Exploring Android’s Navigation Architecture Component

Exploring Android’s Navigation Architecture Component

There was a time when dealing with data exchange and fragment navigation required writing intents to navigate from starting with one action and progressing to the next in order to catch even the supportFragmentManger errors. As of now, android navigation is here with its android navigator’s components to handle navigation drawer creation, data passing, in-app navigation, and much more. 

Android navigation is a collection of plugins and libraries that aims at simplifying navigation in android because when it comes to mobile app development, navigation plays a primary role in linking content pieces or multiple screens within the application developed. 

The android navigation component is one of the four sides of the architecture android, being released as a part of the new AndroidX package and Android Jetpack. On the other hand, android jetpack navigation is a collection of libraries and components (addressed as X) for building a better mobile application. 

android jetpack

Android navigation brings newness to how the navigation should be carried out along with the notion of using the single-activity architecture as the preferred structure for Android Jetpack moving forward. The Navigation Architecture Component does support deep linking and fragments providing a predictable and consistent user experience in the application with simple click buttons.

Before moving ahead straight with what goes into android navigation, let’s see what are the principles of navigation for android.

Get started with principles of navigation

  • There should be a fixed starting point within the application when the user clicks to launch it, one-time actions like login, sign in, and terms and conditions are excluded from this. Following the same, users know what’s there, when they launch your application. Your primary screen should be your main view or home and have navigation widgets like a navigation drawer or bottom navigation bar. 
  • The starting of the application should be built on a LIFO stack, i.e, Last In First Out. Keep the start destination of the application at the bottom of its stack. While navigating to a new destination within the application should logically push the new destination at the top and when hitting on up bottom and the back should intelligently switch the destination given from the stack’s top. The top of the stack should operate all operations altering or stacking navigation.
  • There should be no exit through the up button rather it should only be used to go through your application and pop off items from the navigation stack in a logical order. This means that up bottom must be hidden and the navigation stack should be empty if you are just starting up.
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  • The functions of the up and back buttons, for most of the parts, should be identical. With the notable exception of situations where the navigation stack is empty, this should be true. In this instance, the up button should remain hidden and the back button should be used to exit the application.
  • There should be normal navigation in the same stack, even after doing deep linking related to a destination. Deep linking is an excellent way to direct clients straightly to the information to which they are looking forward. They should be seen as potential “fast track” approaches through the application, rather than optional section emphasis. To adhere to the criteria your application should have a suitable starting point and deep links incorporated in the same navigation stack resulting in normal navigation of your application when users interact. 

After knowing what the principles of android navigation are, let’s move on to its key properties now.

Top 3 Key properties of android navigation

  1. The XML file contains information on all the individual content areas known as destinations within applications, these are paths that users may use to navigate through applications that form the navigation graph.
  1. The XML file contains blank containers displaying the destinations as the user navigates and mostly comprises NavHostFragment displaying different destinations of the Navigation Graph known as NavHost.
  1. The management of destination navigation along with the NavHost regulating the switching of destination content as the user navigates through applications within different destinations is taken care of by NavController.

Read More: 7 Mobile app development frameworks to be used in 2022

navigation graph editor

How androidnavigation can be beneficial for developers?

Since Google introduced the android navigation component, android navigation has become a lot easier. Now, it is simple to code and set navigation between handling cases like exception cases, back stack, etc, and fragments via the android navigation component. 

Apart from this primary benefit, let’s see what are its extended benefits:

  • It is feasible to handle fragment transactions. 
  • It becomes manageable to handle the back stack with back actions and handling up.
  • It makes switching the NavHost content possible with standard transitions and animations.
  • It simplifies the implementation and handling of deep linking.
It brings ease in implementation and handling of Navigation UI patterns like bottom navigation views, navigation drawer, and so on
  • It brings ease in implementation and handling of Navigation UI patterns like bottom navigation views, navigation drawer, and so on.
  • It brings ease in implementation and handling of Navigation UI patterns like bottom navigation views, navigation drawer, and so on.
  • It brings ease in implementation and handling of Navigation UI patterns like bottom navigation views, navigation drawer, and so on.

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Final verdict on android navigation

The addition of the navigation library into the architecture components of the Android Jetpack is an added plus. As it was not possible before to decouple routing logic via the view layer from android, the inclusion of type-safe arguments and well-defined actions are steps of excellence to provide a powerful API. 

well-defined actions are steps of excellence to provide a powerful API

In addition, there is a visual tool in the IDE to help make the entire cycle clearer, smoother, and easier. Navigation destinations can now be created through the design tool by even defining the navigation actions and paths taken by the user in the graph across destinations. Right after that codes can be added to connect and build user interaction so that it will be easy to navigate through the destinations in the application.