Reuse layouts with <include>

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Although Android offers a variety of widgets to provide small and reusable interactive elements, you might also need to reuse larger components that require a special layout. To efficiently reuse complete layouts, you can use the <include> and <merge> tags to embed another layout inside the current layout.

Reusing layouts is particularly powerful as it allows you to create reusable complex layouts. For example, a yes/no button panel, or custom progress bar with description text. It also means that any elements of your application that are common across multiple layouts can be extracted, managed separately, then included in each layout. So while you can create individual UI components by writing a custom View, you can do it even more easily by reusing a layout file.

Create a reusable layout

If you already know the layout that you want to reuse, create a new XML file and define the layout. For example, here's a layout that defines a title bar to be included in each activity (titlebar.xml):

<FrameLayout xmlns:android=""
    tools:showIn="@layout/activity_main" >

    <ImageView android:layout_width="wrap_content"
               android:src="@drawable/gafricalogo" />

The root View should be exactly how you'd like it to appear in each layout to which you add this layout.

Note: The tools:showIn attribute in the XML above is a special attribute that is removed during compilation and used only at design time in Android Studio—it specifies a layout that includes this file, so you can preview (and edit) this file as it appears while embedded in a parent layout.

Use the <include> tag

Inside the layout to which you want to add the reusable component, add the <include> tag. For example, here's a layout that includes the title bar from above:

Here's the layout file:

<LinearLayout xmlns:android=""

    <include layout="@layout/titlebar"/>

    <TextView android:layout_width="match_parent"
              android:padding="10dp" />



You can also override all the layout parameters (any android:layout_* attributes) of the included layout's root view by specifying them in the <include> tag. For example:

<include android:id="@+id/news_title"

However, if you want to override layout attributes using the <include> tag, you must override both android:layout_height and android:layout_width in order for other layout attributes to take effect.

Use the <merge> tag

The <merge> tag helps eliminate redundant view groups in your view hierarchy when including one layout within another. For example, if your main layout is a vertical LinearLayout in which two consecutive views can be reused in multiple layouts, then the reusable layout in which you place the two views requires its own root view. However, using another LinearLayout as the root for the reusable layout would result in a vertical LinearLayout inside a vertical LinearLayout. The nested LinearLayout serves no real purpose other than to slow down your UI performance.

To avoid including such a redundant view group, you can instead use the <merge> element as the root view for the reusable layout. For example:

<merge xmlns:android="">




Now, when you include this layout in another layout (using the <include> tag), the system ignores the <merge> element and places the two buttons directly in the layout, in place of the <include> tag.

For further information related to this topic, see Layout resources.