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Create a List with RecyclerView

If your app needs to display a scrolling list of elements based on large data sets (or data that frequently changes), you should use RecyclerView as described on this page.

Tip: Start with some template code in Android Studio by clicking File > New > Fragment > Fragment (List). Then simply add the fragment to your activity layout.

Figure 1. A list using RecyclerView

Figure 2. A list also using CardView

If you'd like to create a list with cards, as shown in figure 2, also use the CardView widget as described in Create a Card-based Layout.

If you'd like to see some sample code for RecyclerView, check out the RecyclerView Sample App.

RecyclerView overview

The RecyclerView widget is a more advanced and flexible version of ListView.

In the RecyclerView model, several different components work together to display your data. The overall container for your user interface is a RecyclerView object that you add to your layout. The RecyclerView fills itself with views provided by a layout manager that you provide. You can use one of our standard layout managers (such as LinearLayoutManager or GridLayoutManager), or implement your own.

The views in the list are represented by view holder objects. These objects are instances of a class you define by extending RecyclerView.ViewHolder. Each view holder is in charge of displaying a single item with a view. For example, if your list shows music collection, each view holder might represent a single album. The RecyclerView creates only as many view holders as are needed to display the on-screen portion of the dynamic content, plus a few extra. As the user scrolls through the list, the RecyclerView takes the off-screen views and rebinds them to the data which is scrolling onto the screen.

The view holder objects are managed by an adapter, which you create by extending RecyclerView.Adapter. The adapter creates view holders as needed. The adapter also binds the view holders to their data. It does this by assigning the view holder to a position, and calling the adapter's onBindViewHolder() method. That method uses the view holder's position to determine what the contents should be, based on its list position.

This RecyclerView model does a lot of optimization work so you don't have to:

Add the support library

To access the RecyclerView widget, you need to add the v7 Support Libraries to your project as follows:

  1. Open the build.gradle file for your app module.
  2. Add the support library to the dependencies section.
    dependencies {
        implementation ''

Add RecyclerView to your layout

Now you can add the RecyclerView to your layout file. For example, the following layout uses RecyclerView as the only view for the whole layout:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!-- A RecyclerView with some commonly used attributes -->

Once you have added a RecyclerView widget to your layout, obtain a handle to the object, connect it to a layout manager, and attach an adapter for the data to be displayed:

public class MyActivity extends Activity {
    private RecyclerView mRecyclerView;
    private RecyclerView.Adapter mAdapter;
    private RecyclerView.LayoutManager mLayoutManager;

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        mRecyclerView = (RecyclerView) findViewById(;

        // use this setting to improve performance if you know that changes
        // in content do not change the layout size of the RecyclerView

        // use a linear layout manager
        mLayoutManager = new LinearLayoutManager(this);

        // specify an adapter (see also next example)
        mAdapter = new MyAdapter(myDataset);

Add a list adapter

To feed all your data to the list, you must extend the RecyclerView.Adapter class. This object creates views for items, and replaces the content of some of the views with new data items when the original item is no longer visible.

The following code example shows a simple implementation for a data set that consists of an array of strings displayed using TextView widgets:

public class MyAdapter extends RecyclerView.Adapter<MyAdapter.ViewHolder> {
    private String[] mDataset;

    // Provide a reference to the views for each data item
    // Complex data items may need more than one view per item, and
    // you provide access to all the views for a data item in a view holder
    public static class ViewHolder extends RecyclerView.ViewHolder {
        // each data item is just a string in this case
        public TextView mTextView;
        public ViewHolder(TextView v) {
            mTextView = v;

    // Provide a suitable constructor (depends on the kind of dataset)
    public MyAdapter(String[] myDataset) {
        mDataset = myDataset;

    // Create new views (invoked by the layout manager)
    public MyAdapter.ViewHolder onCreateViewHolder(ViewGroup parent,
                                                   int viewType) {
        // create a new view
        TextView v = (TextView) LayoutInflater.from(parent.getContext())
                .inflate(R.layout.my_text_view, parent, false);
        ViewHolder vh = new ViewHolder(v);
        return vh;

    // Replace the contents of a view (invoked by the layout manager)
    public void onBindViewHolder(ViewHolder holder, int position) {
        // - get element from your dataset at this position
        // - replace the contents of the view with that element


    // Return the size of your dataset (invoked by the layout manager)
    public int getItemCount() {
        return mDataset.length;

The layout manager calls the adapter's onCreateViewHolder() method. That method needs to construct a RecyclerView.ViewHolder and set the view it uses to display its contents. The type of the ViewHolder must match the type declared in the Adapter class signature. Typically, it would set the view by inflating an XML layout file. Because the view holder is not yet assigned to any particular data, the method does not actually set the view's contents.

The layout manager then binds the view holder to its data. It does this by calling the adapter's onBindViewHolder() method, and passing the view holder's position in the RecyclerView. The onBindViewHolder() method needs to fetch the appropriate data, and use it to fill in the view holder's layout. For example, if the RecyclerView is displaying a list of names, the method might find the appropriate name in the list, and fill in the view holder's TextView widget.

If the list needs an update, call a notification method on the RecyclerView.Adapter object, such as notifyItemChanged(). The layout manager then rebinds any affected view holders, allowing their data to be updated.

Tip: You might find the DiffUtil class useful for determining which items in your list need to be updated.

Customize your RecyclerView

You can customize the RecyclerView objects to meet your specific needs. The standard classes provide all the functionality that most developers will need; in many cases, the only customization you need to do is design the view for each view holder and write the code to update those views with the appropriate data. However, if your app has specific requirements, you can modify the standard behavior in a number of ways. The following sections describe some of the other common customizations.

Modifying the layout

The RecyclerView uses a layout manager to position the individual items on the screen and determine when to reuse item views that are no longer visible to the user. To reuse (or recycle) a view, a layout manager may ask the adapter to replace the contents of the view with a different element from the dataset. Recycling views in this manner improves performance by avoiding the creation of unnecessary views or performing expensive findViewById() lookups. The Android Support Library includes three standard layout managers, each of which offers many customization options:

If none of these layout managers suits your needs, you can create your own by extending the RecyclerView.LayoutManager abstract class.

Add item animations

Whenever an item changes, the RecyclerView uses an animator to change its appearance. This animator is an object that extends the abstract RecyclerView.ItemAnimator class. By default, the RecyclerView uses DefaultItemAnimator to provide the animation. If you want to provide custom animations, you can define your own animator object by extending RecyclerView.ItemAnimator.

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