Friday, February 4, 2011

Android Development Made Easy

I treat myself (and my family) to a Samsung Galaxy Tab for Christmas last year. It's a nice device, I prefer it over the iPad which, for me, is just too big to be portable and, also, lacks the full browsing experience.

To date I've only had hands on with Android using friends phones - I have a BlackBerry myself. Android's a great platform, with some cool applications and an expanding App Store environment. that's starting to rival Apple's. For really cool apps I recommend you get yourself a copy of Google Sky - absolutely amazing.

In my work, I've been exploring the application of mobile devices to Equipment Maintenance and Asset Management. I thought, seeing as I had a Galaxy Tab to hand, I'd take a look at prototyping some concepts on it.

So, I headed over to the Android Development Site and got the SDK, Eclipse Plug-In and Device Emulator. For accurate Galaxy Tablet emulation you need the Galaxy Tab avd profile on Samsung's Mobile Innovator site.

Naturally the native platform for Android development is Java and the SDK is very comprehensive. But, as you'd expect, it is quite heavyweight and there's a substantial code set just to get a basic application up and running. I guess this is okay if you're a full time professional Android development or you've really set up to dedicate huge amounts of time to the platform, but for me it was all too big a learning curve given all the projects I currently have on the go.

After a quick Google I came across Android Scripting, used be called ASE now called SLA - Scripting Layer for Android. SLA has been around for a year, but it's not a core supported component of the SDK, but a Google Code project released under an Apache License.

And what a great project it is. Essentially SLA's all about lowering the barrier to developing simple Android apps supporting a number of common scripting languages such as JavaScript, Python, Lua etc. To install, simply scan the barcode (more on barcodes later) and, assuming you've got a Net connection, the core SLA package will install. The basic SLA runtime comes installed with only HTML and JavaScript interpreters.

In terms of settling on a scripting language I choose Python. I've been doing a fair bit in Python currently on a collaboration with some work colleagues and I'm really liking it for it's productivity. Also, the Python library is a native C and complied so, in a lot of cases, is just as quick as the JVM.

Productive is it, and just to show you how much you can do with very little code, take a look at the following:
import android

droid = android.Android()
barcode = int(droid.scanBarcode().result["extras"]["SCAN_RESULT"])
url='' % barcode
As you can probably guess from reading the code, this little app invokes the Tablet's camera based barcode functionality, get's the barcode value, concatenates that with the URL for Google Books that displays a web page for the book you've just scanned! To support the barcode API call you do need the ZXing library installed. Still, pretty cool though.


Mobi People said...

It's Really helpful information for Android development.

Android applications are very famous for in the mobile era.Android Development actually offers a plethora of benefits for mobile application developers.

Anonymous said...

cool men..but if you create it in eclipse, what is the possible emulator u can use to test your prgoram?

Avatar Html5 Player said...

Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.

Makaveil Jojo said...

barcode birt for java

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