Reducing View Boilerplate with Butterknife

Overview

Butterknife is a popular View "injection" library for Android. This means that the library writes common boilerplate view code for you based on annotations to save you time and significantly reduce the lines of boilerplate code written.

This guide covers the most common usages of the library.

Performance

Butterknife uses compile-time annotations which means there is no additional cost at run-time. Instead of slow reflection, code is generated ahead of time. Calling bind delegates to this generated code that you can see and debug. This means that Butterknife does not slow down your app at all!

Compared to Dagger?

Butterknife is about reducing view boilerplate. Dagger 2 is dependency injection for arbitrary components. Dagger is very flexible but is not intended for view injection. Think of Butter Knife as a means of binding views rather than injection. In other words, Butterknife and Dagger 2 are complementary and many projects include both for different purposes.

Setup

Add the following to app/build.gradle file:

dependencies {
  compile 'com.jakewharton:butterknife:8.4.0'
  annotationProcessor 'com.jakewharton:butterknife-compiler:8.4.0'
}

Make sure to upgrade to the latest Gradle version to use the annotationProcessor syntax.

Make sure the "apply plugin" line is placed somewhere at the top of the file. Use gradleplease to get the latest version. See this page for alternate installation methods.

Usage

There are three major features of ButterKnife:

  1. Improved View Lookups
  2. Improved Listener Attachments
  3. Improved Resource Lookups

1. Improved View Lookups

Activity View Lookups

Eliminate findViewById calls by using @BindView on fields:

class ExampleActivity extends Activity {
  // Automatically finds each field by the specified ID.
  @BindView(R.id.title) TextView title;
  @BindView(R.id.subtitle) TextView subtitle;
  @BindView(R.id.footer) TextView footer;

  @Override public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
    setContentView(R.layout.simple_activity);
    ButterKnife.bind(this);
    // TODO Use fields...
  }
}

Fragment View Lookups

This can be done within Activity, Fragment, or Adapter classes. For example, fragment usage would look like:

public class FancyFragment extends Fragment {
  @BindView(R.id.button1) Button button1;
  @BindView(R.id.button2) Button button2;
  private Unbinder unbinder;

  @Override public View onCreateView(LayoutInflater inflater, ViewGroup container, Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    View view = inflater.inflate(R.layout.fancy_fragment, container, false);
    unbinder = ButterKnife.bind(this, view);
    // TODO Use fields...
    return view;
  }

  // When binding a fragment in onCreateView, set the views to null in onDestroyView. 
  // ButterKnife returns an Unbinder on the initial binding that has an unbind method to do this automatically.
  @Override public void onDestroyView() {
    super.onDestroyView();
    unbinder.unbind();
  }
}

Adapter View Lookups

Within a ViewHolder inside of a ListView adapter:

public class MyAdapter extends BaseAdapter {
  @Override public View getView(int position, View view, ViewGroup parent) {
    ViewHolder holder;
    if (view != null) {
      holder = (ViewHolder) view.getTag();
    } else {
      view = inflater.inflate(R.layout.whatever, parent, false);
      holder = new ViewHolder(view);
      view.setTag(holder);
    }
    holder.name.setText("John Doe");
    // etc...
    return view;
  }

  static class ViewHolder {
    @BindView(R.id.title) TextView name;
    @BindView(R.id.job_title) TextView jobTitle;

    public ViewHolder(View view) {
      ButterKnife.bind(this, view);
    }
  }
}

This will save you the need to ever write findViewById ever again!

2. Improved Listener Attachments

Eliminate anonymous inner-classes for listeners by annotating methods with @OnClick and others:

@OnClick(R.id.submit)
public void sayHi(Button button) {
  button.setText("Hello!");
}

We can attach multiple views to the same listener with:

@OnClick({ R.id.door1, R.id.door2, R.id.door3 })
public void pickDoor(DoorView door) {
  if (door.hasPrizeBehind()) {
    Toast.makeText(this, "You win!", LENGTH_SHORT).show();
  } else {
    Toast.makeText(this, "Try again", LENGTH_SHORT).show();
  }
}

The following event listeners are supported out of the box: OnClick, OnLongClick, OnEditorAction, OnFocusChange, OnItemClick, OnItemLongClick,OnItemSelected, OnPageChange, OnTextChanged, OnTouch, OnCheckedChanged.

3. Improved Resource Lookups

Eliminate resource lookups in your Java code by using resource annotations on fields:

class ExampleActivity extends Activity {
  @BindString(R.string.title) String title;
  @BindDrawable(R.drawable.graphic) Drawable graphic;
  @BindColor(R.color.red) int red; // int or ColorStateList field
  @BindDimen(R.dimen.spacer) Float spacer; // int (for pixel size) or float (for exact value) field
  // ...
}

The following resource types are available: BindArray, BindBitmap, BindBool,BindColor,BindDimen,BindDrawable,BindInt,BindString.

Advanced Usage

There are two advanced features:

  1. Acting on Multiple Views In a List
  2. Type Inference for View Lookups

1. Acting on Multiple Views In a List

You can group multiple views into a List and perform actions on them as group:

// Group the views together
@BindViews({ R.id.first_name, R.id.middle_name, R.id.last_name })
List<EditText> nameViews;

The apply method allows you to act on all the views in a list at once:

ButterKnife.apply(nameViews, DISABLE);
ButterKnife.apply(nameViews, ENABLED, false);

This requires writing Action or Setter interfaces allow specifying the action to perform:

static final ButterKnife.Action<View> DISABLE = new ButterKnife.Action<View>() {
  @Override public void apply(View view, int index) {
    view.setEnabled(false);
  }
};

static final ButterKnife.Setter<View, Boolean> ENABLED = new ButterKnife.Setter<View, Boolean>() {
  @Override public void set(View view, Boolean value, int index) {
    view.setEnabled(value);
  }
};

An Android property can also be used with the apply method.

ButterKnife.apply(nameViews, View.ALPHA, 0.0f);

2. Type Inference for View Lookups

Included are findById methods which simplify code for view lookups. It uses generics to infer the return type:

TextView firstName = ButterKnife.findById(view, R.id.first_name);
TextView lastName = ButterKnife.findById(view, R.id.last_name);
ImageView photo = ButterKnife.findById(view, R.id.photo);

Add a static import for ButterKnife.findById and enjoy even more fun.

Plugins

There are a few popular plugins for Android Studio that further simplify usage of Butterknife:

Workarounds

If you are using the Navigation Drawer from the latest version of the support library, you cannot use @BindView on elements defined in the header layout because a RecyclerView is used instead of ListView in the newer versions, causing the header not be available immediately when the view is first created. To get a reference, you need to first get a reference to the header view and use the ButterKnife.findById call once a reference to the header is obtained:

View headerView = navigationView.getHeaderView(0);
TextView textView = ButterKnife.findById(headerView, R.id.tvName);

Using in your own Android libraries

In the past, ButterKnife was not supported when building your own Android libraries. However, in v8.2.0, additional support was included using a custom Gradle plugin. To use it, make sure your followed the previous steps to include the android-apt and latest version of ButterKnife.

Next, add this Gradle plugin to the top of your library build.gradle file:

buildscript {
  dependencies {
    classpath 'com.jakewharton:butterknife-gradle-plugin:8.2.1'
  }
}

Below your com.android.library plugin, you should apply this Gradle plugin:

apply plugin: 'com.android.library'
apply plugin: 'com.jakewharton.butterknife'

For an example of this setup, see this build.gradle file.

This Gradle plugin mostly creates a separate R2 class, which will be used inside your library projects instead:

@BindView(R2.id.title) TextView title;
@BindView(R2.id.subtitle) TextView subtitle;

References

Fork me on GitHub