Book Image

Learning RxJava

By : Thomas Nield
Book Image

Learning RxJava

By: Thomas Nield

Overview of this book

RxJava is a library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs using Observable sequences for the JVM, allowing developers to build robust applications in less time. Learning RxJava addresses all the fundamentals of reactive programming to help readers write reactive code, as well as teach them an effective approach to designing and implementing reactive libraries and applications. Starting with a brief introduction to reactive programming concepts, there is an overview of Observables and Observers, the core components of RxJava, and how to combine different streams of data and events together. You will also learn simpler ways to achieve concurrency and remain highly performant, with no need for synchronization. Later on, we will leverage backpressure and other strategies to cope with rapidly-producing sources to prevent bottlenecks in your application. After covering custom operators, testing, and debugging, the book dives into hands-on examples using RxJava on Android as well as Kotlin.
Table of Contents (21 chapters)
Title Page
About the Author
About the Reviewers
Customer Feedback

Setting up

There are two co-existing versions of RxJava currently: 1.0 and 2.0. We will go through some of the major differences later and discuss which version you should use.

RxJava 2.0 is a fairly lightweight library and comes just above 2 Megabytes (MBs) in size. This makes it practical for Android and other projects that require a low dependency overhead. RxJava 2.0 has only one dependency, called Reactive Streams (, which is a core library (made by the creators of RxJava) that sets a standard for asynchronous stream implementations, one of which is RxJava 2.0.

It may be used in other libraries beyond RxJava and is a critical effort in the standardization of reactive programming on the Java platform. Note that RxJava 1.0 does not have any dependencies, including Reactive Streams, which was realized after 1.0.

 If you are starting a project from scratch, try to use RxJava 2.0. This is the version we will cover in this book, but I will call out significant differences in 1.0. While RxJava 1.0 will be supported for a good while due to countless projects using it, innovation will likely only continue onward in RxJava 2.0. RxJava 1.0 will only get maintenance and bug fixes.

Both RxJava 1.0 and 2.0 run on Java 1.6+. In this book, we will use Java 8, and it is recommended that you use a minimum of Java 8 so you can use lambdas out of the box. For Android, there are ways to leverage lambdas in earlier Java versions that will be addressed later. But weighing the fact that Android Nougat uses Java 8 and Java 8 has been out since 2014, hopefully, you will not have to do any workarounds to leverage lambdas.

Navigating the Central Repository

To bring in RxJava as a dependency, you have a few options. The best place to start is to go to The Central Repository (search and search for rxjav. You should see RxJava 2.0 and RxJava 1.0 as separate repositories at the top of the search results, as shown in the following screenshot:

Searching for RxJava in the Central Repository (RxJava 2.0 and 1.0 are highlighted)

At the time of writing, RxJava 2.0.2 is the latest version for RxJava 2.0 and RxJava 1.2.3 is the latest for RxJava 1.0. You can download the latest JAR file for either by clicking the JAR links in the far right under the Download column. You can then configure your project to use the JAR file.

However, you might want to consider using Gradle or Maven to automatically import these libraries into your project. This way, you can easily share and store your code project (through GIT or other version control systems) without having to download and configure RxJava manually into it each time. To view the latest configurations for Maven, Gradle, and several other build automation systems, click on the version number for either of the repositories, as highlighted in the following screenshot:

Click the version number under the Latest Version column to view the configurations for Maven, Gradle, and other major build automation systems

Using Gradle

There are several automated build systems available, but the two most mainstream options are Gradle and Maven. Gradle is somewhat a successor to Maven and is especially the go-to build automation solution for Android development. If you are not familiar with Gradle and would like to learn how to use it, check out the Gradle Getting Started guide (

There are also several decent books that cover Gradle in varying degrees of depth, which you can find at The following screenshot displays the The Central Repository page showing how to set up RxJava 2.0.2 for Gradle:

You can find the latest Gradle configuration code and copy it into your Gradle script

In your build.gradle script, ensure that you have declared mavenCentral() as one of your repositories. Type in or paste that dependency line compile 'io.reactivex.rxjava2:rxjava:x.y.z', where x.y.z is the version number you want to use, as shown in the following code snippet:

apply plugin: 'java'

sourceCompatibility = 1.8

repositories {

dependencies {
      compile 'io.reactivex.rxjava2:rxjava:x.y.z'

Build your Gradle project and you should be good to go! You will then have RxJava and its types available for use in your project.

Using Maven

You also have the option to use Maven, and you can view the appropriate configuration in The Central Repository by selecting the Apache Maven configuration information, as shown in the following screenshot:

Select and then copy the Apache Maven configuration

You can then copy and paste the <dependency> block containing the RxJava configuration and paste it inside a  <dependencies>block in your pom.xml file. Rebuild your project, and you should now have RxJava set up as a dependency. The x.y.z version number corresponds to the desired RxJava version that you want to use: