7. The Android Manifest.

The components, settings and metadata of an Android application are described in the AndroidManifest.xml file. This file is known as the manifest file or the manifest.


 7.1. Version and package

The package attribute defines the base package for the Java objects referred to in this file. If a Java object lies within a different package, it must be declared with the full qualified package name.

Google Play requires that every Android application uses its own unique package name. Therefore it is a good habit to use your reverse domain name here. This will avoid collisions with other Android applications.

 7.2. Application and components

The <application> section allows to define metadata for your application and optionally define an explicit application class. It is also a container for declaring other Android components.

7.3 Minimum and target SDK

The uses-sdk section in the manifest allows you to specify the minSdkVersion and targetSdkVersion version of your application.

Table 1. Minimum and target version
Value Description
minSdkVersion Define the minimum version of Android your application works on. This attribute is used as a filter in applications stores Play. A user cannot install your application on a device with a lower API level than specified in this attribute.
targetSdkVersion Specifies the version on which you tested and developed. If it is not equal to the API version of the Android device, the Android system might apply forward- or backward-compatibility changes. It is good practice to always set this to the latest Android API version to take advantages of changes in the latest Android improvements.


7.4 The Manifest File

Whatever component you develop as a part of your application, you must declare all its components in a manifest.xml which resides at the root of the application project directory. This file works as an interface between Android OS and your application, so if you do not declare your component in this file, then it will not be considered by the OS. For example, a default manifest file will look like as following file −

Here <application>…</application> tags enclosed the components related to the application. Attribute android:icon will point to the application icon available under res/drawable-hdpi. The application uses the image named ic_launcher.png located in the drawable folders

The <activity> tag is used to specify an activity and android:name attribute specifies the fully qualified class name of the Activity subclass and the android:label attributes specifies a string to use as the label for the activity. You can specify multiple activities using <activity> tags.

The action for the intent filter is named android.intent.action.MAIN to indicate that this activity serves as the entry point for the application. The category for the intent-filter is named android.intent.category.LAUNCHER to indicate that the application can be launched from the device’s launcher icon.

The @string refers to the strings.xml file explained below. Hence, @string/app_name refers to the app_name string defined in the strings.xml file, which is “HelloWorld”. Similar way, other strings get populated in the application.

Following is the list of tags which you will use in your manifest file to specify different Android application components −

  • <activity>elements for activities
  • <service> elements for services
  • <receiver> elements for broadcast receivers
  • <provider> elements for content providers

7.5 The Strings File

The strings.xml file is located in the res/values folder and it contains all the text that your application uses. For example, the names of buttons, labels, default text, and similar types of strings go into this file. This file is responsible for their textual content. For example, a default strings file will look like as following file −

7.6 The Layout File

The activity_main.xml is a layout file available in res/layout directory, that is referenced by your application when building its interface. You will modify this file very frequently to change the layout of your application. For your “Hello World!” application, this file will have following content related to default layout −

This is an example of simple RelativeLayout which we will study in a separate chapter. The TextView is an Android control used to build the GUI and it have various attributes like android:layout_widthandroid:layout_height etc which are being used to set its width and height etc.. The @string refers to the strings.xml file located in the res/values folder. Hence, @string/hello_world refers to the hello string defined in the strings.xml file, which is “Hello World!”.