RecyclerView and Adapters in Kotlin: A Guide for Android Developers

In modern Android app development, displaying lists of data efficiently is a common requirement. RecyclerView is a powerful UI component that allows developers to efficiently display large datasets in a scrollable list. In this guide, we will explore how to use RecyclerView along with custom adapters written in Kotlin to create dynamic and responsive lists in Android apps.

Understanding RecyclerView

RecyclerView is a more flexible and efficient version of the older ListView and GridView components. It efficiently manages the memory by recycling the views that are no longer visible on the screen, thus providing smooth scrolling performance, especially for large datasets. RecyclerView is highly customizable and can accommodate various layouts and animations.

Setting Up RecyclerView in Your Project

To get started, ensure that you have the necessary dependencies added to your project. In your app's build.gradle file, include the RecyclerView dependency:

implementation 'androidx.recyclerview:recyclerview:1.2.0'

Now, let's create a RecyclerView in your layout XML file:


Here, we set the layout manager to LinearLayoutManager, which arranges items in a vertical or horizontal scrolling list.

Creating a Custom Adapter in Kotlin

Next, we need to create a custom adapter to bind the data to the RecyclerView. In Kotlin, adapters are typically implemented as classes that extend RecyclerView.Adapter<T>. Here's a basic example:

class CustomAdapter(private val dataList: List<DataModel>) : RecyclerView.Adapter<CustomAdapter.ViewHolder>() {

    override fun onCreateViewHolder(parent: ViewGroup, viewType: Int): ViewHolder {
        val view = LayoutInflater.from(parent.context).inflate(R.layout.item_layout, parent, false)
        return ViewHolder(view)

    override fun onBindViewHolder(holder: ViewHolder, position: Int) {
        val data = dataList[position]

    override fun getItemCount(): Int {
        return dataList.size

    inner class ViewHolder(itemView: View) : RecyclerView.ViewHolder(itemView) {
        fun bind(data: DataModel) {
            // Bind data to views here

In this adapter, we override three main methods:

  1. onCreateViewHolder(): Inflates the layout for each item view.
  2. onBindViewHolder(): Binds data to the item views.
  3. getItemCount(): Returns the total number of items in the dataset.

Using the Custom Adapter with RecyclerView

Now, let's integrate our custom adapter with the RecyclerView in our activity or fragment:

val recyclerView: RecyclerView = findViewById(
val adapter = CustomAdapter(dataList)
recyclerView.adapter = adapter

Replace dataList with your actual list of data. RecyclerView will automatically call the adapter's methods to populate the list with data and manage recycling of views.

Customizing the Layout and Functionality

You can further customize the layout and functionality of your RecyclerView by implementing click listeners, adding animations, using different layout managers (e.g., GridLayoutManager, StaggeredGridLayoutManager), and incorporating libraries for loading images asynchronously (e.g., Picasso, Glide).


RecyclerView and custom adapters are essential components of modern Android app development. They provide a flexible and efficient way to display lists of data in a dynamic and responsive manner. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can leverage the power of RecyclerView and Kotlin to create engaging user interfaces for your Android apps. Happy coding!