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Vocabulary for Android Basics in Kotlin

This vocabulary list explains the terminology used in the Android Basics in Kotlin course.

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A

Abstract class

An abstract class is a class that is marked with the abstract keyword in Kotlin. An abstract class may have properties or methods that have not been implemented yet. In that case, initializing the abstract property or implementing the abstract method is up to the subclasses. Because of this, you cannot instantiate an abstract class directly

Accessibility

In the context of this course, accessibility refers to the design and functionality of your app, so that it is easier for more people, including those with disabilities, to use. It also means that your app will work well with assistive technologies such as the Talkback screen reader. Making your app more accessible leads to an overall better user experience, which benefits all your users.

Adaptive icons

Adaptive icons is an app icon format for Android apps which can display a variety of shapes across different device models. It was introduced in the Android O release, and is intended to make all the app icons have a uniform shape on a device.

adb (Android Debug Bridge)

adb, or Android Debug Bridge, is a versatile command-line tool that lets you communicate with an Android device. You can issue commands to install and debug apps, as well as run a variety of commands on a device.

Android

Android is a mobile operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but has since expanded to watches, TVs, and cars.

Android app

An Android app is a software application that runs on an Android device.

Android device

An Android device, such as a phone or tablet, is any hardware computing device capable of running the Android operating system and Android apps.

Android Emulator

An Android Emulator simulates an Android device on your computer. While a phone may be called a "physical device", an emulator is a "virtual device".

Android Studio

Android Studio is the official IDE or integrated development environment for the Android operating system, and includes everything you need to create Android apps.

Android Virtual Device (AVD)

An Android Virtual Device, or AVD, is a configuration that defines a specific Android phone, tablet, Wear, TV, or Automotive OS device that you want to simulate in an Android Emulator.

Annotations

Annotations can add additional information to classes, methods, or parameters to provide hints about the data types. For example, the @StringRes annotation tells Android Studio that a variable holds a resource ID for a string, and the @DrawableRes annotation indicates that this variable holds a resource ID for a drawable.

Any

All classes in Kotlin derive from the superclass Any so every instance of a class also has a type of Any. The Any class contains implementations of the methods equals(), hashCode(), and toString(), so these methods can be called on any class instance or overridden in class definitions. See superclass.

APK (Android Application Package)

APK, or Android Application Package, is the package file format Android uses to distribute and install mobile apps. When you download an app from Google Play, it automatically downloads and installs the APK of the app for you. Android Studio can help you create APKs of your apps.

Argument

An argument is a value that is passed to functions. Arguments can be values, or variables, or even other functions.

AVD Manager

The AVD Manager is an interface you can launch from Android Studio that helps you create and manage Android Virtual Devices (AVDs).

B

Boolean

A Boolean is a data type that has one of two possible values, true and false. Booleans are used with conditional statements, letting you change the control flow of your program depending on whether the Boolean condition evaluates to true or false.

Button

A Button is a type of View that displays a piece of text and can be clicked. When touched, the Button can trigger code called a click handler that performs an action in response.

C

Camel case

Camel case means to capitalize the beginning of each word and remove all spaces in between. This is a convention for naming functions, variables, and classes in Kotlin, such as LinearLayout, MainActivity, or setOnClickListener.

Chaining

Chaining is combining two or more method calls or property accesses into a single expression. This helps reduce the use of temporary variables and can make your code easier to read and maintain. For example, instead of assigning a number property to a variable, then converting the variable to a string, it can be done in a single expression.

// Separate method calls
Double cost = binding.costOfService
String costString = cost.toString()

// Chained method calls
String costString = binding.costOfService.toString()

Class

A class is like a blueprint for an object. A class defines properties (as variables) that are common to all objects described in the class, as well as actions (as functions called methods) for these objects. A class is defined using the class keyword in Kotlin.

A class is similar to how an architect’s blueprint plans are not the house; they are the instructions of how to build the house. The house is the actual thing or object instance created according to the blueprint. For example, you might have a class PetDog that includes properties for the name and breed. You can then create object instances myPetDog and myFriendsPetDog. These two instances would have different names and breeds, but are both of class PetDog.

Click Handler

A click handler is a piece of code that is invoked by a click listener when the View is tapped.

Click Listener

A click listener is a small piece of code that can be attached to a View. The click listener waits for the view to be tapped, and when the view is tapped, it executes a click handler.

Code (Source code)

Computers, including mobile devices, execute lists of instructions called programs to carry out their functionality. An Android device is an example of a computer, and an app is an example of a program. Android apps are written in a programming language, such as Kotlin, that can be understood by the device. These instructions are called code (or source code).

Code editor

Text editors are used to create or edit plain text files. Code editors are designed for creating or editing source code. Android Studio includes a code editor for Kotlin, as well as other programming languages.

Code refactoring

Code refactoring is the process of restructuring existing computer code—changing the factoring—without changing its external behavior. This can make your code more readable and reduce its complexity so that it's easier to maintain.

Code snippet

A code snippet is a small chunk of reusable source code.

Coding conventions

Coding conventions are style guidelines and best practices for writing code. Coding conventions include how to name things, code formatting, and best practices for comments. Following the conventions for Kotlin makes your code easier to read, use, and maintain by other developers.

Comments

Comments provide an explanation of source code that's meaningful only to the human reader. Comments must be surrounded by comment delimiters to identify them: that is, punctuation marks that tell the system not to read the enclosed text.

In Kotlin, comments that begin with a double slash // are called inline comments. An inline comment can be only one line long. Comments on subsequent lines must also begin with a double slash.

Comments enclosed by /* and */ are called block comments, and can be many lines long.

Compile

Compilers compile, or translate, source code into instructions in the language that computers and mobile devices can understand and execute.

Compiler

A compiler is a special program that translates source code into instructions that computers and mobile devices can understand and execute.

Conditional

Conditional statements determine the control flow of a program based on the Boolean outcome of an evaluation. Conditionals decide what code to run when the condition is true, and when the condition is false. Examples of conditional statements in Kotlin are if, else, and when.

Console

The console, in software development tools, is the text output for system messages. For example, in the Kotlin Playground, print statements output to the console.

Constraint

A constraint is a limitation or restriction. In the context of designing a layout using a ConstraintLayout for an Android app screen, a constraint represents a connection or alignment of a View to another View or the parent layout. For example, a View can be constrained to the top of the screen, or a button can be constrained between two other buttons in a row.

ConstraintLayout

A ConstraintLayout is a flexible Android ViewGroup that lets you position and size views using constraints.

Constructor

When you create an instance of a class, a method called a constructor is executed automatically. A constructor is responsible for doing everything necessary to make the object usable by the rest of the app. For example, a constructor will usually initialize (put the first value into) each field of the object which is being constructed. The only way to create an object is by calling (executing) a constructor for the object.

The name of a constructor is the same as the name of the class to which it belongs. A class can have more than one constructor, provided that each one has a different list of parameters.

Control Flow

By default, a computer executes code in a program from top to bottom, in the order in which the instructions are written. Some instructions, however, can direct execution to skip over other instructions, or to repeat other instructions; for example, if and repeat instructions. These instructions that cause program execution to deviate from a straight-line path are called the control structure of the code. The resulting path, or set of possible paths, is called the control flow.

D

Dark theme

Dark theme is an alternate UI mode for Android which uses light text on dark backgrounds instead of dark text on a light background as in a light theme. It can reduce power usage (depending on the device’s screen technology) and can make it easier to use a device in a low-light environment.

Data class

A data class is a specific type of Kotlin class that is intended to hold data. For classes marked with the data keyword, the Kotlin compiler automatically generates some helpful utility functions such as equals(), hashCode(), toString(), and copy() methods based on the properties in the primary constructor.

Data type

A data type describes what kind of data the data is, and how it can be used. Integers (Int), Booleans (Boolean), strings (String), arrays (Array), and ranges (IntRange) are examples of data types. The data type defines the operations that can be done on the data, the meaning of the data, and the way values of that type can be stored.

Debugger

A debugger is a tool for debugging a software application or piece of code. It typically enables you to step through and examine values as the application executes.

Debugging

Debugging is the process of identifying and fixing errors in an app when it is not working as expected.

Double

Double is a basic data type to represent decimal numbers in Kotlin, as opposed to an Int, which can only represent integer values.

DP (Density-independent pixels)

The screen of an Android device is made of rows and columns of glowing dots called pixels. The density of a screen is a measure of how many pixels (or dots) there are per inch. Devices can range in screen density. For example, an mdpi (or medium density device) has 160 dots per inch, while an xxhdpi (extra extra high density device) has 480 dots per inch.

If you specify the size of views in pixel values to fit on the medium density device, then the same views would appear very small on the extra high density device. To save you from having to define a different layout for every density, you can express the size of your UI elements in a measure called density-independent pixel (dp or dip, pronounced “dee pee” or “dip”). 1 dp is equal to 1 pixel on an mdpi device. 1 dp is equal to 3 pixels on an xxhdpi device. Android devices will automatically convert from dp to the appropriate pixel values so that your layout looks right on the device.

Drawable

In an Android Studio app, a drawable is a resource that contains instructions for drawing something. This is usually a file that contains an image of various formats (Bitmap, PNG, JPG, SVG.). For example, to include a PNG image in your app, add the PNG as a drawable resource in your app. You can use the Resource Manager to add it. See Drawable resources.

E

Empty string

An empty string is a string of zero length, represented as "". It is a character sequence of zero characters.

Encapsulation

Encapsulation means enclosing functionality that is logically related into a single place. One example of encapsulation is a class.

Exception

An exception is the system's way of saying there is a problem. It often occurs when the data a function or class receives is different from what is expected. For example, the String.toDouble() function will generate a NumberFormatException if the string is not a valid representation of a number.

F

Function

A function is a discrete block of code that performs an operation and can return a value. In Kotlin, functions are declared using the fun keyword and can take arguments with either specified or default values. A function associated with a particular class is called a method.

G

Getters and Setters

Functions that retrieve (get) and set the values of properties, usually in classes. In Kotlin, getters and setters are provided for all class properties, saving you the work of having to write them yourself.

Gradle

Gradle is a tool used by Android Studio to automate and manage the build process for your app. Gradle takes the source code you write for an app, along with platform code, libraries, and resources, and assembles all these parts into an APK that can be installed and run on an Android device. Modify the build.gradle files in your project to configure aspects of your project such as the platform versions your app can run on and settings for how your app should be built.

H

Hardcoded

Hardcoded values are values that are directly written into a program or app. It is a good coding practice to not use hardcoded values directly in code. For example, instead of putting strings into your Android app source code, you can store the strings in a separate file that collects all the strings for the app, making it much easier to change and translate them.

I

IDE (Integrated Development Environment)

An IDE, or Integrated Development Environment, is a collection of tools for building software. Android Studio is an example of an IDE. The tools in Android Studio help you write your code and lay out how your app will look on the target device screen. There are tools to help you translate your app to other languages, tools to help you make it run faster, and tools to test your app on multiple virtual devices.

ImageView

An ImageView is a type of View that displays an image such as an icon or a photograph.

Immutable

An immutable object can't be changed after it is created. See also mutable.

Import

A directive for including an API or other code that is not part of the current program into your code. Use import statements at the top of your Kotlin files to be able to use classes and APIs that were defined outside your app. For example, add import android.widget.TextView to use the TextView class in your code.

Instance (object instance)

An instance or object instance is an object created from a class definition. While the class acts as a blueprint, the instance is an actual thing that you can interact with in your code, such as accessing its properties or calling its methods.

Int

In Kotlin, Int is a data type for an integer number. In modern computers, integers are numbers between -2,147,483,648 and 2,147,483,647 (4 bytes or 32 bits per number).

K

Kotlin

Kotlin is a modern programming language with features that make it easier to be productive in writing concise code, which is also less prone to errors.

L

lateinit

Normally non-null properties must be initialized in the constructor, but sometimes that isn't practical. In those cases, a property can be marked with lateinit, which is a promise that the variable will be initialized before it is used. Note that an exception will be thrown if that property is accessed before being initialized.

Layout

In Android Studio, the Layout is the arrangement of Views that make up the screen of an Android app.

Line break

A line break creates a new line in text. In programming languages, such as Kotlin, the newline character is represented as '\n' and produces a line break when inserted in text strings.

List

A list is an ordered set of elements that can be accessed by their numeric index in the list. In Kotlin, a list can be either mutable or immutable depending on how it was defined. Mutable lists can be changed both in terms of the number of elements, and the elements themselves; immutable lists cannot.

M

main() function

The main() function of a Kotlin program is the entry point for program execution. When you run a Kotlin program, it always starts with the main() function. In an Android app, there is no explicit main() function for you to program because your app code is executed by the Android system.

Material

Material is a design system inspired by the physical world and its textures, including how objects reflect light and cast shadows. It provides design guidelines on how to build your app UI in a readable, attractive, and consistent manner to create an overall compelling user experience.

Method

A method is a function defined in a class and associated with the behavior of an object instance of the class.

Mockup

In the context of an app user interface, a mockup is an early design of the screens that does not show the final look or functionality.

Mutable

A mutable object can be changed after it is created. See also immutable.

N

Null

Null is a special value that means "no value". It's different from a default value, for example, a Double having a value of 0.0 or an empty String with zero characters, "". null means there is no value. If a method expects a value, passing null will cause an error. In Kotlin, it’s preferable to not allow null values and you have to use special operators to permit a null value. See also exception.

O

Object

In object-oriented programming, object refers to a particular instance of a class, where the object can be a combination of variables, functions, and data structures.

Object Oriented Programming (OOP)

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a programming paradigm that focuses on objects rather than a specific set of functions or logic flow. This approach makes it easier to maintain large, complex applications. Dividing application data and code into discrete objects also makes it easier for teams to work on projects collaboratively.

Operators and operands

Math operators include plus (+), minus (-), and multiplication (*). For an expression such a 5 + 3 = 8, the + is the operator while 2 and 3 are the operands. There are other types of operators. Logic operators include greater-than (>), equal-to (==), and not (!), and when applied, yield true or false, such as 5 > 3 being true.

P

Package

In program source code, packages are used to group related program elements such as classes and functions. A package provides a namespace, a way for the names of classes to only need to be unique in that package and not globally. In Kotlin, you’ll find a package declaration at the top of files indicating the package name. To use elements that are part of a different package, you need to import the other package. See also qualified name.

The package name customarily contains only lowercase letters (no underscores) and separating dots and has to be globally unique. For example: package com.example.diceroller.

Parameter vs. argument

In the context of a function (or method), a parameter is variable declaration in the function definition. When the function is called, the arguments are the data you pass into its parameters.

Private

By default, members of a class are public, meaning other code can access them. However, it's considered a best practice to limit outside access to just the essentials. Marking a method or property private means it can only be accessed from inside that class. This helps to avoid exposing parts of the implementation that you didn’t intend for other callers to have access to or depend on.

Program

A program is a series of instructions that a computer system executes to accomplish some action.

Project

Android Studio organizes code into projects that contain everything that defines your Android app. This includes your app source code, build configurations, the manifest, resources, and code with tests.

Pseudocode

Pseudocode is not quite "real" code. Its code-like language and structure is used to describe what an app might do, in a way that is easier to understand by humans. It can be useful for figuring out the correct approach to take for organizing code before all the details have been decided.

Public

By default, members of a class are public, meaning other code can access them. See also private.

Q

Qualified name

The qualified name of a class consists of the full package name and the class name. For example, the fully qualified name of TextView would be android.widget.TextView. The qualified name is generally only used if there is a conflict between a class or function in this namespace and an imported namespace. See also namespace.

R

RecyclerView

A RecyclerView is a widget in Android you can use to display a list of items. Implement a custom RecyclerView.Adapter to provide the RecyclerView with the appropriate ViewHolder for each item in the data source. Instead of creating a new view for every item in the list, the RecyclerView recycles views as needed.

Reference

When you assign a number to a variable, the value is stored in the variable. When you assign an object to a variable, or pass it to a function, a reference to that object is used instead. The reference can be a unique ID, or the address of a location in memory. Using references instead of the copies of values and objects themselves can keep your code smaller.

Resources

In Android apps, Resources are additional files and content that your code uses, such as images, layout definitions, and user interface strings.

S

SP (Scalable pixel)

A scalable pixel (sp) is a unit for specifying the size of a font. The Android system calculates the actual font size to use based on the device and the user’s preference set in the Settings app of their Android device. Always specify font sizes in sp units or scalable pixels.

Stack trace

A stack trace is a list of which methods were called before your program pauses or stops execution. If it stopped because of an exception, the stack trace can show which method the exception occurred in.

String

Any series of characters—letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and spaces—is called a string of characters. The number of characters in the string is called the length of the string. A string may consist of words or of randomly chosen characters. It can also be a single character, or even no characters at all. The latter is called the empty string, and is the only string of length zero.

String Resource

A resource that is a string. In an Android app, strings that are displayed to the user should be defined in a strings.xml file.

String template

In a string, instead of printing text, you can include an embedded expression; that is, a directive to include the value of a variable or the result of a calculation using the ${variable} notation. This is called a string template.

Subclass / inheritance / superclass

A class is like a blueprint for an object, but it can also be a blueprint for creating other classes with similar functionality or a different focus. You are creating a subclass (child class) when you define a new class using another class as a template. The subclass inherits properties and functions of its superclass (parent class). It can also provide its own implementation by overriding properties and functions that exist in the superclass. One common example is the toString() method. It is first defined in the Any class, but it is common to provide your own implementation of the toString() method in subclasses. A subclass also has the ability to call public functions and properties of the superclass.

System image

When you create an Android Virtual Device (AVD) to simulate in the emulator, you choose a system image to load for the device. The system image includes the Android operating system and APIs (Application Programming Interface) that enable specific features for the device.

T

TextView

A TextView is a type of View that displays text.

U

User Interface (UI)

The user interface or UI of an app is what you see and interact with on the screen of an Android device. The user interface includes Views, buttons, and other interactive elements.

V

val and var

Kotlin supports two types of variables: changeable and unchangeable. With val, you can assign a value once. If you try to assign something again, you get an error.

With var, you can assign a value, then change the value later in the program.

Variable

A variable is a container that holds a value, such as a number or a piece of text. For example, a variable might hold the current score in a game or the name of a restaurant. Each variable has a name such as currentScore or restaurantName. The contents of a variable can be changed as the app runs. That’s why they’re called “variables.”

Vector drawable

A vector drawable is a vector graphic defined in an XML file as a set of points, lines, and curves along with its associated color information. Instead of storing the information to draw an image at a specific size like a bitmap image, a vector graphic stores the instructions to draw an image at any size. A vector drawable can be scaled without quality loss and is often smaller than a comparable bitmap image. That means the same file is resized for different screen densities without loss of image quality or needing additional files.

View

A View is a rectangular area on the screen. It has a width and height. There are many different types of Views. For example: An ImageView displays an image. A TextView displays text. A Button is a TextView that can be tapped.

View binding

View binding is a feature provided by Android Jetpack that lets you more easily write code to interact with views. Enable view binding in your project’s app module to generate a binding class for each XML layout file. An instance of a binding class contains direct references to all views that have a resource ID in the corresponding layout. This can be used instead of calling findViewById() in most cases.

ViewGroup

A ViewGroup is a View—often invisible to the user—that contains and positions other views inside of it (called its children), creating a view hierarchy. Any layout for an Android App always starts with a ViewGroup as the parent and contains child views.

View hierarchy

A hierarchy of views in an Android app layout is organized as a family tree of parents and children. The View at the top of the hierarchy, or root View, must be a ViewGroup container, such as a ConstraintLayout. The child views can be any views or view groups. You can layer the hierarchy as deep as necessary, but a flat view hierarchy with few levels of children is a best practice.

X

XML

XML stands for “Extensible Markup Language”. It is a notation for writing information structured as a hierarchy. XML can be used to describe the structure of documents, vector graphics, and the hierarchy of views that make up the layout of an Android screen.