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    Android SDK 3.x to 4.0 migration guide

    Read time: 8 minutes
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2023


    This topic explains the changes in the Android 4.0 release and how to migrate to that version.

    Version 4.0 includes several breaking changes. Additionally, if you use the Relay Proxy, you must update your Relay Proxy to version 7.0 before you update your SDK to version 4.0. To learn more, read the Relay Proxy 7.0 release notes.

    Before you migrate to version 4.0, update to the latest 3.x version. Some of the changes that are mandatory in 4.0 were originally added in a 3.x version and made optional.

    If you update to the latest 3.x version, deprecation warnings appear in areas of your code that need to be changed for 4.0. You can update them at your own pace while still using 3.x, rather than migrating everything simultaneously. To learn more about updating to the latest 3.x version, visit the SDK's GitHub repository.

    Understanding contexts

    Many LaunchDarkly customers create targeting rules for feature flags based on a variety of different information, including attributes pertaining to users, organizations, devices, and more. In previous versions of the LaunchDarkly SDK, you could define this information in a user object, using a combination of built-in and custom attributes. Now you can define this information in a more structured way, using contexts.

    Each context has a required attribute called kind that you can use to categorize context instances for targeting and Experimentation. You can also add other attributes. Attributes can be strings, booleans, numbers, arrays, or JSON objects.

    When you evaluate a feature flag within your application, the flag's targeting rules use information from one or more kinds of contexts. For example, you may know:

    • the username, first name, last name, and email address of a person, as part of a context with kind of "user"
    • the company, department, and location of an organization, as part of a context with kind of "organization"
    • the device, model, and operating system of an environment, as part of a context with kind of "device"

    This new version of the LaunchDarkly SDK requires you to evaluate feature flags using an evaluation context, which is an object containing one or more contexts.

    To learn more about contexts, read Contexts and segments.

    Migrating from users to contexts

    The 4.0 version of this SDK lets you use contexts. When you migrate from version 3.x, replace every instance of a user with a context. If there are any instances you do not replace, the 4.0 version of the Android SDK will convert each LDUser parameter it receives to LDContext and call the LDContext-specific version of the method.

    LaunchDarkly assumes older versions of the SDK use user contexts

    A context always has a kind attribute. When older versions of the SDK send events to LaunchDarkly, LaunchDarkly will convert the users in those events to contexts with a kind of user.

    If a flag configuration specifies any context kinds other than user, older versions of the Android SDK will not evaluate the flag correctly. You must upgrade your SDK if you are going to use context kinds other than user in your flag configurations.

    The primary differences between working with users and working with contexts include the following:

    To learn more about upgrading to contexts, read Best practices for upgrading users to contexts.

    Understanding differences between users and contexts

    Where you previously created users, now you must create contexts.

    Here's how to construct a basic context, as compared with constructing a user:

    LDUser user = new LDUser("user-key-123abc");

    Here's how to construct a basic context, with a context kind of something other than "user":

    LDContext context1 = LDContext.create(ContextKind.of("organization"), "org-key-123abc");

    Here's how to construct a multi-context, which includes multiple context kinds:

    LDContext multiContext = LDContext.createMulti(
    LDContext.create(ContextKind.of("device"), "device-key-123abc")

    Understanding changes to built-in and custom attributes

    This section describes the changes to built-in and custom attributes in the 4.0 version of the SDK.

    Working with built-in and custom attributes

    In previous SDK versions, the user object included several built-in attributes for describing the user. It also included optional custom attributes, which you could add to a custom object within the user object and then populate.

    In version 4.0, the only built-in attributes are kind, key, name, and anonymous. Kind, key, and name are strings, and anonymous is a boolean.

    You can define additional attributes for a context by passing in a name and value for each. Additional attributes can be any JSON type, including boolean, number, string, array, or object.

    Here's how to construct a context with additional attributes, as compared with constructing a similar user:

    LDUser user = new LDUser.Builder("user-key-123abc")

    Referencing properties of an attribute object

    In previous versions of the SDK, if you set the value of a user's custom attribute to an object, you could not reference that object in evaluations. In version 4.0, if a context attribute's value is a JSON object, you can reference properties of that object as the attribute in the targeting rules for a flag or segment.

    Here's one way to add object attributes to a context:

    LDValue addressData = LDValue.buildObject()
    .put("street", "Main St")
    .put("city", "Springfield")
    LDContext context = LDContext.builder("user-key-123abc")
    .set("address", addressData)

    There are multiple ways you can construct attribute values. To learn more about additional methods, read LDValue).

    In your flag or segment targeting, use / as the delimiter to refer to specific object fields. For example, you can use /address/city in your targeting. To learn more, read Targeting with flags.

    Removing the secondary attribute

    In previous versions of the SDK, you could set the value of a user's secondary attribute, as an optional secondary key for a user. The SDK would incorporate this attribute into the variation bucket assignment hash.

    In version 4.0, the secondary attribute has been removed. If you were previously using this attribute as part of distinguishing percentage rollouts, that will no longer work for your users.

    Understanding changes to private attributes

    As in previous versions of the SDK, you can mark specific attributes of a context as private. This restricts the context data your application sends to LaunchDarkly, while still using that data for flag targeting.

    In version 4.0, there are two scopes for which you can mark attributes as private:

    • Across all contexts of any context kind. You might use this if you want to ensure that the SDK never sends an "email" attribute to LaunchDarkly, no matter whether it occurs in a user context, an organization context, or something else.
    • Within a particular context or context kind. You might use this if you want an "email" attribute to be private in a user context, but not in an organization context.

    In the first example, all attributes are marked private for all contexts. In the second example, the "email" and "address" attributes are private for all contexts:

    LDConfig config = new LDConfig.Builder()

    To learn more, read EventProcessorBuilder.

    Here's how to mark an attribute as private for a particular context:

    LDContext context = LDContext.builder("key")
    .set("email", "sandy@example.com")

    For attributes that are objects, you can mark specific fields private, using the / delimiter followed by the attribute name, then the / delimiter followed by the JSON property within the value.

    For example, for the attribute "address": { "street": "Main St", "city": "Springfield" }, you could set just the /address/street as private.

    The privateAttributeNames attribute that existed in a user object in version 3.x has been renamed to privateAttributes in LDContext. To learn more, read privateAttributes.

    Understanding changes to automatic custom property population

    In the 3.x version, the SDK automatically populated the device and os built-in attributes of a user. In version 4.0, the SDK will not automatically create or populate these attributes for contexts.

    If you currently have feature flags that target these attributes, you will need to determine what context you want them to be part of, and populate them yourself.

    Here's how:

    LDContext context = LDContext.builder("context-key-123abc")
    .set("os", "25")
    .set("device", "Pixel XL marlin")

    Understanding changes to anonymous users

    In previous versions of the SDK, setting a user's key attribute to null and its anonymous attribute to true caused the SDK to generate a unique identifier to use as a key.

    In the 4.0 version of the SDK, this behavior works differently. The SDK will not generate keys for anonymous contexts unless you set a new configuration option.

    Here's how:

    LDConfig config = new LDConfig.Builder()

    If you set this option, the SDK will generate a key for any context whose anonymous attribute is true. You must still specify a non-null key as a placeholder when you construct the LDContext, because the SDK does not allow an LDContext to exist with a null key. When you pass this context to SDK methods like init or identify, the SDK replaces the placeholder key with a generated key.

    In this example, the placeholder key is "unknown-context-key", but it could be any non-empty string:

    LDContext context = LDContext.builder("unknown-context-key")

    If you use multi-contexts, this feature applies to each individual context separately. Only the contexts that have the anonymous attribute set to true will receive a generated key, and there will be a different generated key for each context kind.

    In this example, userContext will receive a generated key, but orgContext will still have the key `"org-key-123abc":

    LDContext userContext = LDContext.builder("unknown-context-key")
    LDContext orgContext = LDContext.create(ContextKind.of("organization"), "org-key-123abc");
    LDContext multiContext = LDContext.createMulti(userContext, orgContext);

    Understanding changes to alias events

    In previous versions of the SDK, multiple user objects could represent one person. For example, this could happen the first time a person logged in to your application. The person might be represented by an anonymous user before they logged in, and a different user after they logged in. You could associate these two LaunchDarkly users by sending an alias event in the SDK.

    With the introduction of contexts, the person in this scenario is represented by two different context kinds. For example, before they log in, they might be represented by a device context. After they log in, they might be represented by a multi-context, for example, by one context kind based on their device and simultaneously by another context kind based on their user information.

    The 4.0 version of the SDK removes the ability to send an alias event. If you currently alias users, you will need to remove this code when you migrate to version 4.0.

    If you want to continue associating two contexts with each other, you can use two different context kinds, and then identify a multi-context that includes both individual contexts when you want the association to occur.

    Here's how:

    LDContext context1 = LDContext.create("user-key-123abc");
    LDContext context2 = LDContext.create(ContextKind.of("device"), "device-key-123abc");
    LDContext multiContext = LDContext.createMulti(context1, context2);

    To learn more, read ContextMultiBuilder.

    Understanding changes to SDK configuration

    Android SDK 3.3.0 added newer ways to use LDConfig.Builder. As of 4.0, those ways are mandatory. They are the only way to use LDConfig.Builder.

    Instead of having many unrelated properties, each with their own LDConfig.Builder method, most of the properties are now grouped into areas of functionality, each of which has its own builder class that is only available if you are using that functionality. For instance, if you use streaming mode, there are options you can set to control streaming mode, and if you use polling mode, you use a different builder that does not have the streaming options. Similarly, if you have disabled analytics events, the event-related options are not accessible.

    The basic areas of functionality are "data source," events, networking, and service URIs. Data source refers to polling, streaming, or test data.

    If your code was already using the newer model, you should not need to change it.

    Understanding changes to data source methods

    For each data source type, there is a factory method whose name ends in DataSource. These methods give you a builder object with methods for whatever options are appropriate. Pass that object to LDConfig.Builder.dataSource().

    Here is an example:

    // Setting custom options for streaming mode
    LDConfig config = new LDConfig.Builder()
    // Specifying polling mode and setting custom polling options
    LDConfig config = new LDConfig.Builder()

    The default is to use streaming mode. Unlike the earlier model, it is no longer possible to construct a meaningless configuration such as "use streaming mode, but set the polling interval to 1 minute."

    To learn more, read StreamingDataSourceBuilder and PollingDataSourceBuilder.

    Another data source option is the test data source. To learn more, read the API documentation for com.launchdarkly.sdk.android.integrations.TestData.

    Understanding changes to events

    Analytics events are enabled by default. To customize their behavior, call Components.sendEvents() to get an EventProcessorBuilder object with event-related options, and then pass that object to LDConfig.Builder.events().

    To completely disable events, set LDConfig.Builder.events() to Components.noEvents(). This was not possible in previous SDK versions.

    Here is an example:

    // Customizing event behavior
    LDConfig config = new LDConfig.Builder()
    .privateAttributes("email", "name", "myCustomAttribute")
    // Disabling events is not possible in 3.x

    It is no longer possible to construct a meaningless configuration like "disable events, but set the flush interval to 10 seconds."

    EventProcessorBuilder does not have methods that correspond to the previous configuration options autoAliasingOptOut and inlineUsersInEvents. Updates to the LaunchDarkly event model have made those options obsolete.

    Understanding changes to networking

    Options in this category affect how the SDK communicates with LaunchDarkly over HTTP/HTTPS, such as connection timeout and custom headers. If you need to customize these, get an HttpConfigurationBuilder object by calling Components.httpConfiguration(), configure it, and then pass it to LDConfig.Builder.http().

    To learn more, read HttpConfigurationBuilder.

    Here is an example:

    // Setting connection timeout
    LDConfig config = new LDConfig.Builder()

    Understanding changes to service URI configuration

    Previous versions of the SDK had pollUri, streamUri, and eventsUri options for using custom service URIs instead of the standard LaunchDarkly service URIs. This is normally only necessary if you are using the LaunchDarkly Relay Proxy, or if your company uses a special LaunchDarkly domain that is not launchdarkly.com.

    To customize these options in the new SDK, call Components.serviceEndpoints() to get a ServiceEndpointsBuilder object, configure this builder, and then pass it to LDConfig.Builder.serviceEndpoints().

    Here is an example:

    LDConfig config = new LDConfig.Builder()

    Understanding what was deprecated

    All types and methods that were marked as deprecated in the last 3.x release have been removed from the 4.0 release. If you were using these with a recent version previously, you should already have received deprecation warnings at compile time, with suggestions about their recommended replacements.

    For a full list of deprecated types and methods, read the Deprecated API section of the 3.x SDK API documentation.