ListView Data Sources

Learn how to populate your ListView with data.

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ListView is used for displaying lists of data. We'll learn about populating a ListView with data, and how we can bind to the selected item.

  • Setting ItemsSource – uses a simple list or array.
  • Data Binding – establishes a relationship between a model and the ListView. Binding is ideal for the MVVM pattern.


ListView is populated with data using the ItemsSource property, which can accept any collection implementing IEnumerable. The simplest way to populate a ListView involves using an array of strings:

var listView = new ListView();
listView.ItemsSource = new string[]{

//monochrome will not appear in the list because it was added
//after the list was populated.

The above approach will populate the ListView with a list of strings. By default, ListView will call ToString and display the result in a TextCell for each row. To customize how data is displayed, see Cell Appearance.

Because ItemsSource has been sent to an array, the content will not update as the underlying list or array changes. If you want the ListView to automatically update as items are added, removed and changed in the underlying list, you'll need to use an ObservableCollection. ObservableCollection is defined in System.Collections.ObjectModel and is just like List, except that it can notify ListView of any changes:

ObservableCollection<Employees> employeeList = new ObservableCollection<Employess>();
listView.ItemsSource = employeeList;

//Mr. Mono will be added to the ListView because it uses an ObservableCollection
employeeList.Add(new Employee(){ DisplayName="Mr. Mono"});

Data Binding

Data binding is the "glue" that binds the properties of a user interface object to the properties of some CLR object, such as a class in your ViewModel. Data binding is useful because it simplifies the development of user interfaces by replacing a lot of boring boilerplate code.

Data binding works by keeping objects in sync as their bound values change. Instead of having to write event handlers for every time a control's value changes, you establish the binding and enable binding in your ViewModel.

For more information on data binding, see Data Binding Basics which is part four of the Xamarin.Forms XAML Basics article series.

Binding Cells

Properties of cells (and children of cells) can be bound to properties of objects in the ItemsSource. For example, a ListView could be used to present a list of employees with images.

The employee class:

public class Employee{
    public string DisplayName {get; set;}

ObservableCollection<Employee> is created and set as the ListView's ItemsSource:

ObservableCollection<Employee> employees = new ObservableCollection<Employee>();
public EmployeeListPage()
  //defined in XAML to follow
  EmployeeView.ItemsSource = employees;

The list is populated with data:

public EmployeeListPage()
  employees.Add(new Employee{ DisplayName="Rob Finnerty"});
  employees.Add(new Employee{ DisplayName="Bill Wrestler"});
  employees.Add(new Employee{ DisplayName="Dr. Geri-Beth Hooper"});
  employees.Add(new Employee{ DisplayName="Dr. Keith Joyce-Purdy"});
  employees.Add(new Employee{ DisplayName="Sheri Spruce"});
  employees.Add(new Employee{ DisplayName="Burt Indybrick"});

The following snippet demonstrates a ListView bound to a list of employees:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<ContentPage xmlns=""
Title="Employee List">
  <ListView x:Name="EmployeeView">
        <TextCell Text="{Binding DisplayName}" />

Note that the binding was setup in code for simplicity, although it could have been bound in XAML.

The previous bit of XAML defines a ContentPage that contains a ListView. The data source of the ListView is set via the ItemsSource attribute. The layout of each row in the ItemsSourceis defined within the ListView.ItemTemplate element.

This is the result:

Binding SelectedItem

Often you'll want to bind to the selected item of a ListView, rather than use an event handler to respond to changes. To do this in XAML, bind the SelectedItem property:

<ListView x:Name="listView"
 SelectedItem="{Binding Source={x:Reference SomeLabel},

Assuming listView's ItemsSource is a list of strings, SomeLabel will have its text property bound to the SelectedItem.

Xamarin Workbook

If it's not already installed, install the Xamarin Workbooks app first. The workbook file should download automatically, but if it doesn't, just click to start the workbook download manually.