Adaptive Card Renderer Specification

The following specification describes how implement an Adaptive Card renderer on any native UI platform.


This content is a work in progress and may be missing some details. Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.

Parsing JSON

Error conditions

  1. A parser MUST check that it's valid JSON content
  2. A parser MUST validate against the schema (required properties, etc)
  3. The above errors MUST be reported to the host app (exception or equivalent)

Unknown types

  1. If unknown "types" are encountered they MUST BE DROPPED from the result
  2. Any alterations of the payload (like above) SHOULD be reported as warnings to the host app

Unknown properties

  1. A parser MUST include additional properties on elements

Additional considerations

  1. The speak property MAY contain SSML markup and MUST be returned to the host app as-specified

Parsing Host Config

  1. TODO


  1. A renderer MUST implement a particular version of the schema.
  2. The AdaptiveCard constructor MUST give the version property a default value based on the current schema version
  3. If a renderer encounters a version property in the AdaptiveCard that is higher than the supported version, it MUST return the fallbackText instead.


An AdaptiveCard consists of a body and actions. The body is a collection of CardElements that a renderer will enumerate and render in order.

  1. Each Element MUST stretch to the width of its parent (think display: block in HTML).
  2. A renderer MUST ignore any unknown element types it encounters and continue rendering the rest of the payload.

Text, TextBlock and RichTextBlock

  1. A TextBlock MUST take up a single line unless the wrap property is true.
  2. The text block SHOULD trim any excess text with an ellipsis (...)
  1. Adaptive Cards allow for a subset of Markdown and SHOULD be supported in TextBlock.
  2. RichTextBlock DOES NOT support Markdown, and must be styled using the properties that are exposed.
  3. See full markdown requirements
Formatting functions
  1. TextBlock allows DATE/TIME formatting functions that MUST be supported on every renderer.
  2. ALL FAILURES MUST display the raw string in the card. No friendly message attempted. (The goal being to make the developer immediately aware there is a problem)


  1. A renderer SHOULD allow host apps to know when all HTTP images have been downloaded and the card is "fully rendered"
  2. A renderer MUST inspect the Host Config maxImageSize param when downloading HTTP images
  3. A renderer MUST support .png and .jpeg
  4. A renderer SHOULD support .gif images

Advanced Layout Behavior

The Renderer MUST take care to the following behaviors when rendering card elements with respect to the attributes mentioned in this doc.

The renderer should manage Constraints taking into account the various factors such as margin, padding, height and width etc configuration of the card elements and its children.


  1. Allowed values - auto, stretch and fixed values in terms of pixels and weight
  2. auto provides sufficient space for expansion of width (supports min expansion)
  3. stretch takes up the remaining width (supports max expansion)

Below below scenarios describes how the constraints are affected with different width combinations for columns

auto vs stretch

  1. Columns with auto and stretch width.

Column with auto and stretch width

  • The first column with auto width takes sufficient space to display the content and the second column with stretch width takes up the entire space.
  1. Columns with only stretch width

Column with only stretch width

  • Columns with only stretch width takes up the remaining spaces after dividing it equally.
  1. auto,stretch and auto

Column with auto and stretch combination width

The first and third columns width is adjusted first to accommodate the elements sufficiently and the second column with stretched width takes up the remaining space.

  1. Order of displaying elements with auto width columns

Columns with auto width

  • Columns with auto will position themselves to provide ample space for the content to render.
  • In case of Image views, images will downscale to fit the remaining width.
  • Note: Images will downscale only for stretch and auto image size, but not for fixed width and height in pixels.

weights vs pixels

  1. Columns with weight and pixel width combination

Columns with weightage and pixel width combination

  • The above card has three columns with the following width configuration -
  • Column1: Weight 50, Column2: 100px, Column3: Weight 50
  • The width of Column 2 is determined by the pixel value
  • The width of Column 1 and 3 is adjusted based on the weights and the calculated weight ratio.
  1. Columns with weight, pixel width and auto attributes

Columns with wight, pixel width and auto combination

  • The above card has four columns with the following width configuration -
  • Column1: Weight 50, Column2: 100px, Column3: Weight 50, and Column4: auto
  • Note: Image view with auto width column downscales to adjust to the remaining space.

Precedence order of displaying elements with the width attribute

px > weight > auto > stretch


Allowed values - auto and stretch

Below scenarios describes how the constraints are affected with different height combinations for card elements

  1. Elements expand freely vertically when card is not of fixed height

Columns with auto and stretch height

  • Both the columns can expand sufficiently vertically irrespective of auto and stretch values
  • This is with the wrap property disabled for the text block.
  1. The card below has the wrap property enabled for the text block.

Column with wrap property for text block

Spacing and Separator

  1. The spacing property on every element influences the amount of space between the CURRENT element and the one BEFORE it.
  2. Spacing MUST ONLY apply when there actually is an element preceding it. (E.g., won't apply to the first item in an array)
  3. A renderer MUST look up the amount of space to use from the hostConfig spacing for the enum value applied to the current element.
  4. If the element has a separator value of true, then a visible line MUST be drawn between the current element and the one before it.
  5. The separator line MUST be drawn using the
  6. A separator MUST ONLY be drawn if the item IS NOT the first in the array.
  7. Spacing - Allowed values none, small, default, medium, large, extra large and padding
  • Spacing attribute adds spacing between this element and the preceding element.

Elements with different spacing combination

  • Spacing attribute does not have any effect when its the first element in the view container.

Element where spacing has no effect

  • The elements marked with arrow are the first elements among its siblings, so spacing has no effect.
  1. Separator - Possible values (on/off toggle)
  • Draws a seperating line at the top of the element.

Elements with seperator attribute

  1. Spacing and Seperator combination
  • The constraints of the spacing and the seperator combination are illustrated below.

Spacing and seperator combination

  • The overall spacing distance is maintained with respect to the values provided.
  • The seperator is added halfway in the middle of the spaced distance.

[Note. Need to confirm the distance where the seperator is inserted in the spacing area. Seems like the middle]

Container Styles

  • Provides styling hints for containers such as columns and columnset
  • Allowed values none, default, emphasis, good, attention, warning and accent
  • These predefined style options provides padding for the elements within the container and background color

Columns and ColumnSet Style Combination

  1. Card A illustrates columns and columnset with no style options
  2. Card B illustrates columnset with Attention style. Notice the padding within the columnset container and the change in background color.
  3. Card C illustrates columns with styling only. Similar to the previous one, column includes padding and background change.
  4. Card D illustrates columns and columnset both with style options.

[Note. Need to check how the padding amount is determined. Is it determined by the host? ]


  • This property allows the container such as columns and columnset to bleed through its parent.
  • Possible values on and off.

Column with bleed property

  1. Card A illustrates columns and columnset with regular styling.
  2. Card B illustrates the first column with bleed option. The content just bleeds through its boundaries to its parent's.

Image Size

Size attribute

  • Allowed values - auto, stretch, small, medium, large
  • auto : Images will scale down to fit if needed, but will not scale up to fill the area.
  • stretch : Image with both scale down and up to fit as needed.
  • small, medium and large: Image is displayed with a fixed width, where the width is determined by the host.
  1. auto vs stretch

Image with auto and stretch behavior

  1. Column width and Image Size combination

Column width and image size combination

  • Generally, Columns with stretch width allow images to upscale freely with stretch size.
  • Columns with auto width allows image to occupy exact space irrespective of auto and stretch size of image.
  • Column width takes more precedence in determining the image size in this arrangement.

Image Width (in pixels) attribute

  • This provides the desired on-screen width of the image.
  • size property is overriden when a value is specified

Column width and image width in pixels combination

  • The column with auto width will have more precedence than stretch in providing room for image content in this arrangement.

Column Width (weight and pixel) and Image size (auto and stretch) Combination

Column width weighted and image size combination

  • Images with auto size takes sufficient space for expansion (or downscales) within the column constraints of weight and pixel width.
  • Images with stretch size can expand to fill the remaining space within the constraints of column weight and pixel width.

Advanced Layout Summary

  • Column width takes more precedence in determining the size of the image than its image size (auto, stretch, min width etc).
  • The precedence of the column width taken to display its content sufficiently - px > weight > auto > stretch
  • Image size (auto, stretch) is ignored when Image width and height in px is provided.
  • Image stretch size attribute will upscale the image only when there is remaining space and column auto is not auto.
  • An image stretches itself to the limit where it maintain its aspect ratio in the space available in the column. In turn, the height expands freely.
  • Spacing attribute will not have any effect when its the first or the only element among its sibling.


  1. If HostConfig supportsInteractivity is false, a renderer MUST NOT render any actions.
  2. The actions property MUST be rendered as buttons in some kind of action bar, usually at the bottom of the card.
  3. When a button is tapped it MUST allow the host app to handle the event.
  4. The event MUST pass along all associated properties with the action
  5. The event MUST pass along the AdaptiveCard which was executed
Action Behavior
Action.OpenUrl Open an external URL for viewing
Action.ShowCard Requests a sub-card to be shown to the user.
Action.Submit Ask for all of the input elements to be gathered up into an object which is then sent to you through some method defined by the host application.
Action.Execute (Introduced in v1.4) Ask for all of the input elements to be gathered up into an object which is then sent to you through the "universal action pipeline"


  1. Action.OpenUrl SHOULD open a URL using the native platform mechanism
  2. If this is not possible it MUST raise an event to the host app to handle opening the URL. This event MUST allow the host app to override the default behavior. E.g., let them open the URL within their own app.


  1. Action.ShowCard MUST be supported in some way, based on the hostConfig setting. There are two modes: inline, and popup. Inline cards SHOULD toggle the card visibility automatically. In popup mode, an event SHOULD be fired to the host app to show the card in some way.


  • Action.Submit element gathers input fields, merges with optional data field, and sends an event to the client.
  • A significant difference in the element behavior is present between 1.x and 2.x version of the ACL renderer.

The Submit Action behaves like an HTML form submit, except that where HTML typically triggers an HTTP post, Adaptive Cards leaves it up to each host app to determine what "submit" means to them.

  1. When this MUST raise an event the user taps the action invoked.
  2. The data property MUST be included in the callback payload.
  3. For Action.Submit, a renderer MUST gather all inputs on the card and retrieve their values.

Action submit behavior differences

  • 1.x Renderer - The inputs are collected from all fields irrespective of the where in the hierarchy the input field is present.
  • 2.x Renderer - The inputs are collected from fields present in parent container or as a sibling of the Action.Submit element.

Action.Execute (Details coming later)

Action.Execute was introduced in version 1.4. We will provide implementation guidance for SDKs at a later date. Please reach out if you have questions on this topic.


  1. If Host Config supportedInteractivity is false then a selectAction MUST NOT render as a touch target.
  2. Image, ColumnSet, and Column offer a selectAction property, which SHOULD be executed when the user invokes it, e.g., by tapping the element.


  1. If HostConfig supportsInteractivity is false a renderer MUST NOT render any inputs.
  2. Inputs SHOULD render with the highest fidelity possible. For example, an Input.Date would ideally offer a date picker to a user, but if this isn't possible on your UI stack, then the renderer MUST fall back to rendering a standard text box.
  3. A renderer SHOULD display the placeholderText if possible
  4. Input value binding MUST be properly escaped
  5. Prior to v1.3, A renderer DOES NOT have to implement validation of the input. Users of Adaptive Cards must plan to validate any received data on their end.
  6. Input Labels and Validation were introduced in v1.3 of the Adaptive Cards Schema. Extra care must be taken to render the associated label, validation hints and error messages.

Styling, Customization and Extensibility APIs

Each SDK should provide a certain level of flexibilty to Host Apps in order to control the overall styling, and extend the schema as they see fit.

Host Config

  • TODO: What should the defaults be? Should they all share it? Should we embed a common hostConfig.json file in the binaries?

HostConfig is a shared configuration object that specifies how an Adaptive Card Renderer generates UI.

This allows properties which are platform agnostic to be shared among renderers on different platforms and devices. It also allows tooling to be created which gives you an idea of the look and feel that card would have for a given environment.

  1. Renderers MUST expose a Host Config parameter to host apps
  2. All elements MUST be styled according to their respective Host Config settings

Native platform styling

  1. Each element type SHOULD attach a native platform style with the generated UI element. E.g., in HTML we added a CSS class to the element types, and in XAML we assign a specific Style.


  1. A renderer MUST allow host apps to override default element renderers. E.g., replace TextBlock rendering with their own logic.
  2. A renderer MUST allow host apps to register custom element types. E.g., add support for a custom Rating element
  3. A renderer MUST allow host apps to remove support for a default element. E.g., remove Action.Submit if they don't want it supported.


  1. A renderer SHOULD fire an event when an element's visibility has changed, allowing the host app to scroll the card into position.