Passing data between screens on Android with Xamarin

In this tutorial you will learn how to create an Android app that can pass data from one screen to another. This will be demonstrated in an example app that will ask the user for their age and will then convert their age to into animal years (of different types of animals). The user will select an animal by tapping a button and then the result will be displayed on another screen. The app will look like this…

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Step 1

Open Xamarin Studio. Click File > New Solution. Select Android App (C#) as the template.

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Step 2

Give your app a name, for example AnimalAgeCalculator. Click Next.

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Step 3

Confirm the project and solution name as well as the project folder location and click Create.

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Step 3

Navigate to the Resources > layout folder and click the cog icon (or right-click the folder). Then Click Add > New File. We will be adding the second screen to the app.

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Step 4

Select Android > Layout, give the new screen a name (eg. Result.axml) and then click New.

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Step 5

Open the Main.axml folder in the Resources > layout folder. Add a Text (Large) element and change the Text value to say ‘Enter your age in years’.

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Step 6

Now add a Plain Text element and change its Id to @+id/ageEditText .

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Step 7

Now add a Text (Medium) element which says ‘Convert to…’. Underneath this, add some Button elements such as those shown below. Change their Text values and Id’s. The buttons below have the following Id’s in order:

@+id/dogButton

@+id/catButton

@+id/goatButton

@+id/hamsterButton

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Save the file.

Step 8

Now open the Results.axml file and add a Text (Large) element – replace its Text value with ‘Result’. Then add a Text (Medium) element, change its Id value to @+id/resultTextView and give it a default Text value (it doesn’t matter what you put here as the result text will change).

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Step 9

Add some spacing and then a Button element. Rename the Id of this button @+id/backButton and change the Text value to ‘Go back’. Save the file.

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Step 10 

Now click on the project folder (not the solution folder) and click the cog icon (or right-click) > Add > New File.

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Select Activity from the Android list, name it ResultActivity and then click New.

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Step 11

Open the MainActivity.cs file and delete the two sections of highlighted code shown below inside the MainActivity class. This code will not be required in this app.

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Click image to view larger version.

Step 12

In the MainActivity class, define the EditText and Button elements, and create two float variables (age and animalAge) and a string variable (animal) as highlighted on lines 11-18 below. In the OnCreate method, add the following highlighted code (shown in lines 27-31).

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Step 13 

In the OnCreate method, after adding the EditText and Button elements to the code, start typing dogButton.Click+= to create a button click event and then press the Spacebar key. You will see a list of options – double-click the DogButton_Click option to create a new method of the same name.

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Click image to view larger version.

The new method called DogButton_Click will be created as shown below.

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Click image to view larger version.

Step 14

Repeat the last step for each button click event. You should now have click events and matching methods for the dog, cat, goat, and hamster buttons. This is where we will start adding code to convert the human years to animal years and take the user to another screen.

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Add the following code to the methods show below.

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Step 15

Make sure you have the line of code using Android.Content; at the top section of the MainActivity.cs file’s code.

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Step 16

In the HamsterButton_Click method, change the animal variable’s value to “Hamster” and then create a new intent which will send the values of the animalAge and animal variables to the ResultActivity screen.

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Step 17

The last step will need to be repeated for each button click method as shown below. Just change the value for the animal variable in each method to the appropriate animal as shown below. Save the file.

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Step 18

Open the ResultActivity.cs file and make sure your code is the same as shown in the highlighted areas in the image below. You will need to define the resultTextView and backButton elements as well as get the animalAge and animal values from the Intent created in the MainActivity.cs file. The resultTextView element will display the result of the age conversion (the selected animal name and result in animal years). Save the file.

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Now just add a click event and method for the backButton element which will take the user back to the main screen when they click on the button which says ‘Go back’.

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Click image to view larger version.

Step 19

The last step before testing is to go back to the Main.axml file and change the Input Type for the ageEditText element to number. Save the file and test your app.

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Click the Build icon to test your app using an Android simulator.
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Improving the app

One last thing we can do is prevent any errors from occurring or the app from crashing if the user does not enter a value to convert before tapping a button. We can check if the text field has been left empty and only run the conversion and open the result screen if a value exists in the text input field. Here is an example of this in the HamsterButton_Click method.

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You could repeat this step for all of the button click methods. Now go and test your app again – it should no longer crash if the user does not enter a value in the text field!