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 files


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

2. Prepares resources:


  • Target-specific build_config file
  • Target-specific Resource dirs (res/ directories)
  • files from dependencies (used to generate the R.txt/java files)


  • Target-specific (containing only resources in the target-specific resource dirs, no dependant resources here).
  • Target-specific R.txt
    • Contains a list of resources and their ids (including of dependencies).
  • Target-specific .srcjar zips up the target-specific resource dirs and generates R.txt and .srcjars. No optimizations, crunching, etc are done on the resources.

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

3. Finalizes apk resources:


  • Target-specific build_config file
  • 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 .srcjar

3(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).

3(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.

3(c). Optimizes resources:

This step obfuscates / strips resources names from the resources.arsc so that they can be looked up only by their numeric ids (assigned in the compile resources step). Access to resources via Resources.getIdentifier() no longer work unless resources are allowlisted.

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 is a list of static classes, each with multiple 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. Base Module Root Files
  2. DFM Root Files
  3. Source Files

Example Base Module Root 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;

Base module root files contain base android resources. All files can access base module resources through inheritance.

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;

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

Example Source File


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

Source files extend root files and have no resources of their own. Developers can import these files to access resources in the apk.

The file generated via the prepare resources step above has temporary ids which are not marked final. That file is only used so that javac can compile the java code that references R.*.

The generated during the finalize apk resources step has permanent ids. These ids are marked as final (except webview resources that need to be rewritten at runtime).