Android - Content Provider

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A content provider is a facade between the data store (Xml, Database) and the applications.


  • Change the underlying data source without changing the application code
  • Leverage standard android library. SyncAdapters, Loaders and CursorsAdapters use ContentProvider. SimpleCursorAdapter
  • Allow others apps to access your data source securely (because of the content provider).


  • get Permission to use the Content Provider
  • Access and perform sime data operation (query, insert, update, delete)
  • Display a feedback (Information ,…)

Built-In Content Provider

Built-in ContentProviders


Content Provider

Content URI

The content URI, see:



  • Scheme: content. It refers to a content provider
  • Authority: A unique string use to locate the content provider (generally the package name of the application)
  • Location: Which generally points to a database table
  • Query: Optional. Ex: 1234?date=201260807

Manipulation example:

// The authority
public static final String CONTENT_AUTHORITY = "com.example.packageName";
// The location
public static final String PATH_LOCATION = "location";
// The content base URI
public static final Uri BASE_CONTENT_URI = Uri.parse("content://" + CONTENT_AUTHORITY);
// The URI content with location
public static final Uri CONTENT_URI = BASE_CONTENT_URI.buildUpon().appendPath(PATH_LOCATION).build();
// Add a query path element: Use buildUpon() to obtain a builder representing an existing URI.
Uri = CONTENT_URI.buildUpon().appendPath(queryString).build();


  • PATH matches PATH exactly
  • PATH/# matches PATH followed by a number
  • PATH/* matches PATH followed by any string
  • PATH/*/OTHER/# matches PATH followed by a string followed by OTHER followed by a number


Content Resolver

The content resolver locates the provider through the authority part of the content URI.

Content Resolver function mapping:


Android - Cursor


In a onCreate activity function:

import android.content.ContentResolver;

public class MainActivity extends ActionBarActivity {

public static final String LOG_TAG = MainActivity.class.getSimpleName();

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        // Get the TextView which will be populated with the Dictionary ContentProvider data.
        TextView dictTextView = (TextView) findViewById(;

        // Get the ContentResolver which will send a message to the ContentProvider
        ContentResolver resolver = getContentResolver();

        // Get a Cursor containing all of the rows in the Words table
        Cursor cursor = resolver.query(UserDictionary.Words.CONTENT_URI, null, null, null, null);

        try {

            dictTextView.append("The user dictionary contains: " + cursor.getCount() + "\n");

            int idIndex = cursor.getColumnIndex(Words._ID);
            int idWord = cursor.getColumnIndex(Words.WORD);
            int idFrequency = cursor.getColumnIndex(Words.FREQUENCY);
            while (cursor.moveToNext()) {
                String wordRow = cursor.getString(idIndex) + " - " + cursor.getString(idWord) + " - " + cursor.getString(idFrequency) + "\n";
                Log.v(LOG_TAG, wordRow);

        } finally {


Registration of the content provider with the package manager.

See The provider element in the manifest file.

<manifest >
         <!-- Content Authority = Normally the package of your application -->
         <!-- Content Provider Class = Can be relative to the content authority package -->
         <!-- android:exported="true" : the provider is shared with others application -->
         <!-- android:permission. When exported="true" a license permission can be given -->
            android:authorities="CONTENT AUTHORITY"  
            android:name="CONTENT PROVIDER CLASS" 
    <!-- android:permission. When exported="true" a license permission can be given -->    
        android:label="Licence description"


<manifest >

Test checks to make sure that the content provider is registered correctly:

public void testProviderRegistry() {

	String providerName = WeatherProvider.class.getSimpleName();
	String providerClass = WeatherProvider.class.getName();
	String contentAuthority = WeatherContract.CONTENT_AUTHORITY;

	// Get the package manager
	PackageManager pm = mContext.getPackageManager();

	// We define the component name based on the package name from the context and the
	// WeatherProvider class.
	ComponentName componentName = new ComponentName(mContext.getPackageName(),providerClass);
	try {

		// Fetch the provider info using the component name from the PackageManager
		// This throws an exception if the provider isn't registered.
		ProviderInfo providerInfo = pm.getProviderInfo(componentName, 0);

		// Make sure that the registered authority matches the authority from the Contract.
		assertEquals("Error: "+providerName+" registered with authority: " + providerInfo.authority +
				" instead of authority: " + contentAuthority,
				providerInfo.authority, contentAuthority);

	} catch (PackageManager.NameNotFoundException e) {
		// I guess the provider isn't registered correctly.
		assertTrue("Error: "+providerName+" not registered at " + mContext.getPackageName(),

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