Sometimes, we may need to emit different RxJava Observables depending on the specific condition dynamically. Moreover, it’s good to do it right without breaking a chain (stream of Observables). We want to combine different Observables together and do not want to nest one subscription inside another subscription because this will lead us to “subscription hell” similar to “callback hell”. Luckily RxJava has mechanisms to deal with such problems. In this article, I’m basing my examples on RxJava 2.1.0.

Let’s say we have two Observables:

public Observable<String> trueObservable() {
  return Observable.fromCallable(() -> "trueObservable");

public Observable<String> falseObservable() {
  return Observable.fromCallable(() -> "falseObservable");

and we have another Observable wrapping Boolean value:

public Observable<Boolean> createCondition(boolean returnedValue) {
  return Observable.fromCallable(() -> returnedValue);

This Observable can emit true or false depending on the provided parameter.

What we want to do is to:

  • emit trueObservable() when createCondition(boolean) returns true
  • emit falseObservable() when createCondition(boolean) returns false
  • emit falseObservable() when createCondition(boolean) emits empty Observable (default behaviour)

We can do it in the following way:

public Observable<String> emitTrueObservableDynamically() {
  return createCondition(true)
      .flatMap(condition -> condition ? trueObservable() : falseObservable());

In such case, this method will emit trueObservable(). When we change parameter of the createCondition(boolean) method to false, Observable will emit falseObservable(). When we replace createCondition(boolean) method with Observable.empty(), method will return falseObservable() by default. As we can see, it’s easily solved with flatMap and defaultIfEmpty operators.

This is quite useful technique, which we can apply to reactive applications to control our flow without breaking the chain. Please note, it’s just an example you can create more complicated constructions and handle more complicated types than just boolean and more than two use cases.

Reference thread for this article on StackOverflow: