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Android: Section headers with RecyclerView and multiple view types

Android RecyclerView doesn't have section headers natively. Mainly because this is an iOS-centric feature and often looks odd in Android. However, sometimes your employers don't care!
 
We achieve this effect, however, with RecyclerView view types.
 
Firstly, instead of passing a String list, for example, to your recycler view adapter, pass a list of objects that specify whether the data should be used as a section header or not. Here's an example of that.

// In a fuller example, this would probably hold more data than just strings.
public class SectionOrRow {

    private String row;
    private String section;
    private boolean isRow;

    public static SectionOrRow createRow(String row) {
        SectionOrRow ret = new SectionOrRow();
        ret.row = row;
        ret.isRow = true;
        return ret;
    }

    public static SectionOrRow createSection(String section) {
        SectionOrRow ret = new SectionOrRow();
        ret.section = section;
        ret.isRow = false;
        return ret;
    }

    public String getRow() {
        return row;
    }

    public String getSection() {
        return section;
    }

    public boolean isRow() {
        return isRow;
    }
}

We create one of these objects with SectionOrRow.createRow("a normal row") or SectionOrRow.createSection("a section header"), and the isRow boolean is set accordingly.
 
Once you've created a list of these objects let's now send them to our recycler view:

public class MyRecycler extends RecyclerView.Adapter<RecyclerView.ViewHolder>{

    private List<SectionOrRow> mData;

    public MyRecycler(List<SectionOrRow> data) {
        mData = data;
    }

    ...

    @Override
    public int getItemCount() {
        return mData.size();
    }

    ...

  }

This is standard, with the data passed in and the item count coming from the data.
 
Next let's define the getItemViewType method, which tells our recycler view there will be two types, a row type and a section type, and we'll specify which position these are in by looking at the isRow boolean in our above data object:

@Override
public int getItemViewType(int position) {
    super.getItemViewType(position);
    SectionOrRow item = mData.get(position);
    if(!item.isRow()) {
        return 0;
    } else {
        return 1;
    }
}

Now there's two type types, we'll need two types of views in our onCreateViewHolder. In our case, we're just using the standard simple_list_item_1 for both but with a blue text background for the section. Your rows and section headers will obviously be more complex:

@Override
public RecyclerView.ViewHolder onCreateViewHolder(ViewGroup parent, int viewType) {
    if(viewType==0) {
        View v = LayoutInflater.from(parent.getContext()).inflate(android.R.layout.simple_list_item_1, parent, false);
        v.findViewById(android.R.id.text1).setBackgroundColor(Color.BLUE);
        return new SectionViewHolder(v);
    } else {
        View v = LayoutInflater.from(parent.getContext()).inflate(android.R.layout.simple_list_item_1, parent, false);
        return new RowViewHolder(v);
    }
}

This also shows we have two different view holders. Because our layout is so simple, these are pretty much the same, but in a fuller example they would be different:

public class RowViewHolder extends RecyclerView.ViewHolder{
    private TextView textView;
    public RowViewHolder(View itemView) {
        super(itemView);
        textView = (TextView) itemView.findViewById(android.R.id.text1);
    }
}

public class SectionViewHolder extends RecyclerView.ViewHolder{
    private TextView textView;
    public SectionViewHolder(View itemView) {
        super(itemView);
        textView = (TextView) itemView.findViewById(android.R.id.text1);
    }
}

Finally, let's display the row in onBindViewHolder. Depending on whether it's a row or not, we cast the holder to appropriate type, and give it some data that we managed to pass in.

@Override
public void onBindViewHolder(RecyclerView.ViewHolder holder, int position) {
    SectionOrRow item = mData.get(position);
    if(item.isRow()) {
        RowViewHolder h = (RowViewHolder) holder;
        h.textView.setText(item.getRow());
    } else {
        SectionViewHolder h = (SectionViewHolder) holder;
        h.textView.setText(item.getSection());
    }
}

And that's the basics of putting sections in your RecyclerView with view types.

android android-recyclerview


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