I recently ran into a problem with mapping one LiveData object to another with an asynchronous dependency. I wanted to translate a LiveData Order API response into a view state String. Normally, this is easily done with something like this:

data class OrderResponse(val total: Double)

val orderViewState = Transformations.map(Repo.orderResponseLiveData) {
    val currency = NumberFormat.getCurrencyInstance(Locale.US)

The issue comes when we want to use a Locale that we fetch from a location server-side. Let’s simplify the problem as the following:

suspend fun getLocale()

val orderViewState = Transformations.map(orderResponseLiveData) {
    // Compilation error, we must call getLocale() from a coroutine context
    val currency = NumberFormat.getCurrencyInstance(getLocale())

We need the currency instance for use in the Transformations.map(), but we can’t call any asynchronous coroutines from a synchronous context. How do we resolve this?

MediatorLiveData usage

Let’s look at the source of Transformations.map:

public static <X, Y> LiveData<Y> map(
        @NonNull LiveData<X> source,
        @NonNull final Function<X, Y> mapFunction) {
    final MediatorLiveData<Y> result = new MediatorLiveData<>();
    result.addSource(source, new Observer<X>() {
        public void onChanged(@Nullable X x) {
    return result;

We see that it is essentially a wrapper for MediatorLiveData that adds a single new source. So let’s try postponing the source addition until we have all of the objects we need.

This is an example solution within the ViewModel init:

class OrderViewModel : ViewModel() {

    lateinit var currencyFormat
    val orderViewState = MediatorLiveData<OrderViewState>()

    init {
        viewModelScope.launch {
            // Succeeds because we are calling getLocale() from a coroutine context
            currencyFormat = NumberFormat.getCurrencyInstance(getLocale())
            orderViewState.addSource(Repo.orderResponseLiveData) { order ->

By delaying the addition of the MediatorLiveData source until the assignment of the currencyFormat is complete, we can guarantee that all necessary objects are available from the target context. By initializing the LiveData with an empty MediatorLiveData, we can guarantee that the observer won’t throw an exception and is free to call viewModel.orderViewState.observe() at any time.