Activities and Tasks :Android Tutorials

Activities and Tasks :Android Tutorials
As noted earlier, one activity can start another, including one defined in a different application. Suppose, for example, that you'd like to let users display a street map of some location. There's already an activity that can do that, so all your activity needs to do is put together an Intent object with the required information and pass it to startActivity(). The map viewer will display the map. When the user hits the BACK key, your activity will reappear on screen.

To the user, it will seem as if the map viewer is part of the same application as your activity, even though it's defined in another application and runs in that application's process. Android maintains this user experience by keeping both activities in the same task. Simply put, a task is what the user experiences as an "application." It's a group of related activities, arranged in a stack. The root activity in the stack is the one that began the task — typically, it's an activity the user selected in the application launcher. The activity at the top of the stack is one that's currently running — the one that is the focus for user actions. When one activity starts another, the new activity is pushed on the stack; it becomes the running activity. The previous activity remains in the stack. When the user presses the BACK key, the current activity is popped from the stack, and the previous one resumes as the running activity.

The stack contains objects, so if a task has more than one instance of the same Activity subclass open — multiple map viewers, for example — the stack has a separate entry for each instance. Activities in the stack are never rearranged, only pushed and popped.

A task is a stack of activities, not a class or an element in the manifest file. So there's no way to set values for a task independently of its activities. Values for the task as a whole are set in the root activity. For example, the next section will talk about the "affinity of a task"; that value is read from the affinity set for the task's root activity.

All the activities in a task move together as a unit. The entire task (the entire activity stack) can be brought to the foreground or sent to the background. Suppose, for instance, that the current task has four activities in its stack — three under the current activity. The user presses the HOME key, goes to the application launcher, and selects a new application (actually, a new task). The current task goes into the background and the root activity for the new task is displayed. Then, after a short period, the user goes back to the home screen and again selects the previous application (the previous task). That task, with all four activities in the stack, comes forward. When the user presses the BACK key, the screen does not display the activity the user just left (the root activity of the previous task). Rather, the activity on the top of the stack is removed and the previous activity in the same task is displayed.

The behavior just described is the default behavior for activities and tasks. But there are ways to modify almost all aspects of it. The association of activities with tasks, and the behavior of an activity within a task, is controlled by the interaction between flags set in the Intent object that started the activity and attributes set in the activity's element in the manifest. Both requester and respondent have a say in what happens.

In this regard, the principal Intent flags are:
In this regard, the principal Intent flags are:

FLAG_ACTIVITY_NEW_TASK
FLAG_ACTIVITY_CLEAR_TOP
FLAG_ACTIVITY_RESET_TASK_IF_NEEDED
FLAG_ACTIVITY_SINGLE_TOP

The principal attributes are:

taskAffinity
launchMode
allowTaskReparenting
clearTaskOnLaunch
alwaysRetainTaskState
finishOnTaskLaunch

The following sections describe what some of these flags and attributes do, how they interact, and what considerations should govern their use.

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