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UCD Android Workshop


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This is a presentation I gave to a workshop I organized in UCD focused on Android. …

This is a presentation I gave to a workshop I organized in UCD focused on Android.

The talk is divided into two sections:
- Android 101
- My experience trying to put together a facebook/foursquare/android mobile app
-- I did not progress very far in this endeavour

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  • G1 –oct 08Sdk 1.1 – Jan 091.5 – apr 091.6 – sept 092.0 – dec 092.1 – jan 10
  • Services have lifetimes, but they are not as interesting
  • Transcript

    • 1. Android Workshop
      UCD, 10th April 2010
    • 2. Objectives
      Android 101
      Overview of the platform
      Some market information
      Development of Android based app
      Partial Walkthrough
      Two components:
      Server side
      Facebook, foursquare
      Mobile client
      Talks to server (or not!)
    • 3. Android 101
    • 4. Overview
      Android concepts
      Comments on APIs
      Comment on market
    • 5. Background/History
      Android Inc developed vision for platform
      Acquired in 2005 by Google
      Launched November 2007
      In conjunction with Open Handset Alliance
      Number of variants since
      1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1
      Google working with many handset manufacturers and operators
      HTC, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG
    • 6. What is Android?
      Mobile Operating system
      Linux kernel v2.6.x
      Architecture for developing mobile applications
      Much work on developing concepts
      Mobile OS differs from desktop OS
      Large set of APIs
      Much functionality provided
      Dalvik VM
      Native Interface available late 09
    • 7. Differences from THE OTHER ONE
      More open in general
      Although key parts kept closed
      No constraints on store…
      Except that they pay store is not available in Ire
      Until last Thurs
      Issues with multi-touch until recently
    • 8. Perspective of App Developer
      Rich Java based framework
      Closer to Java SE than Java ME
      Good separation of UI and functionality
      Rapidly evolving platform
      Too fast in 09
      Platform with rapidly growing user base
      Rapidly increasing number of apps
      Do not have Apple toll bridge
      Anything can be published
    • 9. What does Android app look like
      Set of Java classes
      External jars need to be packaged
      Manifest describing application
      XML based descriptors of UI
      Packaged into apk file
      For distribution in market and more generally
      Can be signed
    • 10. Components
      Application comprised of different components
      Android defines 4 types of components
      Broadcast receivers
      Content providers
      Somehow notion of main not always necessary
      When writing a service, for example
    • 11. Activity
      Idea is somehow single action user is engaged in
      Part of a task
      Choosing people from list of contact
      Entering some text
      Navigating around a map
      Application can comprise of one or more activities
      Typically more
      One activity initiates next activity
    • 12. Activity
      Activities linked to views (somewhat)
      Android facilitates views which are decoupled
      Defined in XML and bundled with package
      Activity generally renders a specific view
      View designed for specific activity
    • 13. Services
      Like daemons
      Run for some period of time providing service for activities
      Fetch network data or perform calculation
      Music playback
      Service runs in main thread
      Can initiate other threads if needed
      Can bind to running service
    • 14. Broadcast receivers and Content Providers
      Broadcast receivers
      Listen for broadcast messages
      Time change, language change
      Do not have UI, but may engage with user
      Notification mechanism
      Can start activty
      Content Provider
      Enables an application to share its own data with another application
    • 15. Definition of the application – manifest.xml
      Every application has file defining components
      Lists activities, services, etc
      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
      <manifest . . . >
      <application . . . >
      <activity android:name="com.example.project.FreneticActivity"
      . . . >
      . . .
    • 16. Intents
      More complex (subtle?) notion
      Application can be invoked with different intents
      Eg from windows – file dragged onto app
      Behaviour of application depends on intent
      ACTION_MAIN most commonly used
      Manifest indicates which activity initiated on ACTION_MAIN
    • 17. Tasks
      Activities from multiple applications can be combined into tasks
      Applications can be aware of activities extant in other applications
      Can invoke them with certain intent
      Typically such activities in a ‘suite’
      A stack which retains user’s sequence of activities
      This is how user perceives application
      Note: application now ambiguous/overloaded
    • 18. So what about processes?
      Lots of flexibility
      Activities, components, receivers and providers can be in single process
      Can be split quite arbitrarily over different processes
      Defined in manifest
      All process run as uid of application
      All components run in a single main thread of application
      Need to ensure longer term tasks run in new thread
    • 19. Lifecycles - Activity
      Three states for activity
      Active or running
      Visible in foreground on screen
      Still visible, but not main focus
      When notification window open
      Not visible, retaining state
      More likely to be terminated
    • 20. Activity Lifecycle – state changes
      void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState)
      void onStart()
      void onRestart()
      void onResume()
      void onPause()
      void onStop()
      void onDestroy()
    • 21. Processes and lifecycles
      Android tends to use available resources
      Keeps things alive when in doubt
      Processes have one of 5 states:
      Foreground, visible, service, background, empty
      Process’s state may be linked to another process
      Service tied to foreground process
      When resources run low, lowest priority processes removed
    • 22. Android APIs
      Mix of APIs from different sources
      Apache http libs, standard java se libs, xml, jsonlibs
      Android-specific APIs
      Phone APIs
      Telephony, contacts, location, bluetooth/wifi
      Interface APIs
      Gesture, speech
      Widgets, webkit, opengl
    • 23. Android in the marketplace
      Android activity intense right now
      Over 50 devices in production or development
      Phones, tablets, e-readers, etc
      Sales of 60k units per day
      Adds up to 22m per annum
      iPhone sold 25m in 09
      App store rocketing
      Apps doubled in Q110
    • 24. Building an Android App
    • 25. Building an Android App
      What the (intended) app looked like
      How this was realized
      Mobile client
      How this was implemented
    • 26. Building an Android App
    • 27. Planned app…
      Integrate information from Facebook and Foursquare
      Facebook intended to provide rich network of relationships
      Foursquare to provide location aspects
      Application targetted at group of people on weekend away
      Hen/Stag party obvious example
    • 28. Intended workflow
      On the web…
      User goes to (stand alone) website
      Selects friends going on weekend away
      Facebook info
      Maps Facebook friends to Foursquare friends
      Somehow (?)
      Party going on tour stored in DB
      Both FB and FS uids stored
      …and over to mobile…
    • 29. Intended workflow
      Users download mobile app
      Used for duration of visit
      App can be used to
      Check in
      Check in on FS
      View group history
      Upload photos
      Make comments for group
      Provide for richer group experience
    • 30. Building an Android app
    • 31. Issues with development of backend
      Used Django framework
      Rapid development
      Used facebook and foursquare libraries for development
      Python/django libraries exist for both
      Multiple python facebook libraries exist
      Chose FB connect as main approach to talk to FB
      Django supports Oauthauthentiation based on this
    • 32. Issues with development of backend
      FB Connect libraries were a little limiting
      Very premised on notion that friends (of interest) are only those subscribed to site
      Common way to use FB Connect
      I wanted to extract all friends of given user
      Had to use some of the more conventional FB capabilities
      More focused on apps in FB
      Raised question of whether app should be housed in FB in first place
    • 33. Issues with development of backend
      Significant issue with mapping of FB users to FS users
      Although my friends on FS do have FB links
      (I don’t)
      Can iterate through friends lists to find matches
      Email remainder to sign up for FS
      Did not get this complete
    • 34. Issues with development of backend
      Foursquare API is still basic
      Underestimated maturity of this as platform
      Thought I could get friends history
      To show how people moved during the weekend
      FS API only allows access to last place friend was observed
      My backend needed to keep check ins also
      To show fuller picture of weekend
      Python FS API v simple to use
    • 35. Issues with development of backend
      Got basic capabilities working
      Authentication via FB
      Select list of FB friends going on weekend
      Get FS id of those who have simple mapping of FB to FS id
      In their FS profile
      Did not get important parts working
      Mobile API
      Photo support
      Poor design decisions when constructing DB
    • 36. Building an Android App
      Mobile client
    • 37. Android development
      Short overview of tools
      Very important
      Describe a little about how a simple Android app works
      Issues I had with FB, FS integration
    • 38. Android – getting up and running
      Android SDK
      Base tools common to all versions of platform
      Emulator framework
      cmd line tools to deploy apps on device
      IDE – Eclipse preferred
      ADT plug in
      Provides Android libraries, hooks into emulator, deployment, etc
      Android Platform versions
      Install in SDK
    • 39. Basic tools
      Main tool
      adb – flexible tool to enable host to talk to device
      Used to install package on device
      Put file on device
      Shell into device
      Show device logs – these include application error traces
      Other tools
      ddms – tool for connecting to on device process to debug
      apkbuilder – tool to generate android package (apk)
      Apk files used in market
      Can also be used to sign
      Tools for db management, libraries, etc
    • 40. Eclipse plug-in
      ADT is Eclipse plug-in for Android development
      Can be installed directly from online resource
      Features include:
      Knowledge of Android libraries
      Suggestions for completion of names/methods
      Reasonable support for layout of views
      Drag and drop elements onto canvas
      Good support for manipulation of manifest
      Debugging support
    • 41. External jars
      Possible to add external jars to application
      Often v useful for talking to network services
      Eg foursquare in this case
      Issue with jar for shipping app
      Jar must be included in package
      Unless it is known (how?) jar is available on device
      Addition of external jars straightforward in Eclipse
    • 42. A basic activity
      Class MyActivity extends Activity implements xxxListenersxxx {
      private EditTextusernameText = null ;
      private EditTextpasswordText = null ;
      Private Button button = null ;
      public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
      button = (Button)findViewById(;
      public void onClick(View v) {
    • 43. Basic activity: reacting to event
      public void onClick(View v) {
      // do something when the button is clicked
      // put the values in username and password into some
      // strings
      edittext1 = (EditText)findViewById(;
      edittext2 = (EditText)findViewById(;
      String username = edittext1.getText().toString();
      String password = edittext2.getText().toString();
    • 44. Moving on to next activity
      Approach is straightforward
      Create an intent and tell Android
      Some code:
      Intent myIntent = new Intent();
      myIntent.setClassName("", "");
      myIntent.putExtra("", "Hello, Joe!"); // key/value pair, where key needs current package prefix.
      Platform does manifest lookup to determine what to do
    • 45. When new activity instigated…
      Can receive information from previous activity
      Transfer mechanism somewhat invisible
      Activity class has getIntent() method
      Used to determine how activity was called
      Some code:
      public void onCreate(Bundle icicle) {
      Integer category = this.getIntent().getIntExtra("category", -1);
    • 46. More generally…moving data around
      Simple data can be transferred between activities using Bundles can be extended
      Incorporating global application state
      Public/static fields/methods
      A bit clunky
      Persistent storage:
      Application preferences, files, sqlite DB
    • 47. Issues with maps and keys
      MapView API requires keys for use
      Keys linked to developer and to application
      Unique key for each application
      For development phase…
      Android generates certificate for signing application automatically
      Not tied to certificate authority
      Submit hash of this certificate to obtain working key
      For release…
      Generate public/private key and use these to create certificate
    • 48. Progress
      Did not really get through facebook and foursquare functions on device
      Foursquare api looks simple, easy to use on android
      Library exists for this
      Facebook connect for android project is work in progress
      Did not look at this
    • 49. The 49thparallell
      Some upcoming activities
      UCD/EPITA Android Hackathon
      14-16 April
      Startup Weekend – NDRC
      7-9 May
      Opportunities day
      Invited Talk: ‘Mobile @ Google’
      Dave Burke, Engineering Manager, Google
      14 May
    • 50. Q&A