Life of an Android Resource


This document describes how Android Resources are built in Chromium's build system. It does not mention native resources which are processed differently.

The steps consume the following files as inputs:

  • AndroidManifest.xml
    • Including AndroidManifest.xml files from libraries, which get merged together
  • res/ directories

The steps produce the following intermediate files:

  • R.srcjar (contains files)
  • R.txt

The steps produce the following files within an .apk:

  • AndroidManifest.xml (a binary xml file)
  • resources.arsc (contains all values and configuration metadata)
  • res/** (drawables and layouts)
  • classes.dex (just a small portion of classes from generated files)

The Build Steps

Whenever you try to compile an apk or library target, resources go through the following steps:

1. Constructs .build_config files:


  • GN target metadata
  • Other .build_config.json files


  • Target-specific .build_config.json file is run to record target metadata needed by future steps. For more details, see

2. Prepares resources:


  • Target-specific .build_config.json file
  • Files listed as sources


  • Target-specific (contains all resources listed in sources).
  • Target-specific R.txt (list of all resources, including dependencies). zips up the target-specific resource files and generates R.txt. No optimizations, crunching, etc are done on the resources.

The following steps apply only to apk & bundle targets (not to library targets).

3. Create target-specific files


  • R.txt from dependencies.


  • Target-specific (placeholder) file.

A target-specific is generated for each android_library() target that sets resources_package. Resource IDs are not known at this phase, so all values are set as placeholders. This copy of R classes are discarded and replaced with new copies at step 4.

Example placeholder file:

package org.chromium.mypackage;

public final class R {
    public static class anim  {
        public static int abc_fade_in = 0;
        public static int abc_fade_out = 0;

4. Finalizes apk resources:


  • Target-specific .build_config.json file
  • Dependencies' R.txt files
  • Dependencies' files


  • Packaged resources zip (named foo.ap_) containing:
    • AndroidManifest.xml (as binary xml)
    • resources.arsc
    • res/**
  • Final R.txt
    • Contains a list of resources and their ids (including of dependencies).
  • Final files

4(a). Compiles resources:

For each library / resources target your apk depends on, the following happens:

  • Use a regex (defined in the apk target) to remove select resources (optional).
  • Convert png images to webp for binary size (optional).
  • Move drawables in mdpi to non-mdpi directory (why?)
  • Use aapt2 compile to compile xml resources to binary xml (references to other resources will now use the id rather than the name for faster lookup at runtime).
  • aapt2 compile adds headers/metadata to 9-patch images about which parts of the image are stretchable vs static.
  • aapt2 compile outputs a zip with the compiled resources (one for each dependency).

4(b). Links resources:

After each dependency is compiled into an intermediate .zip, all those zips are linked by the aapt2 link command which does the following:

  • Use the order of dependencies supplied so that some resources clober each other.
  • Compile the AndroidManifest.xml to binary xml (references to resources are now using ids rather than the string names)
  • Create a resources.arsc file that has the name and values of string resources as well as the name and path of non-string resources (ie. layouts and drawables).
  • Combine the compiled resources into one packaged resources apk (a zip file with an .ap_ extension) that has all the resources related files.

4(c). Optimizes resources:

Targets can opt into the following optimizations:

  1. Resource name collapsing: Maps all resources to the same name. Access to resources via Resources.getIdentifier() no longer work unless resources are allowlisted.
  2. Resource filename obfuscation: Renames resource file paths from e.g.: res/drawable/something.png to res/a. Rename mapping is stored alongside APKs / bundles in a .pathmap file. Renames are based on hashes, and so are stable between builds (unless a new hash collision occurs).
  3. Unused resource removal: Referenced resources are extracted from the optimized .dex and AndroidManifest.xml. Resources that are directly or indirectly used by these files are removed.

App Bundles and Modules:

Processing resources for bundles and modules is slightly different. Each module has its resources compiled and linked separately (ie: it goes through the entire process for each module). The modules are then combined to form a bundle. Moreover, during “Finalizing the apk resources” step, bundle modules produce a resources.proto file instead of a resources.arsc file.

Resources in a dynamic feature module may reference resources in the base module. During the link step for feature module resources, the linked resources of the base module are passed in. However, linking against resources currently works only with resources.arsc format. Thus, when building the base module, resources are compiled as both resources.arsc and resources.proto.

Debugging resource related errors when resource names are obfuscated

An example message from a stacktrace could be something like this:

java.lang.IllegalStateException: Could not find CoordinatorLayout descendant
view with id to anchor view
android.view.ViewStub{be192d5 G.E...... ......I. 0,0-0,0 #7f0a02ad

0_resource_name_obfuscated is the resource name for all resources that had their name obfuscated/stripped during the optimize resources step. To help with debugging, the R.txt file is archived. The R.txt file contains a mapping from resource ids to resource names and can be used to get the original resource name from the id. In the above message the id is 0x7f0a02ad.

For local builds, R.txt files are output in the out/*/apks directory.

For official builds, Googlers can get archived R.txt files next to archived apks.

Adding resources to the allowlist

If a resource is accessed via getIdentifier() it needs to be allowed by an aapt2 resources config file. The config file looks like this:

<resource type>/<resource name>#no_obfuscate



The aapt2 config file is passed to the ninja target through the resources_config_paths variable. To add a resource to the allowlist, check where the config is for your target and add a new line for your resource. If none exist, create a new config file and pass its path in your target.

Webview resource ids

The first two bytes of a resource id is the package id. For regular apks, this is 0x7f. However, Webview is a shared library which gets loaded into other apks. The package id for webview resources is assigned dynamically at runtime. When webview is loaded it calls this R file's onResourcesLoaded() function to have the correct package id. When deobfuscating webview resource ids, disregard the first two bytes in the id when looking it up in the R.txt file.

Monochrome, when loaded as webview, rewrites the package ids of resources used by the webview portion to the correct value at runtime, otherwise, its resources have package id 0x7f when run as a regular apk.

How files are generated contain a set of nested static classes, each with static fields containing ids. These ids are used in java code to reference resources in the apk.

There are three types of files in Chrome.

  1. Root / Base Module Files
  2. DFM Files
  3. Per-Library Files

Root / Base Module Files

Contain base android resources. All files can access base module resources through inheritance.

Example Root / Base Module File:

package gen.base_module;

public final class R {
    public static class anim  {
        public static final int abc_fade_in = 0x7f010000;
        public static final int abc_fade_out = 0x7f010001;
        public static final int abc_slide_in_top = 0x7f010007;
    public static class animator  {
        public static final int design_appbar_state_list_animator = 0x7f020000;

DFM Files

Extend base module root files. This allows DFMs to access their own resources as well as the base module's resources.

Example DFM Root File

package gen.vr_module;

public final class R {
    public static class anim extends gen.base_module.R.anim {
    public static class animator extends gen.base_module.R.animator  {
        public static final int design_appbar_state_list_animator = 0x7f030000;

Per-Library Files

Generated for each android_library() target that sets resources_package. First a placeholder copy is generated in the android_library() step, and then a final copy is created during finalization.

Example final per-library


public final class R {
    public static final class anim extends
            gen.vr_module.R.anim {}
    public static final class animator extends
            gen.vr_module.R.animator {}