Adding Sticky Headers for Grouping Sponsors List in Open Event Android App

The Open Event Android project has a fragment for showing sponsors of the event. Each Sponsor model has a name, url, type and level. The SponsorsFragment shows list according to type and level. Each sponsor list item has sponsor type TextView. There can be more than one sponsors with the same type. So instead of showing type in the Sponsor item we can add Sticky header showing type at the top which will group the sponsors with the same type and also gives the great UI. In this post I explain how to add the Sticky headers in the RecyclerView using StickyHeadersRecyclerView library.

1. Add dependency

In order to use Sticky Headers in your app add following dependencies in your app module’s build.gradle file.

dependencies {
	compile 'com.timehop.stickyheadersrecyclerview:library:0.4.3'
}

2. Create layout for header

Create recycler_view_header.xml file for the header. It will contain LinearLayout and simple TextView which will show Sponsor type.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    android:orientation="vertical">

    <TextView
        android:id="@+id/recyclerview_view_header"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:padding="@dimen/padding_medium" />

</LinearLayout>

Here you can modify layout according to your need.

3.  Implement StickyRecyclerHeadersAdapter

Now implement StickyRecyclerHeadersAdapter in the List Adapter. Override getHeaderId(), onCreateHeaderViewHolder(), onBindHeaderViewHolder
() methods of the StickyRecyclerHeadersAdapter.

public class SponsorsListAdapter extends BaseRVAdapter<Sponsor, SponsorViewHolder> implements StickyRecyclerHeadersAdapter {
    ...

    @Override
    public long getHeaderId(int position) {...}

    @Override
    public RecyclerView.ViewHolder onCreateHeaderViewHolder(ViewGroup parent) {...}

    @Override
    public void onBindHeaderViewHolder(RecyclerView.ViewHolder holder, int position) {...}
}

 

The getHeaderId() method is used to give an id to the header. It is the main part of the implementation here all the sponsors with the same type should return the same id. In our case we are returning sponsor level because all the sponsor types have corresponding levels.

String level = getItem(position).getLevel();
return Long.valueOf(level);

 

The onCreateHeaderViewHolder() returns Recycler ViewHolder for the header. Here we will use in the inflate() method of  LayoutInflater to get View object of recycler_view_header.xml file. Then return new RecyclerView.ViewHolder object using View object.

View view = LayoutInflater.from(parent.getContext())
                .inflate(R.layout.recycler_view_header, parent, false);
return new RecyclerView.ViewHolder(view) {};

 

The onBindHeaderViewHolder() binds the sponsor to HeaderViewHolder. In this method we sets the sponsor type string to the TextView we have created in the recycler_view_header.xml file.

TextView textView = (TextView) holder.itemView.findViewById(R.id.recyclerview_view_header);
textView.setGravity(Gravity.CENTER_HORIZONTAL);

String sponsorType = getItem(position).getType();
if (!Utils.isEmpty(sponsorType))  
   textView.setText(sponsorType.toUpperCase());

Here you can also modify TextView according to your need. We are centering text using setGravity() method.

4.  Setup RecyclerView

Now create RecyclerView and set adapter using setAdapter() method. Also as we want the linear list of sponsors so set the LinearLayoutManager using setLayoutManager() method.

SponsorsListAdapter sponsorsListAdapter = new SponsorsListAdapter(getContext(), sponsors);
sponsorsRecyclerView.setAdapter(sponsorsListAdapter);
sponsorsRecyclerView.setLayoutManager(new LinearLayoutManager(getActivity()));

 

Create StickyRecyclerHeadersDecoration object and add it in the RecyclerView using addItemDecoration() method.

final StickyRecyclerHeadersDecoration headersDecoration = new StickyRecyclerHeadersDecoration(sponsorsListAdapter);

sponsorsRecyclerView.addItemDecoration(headersDecoration);
sponsorsListAdapter.registerAdapterDataObserver(new RecyclerView.AdapterDataObserver(){
    @Override
    public void onChanged {
            headersDecoration.invalidateHeaders();
    }
});

Now add AdapterDataObserver using registerAdapterDataObserver() method. The onChanged() method in this observer is called whenever dataset changes. So in this method invalidate headers using invalidateHeaders() method of HeaderDecoration.

Now we are all set. Run the app it will look like this.

Conclusion

Sticky headers in the App gives great UI and UX. You can also add a click listener to the headers. To know more about Sticky Headers follow the links given below.

Using Firebase Test Lab for Testing test cases of Phimpme Android

As now we started writing some test cases for Phimpme Android. While running my instrumentation test case, I saw a tab of Cloud Testing in Android Studio. This is for Firebase Test Lab. Firebase Test Lab provides cloud-based infrastructure for testing Android apps. Everyone doesn’t have every devices of all the android versions. But testing on all of them is equally important.

How I used test lab in Phimpme

  • Run your first test on Firebase

Select Test Lab in your project on the left nav on the Firebase console, and then click Run a Robo test. The Robo test automatically explores your app on wide array of devices to find defects and report any crashes that occur. It doesn’t require you to write test cases. All you need is the app’s APK. Nothing else is needed to use Robo test.

Upload your Application’s APK (app-debug-unaligned.apk) in the next screen and click Continue

Configure the device selection, a wide range of devices and all API levels are present there. You can save the template for future use.

Click on start test to start testing. It will start the tests and show the real time progress as well.

  • Using Firebase Test Lab from Android Studio

It required Android Studio 2.0+. You needs to edit the configuration of Android Instrumentation test.

Select the Firebase Test Lab Device Matrix under the Target. You can configure Matrix, matrix is actually on what virtual and physical devices do you want to run your test. See the below screenshot for details.

Note: You need to enable the firebase in your project

So using test lab on firebase we can easily test the test cases on multiple devices and make our app more scalable.

Resources:

Image Loading in Open Event Organizer Android App using Glide

Open Event Organizer is an Android App for the Event Organizers and Entry Managers. Open Event API Server acts as a backend for this App. The core feature of the App is to scan a QR code from the ticket to validate an attendee’s check in. Other features of the App are to display an overview of sales and ticket management. As per the functionality, the performance of the App is very important. The App should be functional even on a weak network. Talking about the performance, the image loading part in the app should be handled efficiently as it is not an essential part of the functionality of the App. Open Event Organizer uses Glide, a fast and efficient image loading library created by Sam Judd. I will be talking about its implementation in the App in this blog.

First part is the configuration of the glide in the App. The library provides a very easy way to do that. Your app needs to implement a class named AppGlideModule using annotations provided by the library and it generates a glide API which can be used in the app for all the image loading stuff. The AppGlideModule implementation in the Orga App looks like:

@GlideModule
public final class GlideAPI extends AppGlideModule {

   @Override
   public void registerComponents(Context context, Glide glide, Registry registry) {
       registry.replace(GlideUrl.class, InputStream.class, new OkHttpUrlLoader.Factory());
   }

   // TODO: Modify the options here according to the need
   @Override
   public void applyOptions(Context context, GlideBuilder builder) {
       int diskCacheSizeBytes = 1024 * 1024 * 10; // 10mb
       builder.setDiskCache(new InternalCacheDiskCacheFactory(context, diskCacheSizeBytes));
   }

   @Override
   public boolean isManifestParsingEnabled() {
       return false;
   }
}

 

This generates the API named GlideApp by default in the same package which can be used in the whole app. Just make sure to add the annotation @GlideModule to this implementation which is used to find this class in the app. The second part is using the generated API GlideApp in the app to load images using URLs. Orga App uses data binding for layouts. So all the image loading related code is placed at a single place in DataBinding class which is used by the layouts. The class has a method named setGlideImage which takes an image view, an image URL, a placeholder drawable and a transformation. The relevant code is:

private static void setGlideImage(ImageView imageView, String url, Drawable drawable, Transformation<Bitmap> transformation) {
       if (TextUtils.isEmpty(url)) {
           if (drawable != null)
               imageView.setImageDrawable(drawable);
           return;
       }
       GlideRequest<Drawable> request = GlideApp
           .with(imageView.getContext())
           .load(Uri.parse(url));

       if (drawable != null) {
           request
               .placeholder(drawable)
               .error(drawable);
       }
       request
           .centerCrop()
           .transition(withCrossFade())
           .transform(transformation == null ? new CenterCrop() : transformation)
           .into(imageView);
   }

 

The method is very clear. First, the URL is checked for nullability. If null, the drawable is set to the imageview and method returns. Usage of GlideApp is simpler. Pass the URL to the GlideApp using the method with which returns a GlideRequest which has operators to set other required options like transitions, transformations, placeholder etc. Lastly, pass the imageview using into operator. By default, Glide uses HttpURLConnection provided by android to load the image which can be changed to use Okhttp using the extension provided by the library. This is set in the AppGlideModule implementation in the registerComponents method.

Links:
1. Documentation for Glide, an Image Loading Library
2. Documentation for Okhttp, an HTTP client for Android and Java Applications

Basics behind school level experiments with PSLab

Electronics is a fascinating subject to most kids. Turning on a LED bulb, making a simple circuit will make them dive into much more interesting areas in the field of electronics. PSLab android application with the help of PSLab device implements a set of experiments whose target audience is school children. To make them more interested in science and electronics, there are several experiments implemented such as measuring body resistance, lemon cell experiment etc.

This blog post brings out the basics in implementing these type of experiments and pre-requisite.

Lemon Cell Experiment

Lemon Cell experiment is a basic experiment which will make school kids interested in science experiments. The setup requires a fresh lemon and a pair of nails which is used to drive into the lemon as illustrated in the figure. The implementation in PSLab android application uses it’s Channel 1. The cell generates a low voltage which can be detected using the CH1 pin of PSLab device and it is sampled at a rate of 10 to read an accurate result.

float voltage = (float) scienceLab.getVoltage("CH1", 10);

2000 instances are recorded using this method and plotted against each instance. The output graph will show a decaying graph of voltage measured between the nails driven into the lemon.

for (int i = 0; i < timeAxis.size(); i++) {
   temp.add(new Entry(timeAxis.get(i), voltageAxis.get(i)));
}

Human Body Resistance Measurement Experiment

This experiment attracts most of the young people to do electronic experiments. This is implemented in the PSLab android application using Channel 3 and the Programmable Voltage Source 3 which can generate voltage up to 3.3V. The experiment requires a human with drippy palms so it makes a good conductance between device connection and the body itself.

The PSLab device has an internal resistance of 1M Ohms connected with the Channel 3 pin. Experiment requires a student to hold two wires with the metal core exposed; in both hands. One wire is connected to PV3 pin when the other wire is connected to CH3 pin. When a low voltage is supplied from the PV3 pin, due to heavy resistance in body and the PSLab device, a small current in the range of nano amperes will flow through body. Using the reading from CH3 pin and the following calculation, body resistance can be measured.

voltage = (float) scienceLab.getVoltage("CH3", 100);
current = voltage / M;
resistance = (M * (PV3Voltage - voltage)) / voltage;

This operation is executed inside a while loop to provide user with a continuous set of readings. Using Java threads there is a workaround to implement the functionalities inside the while loop without overwhelming the system. First step is to create a object without any attribute.

private final Object lock = new Object();

Java threads use synchronized methods where other threads won’t start until the first thread is completed or paused operation. We make use of that technique to provide enough time to read CH3 pin and display output.

while (true) {
   new MeasureResistance().execute();
   synchronized (lock) {
       try {
           lock.wait();
       } catch (InterruptedException e) {
           e.printStackTrace();
       }
   }
}

Once the pin readings and value updates are complete the lock is released to execute the method once again.

updateDataBox();
synchronized (lock) {
   lock.notify();
}

Capacitor Discharge Experiment

This experiment is somewhat similar to the Lemon Cell Experiment as this experiments on electron storage and discharge. The experiment is carried out using two bulky electrolyte capacitors. PSLab device is capable of generating PWM waveforms with any duty cycle. Refer to this article to learn more about how PWM waves are generated using PSLab device to implement more features like sine wave generation.

Using the SQR1 pin of the PSLab device, one capacitor is charged to its fullest capacity using a PWM wave with 100% duty cycle at a 100 Hz.

scienceLab.setSqr1(100, 100, false);

This capacitor is then connected in parallel with the other capacitor which is empty. The voltage transfer is measured using CH1 pin at a sampling rate of 10

float voltage = (float) scienceLab.getVoltage("CH1", 10);

To provide a continuous update in the voltage transfer, a similar implementation is used using an object in the thread to control the implementation inside a while loop.

Resources:

Adding Static Code Analyzers in Open Event Orga Android App

This week, in Open Event Orga App project (Github Repo), we wanted to add some static code analysers that run on each build to ensure that the app code is free of potential bugs and follows a certain style. Codacy handles a few of these things, but it is quirky and sometimes produces false positives. Furthermore, it is not a required check for builds so errors can creep in gradually. We chose checkstyle, PMD and Findbugs for static analysis as they are most popular for Java. The area they work on kind of overlaps but gives security regarding code quality. Findbugs actually analyses the bytecode instead of source code to find possible JVM bugs.

Adding dependencies

The first step was to add the required dependencies. We chose the library android-check as it contained all 3 libraries and was focused on Android and easily configurable. First, we add classpath in project level build.gradle

dependencies {
   classpath 'com.noveogroup.android:check:1.2.4'
}

 

Then, we apply the plugin in app level build.gradle

apply plugin: 'com.noveogroup.android.check'

 

This much is enough to get you started, but by default, the build will not fail if any violations are found. To change this behaviour, we add this block in app level build.gradle

check {
   abortOnError true
}

 

There are many configuration options available for the library. Do check out the project github repo using the link provided above

Configuration

The default configuration is of easy level, and will be enough for most projects, but it is of course configurable. So we took the default hard configs for 3 analysers and disabled properties which we did not need. The place you need to store the config files is the config folder in either root project directory or the app directory. The name of the config file should be checkstyle.xml, pmd.xml and findbugs.xml

These are the default settings and you can obviously configure them by following the instructions on the project repo

Checkstyle

For checkstyle, you can find the easy and hard configuration here

The basic principle is that if you need to add a check, you include a module like this:

<module name="NewlineAtEndOfFile" />

 

If you want to modify the default value of some property, you do it like this:

<module name="RegexpSingleline">
   <property name="format" value="\s+$" />
   <property name="minimum" value="0" />
   <property name="maximum" value="0" />
   <property name="message" value="Line has trailing spaces." />
   <property name="severity" value="info" />
</module>

 

And if you want to remove a check, you can ignore it like this:

<module name="EqualsHashCode">
   <property name="severity" value="ignore" />
</module>

 

It’s pretty straightforward and easy to configure.

Findbugs

For findbugs, you can find the easy and hard configuration here

Findbugs configuration exists in the form of filters where we list resources it should skip analyzing, like:

<Match>
   <Class name="~.*\.BuildConfig" />
</Match>

 

If we want to ignore a particular pattern, we can do so like this:

<!-- No need to force hashCode for simple models -->
<Match>
   <Bug pattern="HE_EQUALS_USE_HASHCODE " />
</Match>

 

Sometimes, you’d want to only ignore a pattern only for certain files or fields. Findbugs supports regex to match such items:

<!-- Don't complain about rules in tests. -->
<Match>
   <Field name="~.*mockitoRule"/>
   <Bug pattern="URF_UNREAD_PUBLIC_OR_PROTECTED_FIELD" />
</Match>

 

You can also annotate your code to suppress warning in the particular class, mehod or field rather than disabling it for the whole project. For that, you need to add findbugs annotations dependency in the project

compile 'com.google.code.findbugs:findbugs-annotations:3.0.1'

 

And then use it like this:

@SuppressFBWarnings(
   value = "ICAST_IDIV_CAST_TO_DOUBLE",
   justification = "We want granularity to be integer")
public void showChart(LineChart lineChart) {
   ...
}

 

It also allows setting the justification of suppressing the rule for clarity

PMD

For findbugs, you can find the easy and hard configuration here

Like checkstyle, you have to first add a rule set to tell PMD which checks to perform:

<rule ref="rulesets/java/android.xml" />

 

If you want to modify the default value of the rule, you can do it like this:

<rule ref="rulesets/java/codesize.xml/TooManyMethods">
   <properties>
       <property name="maxmethods" value="15" />
   </properties>
</rule>

 

Or if you want to entirely exclude a rule, you can do it like this:

<rule ref="rulesets/java/basic.xml">
   <exclude name="OverrideBothEqualsAndHashcode" />
</rule>

 

PMD also supports suppressing warnings in the code itself using annotations. You don’t require any external libraries for it as it supports the in built java.lang.SuppessWarnings annotations. You can use it like this:

@SuppressWarnings("PMD.AvoidInstantiatingObjectsInLoops") // Entries cannot be created outside loop
private LineDataSet setData(Map<String, Long> map, String label) throws ParseException {
   ...
}

 

As you can see, we need to prepend “PMD.” to the rule name so that there are no clashes while annotation processing. Remember to comment the reason for suppressing the warning so that your co-developers know and can remove it in future if criteria does not meet anymore.

There is a lot more to learn about these static analyzers, which you can read upon in their official documentation:

Adding TextDrawable as a PlaceHolder in Open Event Android App

The Open Event Android project has a fragment for showing speakers of the event. Each Speaker model has image-url which is used to fetch the image from server and load in the ImageView. In some cases it is possible that image-url is null or client is not able to fetch the image from the server because of the network problem. So in these cases showing Drawable which contains First letters of the first name and the last name along with a color background gives great UI and UX. In this post I explain how to add TextDrawable as a placeholder in the ImageView using TextDrawable library.

1. Add dependency

In order to use TextDrawable in your app add following dependencies in your app module’s build.gradle file.

dependencies {
	compile 'com.amulyakhare:com.amulyakhare.textdrawable:1.0.1'
}

2. Create static TextDrawable builder

Create static method in the Application class which returns the builder object for creating TextDrawables. We are creating static method so that the method can be used all over the App.

private static TextDrawable.IShapeBuilder textDrawableBuilder;

public static TextDrawable.IShapeBuilder getTextDrawableBuilder()
 {
        if (textDrawableBuilder == null) {
            textDrawableBuilder = TextDrawable.builder();
        }
        return textDrawableBuilder;
}

This method first checks if the builder object is null or not and then initialize it if null. Then it returns the builder object.

3.  Create and initialize TextDrawable object

Now create a TextDrawable object and initialize it using the builder object. The Builder has methods like buildRound(), buildRect() and buildRoundRect() for making drawable round, rectangle and rectangle with rounded corner respectively. Here we are using buildRect() to make the drawable rectangle.

TextDrawable drawable = OpenEventApp.getTextDrawableBuilder()
                    .buildRect(Utils.getNameLetters(name), ColorGenerator.MATERIAL.getColor(name));

The buildRect() method takes two arguments one is String text which will be used as a text in the drawable and second is int color which will be used as a background color of the drawable. Here ColorGenerator.MATERIAL returns material color for given string.

4.  Create getNameLetters()  method

The getNameLetters(String name) method should return the first letters of the first name and last name as String.

Example, if the name is “Shailesh Baldaniya” then it will return “SB”.

public static String getNameLetters(String name) {
        if (isEmpty(name))
            return "#";

        String[] strings = name.split(" ");
        StringBuilder nameLetters = new StringBuilder();
        for (String s : strings) {
            if (nameLetters.length() >= 2)
                return nameLetters.toString().toUpperCase();
            if (!isEmpty(s)) {
                nameLetters.append(s.trim().charAt(0));
            }
        }
        return nameLetters.toString().toUpperCase();
}

Here we are using split method to get the first name and last name from the name. The charAt(0) gives the first character of the string. If the name string is null then it will return “#”.   

5.  Use Drawable

Now after creating the TextDrawable object we need to load it as a placeholder in the ImageView for this we are using Picasso library.

Picasso.with(context)
        .load(image-url)
        .placeholder(drawable)
        .error(drawable)
        .into(speakerImage);

Here the placeholder() method displays drawable while the image is being loaded. The error() method displays drawable when the requested image could not be loaded when the device is offline. SpeakerImage is an ImageView in which we want to load the image.

Conclusion

TextDrawable is a great library for generating Drawable with text. It has also support for animations, font and shapes. To know more about TextDrawable follow the links given below.

Data Access Layer in Open Event Organizer Android App

Open Event Organizer is an Android App for Organizers and Entry Managers. Its core feature is scanning a QR Code to validate Attendee Check In. Other features of the App are to display an overview of sales and tickets management. The App maintains a local database and syncs it with the Open Event API Server. The Data Access Layer in the App is designed such that the data is fetched from the server or taken from the local database according to the user’s need. For example, simply showing the event sales overview to the user will fetch the data from the locally saved database. But when the user wants to see the latest data then the App need to fetch the data from the server to show it to the user and also update the locally saved data for future reference. I will be talking about the data access layer in the Open Event Organizer App in this blog.

The App uses RxJava to perform all the background tasks. So all the data access methods in the app return the Observables which is then subscribed in the presenter to get the data items. So according to the data request, the App has to create the Observable which will either load the data from the locally saved database or fetch the data from the API server. For this, the App has AbstractObservableBuilder class. This class gets to decide which Observable to return on a data request.

Relevant Code:

final class AbstractObservableBuilder<T> {
   ...
   ...
   @NonNull
   private Callable<Observable<T>> getReloadCallable() {
       return () -> {
           if (reload)
               return Observable.empty();
           else
               return diskObservable
                   .doOnNext(item -> Timber.d("Loaded %s From Disk on Thread %s",
                       item.getClass(), Thread.currentThread().getName()));
       };
   }

   @NonNull
   private Observable<T> getConnectionObservable() {
       if (utilModel.isConnected())
           return networkObservable
               .doOnNext(item -> Timber.d("Loaded %s From Network on Thread %s",
                   item.getClass(), Thread.currentThread().getName()));
       else
           return Observable.error(new Throwable(Constants.NO_NETWORK));
   }

   @NonNull
   private <V> ObservableTransformer<V, V> applySchedulers() {
       return observable -> observable
           .subscribeOn(Schedulers.io())
           .observeOn(AndroidSchedulers.mainThread());
   }

   @NonNull
   public Observable<T> build() {
       if (diskObservable == null || networkObservable == null)
           throw new IllegalStateException("Network or Disk observable not provided");

       return Observable
               .defer(getReloadCallable())
               .switchIfEmpty(getConnectionObservable())
               .compose(applySchedulers());
   }
}

 

The class is used to build the Abstract Observable which contains both types of Observables, making data request to the API server and the locally saved database. Take a look at the method build. Method getReloadCallable provides an observable which will be the default one to be subscribed which is a disk observable which means data is fetched from the locally saved database. The method checks parameter reload which if true suggests to make the data request to the API server or else to the locally saved database. If the reload is false which means data can be fetched from the locally saved database, getReloadCallable returns the disk observable and the data will be fetched from the locally saved database. If the reload is true which means data request must be made to the API server, then the method returns an empty observable.

The method getConnectionObservable returns a network observable which makes the data request to the API server. In the method build, switchIfEmpty operator is applied on the default observable which is empty if reload is true, and the network observable is passed to it. So when reload is true, network observable is subscribed and when it is false disk observable is subscribed. For example of usage of this class to make a events data request is:

public Observable<Event> getEvents(boolean reload) {
   Observable<Event> diskObservable = Observable.defer(() ->
       databaseRepository.getAllItems(Event.class)
   );

   Observable<Event> networkObservable = Observable.defer(() ->
       eventService.getEvents(JWTUtils.getIdentity(getAuthorization()))
           ...
           ...

   return new AbstractObservableBuilder<Event>(utilModel)
       .reload(reload)
       .withDiskObservable(diskObservable)
       .withNetworkObservable(networkObservable)
       .build();
}

 

So according to the boolean parameter reload, a correct observable is subscribed to complete the data request.

Links:
1. Documentation about the Operators in ReactiveX
2. Information about the Data Access Layer on Wikipedia

Introduction To Kotlin in SUSI Android App

Lately, we wrote some of the code of SUSI Android App in Kotlin. Kotlin is a very similar language to Java but with much more advantages than Java. It is easy to adapt and learn. There is no doubt that Kotlin is better than Java but with the announcement of Kotlin Support in Google IO’17 for Android development, Kotlin seems a decent way to write code for an Android App.

Advantages of Kotlin over Java

    1. Reduce Boilerplate Code: It helps making development of app faster as it reduces more than 20 percent of boilerplate code. Writing long statements again and again is a headache for developers. Kotlin comes to rescue in that situation.
    2. Removes Null Pointer Exception: Once a large company faced millions of dollars of loss due to null pointer exception. It causes crashes of apps more often than anything else. Thus Kotlin helps in Null checks and makes app free from Null pointer Exceptions.
    3. Interoperable with Java: Kotlin code and Java code are interoperable. Which means you can write half your code in kotlin and half in Java and it will work like a charm. You can call java methods from Kotlin code and vice versa. So, you can simply move your existing Java based app to Kotlin slowly making your app always running.
    4. Lambda and Inline functions: Yes, Kotlin also has functionalities from functional programming languages. Mainly and most widely used feature of those languages is Lambda functions.
    5. Direct Reference of Views by Id: You do not need to write findViewById(R.id.view_name) or use any other library like Butterknife for view binding. You can simply use the view by its id.
    6. No semicolon:  Last but not the least, you do not need to add a semicolon after each statement. In fact, you do not need to add semicolon at all.

Setting up Android Studio to work with Kotlin

If you have latest Android Studio Canary Version, there is already a build support for Kotlin in it. You need not do anything in that case. But if you don’t have the Canary version, you can add Kotlin Plugin in your Android Studio. Follow the below steps to do that.

  1. Install the Kotlin Plugin:

Android Studio → Preferences… →Plugins → Browse Repository → type “Kotlin” in search box → install

  1. Restart your Android Studio and Rebuild the project. Everything else is already set up in SUSI Android App but if you want to do it for your other apps, follow this link.

Implementation in SUSI Android App

So, I am not going to give unnecessary code but will point out specific things where Kotlin helped a lot to reduce unnecessary code and made the code compact.

1. Listeners:

Earlier with Java

Button signup = (Button) findViewById(R.id.sign_up);

signup.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
            @Override
            public void onClick(View v) {
               startActivity(new Intent(LoginActivity.this, SignUpActivity.class));
            }
        });

Now, with Kotlin

fun signUp() {
   sign_up.setOnClickListener { startActivity(Intent(this@LoginActivity, SignUpActivity::class.java)) }
}

2. Models

With Java

public class MapData {

    private double latitude;
    private double longitude;
    private double zoom;

    public MapData(double latitude, double longitude, double zoom) {
        this.latitude = latitude;
        this.longitude = longitude;
        this.zoom = zoom;
    }

    public double getLatitude() {
        return latitude;
    }

    public void setLatitude(double latitude) {
        this.latitude = latitude;
    }

    public double getLongitude() {
        return longitude;
    }

    public void setLongitude(double longitude) {
        this.longitude = longitude;
    }

    public double getZoom() {
        return zoom;
    }

    public void setZoom(double zoom) {
        this.zoom = zoom;
    }
}

With Kotlin

class MapData (var latitude: Double, var longitude: Double, var zoom: Double) 

3. Constructor

With Java

public class LoginPresenter {
    private LoginActivity loginActivity;
    public LoginPresenter(loginActivity: LoginActivity){
        this.loginActivity = loginActivity;
    }
}

With Kotlin

class LoginPresenter(loginActivity: LoginActivity) {
}

Summary

So, this blog was to give you an idea about Kotlin programming language, it’s advantages over java and information how you can set it up on your Android Studio so as to help you a little in understanding the codebase of SUSI Android App a little more.

Resources

  1. Official Kotlin Guide for Syntax Reference and further learning  https://kotlinlang.org/docs/reference/
  2. Blog by Elye on Setting up Kotlin on Android Studio https://android.jlelse.eu/setup-kotlin-for-android-studio-1bffdf1362e8
  3. Youtube Video tutorial by Derek Banas on Kotlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_oGi8uuDpA

API Error Handling in the Open Event Organizer Android App

Open Event Organizer is an Android App for Organizers and Entry Managers. Open Event API server acts as a backend for this App. So basically the App makes data requests to the API and in return, the API performs required actions on the data and sends back the response to the App which is used to display relevant info to the user and to update the App’s local database. The error responses returned by the API need to parse and show the understandable error message to the user.

The App uses Retrofit+OkHttp for making network requests to the API. Hence the request method returns a Throwable in the case of an error in the action. The Throwable contains a string message which can be get using the method named getMessage. But the message is not understandable by the normal user. Open Event Organizer App uses ErrorUtils class for this work. The class has a method which takes a Throwable as a parameter and returns a good error message which is easier to understand to the user.

Relevant code:

public final class ErrorUtils {

   public static final int BAD_REQUEST = 400;
   public static final int UNAUTHORIZED = 401;
   public static final int FORBIDDEN = 403;
   public static final int NOT_FOUND = 404;
   public static final int METHOD_NOT_ALLOWED = 405;
   public static final int REQUEST_TIMEOUT = 408;

   private ErrorUtils() {
       // Never Called
   }

   public static String getMessage(Throwable throwable) {
       if (throwable instanceof HttpException) {
           switch (((HttpException) throwable).code()) {
               case BAD_REQUEST:
                   return "Something went wrong! Please check any empty field if a form.";
               case UNAUTHORIZED:
                   return "Invalid Credentials! Please check your credentials.";
               case FORBIDDEN:
                   return "Sorry, you are not authorized to make this request.";
               case NOT_FOUND:
                   return "Sorry, we couldn't find what you were looking for.";
               case METHOD_NOT_ALLOWED:
                   return "Sorry, this request is not allowed.";
               case REQUEST_TIMEOUT:
                   return "Sorry, request timeout. Please retry after some time.";
               default:
                   return throwable.getMessage();
           }
       }
       return throwable.getMessage();
   }
}

ErrorUtils.java
app/src/main/java/org/fossasia/openevent/app/common/utils/core/ErrorUtils.java

All the error codes are stored as static final fields. It is always a good practice to follow a making the constructor private for a utility class to make sure the class is never initialized anywhere in the app. The method getMessage takes a Throwable and checks if it is an instance of the HttpException to get an HTTP error code. Actually, there are two exceptions – HttpException and IOException. The prior one is returned from the server. In the method by using the error codes, relevant good error messages are returned which are shown to the user in a snackbar layout.

It is always a good practice to show a more understandable user-friendly error messages than simply the default ones which are not clear to the normal user.

Links:
1. List of the HTTP Client Error Codes – Wikipedia Link
2. Class Throwable javadoc

Using Mosquitto as a Message Broker for MQTT in loklak Server

In loklak server, messages are collected from various sources and indexed using Elasticsearch. To know when a message of interest arrives, users can poll the search endpoint. But this method would require a lot of HTTP requests, most of them being redundant. Also, if a user would like to collect messages for a particular topic, he would need to make a lot of requests over a period of time to get enough data.

For GSoC 2017, my proposal was to introduce stream API in the loklak server so that we could save ourselves from making too many requests and also add many use cases.

Mosquitto is Eclipse’s project which acts as a message broker for the popular MQTT protocol. MQTT, based on the pub-sub model, is a lightweight and IOT friendly protocol. In this blog post, I will discuss the basic setup of Mosquitto in the loklak server.

Installation and Dependency for Mosquitto

The installation process of Mosquitto is very simple. For Ubuntu, it is available from the pre installed PPAs –

sudo apt-get install mosquitto

Once the message broker is up and running, we can use the clients to connect to it and publish/subscribe to channels. To add MQTT client as a project dependency, we can introduce following line in Gradle dependencies file –

compile group: 'net.sf.xenqtt', name: 'xenqtt', version: '0.9.5'

[SOURCE]

After this, we can use the client libraries in the server code base.

The MQTTPublisher Class

The MQTTPublisher class in loklak would provide an interface to perform basic operations in MQTT. The implementation uses AsyncClientListener to connect to Mosquitto broker –

AsyncClientListener listener = new AsyncClientListener() {
    // Override methods according to needs
};

[SOURCE]

The publish method for the class can be used by other components of the project to publish messages on the desired channel –

public void publish(String channel, String message) {
    this.mqttClient.publish(new PublishMessage(channel, QoS.AT_LEAST_ONCE, message));
}

[SOURCE]

We also have methods which allow publishing of multiple messages to multiple channels in order to increase the functionality of the class.

Starting Publisher with Server

The flags which signal using of streaming service in loklak are located in conf/config.properties. These configurations are referred while initializing the Data Access Object and an MQTTPublisher is created if needed –

String mqttAddress = getConfig("stream.mqtt.address", "tcp://127.0.0.1:1883");
streamEnabled = getConfig("stream.enabled", false);
if (streamEnabled) {
    mqttPublisher = new MQTTPublisher(mqttAddress);
}

[SOURCE]

The mqttPublisher can now be used by other components of loklak to publish messages to the channel they want.

Adding Mosquitto to Kubernetes

Since loklak has also a nice Kubernetes setup, it was very simple to introduce a new deployment for Mosquitto to it.

Changes in Dockerfile

The Dockerfile for master deployment has to be modified to discover Mosquitto broker in the Kubernetes cluster. For this purpose, corresponding flags in config.properties have to be changed to ensure that things work fine –

sed -i.bak 's/^\(stream.enabled\).*/\1=true/' conf/config.properties && \
sed -i.bak 's/^\(stream.mqtt.address\).*/\1=mosquitto.mqtt:1883/' conf/config.properties && \

[SOURCE]

The Mosquitto broker would be available at mosquitto.mqtt:1883 because of the service that is created for it (explained in later section).

Mosquitto Deployment

The Docker image used in Kubernetes deployment of Mosquitto is taken from toke/docker-kubernetes. Two ports are exposed for the cluster but no volumes are needed –

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: mosquitto
  namespace: mqtt
spec:
  ...
  template:
    ...
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: mosquitto
        image: toke/mosquitto
        ports:
        - containerPort: 9001
        - containerPort: 8883

[SOURCE]

Exposing Mosquitto to the Cluster

Now that we have the deployment running, we need to expose the required ports to the cluster so that other components may use it. The port 9001 appears as port 80 for the service and 1883 is also exposed –

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: mosquitto
  namespace: mqtt
  ...
spec:
  ...
  ports:
  - name: mosquitto
    port: 1883
  - name: mosquitto-web
    port: 80
    targetPort: 9001

[SOURCE]

After creating the service using this configuration, we will be able to connect our clients to Mosquitto at address mosquitto.mqtt:1883.

Conclusion

In this blog post, I discussed the process of adding Mosquitto to the loklak server project. This is the first step towards introducing the stream API for messages collected in loklak.

These changes were introduced in pull requests loklak/loklak_server#1393 and loklak/loklak_server#1398 by @singhpratyush (me).

Resources