: Beginning Android

Fields: Now with 35% Less Typing!

Fields: Now with 35% Less Typing!

The AutoCompleteTextView is sort of a hybrid between the EditText (field) and the Spinner. With auto-completion, as the user types, the text is treated as a prefix filter, comparing the entered text as a prefix against a list of candidates. Matches are shown in a selection list that, like with Spinner, folds down from the field. The user can either type out an entry (e.g., something not in the list) or choose an entry from the list to be the value of the field.

AutoCompleteTextView subclasses EditText, so you can configure all the standard look-and-feel aspects, such as font face and color.

In addition, AutoCompleteTextView has a android:completionThreshold property, to indicate the minimum number of characters a user must enter before the list filtering begins.

You can give AutoCompleteTextView an adapter containing the list of candidate values via setAdapter(). However, since the user could type something not in the list, AutoCompleteTextView does not support selection listeners. Instead, you can register a TextWatcher, like you can with any EditText, to be notified when the text changes. These events will occur either because of manual typing or from a selection from the drop-down list.

The following is a familiar-looking XML layout, this time containing an AutoCompleteTextView (pulled from the Selection/AutoComplete sample application):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<AutoCompleteTextView android:id="@+id/edit"

The corresponding Java code is:

publicclass AutoCompleteDemoextends Activity
implements TextWatcher {
TextView selection;
AutoCompleteTextView edit;
String[] items={"lorem", "ipsum", "dolor", "sit", "amet",
"consectetuer", "adipiscing", "elit", "morbi", "vel",
"ligula", "vitae", "arcu", "aliquet", "mollis",
"etiam", "vel", "erat", "placerat", "ante",
"porttitor", "sodales", "pellentesque", "augue", "purus"};
public voidonCreate(Bundle icicle) {
selection = (TextView)findViewById(R.id.selection);
edit = (AutoCompleteTextView)findViewById(R.id.edit);
edit.setAdapter(new ArrayAdapter<String>(this,
android.R.layout.simple_dropdown_item_1line, items));
public voidonTextChanged(CharSequence s, int start, int before,
int count) {
public voidbeforeTextChanged(CharSequence s, int start,
int count, int after) {
// needed for interface, but not used
public voidafterTextChanged(Editable s) {
// needed for interface, but not used

This time, our activity implements TextWatcher, which means our callbacks are onTextChanged() and beforeTextChanged(). In this case, we are only interested in the former, and we update the selection label to match the AutoCompleteTextViews current contents.

Figures 8-6, 8-7, and 8-8 show the application results.

Figure 8-6.The AutoCompleteDemo sample application, as initially launched

Figure 8-7.The same application, after a few matching letters were entered, showing theauto-complete drop-down

Figure 8-8.The same application, after the auto-complete value was selected

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