Android Studio 3.0 – Initial Impressions of Tool Support

I have been using Android Studio 3.0 since since the alpha versions, and it is good to see it finally released.

This is just some initial comments on using some common and new Android tools and libraries with the 3.0 version of Android Studio and the associated Android Gradle plugin.

Hopefully this will be useful for anyone thinking of upgrading from Android Studio 2.x.

Java 8 Finally, Maybe

Java 8 was released back in 2014, and with Android Studio 3.0 it is finally supported in Android. Finally I can say goodbye to RetroLambda (although many thanks to the authors for this very useful library).

Just be aware that many of the Java 8 language features will only be available if the minSkdVersion is 24.

Since devices running Nougat or Oreo are still in the minority, supporting older versions will continue to be an issue for a while if you want to use Java 8. Some ideas floated around to support older API version, are to have min API version flavors or  do Build.VERSION checks for the API version in the code to provide alternative code paths.


The Jack tool chain has been replaced with the desugar tranformation process to support Java 8. Some older libraries and code may have some problems with this build stage.

JUnit 5

JUnit 5 has also been released recently, and with the help of this plugin you can use it for unit testing in Android Studio.

However if you use JUnit 4 Rules in your tests, there is limited support in JUnit 5 as they are meant to be replaced with extensions. Some Rules may be supported with the JUnit 5 migration support, but if not you will have to wait until the Rules are rewritten as extensions or not use the Rules at all.

Of course this is only for unit testing. Instrumentation tests still depend on JUnit 4 and the AndroidJUnitRunner.

Update (7 Dec 2017)

The authors of the JUnit5 plugin have stated that they now have support for JUnit 5 in instrumentation tests. I won’t be using it for a while since it requires the minSkdVersion to be 26. If anyone has tried this, please let me know how well it works.

Architecture Components, RxJava

I have also been using some of Google’s Architecture Components, but only the ViewModel and LiveData. This is another alternative to design patterns such as MVP or MVVM with Databinding.

If you use RxJava, then this will of course continue to work as it is compatible with Java 6. You may consider replacing RxJava with the more light weight LiveData for activities and fragments, and they can be adapted to each other.

Dependency Injection with Dagger

I have had no problems with Google’s Dagger, but be aware of the API changes for the Android Gradle plugin 3.0 in the gradle build file (e.g. implemention instead of compile, annotationProcessor instead of apt, etc).

See the Android Gradle plugin 3.0 migration guide.

Butterknife, Timber

Some common utilities like Butterknife and Timber for logging are working fine. I’m also using the slf4j binding for Timber without any trouble.

JRebel for Android

During the Android Studio alpha and beta process, JRebel for Android was always playing catch up with the latest version. I still have issues with the current version (2.4.14) of their free edition, so I am using instant run instead at the moment.

I’m a big fan of JRebel so I’m hoping they will have a stable version of their android plugin for Android Studio 3.0 soon.

AOP with AspectJ

There are various AspectJ plugins for Android,  and the one I have been using in Android Studio 2.x was this one. Unfortunately it doesn’t support the Android plugin for Gradle 3.0 yet, but the author seem to be working on it so hopefully the support will be there soon.

Update (15 Nov 2017)

Version 3.2.0 of the GradleAspectJ-Android plugin now supports the Android plugin for Gradle 3.0. I like this plugin because it supports both aj files and annotation style aspects.

Things will get better

Of course since Android Studio 3.0 has only recently got general release, we should expect tool and library support to improve going forward.

I have only scratched the surface with some common Android tools and libraries, and there are many more around. Please let me know of your experiences with others.

Android UI Test: Mocking the ViewModel with or without Dagger? Part 2

In the first part of this post, I explored the approach of setting up a UI test with a mock ViewModel without using Dagger 2 for dependency injection. I used the GithubBrowserSample app from the Architecture Components sample code to demonstrate disabling Dagger for UI testing, even though the app itself uses Dagger.

Now, using Dagger

There are various ways of using Dagger to provide fake or mock version of dependencies for testing. Generally they involve writing test versions of the component and module classes.

Then when the Espresso test is run, somehow the Dagger object graph that is built (incorporating the mock dependencies provided by the test module) is used instead of the one used just for the app. Some of the ways to do this includes:

  • Include a hook into the application class to replace the Dagger components with the test versions.

  • Once again create a test version of the application class in the androidTest directory. Here the test application would be a subclass of the app application class where the code to build the Dagger graph is overriden with the test version.

Of course, this would mean writing a custom test runner to use instead of AndroidJUnitRunner in the gradle build file.

public class YourApp extends Application implements hasActivityInjector {

  DispatchingAndroidInjector<Activity> dispatchingAndroidInjector;
  public DispatchingAndroidInjector<Activity> activityInjector() {
    return dispatchingAndroidInjector;

// The test app in the androidTest directory
public class TestApp extends YourApp {

  public AndroidInjector<Activity> activityInjector() {
    return new AndroidInjector<Activity>() {
      public void inject(Activity instance) {
        // inject the fake / mock dependencies into the activity
        // e.g.
        ((YourActivity)instance).viewModelFactory = ...

Other options I came across in my research include:

  • There is the DaggerMock library that uses a JUnit Rule to override Dagger objects. This is a nice idea, but currently DaggerMock only has limited support for Dagger Android. In particular it does not handle abstract modules and methods which some of the Dagger Android annotations depend on.
  • Include a hook in the activity to set dependencies.

Disadvantages, again

As I mentioned in the previous post, any of these approaches that uses a custom test application class for instrumentation testing would apply the same Dagger object graph to all the tests. This is not suitable for my situation where I only want to mock the ViewModel for the UI tests, but use the real one for other tests.

Other ways require making code changes to the app just to accommodate testing. This is a bit of a hack and not good design.

One Possible Solution

The solution I decided to use was based on this gist. The test module was used to create a AndroidInjector that would inject a custom ViewModel factory into the test activity. In turn the custom ViewModel factory would provide the mock ViewModel.

return new AndroidInjector<MyActivity>() {
  public void inject(MyActivity instance) {
    // create the viewmodel mocks
    MyViewModel viewModel = Mockito.mock(MyViewModel.class);

    // create the livedata used to return results
    MutableLiveData<Data> returnedData = new MutableLiveData<>();

    // set test data
    Data expectedData = ...

    // set the custom viewmodel factory that just returns the mocks
    instance.viewModelFactory = ViewModelUtil.createFor(viewModel);

This approach did have the downside of requiring a lot of boilerplate code. But it also allowed me to only mock the ViewModel for the UI tests, without affecting the other tests.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this post are not meant to apply to all instrumentation testing with Dagger.

They are only for the specific use case of trying to mock the ViewModel for my UI tests, while not affecting other instrumentation tests.


Android UI Test: Mocking the ViewModel with or without Dagger?

An Android app I’m currently working on has the following architecture:

When it came to testing the views , I wanted to write some UI tests using Espresso. These would just test just the activities and fragments with a mock backend.

With the Architecture Components I thought this would be fairly simple since all the interactions between the view and the backend services should be done through the ViewModel. Hence all I would need to do is to provide a mock ViewModel (in my case using Mockito).

Additionally I wanted to find a solution that:

  • was simple and straightforward, without the need for workarounds or hacks if possible
  • did not require any changes or additional code in the app just to accommodate testing

Looking at the Google sample code – no Dagger for UI Tests!

Since Google provides sample code for the Architecture Components, that’s the first place I looked. In particular the GithubBrowserSample seemed to be what I was after, this is from the README:

UI Tests

The projects uses Espresso for UI testing. Since each fragment is limited to a ViewModel, each test mocks related ViewModel to run the tests.

However, when I looked at the sample code for their UI tests, I was in for a surprise. Although the sample app itself uses Dagger DI, the UI tests do not.

This differs from most examples of testing Dagger applications, where it is advocated to write additional Components and Modules to inject fake dependencies for testing.

How it is done? The Setup.

Since I couldn’t find any documentation for these UI tests , here is a quick summary of how the GithubBrowserSample apps mocks the ViewModel without using Dagger. This basically involves using test version of the application and activity classes which do not invoke the Dagger injection code.

ViewModel Factory

Although it is possible to inject a ViewModel into an activity or fragment with Dagger, I will be using a custom ViewModel factory and injecting that instead. This is done for the following reasons:

  • Injecting a ViewModel class is only possible for ViewModels that have a default (empty) constructor. If the ViewModel constructor has parameters, then you need to inject a factory class that implements ViewModelProvider.Factory.
  • It seems to be a common pattern when using Dagger with the ViewModel to create a Module to encapsulate the ViewModel injection code. This Module would bind the ViewModel classes used in the app into a map. It would also provide the ViewModel factory class, which in turn uses the map to create the ViewModel classes. This is the pattern used in the GithubBrowserSample.

Here is a brief description of the UI tests for the fragments in the sample code:

  • Create a test application class.

This is just a dummy application class that does not invoke the Dagger code that builds the object graph.

  • Create a test activity class.

This is just a dummy activity class to contain the fragment to be tested. It allows the fragment to be inserted into it.

This test runner will used the test application class instead of the application class for the app.

 public Application newApplication(ClassLoader cl, String className, Context context)
 throws InstantiationException, IllegalAccessException, ClassNotFoundException {
   return super.newApplication(cl, TestApp.class.getName(), context);
android {
  testInstrumentationRunner ""

How it is done? The UI Test.

The GithubBrowserSample has several UI tests for different fragments, but they follow the same basic pattern. Let’s use this one as an example:

Remember that when the UI tests are run, there is no Dagger dependency injection.

  • Use the test activity class to hold the fragment to be tested, instead of the activity used in the app. This is done in the ActivityTestRule used in setting up Espresso tests.
public ActivityTestRule&lt;SingleFragmentActivity&gt; activityRule =
new ActivityTestRule&lt;&gt;(SingleFragmentActivity.class, true, true);
  • Before the test is run, setup the mock ViewModel.
public void init() {
  viewModel = mock(UserViewModel.class);
  • Set the ViewModel factory field in the fragment (which would have been injected in the app) to a fake factory class that just passes the mocked ViewModel. Of course the field needs to be accessible from the test class for this to happen (i.e. public or default package access).
 public void init() {
  fragment.viewModelFactory = ViewModelUtil.createFor(viewModel);
  • Put the fragment into the test activity.
 public void init() {
  • Because this fragment uses LiveData to get data from the ViewModel, the test data is inserted into the LiveData returned from the mock ViewModel.
public void loadingWithUser() {
  User user = TestUtil.createUser("foo");

A simple approach

That’s it.

With this approach there is no need to worry about the Dagger configuration. Just mock the ViewModel to return the data you want for the Espresso test.


  1. Using a custom test runner and test application means that all of instrumentation tests in the androidTest directory will have Dagger disabled.

But what if you have other instrumentation tests where you do want to use the Dagger injected classes, in additition to the UI tests. You don’t have the flexibility of deciding whether to enable / disable the Dagger DI on a test by test basis.

2. If you are using the Dagger Android library, then this approach will work with fragments, but not with activities. This is because an AndroidInjector is used in the onCreate() method of the activity to inject the dependencies.

public void onCreate (Bundle savedInstanceState) {


In the next post, I will explore some of the options if we want to mock the ViewModel in the UI tests with Dagger.

Groovy and Dagger 2 Android Example

I decided to use the Groovy language for an Android app I was working on. Luckily it was fairly straightforward, but I noticed that the number of blogs and examples available to demonstrate using Groovy for Android development are far fewer than Java ones. Not only that, but many of them were out of date.

This is particularly true if you want to use libraries that are not straightforward coding, such as Dagger 2.

I was intending to write a simple proof-of-concept app to start with, to verify that I could use Dagger 2 and Groovy together. Then I found this example app on Github.

However this simple Dagger 2 example did now show how to use the @Inject annotation (which is my preferred way to do Dependency Injection into activities), so I created a fork that did.

Note that you will need to use an up-to-date version of Groovy (2.4.x) to get Groovy and Dagger 2 working on Android.

Code Changes

I only had to make a few code changes to use @Inject, you can check the commits in the project to see what they were.

Firstly in the component interface (in the example, it is called demo.simplegroovyapp.component.VehicleComponent), I added a statement that would inject the dependency objects into the activity.

void inject(MainActivity mainActivity)

Then in the activity class (demo.simplegroovyapp.MainActivity) add the @Inject annotation to the field that was to be injected. The other important change I made was to add the public access modifier, I’ll explain later why this is necessary.

In other words, from this:

Vehicle vehicle

to this:

public Vehicle vehicle

In the onCreate() method, this line was added to inject the dependencies into the activity.


I also commented out the statement that was previously used to manually retrieve the Vehicle object, as it was no longer necessary.

//vehicle = vehicleComponent.provideVehicle()

That’s it!

Property or Field?

In Groovy it is quite common to see data in a class being defined without an access modifier (public, protected, private).

Vehicle vehicle

Likewise in many Dagger 2 Java examples I’ve seen, the @Inject annotation is used on fields without the access modifier.


MyPresenter mypresenter;

However when this is done in Groovy, you are specifying a property, not a field.

Hence Dagger can’t inject the Vehicle object into the activity, even with the @Inject annotation. Once the public access modifier is added, then Dagger works as expected.