Lists and grids

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Many apps need to display collections of items. This document explains how you can efficiently do this in Jetpack Compose.

If you know that your use case does not require any scrolling, you may wish to use a simple Column or Row (depending on the direction), and emit each item’s content by iterating over a list like so:

@Composable
fun MessageList(messages: List<Message>) {
    Column {
        messages.forEach { message ->
            MessageRow(message)
        }
    }
}

We can make the Column scrollable by using the verticalScroll() modifier. See the Gestures documentation for more information.

Lazy lists

If you need to display a large number of items (or a list of an unknown length), using a layout such as Column can cause performance issues, since all the items will be composed and laid out whether or not they are visible.

Compose provides a set of components which only compose and lay out items which are visible in the component’s viewport. These components include LazyColumn and LazyRow.

As the name suggests, the difference between LazyColumn and LazyRow is the orientation in which they lay out their items and scroll. LazyColumn produces a vertically scrolling list, and LazyRow produces a horizontally scrolling list.

The Lazy components are different to most layouts in Compose. Instead of accepting a @Composable content block parameter, allowing apps to directly emit composables, the Lazy components provide a LazyListScope.() block. This LazyListScope block offers a DSL which allows apps to describe the item contents. The Lazy component is then responsible for adding the each item’s content as required by the layout and scroll position.

LazyListScope DSL

The DSL of LazyListScope provides a number of functions for describing items in the layout. At the most basic, item() adds a single item, and items(Int) adds multiple items:

LazyColumn {
    // Add a single item
    item {
        Text(text = "First item")
    }

    // Add 5 items
    items(5) { index ->
        Text(text = "Item: $index")
    }

    // Add another single item
    item {
        Text(text = "Last item")
    }
}

There are also a number of extension functions which allow you to add collections of items, such as a List. These extensions allow us to easily migrate our Column example from above:

import androidx.compose.foundation.lazy.items

@Composable
fun MessageList(messages: List<Message>) {
    LazyColumn {
        items(messages) { message ->
            MessageRow(message)
        }
    }
}

There is also a variant of the items() extension function called itemsIndexed(), which provides the index. Please see the LazyListScope reference for more details.

Lazy grids

The LazyVerticalGrid and LazyHorizontalGrid composables provide support for displaying items in a grid. A Lazy vertical grid will display its items in a vertically scrollable container, spanned across multiple columns, while the Lazy horizontal grids will have the same behaviour on the horizontal axis.

Grids have the same powerful API capabilities as lists and they also use a very similar DSL - LazyGridScope.() for describing the content.

Screenshot of a phone showing a grid of photos

The columns parameter in LazyVerticalGrid and rows parameter in LazyHorizontalGrid control how cells are formed into columns or rows. The following example displays items in a grid, using GridCells.Adaptive to set each column to be at least 128.dp wide:

@Composable
fun PhotoGrid(photos: List<Photo>) {
    LazyVerticalGrid(
        columns = GridCells.Adaptive(minSize = 128.dp)
    ) {
        items(photos) { photo ->
            PhotoItem(photo)
        }
    }
}

LazyVerticalGrid lets you specify a width for items, and then the grid will fit as many columns as possible. Any remaining width is distributed equally among the columns, after the number of columns is calculated. This adaptive way of sizing is especially useful for displaying sets of items across different screen sizes.

If you know the exact amount of columns to be used, you can instead provide an instance of GridCells.Fixed containing the number of required columns.

If your design requires only certain items to have non-standard dimensions, you can use the grid support for providing custom column spans for items. Specify the column span with the span parameter of the LazyGridScope DSL item and items methods. maxLineSpan, one of the span scope’s values, is particularly useful when you're using adaptive sizing, because the number of columns is not fixed. This example shows how to provide a full row span:

LazyVerticalGrid(
    // ...
) {
    item(span = {
        // LazyGridItemSpanScope:
        // maxLineSpan
        GridItemSpan(maxLineSpan)
    }) {
        CategoryCard(“Fruits”)
    }
    // ...
}

Content padding

Sometimes you'll need to add padding around the edges of the content. The lazy components allow you to pass some PaddingValues to the contentPadding parameter to support this:

LazyColumn(
    contentPadding = PaddingValues(horizontal = 16.dp, vertical = 8.dp),
) {
    // ...
}

In this example, we add 16.dp of padding to the horizontal edges (left and right), and then 8.dp to the top and bottom of the content.

Please note that this padding is applied to the content, not to the LazyColumn itself. In the example above, the first item will add 8.dp padding to it’s top, the last item will add 8.dp to its bottom, and all items will have 16.dp padding on the left and the right.

Content spacing

To add spacing in-between items, you can use Arrangement.spacedBy(). The example below adds 4.dp of space in-between each item:

LazyColumn(
    verticalArrangement = Arrangement.spacedBy(4.dp),
) {
    // ...
}

Similarly for LazyRow:

LazyRow(
    horizontalArrangement = Arrangement.spacedBy(4.dp),
) {
    // ...
}

Grids, however, accept both vertical and horizontal arrangements:

LazyVerticalGrid(
    columns = GridCells.Fixed(2),
    verticalArrangement = Arrangement.spacedBy(16.dp),
    horizontalArrangement = Arrangement.spacedBy(16.dp)
) {
    items(data) { item ->
        Item(item)
    }
}

Item keys

By default, each item's state is keyed against the position of the item in the list or grid. However, this can cause issues if the data set changes, since items which change position effectively lose any remembered state. If you imagine the scenario of LazyRow within a LazyColumn, if the row changes item position, the user would then lose their scroll position within the row.

To combat this, you can provide a stable and unique key for each item, providing a block to the key parameter. Providing a stable key enables item state to be consistent across data-set changes:

@Composable
fun MessageList(messages: List<Message>) {
    LazyColumn {
        items(
            items = messages,
            key = { message ->
                // Return a stable + unique key for the item
                message.id
            }
        ) { message ->
            MessageRow(message)
        }
    }
}

By providing keys, you help Compose to handle reorderings correctly. For example, if your item contains remembered state, setting keys would allow Compose to move this state together with the item, when its position changes.

LazyColumn {
    items(books, key = { it.id }) {
        val rememberedValue = remember {
            Random.nextInt()
        }
    }
}

However, there is one limitation on what types you can use as item keys. The key's type must be supported by Bundle, Android’s mechanism for keeping the states when the Activity is recreated. Bundle supports types like primitives, enums or Parcelables.

LazyColumn {
    items(books, key = {
        // primitives, enums, Parcelable, etc.
    }) {
        // ...
    }
}

The key must be supported by Bundle so that the rememberSaveable inside the item composable can be restored when the Activity is recreated, or even when you scroll away from this item and scroll back.

LazyColumn {
    items(books, key = { it.id }) {
        val rememberedValue = rememberSaveable {
            Random.nextInt()
        }
    }
}

Item animations

If you’ve used the RecyclerView widget, you’ll know that it animates item changes automatically. Lazy layouts provide the same functionality for item reorderings. The API is simple - you just need to set the animateItemPlacement modifier to the item content:

LazyColumn {
    items(books, key = { it.id }) {
        Row(Modifier.animateItemPlacement()) {
            // ...
        }
    }
}

You can even provide custom animation specification, if you need to:

LazyColumn {
    items(books, key = { it.id }) {
        Row(Modifier.animateItemPlacement(
            tween(durationMillis = 250)
        )) {
            // ...
        }
    }
}

Make sure you provide keys for your items so it is possible to find the new position for the moved element.

Aside from reorderings, item animations for additions and removals is currently in development. You can track the progress in issue 150812265.

Sticky headers (experimental)

The ‘sticky header’ pattern is helpful when displaying lists of grouped data. Below you can see an example of a ‘contacts list’, grouped by each contact’s initial:

Video of a phone scrolling up and down through a contacts list

To achieve a sticky header with LazyColumn, you can use the experimental stickyHeader() function, providing the header content:

@OptIn(ExperimentalFoundationApi::class)
@Composable
fun ListWithHeader(items: List<Item>) {
    LazyColumn {
        stickyHeader {
            Header()
        }

        items(items) { item ->
            ItemRow(item)
        }
    }
}

To achieve a list with multiple headers, like the ‘contacts list’ example above, you could do:

// TODO: This ideally would be done in the ViewModel
val grouped = contacts.groupBy { it.firstName[0] }

@OptIn(ExperimentalFoundationApi::class)
@Composable
fun ContactsList(grouped: Map<Char, List<Contact>>) {
    LazyColumn {
        grouped.forEach { (initial, contactsForInitial) ->
            stickyHeader {
                CharacterHeader(initial)
            }

            items(contactsForInitial) { contact ->
                ContactListItem(contact)
            }
        }
    }
}

Reacting to scroll position

Many apps need to react and listen to scroll position and item layout changes. The Lazy components support this use-case by hoisting the LazyListState:

@Composable
fun MessageList(messages: List<Message>) {
    // Remember our own LazyListState
    val listState = rememberLazyListState()

    // Provide it to LazyColumn
    LazyColumn(state = listState) {
        // ...
    }
}

For simple use-cases, apps commonly only need to know information about the first visible item. For this LazyListState provides the firstVisibleItemIndex and firstVisibleItemScrollOffset properties.

If we use the example of a showing and hiding a button based on if the user has scrolled past the first item:

@OptIn(ExperimentalAnimationApi::class) // AnimatedVisibility
@Composable
fun MessageList(messages: List<Message>) {
    Box {
        val listState = rememberLazyListState()

        LazyColumn(state = listState) {
            // ...
        }

        // Show the button if the first visible item is past
        // the first item. We use a remembered derived state to
        // minimize unnecessary compositions
        val showButton by remember {
            derivedStateOf {
                listState.firstVisibleItemIndex > 0
            }
        }

        AnimatedVisibility(visible = showButton) {
            ScrollToTopButton()
        }
    }
}

Reading the state directly in composition is useful when you need to update other UI composables, but there are also scenarios where the event does not need to be handled in the same composition. A common example of this is sending an analytics event once the user has scrolled past a certain point. To handle this efficiently, we can use a snapshotFlow():

val listState = rememberLazyListState()

LazyColumn(state = listState) {
    // ...
}

LaunchedEffect(listState) {
    snapshotFlow { listState.firstVisibleItemIndex }
        .map { index -> index > 0 }
        .distinctUntilChanged()
        .filter { it == true }
        .collect {
            MyAnalyticsService.sendScrolledPastFirstItemEvent()
        }
}

LazyListState also provides information about all of the items currently being displayed and their bounds on screen, via the layoutInfo property. See the LazyListLayoutInfo class for more information.

Controlling the scroll position

As well as reacting to scroll position, it’s also useful for apps to be able to control the scroll position too. LazyListState supports this via the scrollToItem() function, which ‘immediately’ snaps the scroll position, and animateScrollToItem() which scrolls using an animation (also known as a smooth scroll):

@Composable
fun MessageList(messages: List<Message>) {
    val listState = rememberLazyListState()
    // Remember a CoroutineScope to be able to launch
    val coroutineScope = rememberCoroutineScope()

    LazyColumn(state = listState) {
        // ...
    }

    ScrollToTopButton(
        onClick = {
            coroutineScope.launch {
                // Animate scroll to the first item
                listState.animateScrollToItem(index = 0)
            }
        }
    )
}

Large data-sets (paging)

The Paging library enables apps to support large lists of items, loading and displaying small chunks of the list as necessary. Paging 3.0 and later provides Compose support through the androidx.paging:paging-compose library.

To display a list of paged content, we can use the collectAsLazyPagingItems() extension function, and then pass in the returned LazyPagingItems to items() in our LazyColumn. Similar to Paging support in views, you can display placeholders while data loads by checking if the item is null:

import androidx.paging.compose.collectAsLazyPagingItems
import androidx.paging.compose.items

@Composable
fun MessageList(pager: Pager<Int, Message>) {
    val lazyPagingItems = pager.flow.collectAsLazyPagingItems()

    LazyColumn {
        items(
          items = lazyPagingItems,
          // The key is important so the Lazy list can remember your
          // scroll position when more items are fetched!
          key = { message -> message.id }
        ) { message ->
            if (message != null) {
                MessageRow(message)
            } else {
                MessagePlaceholder()
            }
        }
    }
}

Tips on using Lazy layouts

There are a few tips you can take into account to ensure your Lazy layouts work as intended.

Avoid using 0-pixel sized items

This can happen in scenarios where, for example, you expect to asynchronously retrieve some data like images, to fill your list’s items at a later stage. That would cause the Lazy layout to compose all of its items in the first measurement, as their height is 0 pixels and it could fit them all in the viewport. Once the items have loaded and their height expanded, Lazy layouts would then discard all of the other items that have unnecessarily been composed the first time around as they cannot in fact fit the viewport. To avoid this, you should set default sizing to your items, so that the Lazy layout can do the correct calculation of how many items can in fact fit in the viewport:

@Composable
fun Item() {
    Image(
        painter = rememberImagePainter(data = imageUrl),
        modifier = Modifier.size(30.dp),
        // ...
    )
}

When you know the approximate size of your items after the data is asynchronously loaded, a good practice is to ensure your items’ sizing remains the same before and after loading, for example, by adding some placeholders. This will help maintain the correct scroll position.

Avoid nesting components scrollable in the same direction

This applies only to cases when nesting scrollable children without a predefined size inside another same direction scrollable parent. For example, trying to nest a child LazyColumn without a fixed height inside a vertically scrollable Column parent:

// Throws IllegalStateException
Column(
    modifier = Modifier.verticalScroll(state)
) {
    LazyColumn {
        // ...
    }
}

Instead, the same result can be achieved by wrapping all of your composables inside one parent LazyColumn and using its DSL to pass in different types of content. This enables emitting single items, as well as multiple list items, all in one place:

LazyColumn {
    item {
        Header()
    }
    items(data) { item ->
        Item(item)
    }
    item {
        Footer()
    }
}

Keep in mind that cases where you’re nesting different direction layouts, for example, a scrollable parent Row and a child LazyColumn, are allowed:

Row(
    modifier = Modifier.horizontalScroll(scrollState)
) {
    LazyColumn {
        // ...
    }
}

As well as cases where you still use the same direction layouts, but also set a fixed size to the nested children:

Column(
    modifier = Modifier.verticalScroll(scrollState)
) {
    LazyColumn(
        modifier = Modifier.height(200.dp)
    ) {
        // ...
    }
}

Beware of putting multiple elements in one item

In this example, the second item lambda emits 2 items in one block:

LazyVerticalGrid(
    // ...
) {
    item { Item(0) }
    item {
        Item(1)
        Item(2)
    }
    item { Item(3) }
    // ...
}

Lazy layouts will handle this as expected - they will lay out elements one after another as if they were different items. However, there are a couple of problems with doing so.

When multiple elements are emitted as part of one item, they are handled as one entity, meaning that they cannot be composed individually anymore. If one element becomes visible on the screen, then all elements corresponding to the item have to be composed and measured. This can hurt performance if used excessively. In the extreme case of putting all elements in one item, it completely defeats the purpose of using Lazy layouts. Apart from potential performance issues, putting more elements in one item will also interfere with scrollToItem() & animateScrollToItem().

However, there are valid use cases for putting multiple elements in one item, like having dividers inside a list. You do not want dividers to change scrolling indices, as they shouldn’t be considered independent elements. Also, performance will not be affected as dividers are small. A divider will likely need to be visible when the item before it is visible, so they can be part of the previous item:

LazyVerticalGrid(
    // ...
) {
    item { Item(0) }
    item {
        Item(1)
        Divider()
    }
    item { Item(2) }
    // ...
}

Consider using custom arrangements

Usually Lazy lists have many items, and they occupy more than the size of the scrolling container. However, when your list is populated with few items, your design can have more specific requirements for how these should be positioned in the viewport.

To achieve this, you can use custom vertical Arrangement and pass it to the LazyColumn. In the following example, the TopWithFooter object only needs to implement the arrange method. Firstly, it will position items one after another. Secondly, if the total used height is lower than the viewport height, it will position the footer at the bottom:

object TopWithFooter : Arrangement.Vertical {
    override fun Density.arrange(
        totalSize: Int,
        sizes: IntArray,
        outPositions: IntArray
    ) {
        var y = 0
        sizes.forEachIndexed { index, size ->
            outPositions[index] = y
            y += size
        }
        if (y < totalSize) {
            val lastIndex =
                outPositions.lastIndex
            outPositions[lastIndex] =
                totalSize - sizes.last()
        }
    }
}

Consider adding contentType

Starting with Compose 1.2, in order to maximize the performance of your Lazy layout, consider adding contentType to your lists or grids. This allows you to specify the content type for each item of the layout, in cases where you're composing a list or a grid consisting of multiple different types of items:

LazyColumn {
    items(elements, contentType = { it.type }) {
        // ...
    }
}

When you provide the contentType, Compose is able to reuse compositions only between the items of the same type. As reusing is more efficient when you compose items of similar structure, providing the content types ensures Compose doesn't try to compose an item of type A on top of a completely different item of type B. This helps maximize the benefits of composition reusing and your Lazy layout performance.

Measuring performance

You can only reliably measure the performance of a Lazy layout when running in release mode and with R8 optimisation enabled. On debug builds, Lazy layout scrolling may appear slower. For more information on this, read through Compose performance.