I want to use an AsyncTask in my app, but I am having trouble finding a code snippet with a simple explanation of how things work. I just want something to help me get back up to speed quickly without having to wade through the documentation or lots of Q&As again.

Solution 1

AsyncTask is one of the easiest ways to implement parallelism in Android without having to deal with more complex methods like Threads. Though it offers a basic level of parallelism with the UI thread, it should not be used for longer operations (of, say, not more than 2 seconds).

AsyncTask has four methods

  • onPreExecute()
  • doInBackground()
  • onProgressUpdate()
  • onPostExecute()

where doInBackground() is the most important as it is where background computations are performed.


Here is a skeletal code outline with explanations:

public class AsyncTaskTestActivity extends Activity {

    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

        // This starts the AsyncTask
        // Doesn't need to be in onCreate()
        new MyTask().execute("my string parameter");

    // Here is the AsyncTask class:
    // AsyncTask<Params, Progress, Result>.
    //    Params  the type (Object/primitive) you pass to the AsyncTask from .execute() 
    //    Progress  the type that gets passed to onProgressUpdate()
    //    Result  the type returns from doInBackground()
    // Any of them can be String, Integer, Void, etc. 

    private class MyTask extends AsyncTask<String, Integer, String> {

        // Runs in UI before background thread is called
        protected void onPreExecute() {

            // Do something like display a progress bar

        // This is run in a background thread
        protected String doInBackground(String... params) {
            // get the string from params, which is an array
            String myString = params[0];

            // Do something that takes a long time, for example:
            for (int i = 0; i <= 100; i++) {

                // Do things

                // Call this to update your progress

            return "this string is passed to onPostExecute";

        // This is called from background thread but runs in UI
        protected void onProgressUpdate(Integer... values) {

            // Do things like update the progress bar

        // This runs in UI when background thread finishes
        protected void onPostExecute(String result) {

            // Do things like hide the progress bar or change a TextView

Flow Diagram:

Here is a diagram to help explain where all the parameters and types are going:

Other helpful links: