Android Dashboard Design Tutorial

Android dashboard screen is an important element in android apps which provides easy navigation to prior functionalities of app. In this tutorial i am going to discuss how to build a dashboard screen for your app.

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As a reference i am using some of the code from Google I/O app. In this article i am taking an example of facebook android dashboard screen and below is a screenshot of final output.

Android dashboard screen design

The main goal is to achieve dashboard screen layout and provide navigation to related screens on selecting appropriate icon on the dashboard.

So let’s start by creating simple project.

1. Create a new project by going to File ⇒ New Android Project. Fill all the details and name your activity as AndroidDashboardDesignActivity.
2. In this project i am separating dashboard screen into Action Bar(Header), Dashboard and Footer. Finally i will merge all layouts together.
3. Under res/values create a new xml file and name it as styles.xml
( Right Click on res/layout ⇒ New ⇒ Android XML File) and fill it with following code.

<resources>
    <style name="ActionBarCompat">
        <item name="android:layout_width">fill_parent</item>
        <item name="android:layout_height">50dp</item>
        <item name="android:orientation">horizontal</item>
        <item name="android:background">@drawable/actionbar_background</item>
    </style>
       
    <style name="DashboardButton">
        <item name="android:layout_gravity">center_vertical</item>
        <item name="android:layout_width">wrap_content</item>
        <item name="android:layout_height">wrap_content</item>
        <item name="android:gravity">center_horizontal</item>
        <item name="android:drawablePadding">2dp</item>
        <item name="android:textSize">16dp</item>
        <item name="android:textStyle">bold</item>
        <item name="android:textColor">#ff29549f</item>
        <item name="android:background">@null</item>
    </style>    
    
   <style name="FooterBar">
        <item name="android:layout_width">fill_parent</item>
        <item name="android:layout_height">40dp</item>
        <item name="android:orientation">horizontal</item>
        <item name="android:background">#dedede</item>
    </style>     
</resources>

⇒ Designing Actionbar (Header)

Design two images for 1. Gradient background for action-bar background, 2. Logo of the application.

Android action bar and logo

4. Create new xml file under res/layouts and name it as actionbar_layout.xml
( Right Click on res/layout ⇒ New ⇒ Android XML File) and type the following code.

<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" 
    style="@style/ActionBarCompat" >

    <ImageView
        android:layout_width="wrap_content"
        android:layout_height="fill_parent"
        android:clickable="false"
        android:paddingLeft="15dip"
        android:scaleType="center"
        android:src="@drawable/facebook_logo" />

</LinearLayout>

⇒ Designing Dashboard

For dashboard design your icons using some graphic editor software (i used Photoshop to create icons). Design each icon for three stages Default State, Hover state and Selected state. Create all icons with 90px height.

Android dashboard icons facebook

5. Create a new class under res/package. Right Click on src/package folder ⇒ New ⇒ Class and name it as DashboardLayout.java and fill it with following code.

package com.androidhive.dashboard;
/*
 * Copyright 2011 Google Inc.
 *
 * Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
 * you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
 * You may obtain a copy of the License at
 *
 *      http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0
 *
 * Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
 * distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
 * WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied.
 * See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
 * limitations under the License.
 */
import android.content.Context;
import android.util.AttributeSet;
import android.view.View;
import android.view.ViewGroup;

/**
 * Custom layout that arranges children in a grid-like manner, optimizing for even horizontal and
 * vertical whitespace.
 */
public class DashboardLayout extends ViewGroup {

    private static final int UNEVEN_GRID_PENALTY_MULTIPLIER = 10;

    private int mMaxChildWidth = 0;
    private int mMaxChildHeight = 0;

    public DashboardLayout(Context context) {
        super(context, null);
    }

    public DashboardLayout(Context context, AttributeSet attrs) {
        super(context, attrs, 0);
    }

    public DashboardLayout(Context context, AttributeSet attrs, int defStyle) {
        super(context, attrs, defStyle);
    }

    @Override
    protected void onMeasure(int widthMeasureSpec, int heightMeasureSpec) {
        mMaxChildWidth = 0;
        mMaxChildHeight = 0;

        // Measure once to find the maximum child size.

        int childWidthMeasureSpec = MeasureSpec.makeMeasureSpec(
                MeasureSpec.getSize(widthMeasureSpec), MeasureSpec.AT_MOST);
        int childHeightMeasureSpec = MeasureSpec.makeMeasureSpec(
                MeasureSpec.getSize(widthMeasureSpec), MeasureSpec.AT_MOST);

        final int count = getChildCount();
        for (int i = 0; i < count; i++) {
            final View child = getChildAt(i);
            if (child.getVisibility() == GONE) {
                continue;
            }

            child.measure(childWidthMeasureSpec, childHeightMeasureSpec);

            mMaxChildWidth = Math.max(mMaxChildWidth, child.getMeasuredWidth());
            mMaxChildHeight = Math.max(mMaxChildHeight, child.getMeasuredHeight());
        }

        // Measure again for each child to be exactly the same size.

        childWidthMeasureSpec = MeasureSpec.makeMeasureSpec(
                mMaxChildWidth, MeasureSpec.EXACTLY);
        childHeightMeasureSpec = MeasureSpec.makeMeasureSpec(
                mMaxChildHeight, MeasureSpec.EXACTLY);

        for (int i = 0; i < count; i++) {
            final View child = getChildAt(i);
            if (child.getVisibility() == GONE) {
                continue;
            }

            child.measure(childWidthMeasureSpec, childHeightMeasureSpec);
        }

        setMeasuredDimension(
                resolveSize(mMaxChildWidth, widthMeasureSpec),
                resolveSize(mMaxChildHeight, heightMeasureSpec));
    }

    @Override
    protected void onLayout(boolean changed, int l, int t, int r, int b) {
        int width = r - l;
        int height = b - t;

        final int count = getChildCount();

        // Calculate the number of visible children.
        int visibleCount = 0;
        for (int i = 0; i < count; i++) {
            final View child = getChildAt(i);
            if (child.getVisibility() == GONE) {
                continue;
            }
            ++visibleCount;
        }

        if (visibleCount == 0) {
            return;
        }

        // Calculate what number of rows and columns will optimize for even horizontal and
        // vertical whitespace between items. Start with a 1 x N grid, then try 2 x N, and so on.
        int bestSpaceDifference = Integer.MAX_VALUE;
        int spaceDifference;

        // Horizontal and vertical space between items
        int hSpace = 0;
        int vSpace = 0;

        int cols = 1;
        int rows;

        while (true) {
            rows = (visibleCount - 1) / cols + 1;

            hSpace = ((width - mMaxChildWidth * cols) / (cols + 1));
            vSpace = ((height - mMaxChildHeight * rows) / (rows + 1));

            spaceDifference = Math.abs(vSpace - hSpace);
            if (rows * cols != visibleCount) {
                spaceDifference *= UNEVEN_GRID_PENALTY_MULTIPLIER;
            }

            if (spaceDifference < bestSpaceDifference) {
                // Found a better whitespace squareness/ratio
                bestSpaceDifference = spaceDifference;

                // If we found a better whitespace squareness and there's only 1 row, this is
                // the best we can do.
                if (rows == 1) {
                    break;
                }
            } else {
                // This is a worse whitespace ratio, use the previous value of cols and exit.
                --cols;
                rows = (visibleCount - 1) / cols + 1;
                hSpace = ((width - mMaxChildWidth * cols) / (cols + 1));
                vSpace = ((height - mMaxChildHeight * rows) / (rows + 1));
                break;
            }

            ++cols;
        }

        // Lay out children based on calculated best-fit number of rows and cols.

        // If we chose a layout that has negative horizontal or vertical space, force it to zero.
        hSpace = Math.max(0, hSpace);
        vSpace = Math.max(0, vSpace);

        // Re-use width/height variables to be child width/height.
        width = (width - hSpace * (cols + 1)) / cols;
        height = (height - vSpace * (rows + 1)) / rows;

        int left, top;
        int col, row;
        int visibleIndex = 0;
        for (int i = 0; i < count; i++) {
            final View child = getChildAt(i);
            if (child.getVisibility() == GONE) {
                continue;
            }

            row = visibleIndex / cols;
            col = visibleIndex % cols;

            left = hSpace * (col + 1) + width * col;
            top = vSpace * (row + 1) + height * row;

            child.layout(left, top,
                    (hSpace == 0 && col == cols - 1) ? r : (left + width),
                    (vSpace == 0 && row == rows - 1) ? b : (top + height));
            ++visibleIndex;
        }
    }
}

6. Now we need to create a layout file dashboard screen. Create a new xml file under src/layouts and name it as fragment_layout.xml
( Right Click on res/layout ⇒ New ⇒ Android XML File)

<!-- Your package folder -->
<com.androidhive.dashboard.DashboardLayout
    xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:layout_weight="1"
    android:background="#f8f9fe" >
	<!--  News Feed Button -->
    <Button
        android:id="@+id/btn_news_feed"
        style="@style/DashboardButton"
        android:drawableTop="@drawable/btn_newsfeed"
        android:text="News Feed" />
    
	<!--  Friends Button -->
    <Button
        android:id="@+id/btn_friends"
        style="@style/DashboardButton"
        android:drawableTop="@drawable/btn_friends"
        android:text="Friends" />
    
	<!--  Messages Button -->
    <Button
        android:id="@+id/btn_messages"
        style="@style/DashboardButton"
        android:drawableTop="@drawable/btn_messages"
        android:text="Messages" />
	
    <!--  Places Button -->
    <Button
        android:id="@+id/btn_places"
        style="@style/DashboardButton"
        android:drawableTop="@drawable/btn_places"
        android:text="Places" />

    <!--  Events Button -->
    <Button
        android:id="@+id/btn_events"
        style="@style/DashboardButton"
        android:drawableTop="@drawable/btn_events"
        android:text="Events" />

    <!--  Photos Button -->
    <Button
        android:id="@+id/btn_photos"
        style="@style/DashboardButton"
        android:drawableTop="@drawable/btn_photos"
        android:text="Photos" />

</com.androidhive.dashboard.DashboardLayout>

The output of above code will be

Android dashboard design facebook

⇒ Designing Footer

7. Create a new xml file under res/layout and name it as footer_layout.xml and type the following code.

⇒ Merging all layout together

So far we designed Action bar, Dashboard and Footer. Finally we need to merge all layouts in one xml file.

8. Create a new xml file under src/layouts and name it as dashboard_layout.xml and type following code.
( Right Click on res/layout ⇒ New ⇒ Android XML File)

<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:id="@+id/home_root"
    android:orientation="vertical"
    android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent">
    	<!-- Include Action Bar -->
    	<include layout="@layout/actionbar_layout"/>
    	
    	<!--  Include Fragmented dashboard -->	
		<include layout="@layout/fragment_layout"/>	
		
		<!--  Include Footer -->
		<include layout="@layout/footer_layout"/>
    	    
</LinearLayout>

⇒ Switching between dashboard activities.

So far we created a static dashboard which has no functioning at all. So we need to add some functionality like launching separate activity for each icon on the dashboard. In this case i had 6 icons on my dashboard, so i need 6 Activities one for each icon. In my previous article How to switch between Activities in Android i explained switching between activites.

Android dashboard screen design

9. Open your main activity class file and paste following code.(AndroidDashboardDesignActivity.java)

package com.androidhive.dashboard;

import android.app.Activity;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.view.View;
import android.widget.Button;
import androidhive.dashboard.R;

public class AndroidDashboardDesignActivity extends Activity {
    
    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
        setContentView(R.layout.dashboard_layout);
        
        /**
         * Creating all buttons instances
         * */
        // Dashboard News feed button
        Button btn_newsfeed = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btn_news_feed);
        
        // Dashboard Friends button
        Button btn_friends = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btn_friends);
        
        // Dashboard Messages button
        Button btn_messages = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btn_messages);
        
        // Dashboard Places button
        Button btn_places = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btn_places);
        
        // Dashboard Events button
        Button btn_events = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btn_events);
        
        // Dashboard Photos button
        Button btn_photos = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btn_photos);
        
        /**
         * Handling all button click events
         * */
        
        // Listening to News Feed button click
        btn_newsfeed.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
			
			@Override
			public void onClick(View view) {
				// Launching News Feed Screen
				Intent i = new Intent(getApplicationContext(), NewsFeedActivity.class);
				startActivity(i);
			}
		});
        
       // Listening Friends button click
        btn_friends.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
			
			@Override
			public void onClick(View view) {
				// Launching News Feed Screen
				Intent i = new Intent(getApplicationContext(), FriendsActivity.class);
				startActivity(i);
			}
		});
        
        // Listening Messages button click
        btn_messages.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
			
			@Override
			public void onClick(View view) {
				// Launching News Feed Screen
				Intent i = new Intent(getApplicationContext(), MessagesActivity.class);
				startActivity(i);
			}
		});
        
        // Listening to Places button click
        btn_places.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
			
			@Override
			public void onClick(View view) {
				// Launching News Feed Screen
				Intent i = new Intent(getApplicationContext(), PlacesActivity.class);
				startActivity(i);
			}
		});
        
        // Listening to Events button click
        btn_events.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
			
			@Override
			public void onClick(View view) {
				// Launching News Feed Screen
				Intent i = new Intent(getApplicationContext(), EventsActivity.class);
				startActivity(i);
			}
		});
        
        // Listening to Photos button click
        btn_photos.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
			
			@Override
			public void onClick(View view) {
				// Launching News Feed Screen
				Intent i = new Intent(getApplicationContext(), PhotosActivity.class);
				startActivity(i);
			}
		});
    }
}

10. Create a new class under res/package. Right Click on src/package folder ⇒ New ⇒ Class and name it as NewsFeedActivity.java and fill it with following code.
You also need to create
NewsFeedActivity.java
FriendsActivity.java
MessagesActivity.java
PlacesActivity.java
EventsActivity.java
PhotosActivity.java

package com.androidhive.dashboard;

import android.app.Activity;
import android.os.Bundle;
import androidhive.dashboard.R;

public class NewsFeedActivity extends Activity {
	 /** Called when the activity is first created. */
    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
        setContentView(R.layout.news_feed_layout);
    }
}

11. Also create a layout xml files for all your activities.
news_feed_layout.xml
friends_layout.xml
messages_layout.xml
places_layout.xml
events_layout.xml
photos_layout.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:background="#f8f9fe"
    android:orientation="vertical" >

    <include layout="@layout/actionbar_layout" />

    <LinearLayout
        android:layout_width="fill_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content" >

        <TextView
            android:layout_width="fill_parent"
            android:layout_height="wrap_content"
            android:padding="15dip"
            android:text="News Feed Screen"
            android:textColor="#ff29549f"
            android:textSize="25dip"
            android:textStyle="bold" />
    </LinearLayout>

</LinearLayout>

Adding Activity entries in AndroidManifest.xml

12. Dont’t forget to add an entry of all activities in your AndroidManifest.xml file. Open you AndroidManifest.xml file and modify the code as below

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    package="androidhive.dashboard"
    android:versionCode="1"
    android:versionName="1.0" >

    <uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion="8" />

    <application
        android:icon="@drawable/ic_launcher"
        android:label="@string/app_name" >
        <activity
            android:label="@string/app_name"
            android:name="com.androidhive.dashboard.AndroidDashboardDesignActivity" >
            <intent-filter >
                <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />

                <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
            </intent-filter>
        </activity>

        <!-- News Feed Activity -->
        <activity android:name="com.androidhive.dashboard.NewsFeedActivity" ></activity>

        <!-- Friends Activity -->
        <activity android:name="com.androidhive.dashboard.FriendsActivity" ></activity>

        <!-- Messages Activity -->
        <activity android:name="com.androidhive.dashboard.MessagesActivity" ></activity>

        <!-- Places Activity -->
        <activity android:name="com.androidhive.dashboard.PlacesActivity" ></activity>

        <!-- Events Activity -->
        <activity android:name="com.androidhive.dashboard.EventsActivity" ></activity>
        
        <!-- Photos Activity -->
        <activity android:name="com.androidhive.dashboard.PhotosActivity" ></activity>
    </application>

</manifest>

Run your project by right clicking on your project folder ⇒ Run As ⇒ 1 Android Application.

This image is for thumbnail purpose.android dashboard screen design