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Android Views (part 3) - CheckBoxes, RadioButtons, and Spinners

11/5/2011 3:32:36 PM
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4. CheckBoxes, RadioButtons, and Spinners

The Views we present in this section are probably familiar to you from other user interfaces. Their purpose is to allow the user to choose from multiple options. CheckBoxes are typically used when you want to offer multiple selections with a yes/no or true/false choice for each. RadioButtons are used when only one choice is allowed at a time.

Spinners are similar to combo boxes in some frameworks. A combo box typically displays the currently selected option, along with a pull-down list from which the user can click on another option to select it.

Android has adapted these familiar components to make them more useful in a touchscreen environment. Figure 3 shows the three types of multiple-choice Views laid out on an Android application, with the Spinner pulled down to show the options.

Figure 3. CheckBox, RadioButtons, and Spinner

The layout XML file that created the screen in the figure looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<LinearLayout xmlns:android=""
android:text="CheckBox: Not checked"
<RadioButton android:id="@+id/RB1" android:text="Button1" />
<RadioButton android:id="@+id/RB2" android:text="Button2" />
<RadioButton android:id="@+id/RB3" android:text="Button3" />
android:text="RadioGroup: Nothing picked"

The file just lists each View we want on the screen along with the attributes we want. A RadioGroup is really a ViewGroup, so it contains the appropriate RadioButton Views. Example 3 shows the Java file that responds to user clicks.

Example 3. Java for CheckBox, RadioButtons, and Spinner

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.HashMap;
import java.util.List;


import android.os.Bundle;
import android.util.Log;
import android.view.View;
import android.widget.AdapterView;
import android.widget.ArrayAdapter;
import android.widget.CheckBox;
import android.widget.RadioButton;
import android.widget.RadioGroup;
import android.widget.Spinner;
import android.widget.TextView;
import android.widget.AdapterView.OnItemSelectedListener;

public class SelectExample extends Activity {

private CheckBox checkBox;
private TextView txtCheckBox, txtRadio;
private RadioButton rb1, rb2, rb3;
private Spinner spnMusketeers;

/** Called when the activity is first created. */
public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

checkBox = (CheckBox) findViewById(;
txtCheckBox = (TextView) findViewById(;
txtRadio = (TextView) findViewById(;
rb1 = (RadioButton) findViewById(;
rb2 = (RadioButton) findViewById(;
rb3 = (RadioButton) findViewById(;
spnMusketeers = (Spinner) findViewById(;

// React to events from the CheckBox
checkBox.setOnClickListener(new CheckBox.OnClickListener() {
public void onClick(View v){
if (checkBox.isChecked()) {
txtCheckBox.setText("CheckBox: Box is checked");
txtCheckBox.setText("CheckBox: Not checked");

// React to events from the RadioGroup
rb1.setOnClickListener(new RadioGroup.OnClickListener() {
public void onClick(View v){
txtRadio.setText("Radio: Button 1 picked");

rb2.setOnClickListener(new RadioGroup.OnClickListener() {
public void onClick(View v){
txtRadio.setText("Radio: Button 2 picked");

rb3.setOnClickListener(new RadioGroup.OnClickListener() {
public void onClick(View v){
txtRadio.setText("Radio: Button 3 picked");

// Set up the Spinner entries
List<String> lsMusketeers = new ArrayList<String>();

ArrayAdapter<String> aspnMusketeers =
new ArrayAdapter<String>(this, android.R.layout.simple_spinner_item,

// Set up a callback for the spinner
new OnItemSelectedListener() {
public void onNothingSelected(AdapterView<?> arg0) { }

public void onItemSelected(AdapterView<?> parent, View v,
int position, long id) {

// Code that does something when the Spinner value changes

The Views work as follows:


The CheckBox View takes care of flipping its state back and forth and displaying the appropriate checkmark when the state is true. All you have to do is create an “OnClickListener” to catch click events, and you can add whatever code you want to react.


As mentioned earlier, the RadioGroup View is really a ViewGroup that contains any number of RadioButton Views. The user can select only one of the buttons at a time, and you capture the selections by setting OnClickListeners for each RadioButton. Note that clicking on one of the RadioButtons does not fire a click event for the RadioGroup.


Spinners require the most work of these three Views, but can also provide the best use of scarce screen real estate. As shown, the Spinner is normally collapsed to the currently selected entry, and when you touch the down arrow on the right, it presents a drop-down list of the other choices. To make that happen, you must:

  1. Create a list of the selections (which can be a dynamic list built and changed by your application).

  2. Create an ArrayAdapter from the list that the Spinner can use for its drop-down list. Note that the formats shown for the ArrayAdapter (simple_spinner_item and simple_spinner_dropdown_item) are defined by Android; they do not appear in your resource XML files.

  3. Create an onItemSelectedListener for the Spinner to capture select events. The listener has to contain both an onItemSelected method and an onNothingSelected method.

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