Custom Widgets on Android

A Tabris.js widget consists of a JavaScript API and a native client side implementation. This document describes how to create the native implementation for a custom widget on the Android platform.

In order to implement a custom widget you will need to build locally.

Building upon Cordova infrastructure

To create a Tabris.js custom widget, we make use of the Cordova build system. Therefore we create a Cordova plugin that ties into Tabris.js specific APIs. A Tabris.js custom widget does not require touching any of the Cordova specific Java APIs. All interaction with the JavaScript parts is enabled through Tabris.js specific APIs.

By leveraging the Cordova plugin architecture we are able to make use of the Cordova build chain and to provide a plugin.xml in our plugin to customize the build process. Once a plugin is defined it can be consumed by an app via the regular cordova plugin add <plugin-id/git-url> shell command or a <plugin /> entry in the config.xml of an app.

:information_source: A working example of the concepts outlined in this document can be found in the tabris-plugin-lottie.

Receiving messages from JavaScript

Creating a custom widget requires handling incoming messages from JavaScript and sending messages back to JavaScript. The main entry point to this communication loop is the The handler provides callback methods for all communication from JavaScript to the native client. The following snippet shows a basic handler written in kotlin, that uses the as a basis for a View specific handler:

class ButtonHandler(private val scope: ActivityScope) : ViewHandler<Button>(scope) {

  override val type = "com.eclipsesource.Button"


The snippet above shows two important aspects of an ObjectHandler: The class has to have a one argument constructor with either a Scope or an ActivityScope and the property type has to return the internal name of the custom widget as registered on the JavaScript side.

Registering an ObjectHandler

To make an ObjectHandler available to the Tabris.js Android runtime we have to register it in the AndroidManifest.xml. We use the cordova <config-file> element in the plugin.xml to add the ObjectHandler in the AndroidManifest.xml. Make sure to include the android namespace in the <widget> root element of the plugin.xml (e.g. <widget xmlns:android="">).

The following snippet shows how to declare an ObjectHandler in the plugin.xml so that it is part of the final AndroidManifest.xml:

<plugin xmlns=""

  <platform name="android">
    <config-file target="AndroidManifest.xml" parent="/manifest/application">
          android:value="com.eclipsesource.button.ButtonHandler" />


The snippet above inserts the meta-data element with its two attributes name and value into the AndroidManifest.xml. The name attribute has to be an application wide unique ID with a prefix of In order to make the name unique we append the widget specific id .com.eclipsesource.Button to the prefix. The value attribute of the meta-data element has to contain the fully qualified class name of our ObjectHandler implementation, eg.: com.eclipsesource.button.ButtonHandler.

Instantiating an object

An ObjectHandler is able to instantiate new objects via its create(id: String, properties: V8Object) method. In the case of our ButtonHandler we create and return a new Button.

override fun create(id: String, properties: V8Object) = Button(scope.activity)

The snippet instantiates a android.widget.Button with the Activity of the ActivityScope (which we obtained in the constructor of the ObjectHandler). The properties argument could contain widget specific configuration directives but is not used in this example.

Handling properties

After an object is instantiated, we are also going to set properties or return property values. These so called set and get operations are processed via objects.

By inheriting from the ViewHandler we already support the base set of properties from the Tabris.js Widget object. To add a set of custom properties we add them to the list of properties defined by our ObjectHandler:

override val properties by lazy { + listOf<Property<Button, *>>(
      StringProperty("text", { text = it }),
      IntProperty("maxLines", { maxLines = it ?: Integer.MAX_VALUE }, { maxLines })

In the example above we implement two properties called text and maxLines. We make use of the convenience Property implementations StringProperty and IntProperty which only pass the incoming value to the set lambda if it is of the given type or null. Inside the set lambda with receiver, this is redeclared to be the widget (in our case the Button) and the only parameter is the value passed into the set operation (here refereed to as it). These language constructs allow to write very expressive code to handle properties. Of course the Property interface can also be implemented manually. In the get lambda we return the property value which can by of any type.

Sending messages to JavaScript

While receiving an operation from JavaScript covers a lot of ground we also want to send messages proactively to JavaScript. A classic example is a user initiated action like a button tap.

To send a message from a particular widget we use a A RemoteObject can be obtained from the ObjectRegistry or the convenience method on the Scope:


// or


Continuing the example from above the following snippet sends a notify operation to JavaScript. When a Button is tapped we send a select event:


Note that the RemoteObject dispatches the event only if we previously received a listen operation, where the event has been activated (e.g. select is set to true). Otherwise the RemoteObject will not send the event. The event will be activated and deactivated automatically without any ObjectHandler specific code.

Handling call operations

An ObjectHandler is also able to handle incoming call operations. These usually invoke method calls. For example a ScrollView could be instructed to scroll to a particular position. The following snippet shows a shortened version of such a call method:

override fun call(scrollView: ScrollView, method: String, properties: V8Object) = when (method) {
  "scrollToX" -> scrollToX(scrollView, properties)
  "scrollToY" -> scrollToY(scrollView, properties)
  else -> null

Handling listen operations

A listen operation allows to setup infrastructure so that events can be send via a RemoteObject. For example a listener can be registered for a button tap when a select event is activated.

The following snippet shows how to receive a listen call via the ObjectHandler method listen().

override fun listen(id: String, button: Button, event: String, listen: Boolean) = when (event) {
    "select" -> button.setOnClickListener { scope.remoteObject(it)?.notify("select") }
    else -> super.listen(id, textInput, event, listen)

Destroying a widget

When a widget is no longer being used we also need to take care of destroying it. In case of our custom Android View we receive a destroy operation in the ObjectHandler and are responsible for cleaning up any resources that are not required anymore. When an ObjectHandler inherits from the ViewHandler the destroy operation will also remove the view from the view hierarchy.

override fun destroy(button: Button) {
  // perform any necessary cleanup