top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobin Alex Panicker

Implementing Reactive Programming in Android Apps Using Kotlin Flow


Implementing Reactive Programming in Android Apps Using Kotlin Flow

In recent years, reactive programming has gained popularity in the Android development community due to its ability to handle asynchronous operations in a more efficient and concise manner. Kotlin Flow, introduced as part of Kotlin Coroutines, provides a powerful API for implementing reactive streams in Android apps.


In this blog post, we will delve into Kotlin Flow and explore how to implement it in an Android app.


Prerequisites


To follow along with this tutorial, you should have a basic understanding of Kotlin and asynchronous programming concepts in Android using coroutines.


What is Kotlin Flow?


Kotlin Flow is a type of cold asynchronous stream that emits multiple values sequentially over time. It is designed to handle asynchronous data streams and provides an elegant way to handle complex operations without blocking the main thread. It builds upon Kotlin coroutines and leverages their features such as cancellation and exception handling.


Implementing Kotlin Flow


Step 1: Set Up Your Project


Start by creating a new Android project in Android Studio. Make sure you have the latest version of Kotlin and the Kotlin Coroutines library added to your project.


Step 2: Add the Kotlin Flow Dependency


Open the build.gradle file for your app module and add the following dependency:

implementation 'org.jetbrains.kotlinx:kotlinx-coroutines-android:1.7.2'

Sync your project to download the dependency.


Step 3: Create a Flow


In Kotlin Flow, data is emitted from a flow using the emit() function. Let's create a simple flow that emits a list of integers:

import kotlinx.coroutines.delay
import kotlinx.coroutines.flow.Flow
import kotlinx.coroutines.flow.flow

fun getNumbersFlow(): Flow<List<Int>> = flow {
    for (i in 1..5) {
        delay(1000) // Simulate a delay of 1 second
        emit((1..i).toList())
    }
}

In this example, we define a function getNumbersFlow() that returns a flow of lists of integers. The flow builder is used to create the flow. Inside the flow block, we use emit() to emit a list of integers from 1 to i for each iteration.


Step 4: Collect and Observe the Flow


To consume the values emitted by a flow, we need to collect and observe them. In Android, this is typically done in an activity or fragment.


Let's see how to collect the values emitted by our flow:

import kotlinx.coroutines.Dispatchers
import kotlinx.coroutines.GlobalScope
import kotlinx.coroutines.flow.collect
import kotlinx.coroutines.launch

class MainActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
        setContentView(R.layout.activity_main)

        GlobalScope.launch(Dispatchers.Main) {
            getNumbersFlow().collect { numbers ->
                // Handle the emitted numbers here
            }
        }
    }
}

In this code snippet, we launch a coroutine on the main thread using GlobalScope.launch. Inside the coroutine, we call collect() on our flow to start collecting the emitted values. The lambda passed to collect() receives the emitted list of numbers, which we can handle as needed.


Step 5: Handle Cancellation and Exceptions


Kotlin Flow provides built-in support for handling cancellation and exceptions. Let's modify our previous code to handle cancellation and exceptions:

import kotlinx.coroutines.Dispatchers
import kotlinx.coroutines.GlobalScope
import kotlinx.coroutines.flow.catch
import kotlinx.coroutines.flow.collect
import kotlinx.coroutines.launch

class MainActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
    private val exceptionHandler = CoroutineExceptionHandler { _, throwable ->
        // Handle the exception here
    }

    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
        setContentView(R.layout.activity_main)

        GlobalScope.launch(Dispatchers.Main + exceptionHandler) {
            try {
                getNumbersFlow()
                    .catch { throwable ->
                        // Handle the exception here
                    }
                    .collect { numbers ->
                        // Handle the emitted numbers here
                    }
            } catch (e: Exception) {
                // Handle other exceptions here
            }
        }
    }
}

In this code, we use the catch operator to catch any exceptions that occur during the flow collection. The exceptionHandler provides a global exception handler for the coroutine.


Step 6: Use Flow Operators


Kotlin Flow provides a wide range of operators to transform, combine, and filter flows.


Let's explore a few examples:

import kotlinx.coroutines.flow.map
import kotlinx.coroutines.flow.filter

fun getSquareNumbersFlow(): Flow<List<Int>> = getNumbersFlow()
    .map { numbers -> numbers.map { it * it } }

fun getEvenNumbersFlow(): Flow<List<Int>> = getNumbersFlow()
    .map { numbers -> numbers.filter { it % 2 == 0 } }

In this code snippet, we define two new flow functions. getSquareNumbersFlow() uses the map operator to transform the emitted numbers into their squares. getEvenNumbersFlow() uses the filter operator to filter out only the even numbers.


Conclusion


Kotlin Flow provides a powerful and concise way to handle asynchronous data streams in Android apps. By leveraging the capabilities of Kotlin coroutines, you can implement reactive programming patterns and handle complex asynchronous operations with ease. In this tutorial, we explored the basics of Kotlin Flow and demonstrated how to create, collect, and observe flows in an Android app. Experiment with different operators and incorporate flows into your projects to build robust and efficient apps.


Happy coding!

Blog for Mobile App Developers, Testers and App Owners

 

This blog is from Finotes Team. Finotes is a lightweight mobile APM and bug detection tool for iOS and Android apps.

In this blog we talk about iOS and Android app development technologies, languages and frameworks like Java, Kotlin, Swift, Objective-C, Dart and Flutter that are used to build mobile apps. Read articles from Finotes team about good programming and software engineering practices, testing and QA practices, performance issues and bugs, concepts and techniques. 

bottom of page