Subcomponents vs Component dependencies


Hilt is based around using Dagger subcomponents as opposed to component dependencies. This page explains some of the reasons why Hilt was designed this way.

Single binding key space

Subcomponents propagate all bindings by default. This includes multibindings which can be difficult to propagate via component dependencies. This creates a merged binding key space. This generally makes it easier to understand the Dagger graph because you don’t have to worry about considering if a binding is propagated or not from a parent component to a child component. Also, if bindings are not propagated with component dependencies, it is possible to use two different definitions of the same binding key in different components. This can make it difficult to walk through code when debugging issues as the binding definition will be based on the context of the usage.

One of the downsides of a single binding key space is that it can be extra work to place restrictions on code usage (e.g. if one feature shouldn’t use bindings from another feature). For this we generally recommend using qualifier annotations that are restricted visibility or using an SPI plugin to enforce separation of code. Using a qualifier or an SPI plugin is better than building these concerns into the structure of your Dagger component dependencies graph because often these rules encode policy. Policy decisions like this are often in flux (or need to have exceptions allowed) and having to restructure a Dagger component dependencies graph based on those changes can be costly.

Propagating bindings with component dependencies defeats Dagger pruning

Since Dagger can see the entry points to the graph, it can figure out which bindings are unused and not generate code for those bindings. This optimization goes through subcomponents, but it is defeated by component dependencies because propagating bindings through component dependencies adds entry point methods. So even if entry point methods are only used by other Dagger components and across the components the binding is unused, Dagger will be forced to still generate that dead code to adhere to its contract.

Configuration at the root and build speed

One of the main advantages of component dependencies is building Dagger code separately and in parallel. This can be done because of the lack of implicit sharing that make components black boxes with respect to each other. However, Hilt is already based on the idea of central configuration based on build dependencies. Since Hilt has to aggregate modules, all components would be generated at the same time anyway so we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of building in parallel.

Instead, to address build speed, Hilt recommends making smaller test apps for individual feature development. Without Hilt, this would have been difficult to do because of all of the repeated Dagger boilerplate for the small test app. However, with Hilt generating all of the Dagger portion based on build dependencies, putting together a small test app should be much easier.