To understand what dependency injection is, we have to first understand the dependency inversion principle.

Dependency Injection

Dependency inversion, the D in the SOLID object-oriented programming principles, refers to the decoupling of dependencies in code by relying on abstractions instead of implementation details.

Dependency injection is the mechanism we use to support dependency inversion. Essentially our code is provided or “injected” with dependencies without having to manage the creation and implementation of those dependencies. In Android we can do this with a library called Dagger 2.

Why use Dependency Injection?

Because dependencies are decoupled, there are many benefits to using dependency injection

  • we can change out dependency implementations without affecting the entire system
  • we can inject mock implementations when testing to make sure we’re testing the right parts of our code
  • components are modular and can be easily reused

Setting up Dagger 2

Set up the libraries

In this example we’ll be adding Realm to our project and injecting it as a dependency.

First we add the Realm plugin to our project-level build.gradle

classpath 'io.realm:realm-gradle-plugin:2.3.1'

At the top of the app-level build.gradle apply the realm-android plugin

apply plugin: 'realm-android'

In the same file add the Dagger dependencies.

compile ''
annotationProcessor ''

Sync Gradle and you should have both Realm and Dagger ready to use.


We have to tell Dagger how we satisfy dependencies. We do that with the @Provides annotation inside of modules (which are denoted with the @Module annotation).

First we’ll create the DatabaseModule class and provide Realm.

public class DatabaseModule {

    Realm provideRealm(Context context) {
        RealmConfiguration.Builder builder = new RealmConfiguration.Builder();"daggerdemo.realm");

        RealmConfiguration config =;
        return Realm.getInstance(config);

You might have noticed that DatabaseModule relies on Context. That’s because it’s a dependency! Let’s provide Context in our ApplicationModule. It’s fairly straightforward.

public class ApplicationModule {
    private Application application;

    public ApplicationModule(Application application) {
        this.application = application;

    public Context provideContext() {
        return application;

Note that we could have provided Context in the DatabaseModule, but put it in the ApplicationModule for modularity.


Next we have to tell Dagger where to inject the dependencies. This is done in components using the @Component annotation.

@Component(modules = {ApplicationModule.class, DatabaseModule.class})
public interface ApplicationComponent {

    void inject(MainActivity activity);

In this interface we’re telling Dagger to inject the modules and the dependencies provided by them into the MainActivity. Note that ApplicationModule is a singleton and Dagger handles that for us with the @Singleton annotation.

In order to create our component we have to use a bit of Dagger’s generated code, so build the project now.

Now we can use our newly generated DaggerApplicationComponent. Let’s wire it up in our Application.

public class DaggerDemoApplication extends Application {

    private ApplicationComponent component;

    public ApplicationComponent getComponent() {
        if (component == null) {
            component = DaggerApplicationComponent.builder()
                    .applicationModule(new ApplicationModule(this))
                    .databaseModule(new DatabaseModule())
        return component;

Here we add the modules to the DaggerApplicationComponent using the builder interface’s applicationModule() and databaseModule() methods.

The final step to complete injection is done in the MainActivity. First define our request for a dependency. This is done with the @Inject annotation on the Realm property. Next we have to invoke the inject method we defined in ApplicationComponent.

public class MainActivity extends AppCompatActivity {

    Realm realm;

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

        ((DaggerDemoApplication) getApplication()).getComponent()

Now we can use the newly injected Realm.

In this post we learned how to use Dagger 2 in Android. We learned that Dagger 2 is a library for dependency injection, which itself is a mechanism to support dependency inversion.

Further Reading

Chris Cadiz

I'm a software developer based in Winnipeg, Canada. I have a deep interest in learning, entrepreneurship, and technology.

chriscadiz chris_cadiz