Android RecyclerView – Simple List


The replacement for ListView, GridView and a couple of other components. To gain good performance you need to implement the ViewHolder pattern unfortunately there is a lot of ways to mess that up. Now with the RecyclerView they forces you to implement the ViewHolder pattern and have made is more difficult to mess up.

You need a support lib to have backwards compatibility.

There is nothing special about adding a RecyclerView in your xml layout:


In the ListView you only had to set the adapter now you have to set the adapter and a LayoutManager. There are three LayoutManager provided at the moment;
GridLayoutManager, StaggeredGridLayoutManager and LinearLayoutManager the last one is the one I’m going to use for this tutorial.

To set the LayoutManager just use:

The complete setup would look something like this:

By default the LinearLayoutManager is vertical if you want it to be horizontal set


Now to the interesting part, the adapter, this is where it differ the most from the ListView setup. First of all you need to extend the RecyclerView.Adapter in the simplest way there is three methods you need to override; onCreateViewHolder, onBindViewHolder and getItemCount.

In the onCreateViewHolder method you inflate the view based on the viewType. The onBindViewHolder method is where you set the data on the view. getItemCount is kind of self explained.


There is a lot of new ‘notify…’ methods for notify different changes to a single item or a range of items. Because of this new notify methods I think it is cleaner to split up my adapter in an abstract superclass and a subclass. In the superclass I add the data logic and the view inflation in the subclass.

The superclass I call AbstractListAdapter here I put all my data methods like; add, move, delete and swap. By using the new notify methods you get a nice animation out of the box. This will be used when changing the data set.

If we like to change the whole data set we start by removing all deleted items and then add all new and swapping the ones that have moved. This will give us a really nice animation.


The in the subclass we do all out view creations I prefer to use inflation. There really isn’t that complicated. Instead of working with a view containing a ViewHolder we now have a ViewHolder containing a view. In onCreateViewHolder you create the ViewHolder based on the viewType.

Make sure that you in the ViewHolder’s constructor setup the different views otherwise you will get bad performance and add a bind method for setting the data.

… and in the onBindViewHolder you bind the data to the view through the ViewHolder.

In this example I have called my data object for Entity and it’s really important that you implement the equals and hashCode methods correctly to get the data methods in the AbstractListAdapter class to work correctly.


You can’t put a listener on the RecyclerView instead you have to implement it your self and to make it easy I usually add it on the adapter. Start by creating an interface and adding it to the adapter:

Update the ViewHolder:

The nice thing about this is that if you have different views you can add different OnClickListener on the different views and for example have several methods in your interface like:


As you probably have noticed there is no item divider in the RecyclerView, there is however several ways of hocking in stuff to the RecyclerView one of this ways are an ItemDecoration.

“An ItemDecoration allows the application to add a special drawing and layout offset to specific item views from the adapter’s data set. This can be useful for drawing dividers between items, highlights, visual grouping boundaries and more.”

In the SDK example code there is an example of how to do this: just add it to the RecyclerView.

So this is all you need to know to get started with the RecyclerView. There is an working example at: github


  1. yigit

    Little error in the adapter. Your moveEntity method calls swap which is not the same thing (unless they are adjacent).
    This will eventually cause a crash since RV received wrong notification.

  2. Sebastian


  3. JDubs

    Hi, thank you for a great article. Has the moveEntity method that yigit mentioned been corrected on this webpage?

    And has it been corrected at github source?

  4. Alex

    Thank’s for good example!

  5. Hi
    Thanks for your great tutorial.
    I have two questions:
    1. What is mInflater,mAdapter,mRecycler etc. And How should I define each one?

    2. How can I use it in a fragment. For Example what should I use instead of “this”?

  6. Buk4l4i4

    Thanks for the good tutorial, but in the setData method you call
    moveEntity(i, loc);

    i think it should be called

    moveEntity(loc, i);

    loc is the current position of the array element, and i the new position.

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