android.Support.V7.Widget.Toolbar Toolbar { get; set; }
    public AppBarLayout AppBar { get; set; }

    public XamarinFormsActivity()
    {
        _page = new TPage();
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Creates the activity and maps the Xamarin.Forms page to the fragment
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="savedInstanceState">Saved instance state.</param>
    protected override void OnCreate(Android.OS.Bundle savedInstanceState)
    {
        base.OnCreate(savedInstanceState);
        SetContentView(Resource.Layout.xamarin_forms_activity);

        Toolbar = FindViewById<Android.Support.V7.Widget.Toolbar>(Resource.Id.toolbar);
        if (Toolbar?.Parent != null)
        {
            AppBar = Toolbar?.Parent as AppBarLayout;
            SetSupportActionBar(Toolbar);
        }

        // register the fragment
        var transaction = SupportFragmentManager.BeginTransaction();
        transaction.Add(Resource.Id.fragment_container, _page.CreateSupportFragment(this));
        transaction.Commit();
        SupportActionBar?.SetDisplayHomeAsUpEnabled(true);
        SupportActionBar?.SetDisplayShowHomeEnabled(true);
        Toolbar?.SetBackgroundColor(Android.Graphics.Color.White);
        // everything else from this point should be managed by the Xamarin.Forms page behind the fragment
    }
}

So now we can create a simple Xamarin.Forms page:

SomePage.xaml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<ContentPage xmlns="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms" 
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2009/xaml"     x:Class="MyApp.Pages.SomePage">
    <ContentPage.Content>
        <Grid>
            <Label Text="I'm Embedded!" HorizontalOptions="Center" VerticalOptions="Center"/>
        </Grid>
    </ContentPage.Content>
</ContentPage>

Then create the associated Activity:

SomeActivity.cs

public class SomeActivity : XamarinFormsActivity<SomePage>
{
    protected override void OnCreate(Bundle savedInstance)
    {
        SupportActionBar.Title = "Some Page";
    }
}

Now all we have to do is kick off this SomeActivity after calling Xamarin.Forms.Init() and we are good to go! If we have a MainActivity we can call it before navigating if it isn’t initialized, or execute it in OnResume or a similar lifecycle event.

MainActivity.cs

public class MainActivity : AppCompatActivity 
{    

    protected override void OnCreate(Bundle savedInstance)
    {
        base.OnCreate(savedInstance);
        SetContentView(Resource.Layout.main_activity);
        var someButton = FindViewBy<Button>(Resource.Id.some_button);
        someButton.Click += delegate 
        {
             if(!Xamarin.Forms.Forms.IsInitialized)
                 Xamarin.Forms.Forms.Init(this, savedInstance);
             StartActivity(typeof(SomeActivity));
        }
    } 
}

And there you have it! Some new Xamarin.Forms embedding for performance and other extra benefits 🙂

In future posts of this subject, we’ll look at the same setup for iOS, extending interactions between the Xamarin.Forms Page and the native Activity and ViewControllers, using advanced native components with the embedded Xamarin.Forms Page, and more!

Let me know what you think of this pattern – have you used it? What else would you want to hear about it??

Be sure to checkout some of the Xamarin examples on embedding too!


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!

Interested in sponsoring developer content? Message @Suave_Pirate on twitter for details.

Android Kotlin Basics – Lazy Loading Images with Picasso

About This Series

This “Android Kotlin Basics” blog series is all about fundamentals. We’ll take a look at the basics of building Android apps with Kotlin from the SUPER basics, to the standard basics, to the not-so-basics. We’ll also be drawing comparisons to how things are done in Kotlin vs. Java and some other programming languages to build Android apps (like C# and Xamarin or JavaScript/TypeScript for Hybrid implementations).

Find other posts in this series: Android Kotlin Basics

Check Out the Pluralsight Course!

If you like this series, be sure to check out my course on Pluralsight – Building Android Apps with Kotlin: Getting Started where you can learn more while building your own real-world application in Kotlin along the way. You can also join the conversation and test your knowledge throughout the course with learning checks through each module!

Watch it here: https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/building-android-apps-kotlin-getting-started/table-of-contents

Lazy Loading Images with Picasso

Loading images from remote sources without help can be a pain in Android development. You need to make the http request against the url, download the bytes of the image, create a Bitmap from those bytes, then render that BitMap in an ImageView. Not only is that tedious, but it also leaves room for tons of errors and especially the dreaded OutOfMemoryException that happens oh so often when trying to render large images in Android.

There are some really great libraries out there for helping face this issue that can also provide some other useful tools such as filtering, extensions, customizing, and more.

In the course we use Picasso which is a library by Square to help lazy load images. Find it here: http://square.github.io/picasso/

Picasso does a great job loading images asynchronously and handles rendering them with proper scale. It does a great job handling this performance in ListViews and RecyclerViews as well. This is exactly how we use it in our real-world app that we build in the course!

Picasso also has some great features with creating custom transformations or extending the functionality. In this post we will stick to the basics though. If you want to get into details check out the Java documentation at their website. Copy and pasting that into a Kotlin file in Android studio will also automatically translate it for you!

Installing

Picasso can be installed 3 ways:
– Gradle (what we use in the course)
– Maven
– Manual

To install with gradle, add:

implementation 'com.squareup.picasso:picasso:2.71828'

to your build.gradle config.

For maven use:

<dependency>
  <groupId>com.squareup.picasso</groupId>
  <artifactId>picasso</artifactId>
  <version>2.71828</version>
</dependency>

And if you want to do it manually, download the jar from http://square.github.io/picasso/ and reference it in your project.

Basic Image Loading

Now that you have Picasso in your project, lets look at how we can do simple image loading.

Let’s start with a simple layout:

activity_main.xml

<RelativeLayout 
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:layout_width="match_parent">
    <ImageView android:id="@+id/myImageView"
        android:layout_height="match_parent"
        android:layout_width="match_parent" />
</RelativeLayout>

Now in our Activity code, we can load the image from the url in the onCreate override.

class MainActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
        setContentView(R.layout.activity_main)

        // load the image with Picasso
        Picasso
            .with(this) // give it the context
            .load("https://i.imgur.com/H981AN7.jpg") // load the image
            .into(myImageView) // select the ImageView to load it into
    }
}

If you’re unsure of why we didn’t need to call

val myImageView = findViewByid<ImageView>(R.id.myImageView)

Check out my post on how Kotlin automatically maps views to properties by id: Android Kotlin Basics – Auto-mapping Views

And that’s it! Now you have automatically handled all performance concerns, caching needs, sizing and downloading, and so much more!

Using in a RecyclerView

So loading a single image into a single ImageView isn’t so bad on its own, but when you have to load high-res images into large lists that can change all the time, there are a lot of places this can go wrong doing it yourself. Developers often run into:
– Lag on new items appearing
– Mismatched images
– No images loading
– Images loading incorrectly
– Dreaded Out of Memory Exceptions

Because Picasso runs the image loading asynchronously and only touches the UI thread when it needs to render the image itself, it avoid the issues of locking the UI up when loading. Because it also caches the images locally, when the image needs to be loaded again (such as scrolling back up), it does so quickly and can void mismatching renderings. Also, because it renders the image in chunks before showing it, they avoid the easy to find Out of Memory Exception that we have all come to hate when trying to render a large image into an ImageView. Normally to avoid this, you have to manually load a scaled down image into memory and handle how you scale it per image. Picasso does all this for us too.

On top of all that, Picasso ships with some of the nice-to-haves such as:
– Transitions when images load or change
– Placeholder images to show while loading from a url
– Transformations on images once loaded
– Debugging indicators to show where the image loaded from

All these great features even scale to these large lists and RecyclerViews.

Before showing how to use it in your RecyclerView, be sure to check out the other post in this series: Android Kotlin Basics – RecyclerView and Adapters unless you’re already familiar with how RecyclerViews and Adapters work 🙂

We can create a layout for our item in our list:

image_item.xml

<ImageView android:id="@+id/myImageView"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:layout_width="match_parent" />

Then a ViewHolder for this image:

ImageHolder.kt

class ImageHolder(itemView: View) : RecyclerView.ViewHolder(itemView) {
    private val myImageView: ImageView = itemView.findViewById<ImageView>(R.id.myImageView)

    fun updateWithUrl(url: String) {
        Picasso.with(itemView.context).load(url).into(myImageView)
    }
}

Now let’s create our Adapter with our datasource:

ImagesAdapter.kt

class ImageAdapter() : RecyclerView.Adapter<ImageHolder>() {
    val imageUrls: Array<string>

    init {
        imageUrls = arrayOf("https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg", "https://i.imgur.com/kUCMPWX.jpg")
    }

    override fun getItemCount(): Int {
        return imageUrls.size;
    }

    override fun onBindViewHolder(holder: ImageHolder?, position: Int) {
        var imageUrl = imageUrls[position]
        holder?.updateWithUrl(imageUrl)
    }

    override fun onCreateViewHolder(parent: ViewGroup?, viewType: Int): ImageHolder {
        var imageItem = LayoutInflater.from(parent?.context).inflate(R.layout.image_item, parent, false)
        return ImageHolder(imageItem)
    }
}

Last we just need to create our Activity and wireup the Adapter!

activity_main.xml

<RelativeLayout 
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:layout_width="match_parent">    
    <android.support.v7.widget.RecyclerView
        android:id="@+id/imageRecycler"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="match_parent"/>
</RelativeLayout>

MainActivity.kt

class MainActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
        setContentView(R.layout.activity_main)

        imageRecycler.layoutManager = LinearLayoutManager(this)
        imageRecycler.adapter = ImageAdapter()
    }
}

Now we can quickly scroll through our list and see the images loaded quickly and properly into our view!

dogs


Also, let me know what else you’d like to learn about with Android and Kotlin! Either drop a comment here or tweet at me @Suave_Pirate!

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!

Interested in sponsoring developer content? Message @Suave_Pirate on twitter for details.

Xamarin.Tip – Dynamic Elevation Frames

How about some more Material Design based controls for Xamarin.Forms?

A while back I wrote about creating more “Material” Frames in your Xamarin.Forms apps using a custom renderer for iOS: Xamarin.Tip – Making Your iOS Frame Shadows More Material

And also wrote about the MaterialButton control I created that added dynamic Elevation properties for both iOS and Android:
Xamarin.Tip – Adding Dynamic Elevation to Your Xamarin.Forms Buttons

And I’ve been getting requests to talk about how to do it with the Frame control in Xamarin.Forms. Spoiler Alert: It’s basically the exact same thing as the MaterialButton…..

Let’s start by creating a custom Frame class in our Xamarin.Forms project:

MaterialFrame.cs

public class MaterialFrame : Frame
{
    public static BindableProperty ElevationProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(Elevation), typeof(float), typeof(MaterialButton), 4.0f);

    public float Elevation
    {
        get
        {
            return (float)GetValue(ElevationProperty);
        }
        set
        {
            SetValue(ElevationProperty, value);
        }
    }
}

We add our bindable Elevation property with a default value of 4.

Now we just need simple custom renderers for our iOS and Android implementations.

Starting with iOS:

MaterialFrameRenderer_iOS.cs

public class MaterialFrameRenderer : FrameRenderer
{
    public static void Initialize()
    {
        // empty, but used for beating the linker
    }
    protected override void OnElementChanged(ElementChangedEventArgs<Frame> e)
    {
        base.OnElementChanged(e);

        if (e.NewElement == null)
            return;
        UpdateShadow();
    }

    protected override void OnElementPropertyChanged(object sender, PropertyChangedEventArgs e)
    {
        base.OnElementPropertyChanged(sender, e);
        if(e.PropertyName == "Elevation")
        {
            UpdateShadow();
        }
    }

    private void UpdateShadow()
    {

        var materialFrame = (MaterialFrame)Element;

        // Update shadow to match better material design standards of elevation
        Layer.ShadowRadius = materialFrame.Elevation;
        Layer.ShadowColor = UIColor.Gray.CGColor;
        Layer.ShadowOffset = new CGSize(2, 2);
        Layer.ShadowOpacity = 0.80f;
        Layer.ShadowPath = UIBezierPath.FromRect(Layer.Bounds).CGPath;
        Layer.MasksToBounds = false;

    }
}

And now the simple Android renderer that can use the built in Elevation properties

MaterialFrameRenderer_Android.cs

public class MaterialFrameRenderer : Xamarin.Forms.Platform.Android.AppCompat.FrameRenderer
{
    protected override void OnElementChanged(ElementChangedEventArgs<Frame> e)
    {
        base.OnElementChanged(e);
        if (e.NewElement == null)
            return;

        UpdateElevation();
    }


    private void UpdateElevation()
    {
        var materialFrame= (MaterialFrame)Element;

        // we need to reset the StateListAnimator to override the setting of Elevation on touch down and release.
        Control.StateListAnimator = new Android.Animation.StateListAnimator();

        // set the elevation manually
        ViewCompat.SetElevation(this, materialFrame.Elevation);
        ViewCompat.SetElevation(Control, materialFrame.Elevation);
    }

    protected override void OnElementPropertyChanged(object sender, PropertyChangedEventArgs e)
    {
        base.OnElementPropertyChanged(sender, e);
        if(e.PropertyName == "Elevation")
        {
            UpdateElevation();
        }
    }
}

Now with both our renderers, we can reference our MaterialFrame component in our content!

<ContentPage ...>
    <StackLayout>
        <components:MaterialFrame Elevation="6" />
        <components:MaterialFrame Elevation="{Binding SomeNumber}"/>
    </StackLayout>
</ContentPage>

And that’s it! Now you can control the elevation of your frames for both iOS and Android in Xamarin.Forms:
iOSMaterialFrameAndLabel


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!

Interested in sponsoring developer content? Message @Suave_Pirate on twitter for details.

Xamarin.Tip – Create an Initials Circle View

A while back, I put up a helpful Xamarin.Tip on how to create a simple CircleView in Xamarin.Forms for a BadgeView control – Xamarin.Controls – BadgeView

Since then, I’ve used this simple concept to create some more useful controls that are unique and dynamic in their own way. In this post, we will look at using the CircleView to create an InitialsCircleView. This view is a simple Xamarin.Forms control to show a person’s initials. It is extremely useful in place of user avatars or profile pictures and can add a nice touch to your User Interface without much work at all.

Let’s start by re-iterating how to build a simple CircleView:

In your Xamarin.Forms project, create a new class:

CircleView.cs

public class CircleView : BoxView
{
    public static readonly BindableProperty CornerRadiusProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(CornerRadius), typeof(double), typeof(CircleView), 0.0);

    public double CornerRadius
    {
        get { return (double)GetValue(CornerRadiusProperty); }
        set { SetValue(CornerRadiusProperty, value); }
    }

    public CircleView()
    {
    }
}

And create your native renderers:

AndroidCircleViewRenderer.cs

public class CircleViewRenderer : BoxRenderer
{
    private float _cornerRadius;
    private RectF _bounds;
    private Path _path;

    public CircleViewRenderer(Context context)
        : base(context)
    {

    }

    protected override void OnElementChanged(ElementChangedEventArgs<BoxView> e)
    {
        base.OnElementChanged(e);

        if (Element == null)
        {
            return;
        }
        var element = (CircleView)Element;

        _cornerRadius = TypedValue.ApplyDimension(ComplexUnitType.Dip, (float)element.CornerRadius, Context.Resources.DisplayMetrics);

    }

    protected override void OnSizeChanged(int w, int h, int oldw, int oldh)
    {
        base.OnSizeChanged(w, h, oldw, oldh);
        if ((w != oldw && h != oldh) || _bounds == null)
        {
            _bounds = new RectF(0, 0, w, h);
        }

        _path = new Path();
        _path.Reset();
        _path.AddRoundRect(_bounds, _cornerRadius, _cornerRadius, Path.Direction.Cw);
        _path.Close();
    }

    public override void Draw(Canvas canvas)
    {
        canvas.Save();
        canvas.ClipPath(_path);
        base.Draw(canvas);
        canvas.Restore();
    }
}

iOSCircleViewRenderer.cs

public class CircleViewRenderer : BoxRenderer
{
    protected override void OnElementChanged(ElementChangedEventArgs<BoxView> e)
    {
        base.OnElementChanged(e);

        if (Element == null)
            return;

        Layer.MasksToBounds = true;
        Layer.CornerRadius = (float)((CircleView)Element).CornerRadius / 2.0f;
    }
}

Okay, cool we can draw circles in Xamarin.Forms easily with

<suave:CircleView .../>

So now let’s build a Xamarin.Forms component on top of this for our InitialsCircleView. The key pieces to making this view unique and cool is:

  • Circle color
  • Font size
  • Font color
  • Font family
  • Circle Radius (in case you don’t really want a circle)

Let’s write the ContentView in XAML, but you could easily do it in C# too:

InitialsCircleView.xaml

<ContentView xmlns="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms" 
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2009/xaml" 
    xmlns:components="clr-namespace:SuaveControls.Components"
    x:Class="SuaveControls.Components.InitialsCircleView">
    <ContentView.Content>
        <Grid x:Name="Container">
            <components:CircleView x:Name="Circle" Margin="16" HorizontalOptions="Fill" VerticalOptions="Fill" Color="{Binding CircleColor}" CornerRadius="{Binding CornerRadius}"/>
            <Label x:Name="InitialsLabel" VerticalOptions="Center" HorizontalOptions="Center" HorizontalTextAlignment="Center" TextColor="{Binding TextColor}" Font="{Binding Font}" FontSize="{Binding FontSize}" />
        </Grid>
    </ContentView.Content>
</ContentView>

So now we have the layout of our InitialsCirlceView, let’s look at the code behind to see how we apply all these different properties and bind them to this internal view:

InitialsCircleView.xaml.cs

public partial class InitialsCircleView : ContentView
{
    public static BindableProperty CircleColorProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(CircleColor), typeof(Color), typeof(InitialsCircleView), Color.White);
    public static BindableProperty TextColorProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(TextColor), typeof(Color), typeof(InitialsCircleView), Color.White);
    public static BindableProperty FontSizeProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(FontSize), typeof(int), typeof(InitialsCircleView), 14);
    public static BindableProperty FontProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(Font), typeof(Font), typeof(InitialsCircleView), Font.Default);
    public static BindableProperty CornerRadiusProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(CornerRadius), typeof(double), typeof(InitialsCircleView), 0.0, propertyChanged: (bindable, oldVal, newVal) =>
    {
        var initialsView = bindable as InitialsCircleView;
        if (initialsView != null)
            initialsView.UpdateCornerRadius((double)newVal);
    });
    public static BindableProperty NameProperty = BindableProperty.Create(nameof(Name), typeof(string), typeof(InitialsCircleView), string.Empty, 
    propertyChanged: (bindable, oldVal, newVal) =>
    {
        var initialsView = bindable as InitialsCircleView;
        if (initialsView != null)
            initialsView.UpdateTextWithName(newVal?.ToString());
    });

    public double CornerRadius
    {
        get
        {
            return (double)GetValue(CornerRadiusProperty);
        }
        set
        {
            SetValue(CornerRadiusProperty, value);
        }
    }
    public string Name
    {
        get
        {
            return (string)GetValue(NameProperty);
        }
        set
        {
            SetValue(NameProperty, value);
        }
    }
    public int FontSize
    {
        get
        {
            return (int)GetValue(FontSizeProperty);
        }
        set
        {
            SetValue(FontSizeProperty, value);
        }
    }
    public Font Font
    {
        get
        {
            return (Font)GetValue(FontProperty);
        }
        set
        {
            SetValue(FontProperty, value);
        }
    }
    public Color CircleColor
    {
        get
        {
            return (Color)GetValue(CircleColorProperty);
        }
        set
        {
            SetValue(CircleColorProperty, value);
        }
    }
    public Color TextColor
    {
        get
        {
            return (Color)GetValue(TextColorProperty);
        }
        set
        {
            SetValue(TextColorProperty, value);
        }
    }


    public InitialsCircleView()
    {
        InitializeComponent();
        Container.BindingContext = this;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Updates the name of the text with.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="name">Name.</param>
    private void UpdateTextWithName(string name)
    {
        if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(name))
            return;

        var separateWords = name.Split(' ');
        if(separateWords.Length > 0)
        {
            var initialsArray = separateWords.Select(word => word[0].ToString().ToUpper()).ToArray(); // array of string of initials upper cased
            if(initialsArray.Length > 1)
            {
                // grab the first and last
                initialsArray = new string[2] { initialsArray[0], initialsArray[initialsArray.Length - 1] };
            }
            var initialsString = string.Join(string.Empty, initialsArray);
            InitialsLabel.Text = initialsString;
        }
        else
        {
            InitialsLabel.Text = string.Empty;
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Updates the corner radius.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="radius">Radius.</param>
    private void UpdateCornerRadius(double radius)
    {
        Circle.CornerRadius = radius;
    }
}

We have a few properties that are directly bound to the subviews in the XAML which is facilitated by applying the Container.BindingContext = this;.

We also have a property for Name which invokes the internal UpdateTextWithName method. This in turn takes the name of a person, grabs the initials, and sets the text of the Label to it. So we can then use it by just passing a person or thing’s name and let it figure out the initials naturally. So if we say:

var initialsCirle = new InitialsCirlceView
{
    Name = "Alex Dunn"
}

The output will be “AD” in the cirlce.

Here’s how you can now use it in your XAML:

MainPage.xaml

...
<components:InitialsCircleView 
    CircleColor="Red"
    FontSize="32" 
    Name="Alex Dunn" 
    VerticalOptions="Center" 
    HorizontalOptions="Center" 
    TextColor="White" 
    CornerRadius="90" 
    WidthRequest="120" 
    HeightRequest="120"/>

...

Here’s what it looks like!
InitialsCircle

You can also create XAML Styles for it instead of managing all the colors and font options everywhere you use it.


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!

Interested in sponsoring developer content? Message @Suave_Pirate on twitter for details.

Xamarin.Tip – Add Easter Eggs on Shake

Here’s a quick and fun tip to add a little flare to your Xamarin applications whether in Xamarin.Forms or Xamarin Native! In a later post, we will also look at how to use the Shake Gesture to create useful tools for yourself as a developer, or for your users! This fun post is the foundation for the more serious stuff and will show you how to use the Shake Recognition to do just about anything you want.

In order to handle shake gestures natively, we have to write some Xamarin Native code, but we will assume you are using Xamarin.Forms. We’ll start with Android.

Android Shake Detection

Android is the more complicated between the two major platforms. The process is basically this:

  • Listen to Accelerometer events
  • Check value changes of the x, y, and z axis
  • Compare deltas against a threshold to determine if motion is a shake
  • Execute the fun stuff!

Let’s do this in the MainActivity since every Xamarin.Forms application needs at least that. If you are using Xamarin Native or a mix, then you may want to implement this elsewhere such as your Application class or abstracted with a shared BaseActvity or add it as a field to the Activities you want it in.

MainActivity.cs

/// <summary>
/// Main Activity and entry point for Xamarin.Forms
/// </summary>
public class MainActivity : Activity, Android.Hardware.ISensorEventListener
{
    #region Shake properties
    bool hasUpdated = false;
    DateTime lastUpdate;
    float lastX = 0.0f;
    float lastY = 0.0f;
    float lastZ = 0.0f;

    const int ShakeDetectionTimeLapse = 250;
    const double ShakeThreshold = 800;
    #endregion


    /// <summary>
    /// Sets up the internal lifecycle for registering views and the shake detection
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="savedInstanceState">Saved instance state.</param>
    protected override void OnCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState)
    {
        base.OnCreate(savedInstanceState);

        // all the other set up stuff here

        // shake management set up
        // Register this as a listener with the underlying service.
        var sensorManager = GetSystemService(SensorService) as Android.Hardware.SensorManager;
        var sensor = sensorManager.GetDefaultSensor(Android.Hardware.SensorType.Accelerometer);
        sensorManager.RegisterListener(this, sensor, Android.Hardware.SensorDelay.Game);

    }


    #region Android.Hardware.ISensorEventListener implementation

    /// <summary>
    /// Handles when the sensor range changes
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sensor">Sensor.</param>
    /// <param name="accuracy">Accuracy.</param>
    public void OnAccuracyChanged(Android.Hardware.Sensor sensor, Android.Hardware.SensorStatus accuracy)
    {
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Detects sensor changes and is set up to listen for shakes.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="e">E.</param>
    public async void OnSensorChanged(Android.Hardware.SensorEvent e)
    {
        if (e.Sensor.Type == Android.Hardware.SensorType.Accelerometer)
        {
            var x = e.Values[0];
            var y = e.Values[1];
            var z = e.Values[2];

            // use to check against last time it was called so we don't register every delta
            var currentTime = DateTime.Now;
            if (hasUpdated == false)
            {
                hasUpdated = true;
                lastUpdate = currentTime;
                lastX = x;
                lastY = y;
                lastZ = z;
            }
            else
            {
                if ((currentTime - lastUpdate).TotalMilliseconds > ShakeDetectionTimeLapse)
                {
                    var diffTime = (float)(currentTime - lastUpdate).TotalMilliseconds;
                    lastUpdate = currentTime;
                    var total = x + y + z - lastX - lastY - lastZ;
                    var speed = Math.Abs(total) / diffTime * 10000;

                    if (speed > ShakeThreshold)
                    {
                        // We have a shake folks!
                        await EasterEggAsync();
                    }

                    lastX = x;
                    lastY = y;
                    lastZ = z;
                }
            }
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Execute the easter egg async.
    /// </summary>
    protected virtual async Task EasterEggAsync()
    {
        // HEY OVER HERE! DO SOMETHING COOL!
    }
#endregion

}

Now all you have to do is add whatever your easter egg logic is in the EasterEggAsync method! In this method, you can also track what the current Xamarin.Forms Page is visible by tracking the App.Current.MainPage to add some context to the page your in.

Now let’s look at the iOS implementation.

iOS Shake Detection

iOS makes this process a whole lot easier. We don’t have to do any crazy accelerometer calculations, state tracking, or any of the gross stuff above for Android. Instead, we simply use the built in Gesture API from UIKit and register that we are listening to these types of gestures in the AppDelegate:

AppDelegate.cs

[Register("AppDelegate")]
public class AppDelegate : UIApplicationDelegate
{

    public override UIWindow Window { get; set; }
    public static AppDelegate Current { get; private set; }


    public override bool FinishedLaunching(UIApplication application, NSDictionary launchOptions)
    {
        // Allow shake detection
        UIApplication.SharedApplication.ApplicationSupportsShakeToEdit = true;

        // make this more accessible
        Current = this;
        Forms.Init();

        // we did it! the app is launched!
        return true;
    }
}

Now that we have registered with the UIApplication.SharedApplication.ApplicationSupportsShakeToEdit, we can start overriding the gesture recognizer. If you’re using Xamarin.Forms, you can do this right in the AppDelegate but if you’re not, then you can use this override method in any ViewController or even any sub-UIView class!

/// <summary>
/// Handles when a general motion has ended on the view controller. 
/// We use this to detect the shake of the phone to execute and easter egg
/// </summary>
/// <param name="motion">Motion.</param>
/// <param name="evt">Evt.</param>
public override async void MotionEnded(UIEventSubtype motion, UIEvent evt)
{
    Console.WriteLine("Motion detected");
    if (motion == UIEventSubtype.MotionShake)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("and was a shake");

        await EasterEggAsync();
    }
}

/// <summary>
/// Execute the easter egg async.
/// </summary>
protected virtual async Task EasterEggAsync()
{
    // HEY OVER HERE! DO SOMETHING COOL!
}

// if you're in the view controller then you also need to:

public override bool CanBecomeFirstResponder
{
    get
    {
        return true;
    }
}

/// <summary>
/// Enables the first responder set to allow for shake detection
/// </summary>
/// <param name="animated">If set to <c>true</c> animated.</param>
public override void ViewWillAppear(bool animated)
{
    base.ViewWillAppear(animated);
    this.BecomeFirstResponder();
    // .. other logic
}

Doing this enabled the gesture to be picked up at the application level or in the current UIViewController. You need to ensure the CanBecomeFirstResponder is true and that you call BecomeFirstResponder() on appearing so that the MotionEnded override can be called.

Once again, just fill in the EasterEggAsync method with whatever easter egg you want to invoke!

Conclusion

Easter eggs can make a neat experience in your mobile applications, but using this shake gesture can also help make debugging easier as well as give a QA team the chance to quickly move through stories in the app. In a future post, we will talk more about these possibilities and the benefits of building testing and development options into your apps for testing rather than user-focused and fun easter eggs.


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!

Interested in sponsoring developer content? Message @Suave_Pirate on twitter for details.

Xamarin.Tip – Expanding ViewCells

Here’s another helpful Xamarin tip to allow you to expand your ViewCells – for example when the user taps a ViewCell, expand it to reveal more information.
Take this gif as an example:

ExpandingCell

There are 3 major parts to making a feature like this work:
1. Bind visibility to the hidden parts of your cell
2. Handle updating that visibility on selection or tap
3. Force the ViewCell to remeasure its size to show the hidden bits.

Let’s first create a new class called ExpandingViewCell:

ExpandingViewCell.cs

/// <summary>
/// Expanding view cell.
/// </summary>
public class ExpandingViewCell : ViewCell
{
    protected override void OnTapped()
    {
        base.OnTapped();
        ForceUpdateSize();
    }
}

Yeah it’s literally that stupid easy. Override OnTapped and call ForceUpdateSize(). However, it’s important to note that this is so easy because of the order – calling the base.OnTapped() first allows for your click / select events to fire off before measuring the size. This means that if we bind an update to show / hide certain controls on tap, those will show first, then we remeasure to make sure they fit.

Here’s the XAML for the ViewCell shown in the gif above:

<components:ExpandingViewCell>
    <StackLayout Orientation="Vertical" Spacing="4" Padding="64,8,16,8" Margin="0">
        <Label Text="{Binding DateLabel}" IsVisible="{Binding ShowDate}" Style="{DynamicResource BodySecondary}" HorizontalOptions="End" HorizontalTextAlignment="End" />
        <Frame CornerRadius="12" Padding="12" Margin="0" BackgroundColor="{Binding MessageColor, Converter={StaticResource ColorConverter}}" VerticalOptions="Center" HorizontalOptions="EndAndExpand" effects:LongPressedEffect.Command="{Binding Path=BindingContext.MessageOptionsCommand,Source={x:Reference Page}}" effects:LongPressedEffect.CommandParameter="{Binding .}">
            <Frame.Effects>
                <effects:LongPressedEffect />
            </Frame.Effects>
            <Label Text="{Binding Content}" Style="{DynamicResource BodySecondary}" />
        </Frame>
        <Label Text="{Binding SentDateLabel}" IsVisible="{Binding IsSentDateVisible}" Style="{DynamicResource BodySecondary}" HorizontalOptions="End" HorizontalTextAlignment="End" />
    </StackLayout>
</components:ExpandingViewCell>

There is a lot going on in this cell (it’s a chat page after all, so it’s a feature rich cell). I even have some long press handlers from my LongPressedEffect that you can read about here: Xamarin.Tip – Xamarin.Forms Long Press Effect

The important pieces to note are the IsVisible="{Binding IsSentDateVisible}" to show the date label or not.

Now in order to update this, we need to bind our SelectedItem in our ListView.

Here’s an example from the gif:

<ListView x:Name="ChatListView" ItemsSource="{Binding Messages}" SelectedItem="{Binding SelectedMessage, Mode=TwoWay}" HasUnevenRows="True" SeparatorVisibility="None" ItemTemplate="{StaticResource BubbleSelector}" />

We use the DataTemplateSelector to choose between the sent bubble and the received bubble, but that isn’t important. If you want to read more about that, check out this doc from Xamarin: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/xamarin/xamarin-forms/app-fundamentals/templates/data-templates/selector

Now lastly, let’s look at what’s going on in the ViewModel behind the ListView and how we are binding the SelectedItem.

ChatPageViewModel.cs

...

public ChatMessageViewModel SelectedMessage
{
    get
    {
        return _selectedMessage;
    }
    set
    {
        Set(ref _selectedMessage, value);
        if (value != null)
        {
            ToggleDetails(value);
            SelectedMessage = null;
        }
    }
}

/// <summary>
/// Toggles the details of the given message.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="message">The message view model.</param>
private void ToggleDetails(ChatMessageViewModel message)
{
    message.ShowSenderName = !message.ShowSenderName;
    message.IsSentDateVisible = !message.IsSentDateVisible;
}

...

When the SelectedMessage we bound is changed, and not null, we toggle the ShowSenderName and the IsSentDateVisible to show/hide those views.

So the process looks like this:
– ViewCell is tapped
– ViewCell base call
– SelectedItem toggled
– SelectedMessage toggles the ViewModel properties
– Two way binding triggers to show / hide the inner views
– ViewCell ForceUpdateSize called
– ViewCell expands or collapses

And once again, we get a nice little effect like this!

ExpandingCell


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!

Interested in sponsoring developer content? Message @Suave_Pirate on twitter for details.