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android – Do fragments really need an empty constructor?

Posted by: admin March 10, 2020 Leave a comment

Questions:

I have a Fragment with a constructor that takes multiple arguments. My app worked fine during development, but in production my users sometimes see this crash:

android.support.v4.app.Fragment$InstantiationException: Unable to instantiate fragment 
make sure class name exists, is public, and has an empty constructor that is public

I could make an empty constructor as this error message suggests, but that doesn’t make sense to me since then I would have to call a separate method to finish setting up the Fragment.

I’m curious as to why this crash only happens occasionally. Maybe I’m using the ViewPager incorrectly? I instantiate all the Fragments myself and save them in a list inside the Activity. I don’t use FragmentManager transactions, since the ViewPager examples I have seen did not require it and everything seemed to be working during development.

How to&Answers:

Yes they do.

You shouldn’t really be overriding the constructor anyway. You should have a newInstance() static method defined and pass any parameters via arguments (bundle)

For example:

public static final MyFragment newInstance(int title, String message) {
    MyFragment f = new MyFragment();
    Bundle bdl = new Bundle(2);
    bdl.putInt(EXTRA_TITLE, title);
    bdl.putString(EXTRA_MESSAGE, message);
    f.setArguments(bdl);
    return f;
}

And of course grabbing the args this way:

@Override
public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    title = getArguments().getInt(EXTRA_TITLE);
    message = getArguments().getString(EXTRA_MESSAGE);

    //...
    //etc
    //...
}

Then you would instantiate from your fragment manager like so:

@Override
public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    if (savedInstanceState == null){
        getSupportFragmentManager()
            .beginTransaction()
            .replace(R.id.content, MyFragment.newInstance(
                R.string.alert_title,
                "Oh no, an error occurred!")
            )
            .commit();
    }
}

This way if detached and re-attached the object state can be stored through the arguments. Much like bundles attached to Intents.

Reason – Extra reading

I thought I would explain why for people wondering why.

If you check: https://android.googlesource.com/platform/frameworks/base/+/master/core/java/android/app/Fragment.java

You will see the instantiate(..) method in the Fragment class calls the newInstance method:

public static Fragment instantiate(Context context, String fname, @Nullable Bundle args) {
    try {
        Class<?> clazz = sClassMap.get(fname);
        if (clazz == null) {
            // Class not found in the cache, see if it's real, and try to add it
            clazz = context.getClassLoader().loadClass(fname);
            if (!Fragment.class.isAssignableFrom(clazz)) {
                throw new InstantiationException("Trying to instantiate a class " + fname
                        + " that is not a Fragment", new ClassCastException());
            }
            sClassMap.put(fname, clazz);
        }
        Fragment f = (Fragment) clazz.getConstructor().newInstance();
        if (args != null) {
            args.setClassLoader(f.getClass().getClassLoader());
            f.setArguments(args);
        }
        return f;
    } catch (ClassNotFoundException e) {
        throw new InstantiationException("Unable to instantiate fragment " + fname
                + ": make sure class name exists, is public, and has an"
                + " empty constructor that is public", e);
    } catch (java.lang.InstantiationException e) {
        throw new InstantiationException("Unable to instantiate fragment " + fname
                + ": make sure class name exists, is public, and has an"
                + " empty constructor that is public", e);
    } catch (IllegalAccessException e) {
        throw new InstantiationException("Unable to instantiate fragment " + fname
                + ": make sure class name exists, is public, and has an"
                + " empty constructor that is public", e);
    } catch (NoSuchMethodException e) {
        throw new InstantiationException("Unable to instantiate fragment " + fname
                + ": could not find Fragment constructor", e);
    } catch (InvocationTargetException e) {
        throw new InstantiationException("Unable to instantiate fragment " + fname
                + ": calling Fragment constructor caused an exception", e);
    }
}

http://docs.oracle.com/javase/6/docs/api/java/lang/Class.html#newInstance() Explains why, upon instantiation it checks that the accessor is public and that that class loader allows access to it.

It’s a pretty nasty method all in all, but it allows the FragmentManger to kill and recreate Fragments with states. (The Android subsystem does similar things with Activities).

Example Class

I get asked a lot about calling newInstance. Do not confuse this with the class method. This whole class example should show the usage.

/**
 * Created by chris on 21/11/2013
 */
public class StationInfoAccessibilityFragment extends BaseFragment implements JourneyProviderListener {

    public static final StationInfoAccessibilityFragment newInstance(String crsCode) {
        StationInfoAccessibilityFragment fragment = new StationInfoAccessibilityFragment();

        final Bundle args = new Bundle(1);
        args.putString(EXTRA_CRS_CODE, crsCode);
        fragment.setArguments(args);

        return fragment;
    }

    // Views
    LinearLayout mLinearLayout;

    /**
     * Layout Inflater
     */
    private LayoutInflater mInflater;
    /**
     * Station Crs Code
     */
    private String mCrsCode;

    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
        mCrsCode = getArguments().getString(EXTRA_CRS_CODE);
    }

    @Override
    public View onCreateView(LayoutInflater inflater, ViewGroup container, Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        mInflater = inflater;
        return inflater.inflate(R.layout.fragment_station_accessibility, container, false);
    }

    @Override
    public void onViewCreated(View view, Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onViewCreated(view, savedInstanceState);
        mLinearLayout = (LinearLayout)view.findViewBy(R.id.station_info_accessibility_linear);
        //Do stuff
    }

    @Override
    public void onResume() {
        super.onResume();
        getActivity().getSupportActionBar().setTitle(R.string.station_info_access_mobility_title);
    }

    // Other methods etc...
}

Answer:

As noted by CommonsWare in this question https://stackoverflow.com/a/16064418/1319061, this error can also occur if you are creating an anonymous subclass of a Fragment, since anonymous classes cannot have constructors.

Don’t make anonymous subclasses of Fragment 🙂

Answer:

Yes, as you can see the support-package instantiates the fragments too (when they get destroyed and re-opened). Your Fragment subclasses need a public empty constructor as this is what’s being called by the framework.

Answer:

Here is my simple solution:

1 – Define your fragment

public class MyFragment extends Fragment {

    private String parameter;

    public MyFragment() {
    }

    public void setParameter(String parameter) {
        this.parameter = parameter;
    } 
}

2 – Create your new fragment and populate the parameter

    myfragment = new MyFragment();
    myfragment.setParameter("here the value of my parameter");

3 – Enjoy it!

Obviously you can change the type and the number of parameters.
Quick and easy.