1.1: Fragments


A Fragment is a self-contained component with its own user interface (UI) and lifecycle that can be reused in different parts of an app's UI. This chapter explains how a Fragment can be useful for a UI design. (A Fragment can also be used without a UI, in order to retain values across configuration changes, but this chapter does not cover that usage.)

Understanding fragments

A Fragment is a class that contains a portion of an app's UI and behavior, which can be added as part of an Activity UI. While a single Fragment can be shared by different activities, each specific instance of the Fragment is exclusively tied to the Activity that hosts it.

A Fragment is like a miniature Activity. Although it must be hosted by an Activity, a Fragment has its own lifecycle. Also like an Activity, a Fragment receives its own input events. For example, the standard date picker is a Fragment—an instance of DialogFragment, a subclass of Fragment—that enables the user to input a date. The standard date picker shows a dialog window floating on top of the Activity window.

For maximum reusability, a single Fragment should contain the code to define its layout and its behavior for user interaction.  The date picker (left), and a diagram of the activity and fragment for the date picker (right)

In the above figure, on the right side, the numbers mean the following:

  1. The Activity before the user event that adds the date picker.
  2. A user event, such as clicking a button, adds the date picker to the UI of the Activity.
  3. The date picker, an instance of DialogFragment (a subclass of Fragment), which displays a dialog floating on top of the Activity.

A Fragment can be a static part of an Activity UI so that it remains on the screen during the entire lifecycle of the Activity, or it can be a dynamic part of the UI, added and removed while the Activity is running. For example, the Activity can include buttons to open and close the Fragment.  Tap Open to open the fragment, and Close to close the fragment.

The benefits of using fragments

Like any Fragment, the date picker includes the code for user interaction (in this case, selecting the date). The Fragment also has its own lifecycle—it can be added and removed by the user. These two characteristics of Fragment let you:

  • Reuse a Fragment. Write the Fragment code once, and reuse the Fragment in more than one Activity without having to repeat code.
  • Add or remove a Fragment dynamically. Add, replace, or remove a Fragment from an Activity as needed.
  • Integrate a mini-UI within the Activity. Integrate a Fragment with an Activity UI or overlay the UI, so that the user can interact with the Fragment UI without leaving the Activity.
  • Retain data instances after a configuration change. Since a Fragment has its own lifecycle, it can retain an instance of its data after a configuration change (such as changing the device orientation).
  • Represent sections of a layout for different screen sizes. Encapsulating an interactive UI within a Fragment makes it easier to display the interactive UI on different screen sizes.

For an example of how a Fragment can be used to show a UI in different screen sizes, start a new Android Studio project for an app and choose the Settings Activity template. Run the app.

The template provides a Fragment to show the list of categories (left side of figure below), and a Fragment for each category (such as General) to show the settings in that category (right side of figure below). In layout terms, the list screen is known as the "master," and the screen showing the settings in a category is known as the "detail."  Device master screen (left) and detail screen (right)

If you run the same app on a large-screen tablet in landscape orientation, the UI for each Fragment appears with the master and detail panes side by side, as shown below.  Master/detail layout for tablets

Using a fragment

The general steps to use a Fragment:

  1. Create a subclass of Fragment.
  2. Create a layout for the Fragment.
  3. Add the Fragment to a host Activity, either statically or dynamically.

Creating a fragment

To create a Fragment in an app, extend the Fragment class, then override key lifecycle methods to insert your app logic, similar to the way you would with an Activity class.

Instead of extending the base Fragment class, you can extend one of these other, more specific Fragment subclasses:

You can create a Fragment in Android Studio by following these steps:

  1. In Project: Android view, expand app > java and select the folder containing the Java code for your app.
  2. Choose File > New > Fragment > Fragment (Blank).
  3. Name the Fragment something like SimpleFragment, or use the supplied name (BlankFragment).
  4. If your Fragment has a UI, check the Create layout XML option if it is not already checked. Other options include:

    • Include fragment factory methods: Include sample factory method code to initialize the Fragment arguments in a way that encapsulates and abstracts them. Select this option if the number of arguments would make a constructor too complex.
    • Include interface callbacks: Select this option if you want to include sample code that defines an interface in the Fragment with callback methods that enable the Fragment to communicate with its host Activity.
  5. Click Finish to create the Fragment.

If you named the Fragment SimpleFragment, the following code appears in the Fragment:

public class SimpleFragment extends Fragment {

    public SimpleFragment() {
        // Required empty public constructor
    // ...

All subclasses of Fragment must include a public no-argument constructor as shown, with the code public SimpleFragment(). The Android framework often re-instantiates a Fragment class when needed, in particular during state restore. The framework needs to be able to find this constructor so it can instantiate the Fragment.

Creating a layout for a fragment

If you check the Create layout XML option when creating a Fragment, the layout file is created for you and named after the Fragment, for example "fragment_simple.xml" for SimpleFragment. As an alternative, you can manually add a layout file to your project. The layout includes all UI elements that appear in the Fragment.

For maximum reusability, make your Fragment self-contained. A single Fragment should contain all necessary code to define its layout and its behavior for user interaction. Similar to an Activity, a Fragment inflates its layout to make it appear on the screen. Android calls the onCreateView() callback method to display a Fragment. Override this method to inflate the layout for a Fragment, and return a View that is the root of the layout for the Fragment.

For example, if you chose Fragment (Blank) with just the Create layout XML option, and you name the Fragment SimpleFragment, the following code is generated in SimpleFragment:

public View onCreateView(LayoutInflater inflater, 
                         ViewGroup container, Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    // Inflate the layout for this fragment
    return inflater.inflate(R.layout.fragment_simple, container, false);

The container parameter passed to onCreateView() is the parent ViewGroup from the Activity layout. Android inserts the Fragment layout into this ViewGroup.

The onCreateView() callback provides a LayoutInflater object to inflate the UI for the Fragment from the fragment_simple layout resource. The method returns a View that is the root of the layout for the Fragment.

The savedInstanceState parameter is a Bundle that provides data about the previous instance of the Fragment, in case the Fragment is resuming.

The inflate() method inside onCreateView() displays the layout:

// Inflate the layout for this fragment
return inflater.inflate(R.layout.fragment_simple, container, false);

The inflate() method takes three arguments:

  • The resource ID of the layout you want to inflate (R.layout.fragment_simple).
  • The ViewGroup to be the parent of the inflated layout (container).
  • A boolean indicating whether the inflated layout should be attached to the ViewGroup (container) during inflation. This should be false because the system is already inserting the inflated layout into the container. Passing true would create a redundant ViewGroup in the final layout.

Tip: The Fragment class contains other lifecycle callback methods to override besides onCreateView(), such as onCreate(), onStart(), onPause(), and onStop(). The only lifecycle callback you need to inflate the layout is onCreateView(). To learn about other lifecycle callbacks, see the lesson on Fragment lifecycle and communications.

Adding a fragment to an activity

A Fragment must be hosted by an Activity and included in its layout. There are two ways you can use a Fragment in an Activity layout:

  • Add the Fragment statically, inside the XML layout file for the Activity, so that it remains on the screen during the entire lifecycle of the Activity.

    For example, you may want to devote a portion of a UI for an Activity to a Fragment that provides its own user interaction and behavior, such as a set of social media "Like" buttons. You can add this Fragment to the layouts of different activities.

  • Add the Fragment dynamically, using fragment transactions. During the lifecycle of the Activity, your code can add or remove the Fragment, or replace it with another Fragment, as needed.

Adding a fragment statically

Declare the Fragment inside the layout file for the Activity (such as activity_main.xml) using the <fragment> tag. You can specify layout properties for the Fragment as if it were a View. For example, the following shows two Fragment objects included in the Activity layout:

<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    <fragment android:name="com.example.news.ArticleListFragment"
            android:layout_height="match_parent" />

    <fragment android:name="com.example.news.ArticleReaderFragment"
            android:layout_height="match_parent" />

When the system creates the Activity layout, it instantiates each Fragment specified in the layout, and calls the onCreateView() method for each one, to retrieve the layout for each Fragment. Each Fragment returns a View, and the system inserts this View directly in place of the <fragment> element.

The code above uses the android:id attribute to identify each Fragment element. The system uses this id to restore the Fragment if the Activity is restarted. You also use it in your code to refer to the Fragment.

Adding a fragment dynamically

A great feature of the Fragment class is the ability to add, remove, or replace a Fragment dynamically, while an Activity is running. A user performs an interaction in the Activity, such as tapping a button, and the Fragment appears in the UI of the Activity. The user taps another button to remove the Fragment.

To add a Fragment, your Activity code needs to specify a ViewGroup as a placeholder for the Fragment, such as a LinearLayout or a FrameLayout:


To manage a Fragment in your Activity, create an instance of the Fragment, and an instance of FragmentManager using getSupportFragmentManager(). With FragmentManager you can use FragmentTransaction methods to perform Fragment operations while the Activity runs.

Fragment operations are wrapped into a transaction so that all of the operations finish before the transaction is committed for the final result. You start a transaction with beginTransaction() and end it with commit().

Within the transaction you can:

  • Add a Fragment using add().
  • Remove a Fragment using remove().
  • Replace a Fragment with another Fragment using replace().
  • Hide and show a Fragment using hide() and show().

The best practice for instantiating the Fragment in the Activity is to provide a newinstance() factory method in the Fragment. For example, if you choose New > Fragment > Fragment Blank to add a Fragment to your Android Studio project, and you select the Include fragment factory methods option, Android Studio automatically adds a newinstance() method to the Fragment as a factory method to set arguments for the Fragment when the Fragment is called by the Activity.

Add a simple newinstance() method to SimpleFragment, and instantiate the Fragment in MainActivity:

  1. Open SimpleFragment, and add the following method to the end for instantiating the Fragment:
     public static SimpleFragment newInstance() {
             return new SimpleFragment();
  2. In the Activity, instantiate the Fragment by calling the newInstance() method in SimpleFragment:
     SimpleFragment fragment = SimpleFragment.newInstance();
  3. In the Activity, get an instance of FragmentManager with getSupportFragmentManager().

     FragmentManager fragmentManager = getSupportFragmentManager();

    Tip: Use the Support Library version—getSupportFragmentManager() rather than getFragmentManager()—so that the app remains compatible with devices running earlier versions of Android platform.

  4. Use beginTransaction() with an instance of FragmentTransaction to start a series of edit operations on the Fragment:

     FragmentTransaction fragmentTransaction = 
  5. You can then add a Fragment using the add() method, and commit the transaction with commit(). For example:

     fragmentTransaction.add(R.id.fragment_container, fragment);

    The first argument passed to add() is the ViewGroup in which the fragment should be placed (specified by its resource ID fragment_container). The second parameter is the fragment to add.

    In addition to the add() transaction, call addToBackStack(null) in order to add the transaction to a back stack of Fragment transactions. This back stack is managed by the Activity. It allows the user to return to the previous Fragment state by pressing the Back button:

    fragmentTransaction.add(R.id.fragment_container, fragment);

    To replace a Fragment with another Fragment, use the replace() method. To remove a Fragment, use remove(). Once you've made your changes with FragmentTransaction, you must call commit() for the changes to take effect.

The following shows a transaction that removes the Fragment simpleFragment using remove():

// Get the FragmentManager.
FragmentManager fragmentManager = getSupportFragmentManager();
// Check to see if the fragment is already showing.
SimpleFragment simpleFragment = (SimpleFragment) fragmentManager
if (simpleFragment != null) {
    // Create and commit the transaction to remove the fragment.
    FragmentTransaction fragmentTransaction =

In addition to learning about how a Fragment can be added, replaced, and removed, you should also learn how to manage the lifecycle of a Fragment within the Activity, as described in the lesson on Fragment lifecycle and communications.

The related practical is Creating a Fragment with a UI.

Learn more

Android developer documentation:


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