Adding a Flutter Fragment to an Android app

Add Flutter Fragment Header

This guide describes how to add a Flutter Fragment to an existing Android app. In Android, a Fragment represents a modular piece of a larger UI. A Fragment might be used to present a sliding drawer, tabbed content, a page in a ViewPager, or it might simply represent a normal screen in a single-Activity app. Flutter provides a FlutterFragment so that developers can present a Flutter experience any place that they can use a regular Fragment.

If an Activity is equally applicable for your application needs, consider using a FlutterActivity instead of a FlutterFragment, which is quicker and easier to use.

FlutterFragment allows developers to control the following details of the Flutter experience within the Fragment:

  • Initial Flutter route.
  • Dart entrypoint to execute.
  • Opaque vs translucent background.
  • Whether FlutterFragment should control its surrounding Activity.
  • Whether a new FlutterEngine or a cached FlutterEngine should be used.

FlutterFragment also comes with a number of calls that must be forwarded from its surrounding Activity. These calls allow Flutter to react appropriately to OS events.

All varieties of FlutterFragment, and its requirements, are described in this guide.

Add a FlutterFragment to an Activity with a new FlutterEngine

The first thing to do to use a FlutterFragment is to add it to a host Activity.

To add a FlutterFragment to a host Activity, instantiate and attach an instance of FlutterFragment in onCreate() within the Activity, or at another time that works for your app:

public class MyActivity extends FragmentActivity {
    // Define a tag String to represent the FlutterFragment within this
    // Activity's FragmentManager. This value can be whatever you'd like.
    private static final String TAG_FLUTTER_FRAGMENT = "flutter_fragment";

    // Declare a local variable to reference the FlutterFragment so that you
    // can forward calls to it later.
    private FlutterFragment flutterFragment;

    @Override
    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);

        // Inflate a layout that has a container for your FlutterFragment. For
        // this example, assume that a FrameLayout exists with an ID of
        // R.id.fragment_container.
        setContentView(R.layout.my_activity_layout);

        // Get a reference to the Activity's FragmentManager to add a new
        // FlutterFragment, or find an existing one.
        FragmentManager fragmentManager = getSupportFragmentManager();

        // Attempt to find an existing FlutterFragment, in case this is not the
        // first time that onCreate() was run.
        flutterFragment = (FlutterFragment) fragmentManager
            .findFragmentByTag(TAG_FLUTTER_FRAGMENT);

        // Create and attach a FlutterFragment if one does not exist.
        if (flutterFragment == null) {
            flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.createDefault();

            fragmentManager
                .beginTransaction()
                .add(
                    R.id.fragment_container,
                    flutterFragment,
                    TAG_FLUTTER_FRAGMENT
                )
                .commit();
        }
    }
}
class MyActivity : FragmentActivity() {
  companion object {
    // Define a tag String to represent the FlutterFragment within this
    // Activity's FragmentManager. This value can be whatever you'd like.
    private const val TAG_FLUTTER_FRAGMENT = "flutter_fragment"
  }

  // Declare a local variable to reference the FlutterFragment so that you
  // can forward calls to it later.
  private var flutterFragment: FlutterFragment? = null

  override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
    super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)

    // Inflate a layout that has a container for your FlutterFragment. For
    // this example, assume that a FrameLayout exists with an ID of
    // R.id.fragment_container.
    setContentView(R.layout.my_activity_layout)

    // Get a reference to the Activity's FragmentManager to add a new
    // FlutterFragment, or find an existing one.
    val fragmentManager: FragmentManager = supportFragmentManager

    // Attempt to find an existing FlutterFragment, in case this is not the
    // first time that onCreate() was run.
    flutterFragment = fragmentManager
      .findFragmentByTag(TAG_FLUTTER_FRAGMENT) as FlutterFragment?

    // Create and attach a FlutterFragment if one does not exist.
    if (flutterFragment == null) {
      var newFlutterFragment = FlutterFragment.createDefault()
      flutterFragment = newFlutterFragment
      fragmentManager
        .beginTransaction()
        .add(
          R.id.fragment_container,
          newFlutterFragment,
          TAG_FLUTTER_FRAGMENT
        )
        .commit()
    }
  }
}

The previous code is sufficient to render a Flutter UI that begins with a call to your main() Dart entrypoint, an initial Flutter route of /, and a new FlutterEngine. However, this code is not sufficient to achieve all expected Flutter behavior. Flutter depends on various OS signals that must be forwarded from your host Activity to FlutterFragment. These calls are shown in the following example:

public class MyActivity extends FragmentActivity {
    @Override
    public void onPostResume() {
        super.onPostResume();
        flutterFragment.onPostResume();
    }

    @Override
    protected void onNewIntent(@NonNull Intent intent) {
        flutterFragment.onNewIntent(intent);
    }

    @Override
    public void onBackPressed() {
        flutterFragment.onBackPressed();
    }

    @Override
    public void onRequestPermissionsResult(
        int requestCode,
        @NonNull String[] permissions,
        @NonNull int[] grantResults
    ) {
        flutterFragment.onRequestPermissionsResult(
            requestCode,
            permissions,
            grantResults
        );
    }

    @Override
    public void onUserLeaveHint() {
        flutterFragment.onUserLeaveHint();
    }

    @Override
    public void onTrimMemory(int level) {
        super.onTrimMemory(level);
        flutterFragment.onTrimMemory(level);
    }
}
class MyActivity : FragmentActivity() {
  override fun onPostResume() {
    super.onPostResume()
    flutterFragment!!.onPostResume()
  }

  override fun onNewIntent(@NonNull intent: Intent) {
    flutterFragment!!.onNewIntent(intent)
  }

  override fun onBackPressed() {
    flutterFragment!!.onBackPressed()
  }

  override fun onRequestPermissionsResult(
    requestCode: Int,
    permissions: Array<String?>,
    grantResults: IntArray
  ) {
    flutterFragment!!.onRequestPermissionsResult(
      requestCode,
      permissions,
      grantResults
    )
  }

  override fun onUserLeaveHint() {
    flutterFragment!!.onUserLeaveHint()
  }

  override fun onTrimMemory(level: Int) {
    super.onTrimMemory(level)
    flutterFragment!!.onTrimMemory(level)
  }
}

With the OS signals forwarded to Flutter, your FlutterFragment works as expected. You have now added a FlutterFragment to your existing Android app.

The simplest integration path uses a new FlutterEngine, which comes with a non-trivial initialization time, leading to a blank UI until Flutter is initialized and rendered the first time. Most of this time overhead can be avoided by using a cached, pre-warmed FlutterEngine, which is discussed next.

Using a pre-warmed FlutterEngine

By default, a FlutterFragment creates its own instance of a FlutterEngine, which requires non-trivial warm-up time. This means your user sees a blank Fragment for a brief moment. You can mitigate most of this warm-up time by using an existing, pre-warmed instance of FlutterEngine.

To use a pre-warmed FlutterEngine in a FlutterFragment, instantiate a FlutterFragment with the withCachedEngine() factory method.

// Somewhere in your app, before your FlutterFragment is needed, like in the
// Application class ...
// Instantiate a FlutterEngine.
FlutterEngine flutterEngine = new FlutterEngine(context);

// Start executing Dart code in the FlutterEngine.
flutterEngine.getDartExecutor().executeDartEntrypoint(
    DartEntrypoint.createDefault()
);

// Cache the pre-warmed FlutterEngine to be used later by FlutterFragment.
FlutterEngineCache
  .getInstance()
  .put("my_engine_id", flutterEngine);
flutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id").build();
// Somewhere in your app, before your FlutterFragment is needed, like in the
// Application class ...
// Instantiate a FlutterEngine.
val flutterEngine = FlutterEngine(context)

// Start executing Dart code in the FlutterEngine.
flutterEngine.getDartExecutor().executeDartEntrypoint(
    DartEntrypoint.createDefault()
)

// Cache the pre-warmed FlutterEngine to be used later by FlutterFragment.
FlutterEngineCache
  .getInstance()
  .put("my_engine_id", flutterEngine)
flutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id").build()

FlutterFragment internally knows about FlutterEngineCache and retrieves the pre-warmed FlutterEngine based on the ID given to withCachedEngine().

By providing a pre-warmed FlutterEngine, as previously shown, your app renders the first Flutter frame as quickly as possible.

Initial route with a cached engine

The concept of an initial route is available when configuring a FlutterActivity or a FlutterFragment with a new FlutterEngine. However, FlutterActivity and FlutterFragment don’t offer the concept of an initial route when using a cached engine. This is because a cached engine is expected to already be running Dart code, which means it’s too late to configure the initial route.

Developers that would like their cached engine to begin with a custom initial route can configure their cached FlutterEngine to use a custom initial route just before executing the Dart entrypoint. The following example demonstrates the use of an initial route with a cached engine:

public class MyApplication extends Application {
  @Override
  public void onCreate() {
    super.onCreate();
    // Instantiate a FlutterEngine.
    flutterEngine = new FlutterEngine(this);
    // Configure an initial route.
    flutterEngine.getNavigationChannel().setInitialRoute("your/route/here");
    // Start executing Dart code to pre-warm the FlutterEngine.
    flutterEngine.getDartExecutor().executeDartEntrypoint(
      DartEntrypoint.createDefault()
    );
    // Cache the FlutterEngine to be used by FlutterActivity or FlutterFragment.
    FlutterEngineCache
      .getInstance()
      .put("my_engine_id", flutterEngine);
  }
}
class MyApplication : Application() {
  lateinit var flutterEngine : FlutterEngine
  override fun onCreate() {
    super.onCreate()
    // Instantiate a FlutterEngine.
    flutterEngine = FlutterEngine(this)
    // Configure an initial route.
    flutterEngine.navigationChannel.initialRoute = "your/route/here";
    // Start executing Dart code to pre-warm the FlutterEngine.
    flutterEngine.dartExecutor.executeDartEntrypoint(
      DartExecutor.DartEntrypoint.createDefault()
    )
    // Cache the FlutterEngine to be used by FlutterActivity or FlutterFragment.
    FlutterEngineCache
      .getInstance()
      .put("my_engine_id", flutterEngine)
  }
}

By setting the initial route of the navigation channel, the associated FlutterEngine displays the desired route upon initial execution of the runApp() Dart function.

Changing the initial route property of the navigation channel after the initial execution of runApp() has no effect. Developers who would like to use the same FlutterEngine between different Activitys and Fragments and switch the route between those displays need to setup a method channel and explicitly instruct their Dart code to change Navigator routes.

Display a splash screen

The initial display of Flutter content requires some wait time, even if a pre-warmed FlutterEngine is used. To help improve the user experience around this brief waiting period, Flutter supports the display of a splash screen until Flutter renders its first frame. For instructions about how to show a splash screen, see the Android splash screen guide.

Run Flutter with a specified initial route

An Android app might contain many independent Flutter experiences, running in different FlutterFragments, with different FlutterEngines. In these scenarios, it’s common for each Flutter experience to begin with different initial routes (routes other than /). To facilitate this, FlutterFragment’s Builder allows you to specify a desired initial route, as shown:

// With a new FlutterEngine.
FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .initialRoute("myInitialRoute/")
    .build();
// With a new FlutterEngine.
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .initialRoute("myInitialRoute/")
    .build()

Run Flutter from a specified entrypoint

Similar to varying initial routes, different FlutterFragments may want to execute different Dart entrypoints. In a typical Flutter app, there is only one Dart entrypoint: main(), but you can define other entrypoints.

FlutterFragment supports specification of the desired Dart entrypoint to execute for the given Flutter experience. To specify an entrypoint, build FlutterFragment, as shown:

FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .dartEntrypoint("mySpecialEntrypoint")
    .build();
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .dartEntrypoint("mySpecialEntrypoint")
    .build()

The FlutterFragment configuration results in the execution of a Dart entrypoint called mySpecialEntrypoint(). Notice that the parentheses () are not included in the dartEntrypoint String name.

Control FlutterFragment’s render mode

FlutterFragment can either use a SurfaceView to render its Flutter content, or it can use a TextureView. The default is SurfaceView, which is significantly better for performance than TextureView. However, SurfaceView can’t be interleaved in the middle of an Android View hierarchy. A SurfaceView must either be the bottommost View in the hierarchy, or the topmost View in the hierarchy. Additionally, on Android versions before Android N, SurfaceViews can’t be animated becuase their layout and rendering aren’t synchronized with the rest of the View hierarchy. If either of these use cases are requirements for your app, then you need to use TextureView instead of SurfaceView. Select a TextureView by building a FlutterFragment with a texture RenderMode:

// With a new FlutterEngine.
FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .renderMode(FlutterView.RenderMode.texture)
    .build();

// With a cached FlutterEngine.
FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id")
    .renderMode(FlutterView.RenderMode.texture)
    .build();
// With a new FlutterEngine.
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .renderMode(FlutterView.RenderMode.texture)
    .build()

// With a cached FlutterEngine.
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id")
    .renderMode(FlutterView.RenderMode.texture)
    .build()

Using the configuration shown, the resulting FlutterFragment renders its UI to a TextureView.

Display a FlutterFragment with transparency

By default, FlutterFragment renders with an opaque background, using a SurfaceView. (See “Control FlutterFragment’s render mode.”) That background is black for any pixels that aren’t painted by Flutter. Rendering with an opaque background is the preferred rendering mode for performance reasons. Flutter rendering with transparency on Android negatively affects performance. However, there are many designs that require transparent pixels in the Flutter experience that show through to the underlying Android UI. For this reason, Flutter supports translucency in a FlutterFragment.

To enable transparency for a FlutterFragment, build it with the following configuration:

// Using a new FlutterEngine.
FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .transparencyMode(FlutterView.TransparencyMode.transparent)
    .build();

// Using a cached FlutterEngine.
FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id")
    .transparencyMode(FlutterView.TransparencyMode.transparent)
    .build();
// Using a new FlutterEngine.
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .transparencyMode(FlutterView.TransparencyMode.transparent)
    .build()

// Using a cached FlutterEngine.
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id")
    .transparencyMode(FlutterView.TransparencyMode.transparent)
    .build()

The relationship beween FlutterFragment and its Activity

Some apps choose to use Fragments as entire Android screens. In these apps, it would be reasonable for a Fragment to control system chrome like Android’s status bar, navigation bar, and orientation.

Fullscreen Flutter

In other apps, Fragments are used to represent only a portion of a UI. A FlutterFragment might be used to implement the inside of a drawer, a video player, or a single card. In these situations, it would be inappropriate for the FlutterFragment to affect Android’s system chrome because there are other UI pieces within the same Window.

Flutter as Partial UI

FlutterFragment comes with a concept that helps differentiate between the case when a FlutterFragment should be able to control its host Activity, and the cases when a FlutterFragment should only affect its own behavior. To prevent a FlutterFragment from exposing its Activity to Flutter plugins, and to prevent Flutter from controlling the Activity’s system UI, use the shouldAttachEngineToActivity() method in FlutterFragment’s Builder, as shown: 9

// Using a new FlutterEngine.
FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .shouldAttachEngineToActivity(false)
    .build();

// Using a cached FlutterEngine.
FlutterFragment flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id")
    .shouldAttachEngineToActivity(false)
    .build();
// Using a new FlutterEngine.
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withNewEngine()
    .shouldAttachEngineToActivity(false)
    .build()

// Using a cached FlutterEngine.
val flutterFragment = FlutterFragment.withCachedEngine("my_engine_id")
    .shouldAttachEngineToActivity(false)
    .build()

Passing false to the shouldAttachEngineToActivity() Builder method prevents Flutter from interacting with the surrounding Activity. The default value is true, which allows Flutter and Flutter plugins to interact with the surrounding Activity.