Train Spotting android app – Nuts and bolts

trainsplashTrainspotting Android app. This is my second android app from concept, design and finally to implementation. You can download this app from Google Play at Train Spotting.

In this post I discuss the details of the app threadbare. The app has all the usual goodies of android and uses the following features of Android

  • Tab Layout
  • List Layout with checkbox
  • Options Menu with add, delete and deleteAll options
  • Passing parameters between activities
  • Handling the checkbox
  • Using the assets folder
  • Alert dialog
  • Widgets like spinners, buttons, text fields etc

Actiity Flow

The picture below shows the flow between the different activities


Tab Layout

The app has 3 main tabs

  1. Favorites b) Locate Train c) Train At d) About.

Creating tabs is fairly straightforward

Create 3 tab xml files in the res/layout folder. The res/layout folder will also contain 3 xml files containing the icons that have to displayed when a tab is selected and when it not selected.

For the above 3 tabs the layout files are

  1. Favoritesa. Layout file – display.xml which is a list viewb. Icon file – favorites.xml
  2. Locatea. Layout file – locate_train.xml with spinners and buttonsb. Icon file – locate.xml3) About

a. Layout file – about.xml – Webview

b. Icon file – help.xml

For e.g.

display.xml has the following

<ListView xmlns:android=”;
android:layout_height=”match_parent” >



?xml version=“1.0” encoding=“utf-8”?>

<selector xmlns:android=;>

<!– When selected, use grey –>

<item android:drawable=“@drawable/star”

android:state_selected=“true” />

<!– When not selected, use white–>

<item android:drawable=“@drawable/star_1” />


To create the above tab layout the following needs to added to the MainActivity to create the 3 tabs

// Create 3 tabs. Favorites, Locate, About

TabHost tabHost = getTabHost();

// Favorite trains tab

TabSpec favspec = tabHost.newTabSpec(“Favorites”);

// setting Title and Icon for the Tab

favspec.setIndicator(“Favorites”, getResources().getDrawable(;

Intent favoritesIntent = new Intent(this, displayTrains.class);


// Locate Train tab

TabSpec locatespec = tabHost.newTabSpec(“Locate”);

locatespec.setIndicator(“Locate”, getResources().getDrawable(R.drawable.binoculars));

Intent locateIntent = new Intent(this, locateTrain.class);


// About Tab

TabSpec aboutspec = tabHost.newTabSpec(“About”);

aboutspec.setIndicator(“About”, getResources().getDrawable(;

Intent aboutIntent = new Intent(this, about.class);


// Add TabSpec to TabHost




 Screenshot with the tabsts_screen1

The app starts at the Main Activity and then immediately switches to the Favorites tab. This tab displays the current list of trains that the user has stored in the SQLiteDatabase.

Options Menu

The Favorites tab includes an Option Menu when the Options button on the device is pressed.

There are 3 options presented to the user

  1. Add b) Delete c) deleteAll

To create an Options Menu add the options to the res/menu folder as options_menu.xml

The contents of res/menu/options_menu.xml is as follows

<?xml version=“1.0” encoding=“utf-8”?>

<menu xmlns:android=;>

<item android:id=“@id/add”


android:title=“@string/add” />

<item android:id=“@id/delete”


android:title=“@string/delete” />

<item android:id=“@id/deleteAll”




This can be inflated in the Activity ( as follows

publicboolean onCreateOptionsMenu(Menu menu) {

MenuInflater inflater = getMenuInflater();

inflater.inflate(, menu);



When a user selects an option the on the OptionItemSelectedMenu is invoked. There are currently 3 actions that can be selected from the OptionsMenu

a) Add b) Delete c) DeleteAll

Add option : When this option is selected the addTrain activity is started to take user input for the train no and train name

publicboolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {

Intent intent;

int count;

SqlOpenHelper helper = new SqlOpenHelper(this);

ArrayList<String> r = new ArrayList<String>();

final Context context = this;

switch (item.getItemId()) {


// Switch to the addTrain Activity

intent = new Intent(context, addTrain.class);



The delete and the deleteAll option are also invoked in a similar fashion from the Option Menu












 Screen shot with the options menu


Passing parameters between activities

Sending parameters from one activity to another (

In the LocateTrain activity when the user selects the ‘train no’ and the ‘day” for which to locate the train the WebView has to be invoked with the selected values for the train no and day. This is done as as follows. In the calling activity locateTrain

Intent intent = new Intent(context, trainAt.class);

//Setup to pass parameters to new activity

// Pass the train & the day to the trainAt Activity

Bundle b = new Bundle();

b.putString(“train”, train_tokens[0]);

b.putString(“day”, dayValue);



The values are put in the bundle ‘b’ and the the parameters are passed with the call

intent.putExtras(b). The intent is finally started with the trainAt activity.

The trainAt activity receives the passed parameters are received as follows

Receiving parameters (

// Receive the passed parameters

Bundle b = getIntent().getExtras();

int trainNo = Integer.parseInt(b.getString(“train”).toString());

String value = b.getString(“day”).toString();

// Invoke the web with passed parameters

String url = “; + trainNo + “&date=” +value;

WebView myWebView = (WebView) findViewById(;


Handling delete of selected items

To handle deletion of selected trains from the listview the delete() method is called. The code and the explanation is given below

SqlOpenHelper helper = new SqlOpenHelper(this);

ArrayList<String> r = new ArrayList<String>();

ListView lv = getListView();

SparseBooleanArray a = new SparseBooleanArray();

the lv.getCheckedItemPositions() returns a sparse array which has the checked items set to true.

// Create a sparse array of checked positions

a = lv.getCheckedItemPositions();

The list is iterated and the rows which are checked are determines as below

// Determine the positions which are checked

for(int pos=0;pos<lv.getCount(); pos++){

//Log.d(“val”,”pos:”+ pos + ” ” + a.get(pos));


// If item is checked add it to the items ArrayList




//Convert the integer ArrayList to an Integer Array

Integer[] itemArray = new Integer[ items.size() ];

items.toArray( itemArray );

//Delete all selected items from SQLiteDatabase by passing in the itemArray

A train array is created with the selected rows and passed to deleteTrains()


// Clear the ArrayList


After deleting the selected rows the ListView is again re-populated with the new list.

//Re-populate the list

r = populateResults();

listAdapter = new ArrayAdapter<String>(this, android.R.layout.simple_list_item_multiple_choice,r);



lv = getListView();


Handling Cancel

As before the sparse array of checked items is obtained and each of them are set to false to uncheck them as below

// Get the checked positions in a Sparse Array

a = lv.getCheckedItemPositions();

for(int i=0;i<lv.getCount(); i++){

//Log.d(“val”,”i:”+ i + ” ” + a.get(i));

// Uncheck the checked positions


lv.setItemChecked(i, false);



// Clear the sparse Array. Clear the ArrayList



Using the assets folder

The About tab displays a Help file which is stored as a html in the

/assets folder.

To display the Web page, webview is used

publicclass about extends Activity {

publicvoid onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {



// Add the trainspot.html in assets/

WebView webView = (WebView) findViewById(;




Creating an alert dialog

An alert dialog is fairly straightforward

AlertDialog.Builder builder = new AlertDialog.Builder(context);

Set the title of the dialog and the message to be displayed as below

// Set title

builder.setTitle(“Confirm delete”);

a = lv.getCheckedItemPositions();

// Set the dialog message

builder.setMessage(“Do you want to delete these ” + a.size() + ” items?”);

Add either ‘Yes’/’No’ or ‘OK’/’Cancel’ buttons and handle the actions accordingly

// Add the Yes & No buttons

builder.setPositiveButton(R.string.yes, new DialogInterface.OnClickListener() {

publicvoid onClick(DialogInterface dialog, int id) {

// User clicked Yes button

// Delete selected items




builder.setNegativeButton(, new DialogInterface.OnClickListener() {

publicvoid onClick(DialogInterface dialog, int id) {

// User No the dialog

// Uncheck the checked items





// Create the AlertDialog

AlertDialog dialog = builder.create();

// show it;

This post gives all the finer details of this interesting app. Do install it and give it a try.

A sample output is shown below


You can clone the project from Github at Trainspotting or

The complete code of this app can be downloaded at

Happy train spotting!

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