Writing Android event handlers in Kotlin

Mon Jul 8, 2013

Kotlin is Jetbrains successor to Java, this brief post illustrates how Kotlin’s SAM conversions can simplify Android event handlers.

Updated: 2013-08-20: For Kotlin M6 compatibility.

Kotlin can synthesize anonymous SAM class instances, this removes all the redundant verbosity of Java-style handlers. All you need to provide is the event handler in the form of a function literal. For example, this Android onClick handler written in Java:

button1.setOnClickListener(new OnClickListener() {
    public void onClick(View v) {
        // Handler code here.
        Toast.makeText(this.MainActivity, "Button 1",

Translates literally to this Kotlin code:

button1.setOnClickListener(object: View.OnClickListener {
    override fun onClick(view: View): Unit {
        // Handler code here.
        Toast.makeText(this@MainActivity, "Button 1",

Which is equivalent (courtesy of an implicit SAM conversion) to this beautifully simple idiomatic Kotlin code:

button1.setOnClickListener {
    // Handler code here.
    Toast.makeText(this, "Button 1",
  • It’s not necessary to declare the single view function parameter, use the implicitly declared it parameter.
  • Argument parentheses can be omitted from View.setOnClickListener because it is passed a single function literal argument.
  • In the Java-style examples this inside the handler refers to the anonymous class instance; in the final idiomatic Kotlin example this refers to the instance lexically enclosing the handler not the anonymous class object (which makes a lot more sense).

See also First Steps in SAM Conversions.

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