Category Archives: Software

All new tutorial: Using TinyDB in App Inventor

I have completely rewritten and re-done my original tutorial on using TinyDB in App Inventor.

You can see the all new rewrite at Using TinyDB in App Inventor

TinyDB is a database used to store and retrieve values to semi-permanent storage on your phone or tablet. Unlike variables, which vanish when your app closes or your phone is turned off, values stored in the TinyDB are retained and can be accessed again, much later.

The original post was a popular post here on the blog, but it was brief and left out some details. I started over from scratch and wrote an all new, complete tutorial, with screen shots and blocks code, and downloadable App Inventor source code. Hope this helps!

E-Books and Printed Books

If you find these tutorials helpful (I hope you do!) please take a look at my books on App Inventor. To learn more about the books and where to get them (they are inexpensive) please see my App Inventor Books page.

  • App Inventor 2 Introduction (Volume 1 e-book)
    Step-by-step guide to easy Android programming
  • App Inventor 2 Advanced Concepts (Volume 2 e-book)
    Step-by-step guide to Advanced features including TinyDB
    • App Inventor 2 Databases and Files (Volume 3 e-book)
      Step-by-step TinyDB, TinyWebDB, Fusion Tables and Files
      Buy from: Amazon, Google Books, Kobo Books
  • App Inventor 2 Graphics, Animation and Charts (Volume 4 e-book and printed book)
    Step-by-step guide to graphics, animation and charts

Thank you for visiting! — Ed

FIRST Tech Challenge (Robotics) can now use App Inventor

Early in 2015, FIRST announced that the First Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics platform would be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (the same processor used in most Android phones).

Starting with the Fall 2015 FTC competition, students can now control the robot using App Inventor. (Go here and page down to App Inventor Download and Resources and follow that link).

FTC uses a version of App Inventor that is installed on a local computer rather than running over the Internet, as we do with MIT App Inventor.

About FIRST

FIRST robotics is an “academic sport” for the mind as teams are faced with the challenge of conceptualizing, designing and building a complex robot to solve a challenge. The Mission of FIRST Robotics:

“Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

Volunteering

I am in my 8th year of volunteering as an engineering mentor to high school robotics teams. I am currently a volunteer with Glencoe High School’s Team #4488 “Shockwave” team where I am the lead mentor for Apps Software. Our team is a student-led team. The students make the design choices and implement the solutions. The mentors assist with technical and management training and specialized learning.

Our team, like many FIRST teams, is run similar to a business with separate sub-teams not only for robotics (mechanical, electrical, robot programming, CAD) but also other functions (marketing, business, strategy, web and applications software, graphic design) and even an animation team. Our applications team produces support software for the entire team by creating custom tablet apps and Windows applications software that assist in various information collection, analysis and processing functions. Last year, the team also created a robotics game that is available in the Google Play store.

There are many opportunities for volunteering – from technical engineering to business and marketing, graphic and art design, wood and metal working, CAD, and teaching. Visit usfirst.org to learn more!

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).

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

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!

 

Off topic: My Photo Guide 2.0 app for Android is available – for free

Version 2.0 of my Photo Guide app for Android is now available – it is free, no ads either.  No special permissions are required to install. Only works on Android 5 or newer.

Works on Android 4.4 and newer.

(Update: An updated version for 4.4 will be available in the store in about 1-2 days – its been uploaded and is awaiting Google processing. In the mean time, the version in the store works on Android 5.x).

 Screen shot:xEJ7UDMI_W9zcV7U_3cY-NK-CrMkJj-E7NgL7cjFfmjp_3AArfP1Ekt6kv6kyDjsNGo=h900 Click on the icon to go direct to the Google Play store and request a download:

wj_p3SzzexZS2tvqhESceRXSrLUAkZwXOV_YC8_QbyJY4l3VPv53ier4fhWSCs3GOK4=w300Alternate link if a browser blocker interferes with that:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pevest.photoguide

This app was originally written using the Eclipse software development system, and the PhoneGap and JQuery Mobile libraries. The new version was converted to use Cordova (similar to PhoneGap) and the project was transferred to the new Android Studio for compilation and testing. This app was NOT written using MIT App Inventor.

“Visual Development” system for Arduino

As you know, MIT App Inventor is a graphical-based programming system, or a “visual development” system where programs are constructed by dragging and dropping “blocks” onto a Blocks editor.

Arduino, which we mentioned in conjunction with our Bluetooth interface code, is a microcontroller system that is normally programmed in a language similar to the C++ programming language – which is text-based.

Mitov Softwware has introduced a new visual programming system for Arduino. I have not yet had a chance to try this out – the software is in “Beta” test phase and is not yet generally available.

The simplicity of an App Inventor type programming environment might then be available for Arduino applications. This is very exciting. It may be helpful for enabling more kinds of people, with different types of backgrounds than software developers(!) to write code for Arduino boards.

Program Arduino boards visually, fast and easy with Visuino #Visuino #Arduino

Source: Visuino – Visual Development for Arduino by Mitov Software

I have used this screen shot from their web site to illustrate the general idea – really looking forward to trying this out!

screenshot-03

“Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard”

Click through for the full post at Viking Code School – as they say, the early part can be easy, then things get tougher, followed by a challenging learning period – until confidence and skills flourish.

What every beginner absolutely needs to know about the journey ahead

Source: Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard

MIT App Inventor makes many things easier – but eventually one must learn to think like a software developer and become familiar with concepts like data structures, algorithms, design patterns, and software engineering design and project management.

“Siri” for Android, written in App Inventor

Eric Payne has created an Apple Siri – like interface in App Inventor.

You can download his App Inventor source code here from Google Drive. Note that Google Drive displays the content of the .aia file (it is just a .zip file). Click on the “download arrow” icon at top center to download the .aia file to your computer, and then import the .aia file into your App Inventor account.

(This is posted here with Eric’s permission. Thanks Eric!)

Also check out the APP INVENTOR STUDY GROUP on Facebook!

 

Google expected to introduce new Java compiler

The upcoming Jack & Jill compilers in Android | Saikoa.

Most Android apps are written in the Java programming language. Google’s Android software development system converts “source code” (a text file) written in Java, into the code that runs on the Android device.

In many programming language systems, source code is converted into the “machine instructions” of the processor. The processor does not speak “Java” but speaks its own language. A program called a “compiler” converts the original program source code into the “machine language” of the processor.

Many programs for Windows, for example, have been converted into the individual instructions that are processed by an Intel or AMD processor. The “compiler” converts the program source code into a .exe file that contains the machine language instructions of the Intel and AMD processor.

But what if you wanted your program to run on a hardware device that has a Qualcomm or ARM processor?

Continue reading Google expected to introduce new Java compiler

What are the hot programming languages for today

Here is an easy to read report on which programming languages are now “hot” in the market for software developers: Don’t Rely On Salary Data To Pick A Programming Language To Learn – ReadWrite.

The pace of change in software development is rapid – popular languages today may already be fading.  Pay scales for some niche languages are very high (such as Ruby)- but the market opportunity might not be large or lengthy.

Web applications and mobile applications are the “hot” categories. Within those categories, there are a variety of currently popular software development tools:

Continue reading What are the hot programming languages for today