Build a Chat App with Lifecycle-Aware Components for Android

Published March 28, 2018 by Chris Guzman

The Nexmo In-App SDK makes it easy for you to build chat features into your Android apps. When combined with Android Architecture Components, the Nexmo In-App SDK can help you produce better-organized, easier to maintain, and lighter-weight code. In this post, we’re going to take our first Android quickstart and add lifecycle-aware components so that it’s a bit easier to maintain.

If you followed along with the first quickstart, you’ll see that we subscribe and unsubscribe to message events in the lifecycle callbacks within our activities. But by adding lifecycle-aware components to our app, we can move the code of dependent components out of the lifecycle methods and into the components themselves.

Before You Begin

Before we begin you should complete the first quickstart or you can clone the source code of the quickstart. You’ll also need to generate a user JWT and retrieve a conversation ID. You can follow the setup instructions for quickstart 1 to learn how to generate those.

Adding Lifecycle-Aware Components

Set up the dependencies

We’ll begin by adding the Google Maven repository. Open the build.gradle file for the project and add google() like so:

Then we can add the Lifecycles dependency. Let’s open the build.gradle file for the app and make sure it contains the following dependencies:

Implement a LifecycleObserver

Currently, the demo app subscribes and unsubscribes from message events in the ChatActivity. This works fine for a quickstart to get up and running but if we continue this pattern, our activity can become bloated with too many calls that manage the UI and other components in response to the current state of the lifecycle. So we’re going to separate our concerns by creating a class that can monitor the lifecycle of ChatActivity by adding annotations to this new class’s methods.

Let’s make a new class named StitchListenerComponent that will implement LifecycleObserver. Since our ChatActivity is using the onResume and onPause lifecycle callbacks, we’ll make two methods in our StitchListenerComponent: onPause() and onResume(). Then we can annotate those methods with the relevant @OnLifecycleEvent annotation. We’re also going to create a constructor and member variables so that the StitchListenerComponent can handle receiving messages and the SubscriptionList that belongs to the Conversation.

Then in ChatActivity we can observe the lifecycle with the StitchListenerComponent class we just created:

Moving the logic

Now that we’ve created our custom LifecycleObserver, we can move the logic that reacts to changes in lifecycle status from ChatActivity to StitchListenerComponent. We can remove the onResume, onPause, addListener, and showMessage methods from ChatActivity. Instead, all of that logic will live in StitchListenerComponent like so:

The methods include some log statements so that you can see for yourself that the methods annotated with @OnLifecycleEvent are being called. Open up logcat and check it out!

See the Chat App in Action

After making the changes detailed in this post, run the app to see it work. The app will still function the same as before, but now it’s in a better organized, more maintained state. Future developers working on this app will be grateful! If you’d like to see the app in its final state, you can check out the source code on our community github page.

What’s Next?

If you’d like to continue learning how to use the Nexmo In-App SDK for Android, check out our quickstarts where we show you how to invite and chat with another user and use more event listeners to show chat history and when a user is typing.

If you have more questions about using the Nexmo In-App SDK we encourage you to join the Nexmo community slack and check out our #stitch channel or email us directly at [email protected].

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