Create an App Widget for Bookmarked Sessions for the Open Event Android App

What is an app widget?

App Widgets are miniature application views that can be embedded in other applications (such as the Home screen) and receive periodic updates. These views are referred to as Widgets in the user interface, and you can publish one with an App Widget provider. – (Android Documentation).

Android widget is an important functionality that any app can take advantage of. It could be used to show important dates, things that the user personalizes on the app etc. In the context of the Open Event Android App, it was necessary to create a bookmark widget for the Android phones so that the user could see his bookmarks on the homescreen itself and need not open the app for the same. In the open event android app, the widget was already created but it needed bug fixes and UI enhancements due to migration to the Realm database migration. Therefore, my majority of work circled around that.

Implementation

Declare the app widget in the manifest. All the updates in the application would be received by the class which extends the AppWidgetProvider if it needs to be reflected in the widget.

<receiver
   android:name=".widget.BookmarkWidgetProvider"
   android:enabled="true"
   android:label="Bookmarks">
   <intent-filter>
       <action android:name="android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE" />
       <action android:name="${applicationId}.ACTION_DATA_UPDATED" />
       <action android:name="${applicationId}.UPDATE_MY_WIDGET" />
   </intent-filter>
   <meta-data
       android:name="android.appwidget.provider"
       android:resource="@xml/widget_info" />
</receiver>

 

Create a layout for the widget that is to be displayed on the homescreen. Remember to use only the views defined in the documentation. After the creation of the layout, create a custom widget updater which will broadcast the data from the app to the receiver to update the widget.

public class WidgetUpdater {
   public  static  void updateWidget(Context context){
       int widgetIds[] = AppWidgetManager.getInstance(context.getApplicationContext()).getAppWidgetIds(new ComponentName(context.getApplicationContext(), BookmarkWidgetProvider.class));
       BookmarkWidgetProvider bookmarkWidgetProvider = new BookmarkWidgetProvider();
       bookmarkWidgetProvider.onUpdate(context.getApplicationContext(), AppWidgetManager.getInstance(context.getApplicationContext()),widgetIds);
       context.sendBroadcast(new Intent(BookmarkWidgetProvider.ACTION_UPDATE));
   }
}

 

Next, create a custom RemoteViewService to update the views in the widget. The reason this is required is because the app widget does not operate in the usual lifecycle of the app. And therefore a remote service is required which acts as the remote adapter to connect to the remote views. In your class, override the onGetViewFactory() method and create a new remoteViewsFactory object to get the the data from the app on updation of the bookmark list. To populate the remote views, override the getViewsAt() method.

public class BookmarkWidgetRemoteViewsService extends RemoteViewsService {

@Override
public RemoteViewsFactory onGetViewFactory(Intent intent) {

return new RemoteViewsFactory() {
   private MatrixCursor data = null;

   @Override
   public void onCreate() {
       //Called when your factory is first constructed.
   }

   @Override
   public void onDataSetChanged() {
       }

   @Override
   public RemoteViews getViewAt(int position) {
       } 
   }
}

 

Finally, create a custom AppWidgetProvider which parses the relevant fields out of the intent and updates the UI. It acts like a broadcast receiver, hence all the updates by the widgetUpdater is received here.

public class BookmarkWidgetProvider extends AppWidgetProvider {

   public void onUpdate(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager, int[] appWidgetIds) {
	  RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.bookmark_widget);
             setRemoteAdapter(context, views);

   }

   @Override
   public void onReceive(@NonNull Context context, @NonNull Intent intent) {
       super.onReceive(context, intent);
   }

   private void setRemoteAdapter(Context context, @NonNull final RemoteViews views) {
       views.setRemoteAdapter(R.id.widget_list,
               new Intent(context, BookmarkWidgetRemoteViewsService.class));
   }

}

 

Conclusion

For any event based apps, it is crucial that it regularly provide updates to its users and therefore app widget forms an integral part of that whole experience.

References

 

 

Responsive Image Overlay

Image overlay is a very common concept in front-end development. It is easy to implement but difficult when we deal it with different screen sizes, where we need to cover the image with the overlay each time the screen size is changed. I have gone through various blog posts when I need to implement the same for Open-event webapp and researched a solution that works for all screen sizes without any media query.

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How to add an overlay to an image ?

If we need four images in a single row nearly 300*300px.  The code below shows the markup.

image-holder : The parent class to take the image and overlay inside it.

background-image: This class takes image source.

responsive-overlay: This is the key point to make it responsive. Responsive-overlay contains a class hover-state to add overlay absolutely and a class social-links.

social-links: It adds content to hover-state.

 

<div class="image-holder">
  <img class="background-image" alt="" src="">
   <div class="responsive-overlay">
     <div class="hover-state text-center preserve3d">
       <div class="social-links vertical-align">

       </div>
     </div>
   </div>
 </div>

The styling is written with SASS in .scss file as shown below.

//overlayimage and backgroundshade can be set in config.scss

 .image-holder {
   position: relative;
   overflow: hidden;
   margin-bottom: 12px;

   .background-image {
     height: 300px;
     width: 300px;
     display: block;
     margin: 0 auto;
     background-color: $background-shade;
    }
 
   .responsive-overlay {
     @include responsiveoverlay;

    .preserve3d {
       height: 300px;
      }

    .hover-state {
     @include hoverstate;
     height: 300px;
     width: 300px;
    }

  @mixin responsiveoverlay {
     height: 100%;
     position: absolute;
     top: 0;
     width: 100%;
}

   @mixin hoverstate {
     background: $overlayimage;
     display: block;
     height: 300px;
     left: 0;
     margin: 0 auto;
     opacity: 0;
     position: relative;
     top: 0;
     -moz-transition: all 0.3s ease-out;
     -webkit-transition: all 0.3s ease-out;
     transition: all 0.3s ease-out;
     width: 300px;
     z-index: 2;
   }

This code will work for responsiveness as well. The main catch here is the responsive-overlay class which is made 100% in width but set to position absolute. The images which are 300 * 300 px in size will take an overlay of the same size because of hover-state class. Instead, if we adjust sizes of images in small screens the above code will adjust overlay on the image automatically.

Like, on tablets we can have an overlay like this.

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And on mobile screen output is like that :

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Conclusion

Responsiveness is easy if we follow correct concepts. Here, the concepts of absolute and relative positioning in CSS have done the magic. Now we can play by adding different contents and effect on hover following the same basics.