Amos M. Carpenter Amos M. Carpenter - 6 months ago 24
Android Question

How to use Android Spinner like a drop-down list

It's taken me quite a while to get my head around the Android Spinner. After several failed implementation attempts, and after reading many questions partially similar to my own but without satisfactory answers, and some without any answers at all, e.g. here and here, I finally get that a "spinner" in Android isn't meant to be the same thing as a "drop-down list" from desktop apps, or a select in HTML. However, what my app (and I'm guessing the apps of all the other posters whose questions are similar) needs is something that works like a drop-down box, not like a spinner.

My two problems are with what I first considered to be idiosynchrasies the OnItemSelectedListener (I've seen these as separate questions on this site but not as one):

  1. An initial selection of the first list item is triggered automatically without the user's interaction.

  2. When the item that was already selected is selected again by the user, it is ignored.

Now I realise that, when you think about it, it makes sense for this to happen on a spinner - it has to start with a default value selected, and you spin it only to change that value, not to "re-select" a value - the documentation actually says: "This callback is invoked only when the newly selected position is different from the previously selected position". And I've seen answers suggesting that you set up a flag to ignore the first automatic selection - I guess I could live with that if there's no other way.

But since what I really want is a drop-down list which behaves as a drop-down list should (and as users can and should expect), what I need is something like a Spinner that behaves like a drop-down, like a combo-box. I don't care about any automatic pre-selection (that should happen without triggering my listener), and I want to know about every selection, even if it's the same one as previously (after all, the user selected the same item again).

So... is there something in Android that can do that, or some workaround to make a Spinner behave like a drop-down list? If there is a question like this one on this site that I haven't found, and which has a satisfactory answer, please let me know (in which case I sincerely apologise for repeating the question).


+1 to David's answer. However, here's an implementation suggestion that does not involve copy-pasting code from the source (which, by the way, looks exactly the same as David posted in 2.3 as well):

void setSelectionInt(int position, boolean animate) {
    mOldSelectedPosition = INVALID_POSITION;
    super.setSelectionInt(position, animate);

This way you'll trick the parent method into thinking it's a new position every time.

Alternatively, you could try setting the position to invalid when the spinner is clicked and setting it back in onNothingSelected. This is not as nice, because the user will not see what item is selected while the dialog is up.