March 28, 2023

After Duplo modularization, we seen that the duty producing a transitive R class was taking a big period of time to execute. To get rid of this job altogether, and for the reason that non-transitive R class is marketed to have as much as 40% incremental build time improvement, we determined emigrate our codebase to make use of it.

Should you’re not accustomed to nonTransitiveRClass, beforehand referred to as namespacedRclass, it’s an Android Gradle Plugin flag that permits namespacing R courses so that each module’s R class solely contains sources declared within the module itself, and never sources from the modules or libraries it depends upon. This flag is enabled by default for brand new initiatives since Android Studio Bumblebee.

On this submit, we’ll stroll by way of how we transitioned to non-transitive R class and among the advantages — each anticipated and surprising — that we noticed.

Establishing conventions


Since sources can’t all be referenced utilizing the present module’s R class anymore, we first wanted to align on how we wished them to be referenced within the non-transitive R class world. Utilizing the fully-qualified title for R courses to reference sources, e.g. getString(slack.l10n.R.string.at_everyone), was cumbersome and verbose, so we settled on utilizing import aliases as a substitute for that function:

import slack.l10n.R as L10nR

class Clazz(context: Context) 


Sadly, import aliases are a Kotlin-specific function and never accessible in Java. Nevertheless, contemplating that solely 4% of our codebase was nonetheless in Java, we agreed that utilizing the fully-qualified title to reference sources not declared within the present module was a ok resolution, and would function motivation emigrate these courses to Kotlin down the road.


Preliminary technique

We had been planning on utilizing Android Studio’s Refactor > Migrate to Non-Transitive R Classes function to refactor all R references to be fully-qualified, after which use this script to undergo the refactored information and alter the fully-qualified references to make use of import aliases.

Nevertheless, on the scale of our codebase, with greater than 400 modules, Android Studio took all night time on an Intel Macbook Professional (we hadn’t but moved to M1 Macs) to do a part of the work and prompted the UI to turn into non-responsive after, so we pivoted to a unique migration technique.

Chosen technique

The vast majority of our sources are outlined in two modules: the strings are in :l10n-strings and most different sources are in :slack-kit-resources. So, we proceeded with the next technique:

  1. We first used Android Studio’s Discover & Substitute with the regex ([[|(|]| )R.string. to switch string useful resource references with $1L10nR.string. and the regex ([[|(|]| )R.(shade|dimen|drawable|font|uncooked|model|attr).sk_  to switch different useful resource references with $1SlackKitR.$2.sk_.
  2. Then we ran a modified model of the aforementioned script to iterate over information that used both L10nR or SlackKitR as a useful resource reference and added the mandatory import aliases to them. The wanted dependencies had been added to the modules that had been beforehand relying on both :l10n-strings or :slack-kit-resources transitively by way of the R class. The challenge began compiling efficiently once more.
  3. We enabled non-transitive R class by including android.nonTransitiveRClass=true to the basis file, and manually up to date the few remaining useful resource references that had been failing compilation.
  4. As the ultimate step of the migration, we enabled a non-transitive R class dependent optimization that generates the compile time solely R class utilizing the app’s native sources by including android.enableAppCompileTimeRClass=true to the identical file.

Developer expertise

Discoverability enhancements

To assist builders work as successfully within the non-transitive R class world as they did earlier than, we discovered the 4 most typical import aliases within the codebase, by working grep -o -h -r -E 'import w+(.w+)+.R as [a-zA-Z0-9]+R' . | kind | uniq -c | kind -b -n -r, and added them as live templates that begin with r for discoverability.

Aliases live templates

In contrast to file and code templates, reside templates can’t be made accessible to everybody who works on the challenge by way of Intellij. To work round this, we copied the reside templates file from Android Studio’s templates listing in ~/Library/Software Assist/Google/AndroidStudio<model> and checked it into our Git repository underneath the config/templates listing. As a option to import it into Android Studio at any time when a brand new model is put in, we then used this script, which runs as a part of bootstrapping the native growth surroundings, to repeat the live templates file again to the templates listing.

Conference enforcement

Along with the reside templates, we additionally developed three lint checks, that constructed on high of the conventions that we agreed on, to enforced the next:

  1. Solely the native module’s R class might be imported with out an import alias.
    • For instance, slack.uikit.sources.R can’t be imported exterior :slack-kit-resources with out an import alias.
  2. Import aliases for R courses must be constant throughout the codebase.
    • For instance, slack.uikit.sources.R can solely be imported as SlackKitR, not SKR or anything.
  3. R courses/sources can’t be referenced utilizing their fully-qualified names, however somewhat by way of import aliases.
    • For instance, getString(L10nR.string.at_everyone) must be used as a substitute of getString(slack.l10n.R.string.at_everyone).

All three lint checks have auto-fixes, so fixing any ensuing lint points is a breeze.


Migrating to non-transitive R class had many advantages, probably the most notable being a ~14% enchancment in incremental construct occasions following a useful resource or format change.

It additionally decreased APK/DEX measurement by ~8.5%, which is about 5.5MB of code!

APK size difference graph

Along with the advantages lined above, which had been anticipated, the transition had some oblique advantages that had been surprising:

  • It uncovered situations the place some sources had been declared in a single module however solely utilized in one other, which allowed us to maneuver them for elevated module cohesion. 
  • It made it simpler to determine the place sources are coming from, which enabled us to slim down inaccessible UI parts and triage them.


All in all, the migration to non-transitive R class has been a giant success for us, and developer sentiment is constructive due to all its advantages and the tooling we carried out as assist.

We suggest you make the transition to non-transitive R class to reap the advantages we’ve outlined if you’re engaged on a multi-module challenge or plan on introducing modules to your challenge.

Should you like engaged on stuff like this, we’re hiring!