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The pretty basic unit for developing UI in Android is a View. But if we look closely, View is a UI widget that provides user interaction. It comprises of Drawables and text Layouts. We see drawables everywhere — right from the background of a View. TextView has compound drawables too. However, TextView has only one layout. Is it possible to have more than one text layout in a View/TextView?

Multiple Text Layout

Let’s take an example. We have a simple ListView with each row having an image, text and some sub-text. Since TextView shows only one text Layout by default, we would need a LinearLayout with 2 or 3 views (2 TextViews in them) to achieve this layout. What if TextView can hold one more text layout? It’s just a private variable that can be created and drawn on the Even if it can hold and draw it, how would we be able to let TextView’s original layout account for this layout?

If we look at TextView’s onMeasure() closely, the available width for the layout accounts for the space occupied by the compound drawables. If we make TextView account for a larger compound drawable space on the right, the layout will constrain itself more. Now that the space is carved out, we can draw the layout in that space.

    private Layout mSubTextLayout;

    public int getCompoundPaddingRight() {
        // Assumption: the layout has only one line.
        return super.getCompoundPaddingRight() + mSubTextLayout.getLineWidth(0);

Now we need to create a layout for the sub-text and draw. Ideally it’s not good to create new objects inside onMeasure(). But if we take care of when and how we create the layouts, we don’t have to worry about this restriction. And what different kind of Layouts can we create? TextView allows creating a BoringLayout, a StaticLayout or a DynamicLayout. BoringLayout can be used if the text is only single line. StaticLayout is for multi-line layouts that cannot be changed after creation. DynamicLayout is for editable text, like in an EditText.

    public void onMeasure(int widthMeasureSpec, int heightMeasureSpec) {
        int width = MeasureSpec.getSize(widthMeasureSpec);

        // Create a layout for sub-text.
        mSubTextLayout = new StaticLayout(

        // TextView doesn't know about mSubTextLayout.
        // It calculates the space using compound drawables' sizes.
        super.onMeasure(widthMeasureSpec, heightMeasureSpec);

The mPaint used here has all the attributes for the sub-text — like text color, shadow, text-size, etc. This is what determines the size used for a text layout.

    public void onDraw(Canvas canvas) {
        // Do the default draw.

        // Calculate the place to show the sub-text
        // using the padding, available width, height and
        // the sub-text width and height.
        // Note: The 'right' padding to use here is 'super.getCompoundPaddingRight()'
        // as we have faked the actual value.

        // Draw the sub-text.

But hey, can’t we just use a Spannable text? Well… what if the name is really long and runs into multiple lines or need to be ellipsized?

By this, we use the same TextView to draw two layouts. And that has helped us remove 2 Views! Happy hacking! 😉

P.S: The icons are from: http://www.tutorial9.net/downloads/108-mono-icons-huge-set-of-minimal-icons/