What is Appy Builder? Why should App Inventor programmers be interested?

Appy Builder is an independent and enhanced version of MIT App Inventor that builds upon App Inventor by adding many new features.

For the most part, Appy Builder’s interface is nearly the same as that of MIT App Inventor. If you have been programming apps with App Inventor, switching over to Appy Builder is very easy.

More Features

Appy Builder is built upon the App Inventor base but expands by adding new features and components:

  • Appy Builder adds components that enable you to earn money with your apps by adding paid advertising within your apps or by offering items for sale from within your apps
  • Appy Builder adds enhanced data storage features including SQL Lite
  • Access to more “sensor” controls on your Android device, including Battery Status information. Access to some WiFi connection information (Is WiFi currently connected?)
  • More components and properties (the User Interface Palette in Appy Builder has 22 components while MIT App Inventor has 14)
  • Many components have more features. For example, a Label in MIT App Inventor has six properties but in Appy Builder, a Label has 16 properties that you can set.
  • Improved Google Mapping capabilities.
  • You can control the use of the camera flash in Appy Builder but not in MIT App Inventor.
  • Appy Builder has an online forum for asking questions, answering others’ questions

The above is only a general summary to give you an idea of the enhancements available at Appy Builder.

MIT App Inventor showed the world that programming can be made easier by using a graphical user interface programming model. Further, App Inventor demonstrated that remarkably powerful apps can be created using this simplified approach to programming.

Appy Builder takes the App Inventor ease of use model and extends that to add more capabilities. Clearly, drag and drop programming makes programming accessible to more people. Appy Builder is an important contribution to the continually improving and evolving world of app development.

How to Use Appy Builder?

Go to: http://appybuilder.com

And sign in for a free account or a paid account. Paid accounts offer more features and capabilities.

Try it out! In addition to the generic “Free” account, you can also get 30 days free access to their Gold account to learn about their more advanced features and decide if those features are right for you.

More Coming

I will be publishing tutorials on some Appy Builder features – I know that many readers are already looking for solutions that are provided by Appy Builder.

Google introduces Blockly 1.0 for Android, iOS and web

If you have used MIT App Inventor (and of course you have!), you can quickly adapt to using Blockly for programming.  Blockly is basically a “Drag and Drop” code editor (like in App Inventor), providing a visual programming system. It uses the same ideas as MIT App Inventor.

To see it in operation, visit MIT’s Scratch project to create a simple program.

Google has released code libraries that, when combined with other tools, enable use of Blockly to create code for the web, for iOS and Android. For iOS you also need XCode and for Android you need Android Studio. Blockly is not a programming language itself; it outputs code in JavaScript, Python, Lua and other formats.

Source: Google Developer’s Blog

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

(FYI I am half way through my period of traveling too much and not getting much programming done!)

Brief update

I’ve been busy with other projects, traveling for work, and other tasks, that have cut into my App Inventor posts. Sorry about that!

One task I have been busy with is a project from AV8 Designer LLC to create an aircraft wing tip protection system. The system places proximity sensors on the tips of aircraft wings to detect – and help prevent – collisions with obstacles during aircraft ground movement operations. Aircraft are pushed and pulled around on the ground during all times of the day and night, and during all types of weather. They are frequently squeezed into aircraft hangers and parked extremely close to other aircraft. Unfortunately, this leads to occasional wing tip collisions that are expensive to repair.

The wing tip sensors provide audio and visual alerts of potential collisions and status (with audio and visual display) on Android tablets or smart phones carried by ground crew. The Android app is simple to use but incorporates complex programming to wirelessly communicate with all wing tip sensors. The app and the wireless communication links were implemented using App Inventor, rather than the Android Java SDK.

We took a risk in choosing to use App Inventor. While preliminary experiments were done to verify the concept, we did not know if we could develop the full application in App Inventor. Well, we took the risk and everything worked out great. Using App Inventor we were able to quickly develop – and demonstrate – the user interface and functionality. In doing this project, we proved App Inventor is capable of creating powerful and complex industrial applications. App Inventor can do much more than only educational and gaming applications!

How to Place Your App Inventor Apps in the Google Play Store

An all new tutorial on this subject is available here as of May 2016! There is still some great information below – read both!

Apps you create in App Inventor may be added to the Google Play Store.

The process is not difficult but there are many steps to the process and you will need to create some graphic images to illustrate and promote your app in the store.

Summary of the Steps

  • Set your app’s VersionCode and VersionName.
  • Apply for a Google Developer account (one time fee of US $25 after which you can upload an unlimited number of apps, forever).
  • Create at least two and up to 8 screenshots of your app for display in the store’s app listing.
  • Create a “feature graphic” and a high resolution icon for use in the store listing.
  • Use the App Inventor provided keystore file, or use a keystore file you have created elsewhere or previously.
  • Build and export your app as a .apk file to your computer.
  • Create a title for your app in the store
  • Write a description for your app to appear in the store
  • Decide on free versus paid (paid requires a “merchant account” to be set up).
  • Upload your apk file, keystore file, image files and title and description, and provide some additional information (such as product category, pricing, and target audience).

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Poll: Do you prefer printed books (cost more) or ebooks (cost less)?

Some of my readers have asked about printed copies of my App Inventor e-books.

There are services available that can print high quality, full color (with more detailed images) “on demand” which means a copy of the book is printed and manufactured at the time of purchase.

Printing adds cost. Depending on the size (height and width) and length of the printed book, prices might fall in the range of US$10 to $20.

Are you interested in printed books or are e-books okay with you? Here’s a quick poll on the subject – this poll also appears in the lower right side bar of this web page.

Thank you for your help!

[poll id=”3″]

New Linux OS version designed for Android & App Inventor app development

The Appril release of Quirky Linux includes the Android SDK (Software Development Kit), Android Studio, App Inventor, Oracle JDK (Java Development Kit), and LiveCode tools, as well as all of their dependencies, together with the JWM (Joe’s Window Manager) and ROX, providing one of the lightest environments for Android app developers.

“The intention is to have out-of-the-box, just-click-and-get-going Android app development, catering for total non-programmers with App Inventor, through intermediate with LiveCode, to hard-core coders with Android Studio,” says Barry Kauler, Puppy Linux creator.

Source: Puppy Linux’s Sister Quirky 7.1 Distro Arrives with Tools for Android App Developers

It actually runs the App Inventor system on the computer – does not require access to appinventor.mit.edu.

Download here (its free, of course). I have not tried this yet but would be interested to hear reports from users!

 

Pre-Announcing: App Inventor 2: Databases and Files-new e-book

Available now: App Inventor 2: Databases and Files

I have finished writing App Inventor 2: Databases and Files, a new e-book providing step-by-step guides to using TinyDB, TinyWebDB, Fusion Tables and Data Files in Android App Inventor programs, including sharing data with spreadsheets.

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