Adapters in Android

An Adapter object acts as a bridge between an AdapterView and the underlying data for that view. The Adapter provides access to the data items. The Adapter is also responsible for making a View for each item in the data set.

Regarding the challenge, we have to display the list of criminals. This can be done using ListView and ListFragment. We need an adapter to bind the data fetched from the database to corresponding row in the list. On clicking rows of listview, we need to show the details of the corresponding criminal. This can be done by adding setOnClickListner() to row item in the list.


Fragment is a piece of activity’s UI. We prefer to create the user interface using fragments and add these fragments to activity so that they can be reused. It’s lifecycle is similar to that of the activity.

ListFragment displays a list of items by binding to a data source such as an array or Cursor, and exposes event handlers when the user selects an item.

It hosts a ListView object that can be bound to different data sources, typically either an array or a Cursor holding query results.

How do we add Fragment to Activity?

The following snippet illustrates how do we add the fragment to activity. This should be done in the onCreate method of activity.

fManager = getSupportFragmentManager();
fTranslation = fManager.beginTransaction();
exampleListFragment = new ExampleListFragment(); 	

The exampleListFragment is declared as :

public class ExampleListFragment extends ListFragment{

ListView listview;
List<RowItem> rowlist;
public View onCreateView(LayoutInflater inflater, ViewGroup container,Bundle savedInstanceState) {

View v = inflater.inflate(R.layout.list_fragment,
			container, false);
listview = (ListView)v.findViewById(;

//data to be binded with list
rowlist = new ArrayList<RowItem>(); 

rowlist.add (new RowItem(.....));
... //adding items to rowlist

//adding adapter to listview    
list.setAdapter(new RowListAdapter(context, result));

	//returns ListFragment ViewGroup  
	return v;


ListView is a ViewGroup which shows list of scrollable items. (ViewGroup is a special view that can contain other views. The ViewGroup is the base class for layouts and views containers.)

Here is quick tutorial on ListFragment using AndroidStudio.


Adapter in android acts as bridge between an AdapterView and the underlying data for that view. The Adapter provides access to the data items. The Adapter is also responsible for making a View for each item in the data set.

enter image description here

Data can be information obtained from database or server or it can be already present in program. There are many subclasses of Adapter, for example CursorAdapter, ArrayAdapter etc.


BaseAdapter is an abstract class which implements ListAdapter and SpinnerAdapter Interface. Hence, we may use it for implementing both ListView and Spinner. Following methods are necessary to implement for creating a subclass of BaseAdapter:

  • getCount() : int returns number of rows in list
  • getItem(int position): Object returns Item object
  • getItemId(int position): long returns the id of the item at position position
  • getView(int arg0, View arg1, ViewGroup arg2): View

How getView() works?

Adapters call the getView() method which returns a view for each item within the adapter view. The layout format and the corresponding data for an item within the adapter view is set in the getView() method. Due to performance reasons, getView() doesn’t returns a new View object every time it is called. So what Android does is that it recycles the views and reuses the view that goes out of focus.

Visual representation of this recycle process:


Cursor is an interface which provides random read-write access to result set returned by read write query. This interface has been explained in our previous post on databases in android.

CursorAdapter is a subclass of BaseAdapter. It is used to bind cursor data qureied from database to AdapterView. Cursor adapter has following abstract methods,

  • newView(Context context, Cursor cursor, ViewGroup parent): View This method creates new AdapterView to hold data.

  • bindView(View view, Context context, Cursor cursor): void In this method CursorAdapter just elements to list’s view.

SimpleCursorAdapter is subclass of CursorAdapter. If we use it, we don’t have to create separate Adapter’s subclass. Here is a sample code that shows how do we attach this to listview.

    // The desired columns to be bound    
    String[] columns = new String[] { People.NAME, People.NUMBER };

    // XML defined views which the data will be bound to
    int[] to = new int[] {, };
    // Create the adapter using the cursor pointing to the desired data as well as the layout information
    SimpleCursorAdapter mAdapter = new SimpleCursorAdapter(this, R.layout.list_example_entry, cursor, columns, to);

    // Set this adapter as your list's adapter

Array Adapter

Array Adapter is subclass of BaseAdapter. It is used to bind data in arrayList to AdapterView.

In this type of adapter, we pass List, context of activity and layout of entry as attribute, but layout of entry can be only those which are already present in the library. We associate an adapter with View.

Custom Adapters for ListView

Custom Adapter is used when we want to design and add more UI components to an item of ListView or GridView. We build this class on our own. This class extends Adapter or Adapter’s subclass. In the getView() method of class, we may set custom content View.

Image: ListView using CustomAdapter

In general, CustomArrayAdapter overrides the following methods of ArrayAdapter,

Example code: getView()

    public View getView(int position, View convertView, ViewGroup parent)
        View entryView = convertView;
        if(convertView == null){
            LayoutInflater layoutInflater = (LayoutInflater)context.getSystemService(Context.LAYOUT_INFLATER_SERVICE);
            entryView = layoutInflater.inflate(R.layout.entry_item, parent,false);
        TextView entryUser =(TextView)entryView.findViewById(;
        //and so on, add all UI components 
        //setOnClickListener events to button components

        return entryView;

Similarly, we can create CustomCursorAdapter by extending CursorAdapter. SubClass of CursorAdapter must have to override the following methods of CursorAdapter. Here is sample code for newView() and bindView() abstract methods of CursorAdapter.

     *Makes a new view to hold the data pointed to by cursor.
    public View newView(Context context, Cursor cursor, ViewGroup parent)
        LayoutInflater inflater = LayoutInflater.from(context);
        View newView = inflater.inflate(
                android.R.layout.simple_list_item_1, parent, false);
        return newView;

    public void bindView(View view, Context context, Cursor cursor)
        TextView txtView = (TextView)view.findViewById(;

Here is a quick tutorial on CustomCursorAdapter.

This concludes the post on adapters. Hope you will now be able to implement lists in your app.

Keep watching for our next post on google maps. Till then goodbye and happy coding !

We new friends!