How to work with MPAndroidChart? – Neurolab Memory graph program mode

Memory graph mode

Overview

In Android App development, implementation of Android Charts play an integral part in developing database oriented apps, be it casual or professional apps.

Data Analysis plays an integral part in various sectors and industries in today’s world. In sports, e.g- cricket, we see the use of charts like bar charts, line charts in various stages of the game to present the game and score analysis.

In healthcare, we see the use of live real time graphs to show human health analysis like the heart rate, brain waves, etc. In the IT industry, professionals use graphical data analysis for their presentations in meetings and conferences.

I have been working with FOSSASIA on the Neurolab Android App, where I had to work on this unique program mode called “Memory Graph” wherein I had to work extensively with MPAndroidChart library. While working, I understood the various use cases of charts and graphs on the Android platform. In this blog, I want to showcase the building of one part of the app with a proper tutorial.

Tutorial

In the Android SDK, we, the developers have been given the benefit of a tool known as GraphView. But this view being a very default and basic tool in the toolkit, has limitations in terms of customization, needs a lot of boilerplate code to set up the base to work upon.

Also plotting real time graphs becomes a challenge while using the GraphView.

In this tutorial, we will be focusing on the Memory Graph program mode of the app wherein we will be using an external library – MPAndroidChart to help us achieve our aim.

                                                        Memory Graph

      1. Firstly, open the app level build.gradle and implement the library dependency in there.

                 implementation ‘com.github.PhilJay:MPAndroidChart:v3.1.0’

         Note – The library version may change depending upon the time you are reading     this blog. Refer here for the latest library updates.

XML layout

1. The layout for our chart screen should be simple without any other components on the screen so that it is perfectly comfortable for the users to understand the graph and not get overwhelmed. Here, we are going to use a RelativeLayout as the parent to the Chart. For our Memory graph program mode, I worked with the LineChart view from the MPAndroidChart library. The xml code for the layout:

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

    <com.github.mikephil.charting.charts.LineChart
        android:id="@+id/brain_chart"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="match_parent" />
</RelativeLayout>

Layout binding and Java code

1. In the onCreate method of our MemoryGraph Activity, we set the layout parameters as flags for our chart layout to use of the screen window. We find the LineChart from the layout by its id and bind it up using the private variable which is going to be used to set it up programmatically. Here is the code for the onCreate method:

private LineChart graph;
    private Thread thread;

    @Override
    public void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
        setContentView(R.layout.fragment_memory_graph);
        getWindow().setFlags(WindowManager.LayoutParams.FLAG_FULLSCREEN,
                WindowManager.LayoutParams.FLAG_FULLSCREEN);
        graph = findViewById(R.id.mem_graph);
    }

2. We are going to create a method named initGraph to set up the graph and make it ready to plot the data in real-time. Here is the code for the method:

graph.setOnChartValueSelectedListener(this);                // enable description text
        graph.getDescription().setEnabled(true);

        // enable touch gestures
        graph.setTouchEnabled(true);

        // enable scaling and dragging
        graph.setDragEnabled(true);
        graph.setScaleEnabled(true);
        graph.setDrawGridBackground(false);

        // if disabled, scaling can be done on x- and y-axis separately
        graph.setPinchZoom(true);

        // set an alternative background color
        graph.setBackgroundColor(getResources().getColor(R.color.memory_graph_background));

        LineData data = new LineData();
        data.setValueTextColor(Color.WHITE);

        // add empty data
        graph.setData(data);

        graph.getDescription().setText(getResources().getString(R.string.axis_desc_time));
        graph.getDescription().setTextColor(Color.WHITE);

        // get the legend (only possible after setting data)
        Legend l = memGraph.getLegend();

        // modify the legend ...
        l.setForm(Legend.LegendForm.LINE);
        l.setTextColor(Color.WHITE);

        XAxis xl = graph.getXAxis();
        xl.setTextColor(Color.WHITE);
        xl.setDrawGridLines(false);
        xl.setAvoidFirstLastClipping(true);
        xl.setEnabled(true);

        YAxis leftAxis = graph.getAxisLeft();
        leftAxis.setTextColor(Color.WHITE);
        leftAxis.setAxisMaximum(100f);
        leftAxis.setAxisMinimum(0f);
        leftAxis.setDrawGridLines(true);
        leftAxis.setGridColor(Color.WHITE);

        YAxis rightAxis = graph.getAxisRight();
        rightAxis.setEnabled(false);

Now, in here to use the setOnChartValueSelectedListener callback we need to implement the OnChartValueSelectedListener interface in our Activity. This will be required if the user clicks on a plot point. We need to set up the chart to respond to that user click on a particular data value on the chart.

3. Next, we are going to create a set of data for our graph to work with. As this set we create will be worked on by LineChart, hence our set will be of type LineDataSet. Using this LineDataSet, we will be able to set the axes labels, description, axes dependency (left or right), graph background, graph line colors and other necessary details. All parameters which can be tweaked through the `LineDataSet` for a LineGraph can be found here.

Here is the code for creating the LineDataSet :

private LineDataSet createSet() {

        LineDataSet set = new LineDataSet(null, "Brain waves");
        set.setAxisDependency(YAxis.AxisDependency.LEFT);
        set.setColor(Color.GREEN);
        set.setCircleColor(Color.WHITE);
        set.setLineWidth(2f);
        set.setCircleRadius(4f);
        set.setFillAlpha(65);
        set.setFillColor(Color.GREEN);
        set.setHighLightColor(Color.rgb(244, 117, 117));
        set.setValueTextColor(Color.WHITE);
        set.setValueTextSize(9f);
        set.setDrawValues(false);
        return set;
    }

4. Now, that we have set up the data for our LineChart to be used, we would be moving on to plotting the data. Since, everybody would not be able to have datasets containing brain-wave data, we would be taking the help of the ‘random’ function provided in Java. We create a function called `addEntry()`, wherein we add a new ‘Entry’ to the data set. Here, as we are working with a single dataset (the set of random values), the index for our dataset in the LineChart, will be zero.

private void addEntry() {

        LineData data = graph.getData();

        if (data != null) {

            ILineDataSet set = data.getDataSetByIndex(0);

            if (set == null) {
                set = createSet();
                data.addDataSet(set);
            }

            data.addEntry(new Entry(set.getEntryCount(), (float) (Math.random() * 40) + 30f), 0);
            data.notifyDataChanged();

            // let the graph know it's data has changed
            graph.notifyDataSetChanged();

            // limit the number of visible entries
            graph.setVisibleXRangeMaximum(120);

            // move to the latest entry
            graph.moveViewToX(data.getEntryCount());

        }
    }

5. We then create data feeding function called ‘feedMultiple’, for the chart. It contains a new runnable, which calls the ‘addEntry’ function. We then execute that runnable in a UI thread from within a for-loop, thus creating continuous values to plot. Here is the code for the ‘feedMultiple’ function;

private void feedMultiple() {

        if (thread != null)
            thread.interrupt();

        final Runnable runnable = () -> addEntry();

        thread = new Thread(() -> {
            for (int i = 0; i < 1000; i++) {

                // Don't generate garbage runnables inside the loop.
                runOnUiThread(runnable);

                try {
                    Thread.sleep(25);
                } catch (InterruptedException e) {
                    e.printStackTrace();
                }
            }
        });

        thread.start();
    }

6. Now we can call our ‘feedMultiple’ method from the onCreate function of our MemoryGraph Activity java file and we are good to go!

The full code for Memory Graph Mode can be found here: https://github.com/fossasia/neurolab-android/blob/development/app/src/main/java/io/neurolab/fragments/MemoryGraphFragment.java

Hope this blog helps you strengthen your Android development skills.

Resources

  1. Author – Amar, Article – Working with MPAndroidChart, Source – Code your world, Date – July 2016, Website – https://coderzduniya.blogspot.com/2016/07/working-with-mpandroidchart-how-to.html

2. Author – PhilJay, Source – Github, Library – MPAndroidChart Library, Website – https://github.com/PhilJay/MPAndroidChart/

Tags: FOSSASIA, GSOC19, Neurolab, Android, Graphs, Open-source

Continue Reading

How to transfer data in files from different locations to app directory

In Android apps, we might have seen various instances in-app where we can import, export or save files. Now, where does the files go to or come from? There needs to be a specific folder or directory (maybe root) for a particular app which inturn contains the necessary files, the user has worked with from the app. In this blog, we will be learning about the backend of how to create directories and store files in them dynamically with proper content.

Context

I have been working with FOSSASIA on the project Neurolab-Android. In the app, we have various program modes, which has the option to save/record data. The saved data gets logged in a new file in the Neurolab directory/folder. Feel free to go ahead and explore the feature.

The Save/Record feature in Neurolab can be found in the app bar or as an option in the drop down menu present in the app bar itself in any program mode. The feature becomes functional, once the data is imported with the import data feature which is also present in the app bar.

                                              Figure: Demonstration of features in Neurolab

Tutorial

Now, starting off, there are apps out there wherein users can save files from different segments in the app and those saved files can be used by the app itself at other times as they belong to that app itself specifically.

First off, we need to make sure we have a directory for our app, wherein the files will get stored. If the directory or folder is not present, it needs to be created.

File directory = new File(
                Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getAbsolutePath() +
                        File.separator + DIRECTORY_NAME);
        if (!directory.exists()) {
            try {
                directory.mkdir();
            } catch (Exception e) {
                e.printStackTrace();
            }
        }

Now, once the directory is present, we can go ahead to keep the saved files in it. Also we will be implementing category-wise storage of the files. Simply put, we will be storing csv files in the CSV folder, xls files in the Excel folder, etc. In the below code example, we see the use case of CSV ‘category’.

private void categoryWise() {File categoryDirectory = new File(
                Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getAbsolutePath() +
                        File.separator + DIRECTORY_NAME + File.separator + category);
        if (!categoryDirectory.exists()) {
            try {
                categoryDirectory.mkdir();
            } catch (Exception e) {
                e.printStackTrace();
            }
        }}

For saving a file in our app, we need to get (import) the file into our app. Once the file is imported, we can get the path of the file with the help of its URI. Let’s assign the path to a variable named ‘importedFilePath’. Then we place the imported file in the required category directory within our parent app directory depending and deciding upon the extension of the imported file.

File importedFile = new File(importedFilePath);
        FilePathUtil.setupPath();
        Date currentTime = Calendar.getInstance().getTime();
        SimpleDateFormat sdf = new SimpleDateFormat("yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss");
        String fileName = sdf.format(currentTime);
        File dst = new File(Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getAbsolutePath() +
                File.separator + DIRECTORY_NAME + File.separator + categoryDirectory + File.separator + fileName + ".$extension");
        if (!dst.exists()) {
            try {                categoryWise()
                transfer(importedFile, dst);
            } catch (IOException e) {
                e.printStackTrace();
            }
        }

Now, we have the ‘importedFile’ and the destination file path (dst) where the file needs to be stored for our app. The ‘extension’ can be of any type you feel the file should be. Here, for the fileName we are using the current date and time together.

Then, we can come to the function ‘transfer’ which has been called above.

private static void transfer(File src, File dst) throws IOException {
        InputStream in = new FileInputStream(src);
        try {
            OutputStream out = new FileOutputStream(dst);
            try {
                // Transfer bytes from in to out
                byte[] buf = new byte[1024];
                int len;
                while ((len = in.read(buf)) > 0) {
                    out.write(buf, 0, len);
                }
            } finally {
                out.close();
            }
        } finally {
            in.close();
        }
    }

In the ‘transfer’ function, we initialize an input stream with the source file path and the output stream with the destination file path. We read the content in the form of  a certain chunk of bytes from the source file and write to the output stream (destination file).

Finally, we close the output and input streams simultaneously.

Thus, we have our code ready to be bound by UI actions/buttons. Once, the user interacts with the action in your app, the imported file will get saved in the specific directory of your app.

That’s it. Hope this blog enhanced your Android development and Java skillset. 

Resources:

  1. Author – Google Android Developers, Article – Data and File storage, Website – https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/data/data-storage
  2. Author – Rakshi and Thomas, Article – How to make a copy of file in android, Source – Stack overflow, Website – https://stackoverflow.com/questions/9292954/how-to-make-a-copy-of-a-file-in-android

Tags: FOSSASIA. Neurolab, GSOC19, Open-source, File-storage

Continue Reading

How to fix undetected Arduino boards in Android

In the development process of the Neurolab Android app, we needed an Arduino-Android connection. This blog explains how to  establish the connection and getting the Arduino board detected in my Android device

Context-connecting the board and getting it detected

Arduino boards are primarily programmed from the Desktop using the Arduino IDE, but they are not limited to the former. Android devices can be used to program the circuit boards using an application named Arduinodroid.

Arduino is basically a platform for building various types of electronic projects and the best part about it is that, it is open-sourced. Arduino, the company has got two products The physical programmable circuit board (often referred to as a microcontroller). 

Examples of Arduino circuit boards – UNO, UNO CH340G, Mega, etc. Find more here.

Connecting the board and getting it detected

Arduino boards are primarily programmed from the Desktop using the Arduino IDE, but they are not limited to the former. Android devices can be used to program the circuit boards using an application named Arduinodroid.

In this blog, we are going to use Arduinodroid app for establishing a connection between the Arduino board and the Android device, getting the board detected in the Android phone and uploading a sketch to it.

Materials/Gadgets required:-

  1. Arduino board (UNO preferably)
  2. Arduino-USB Cable
  3. OTG Cable
  4. Android device

Now, one of the most frequent issues, while establishing a connection and getting the Arduino board detected with the Android device, is the error message of: “No Arduino boards detected” in the Arduinodroid app. There can be a few core reasons for this –

  1. Your Android mobile device isn’t USB-OTG supported – Probably because it is an old model or it might be a company/brand-specific issue.
  2. Disabled OTG Mode – Be sure to enable USB-OTG mode (only if your device has one) from the Developer options in your Android device settings.

Even after trying and making sure of these above points, if you still continue to get an error while uploading a sketch from the Arduinodroid app like this:

                                                            Figure 1: The Error Message

Follow the steps below carefully and simultaneously one after the other:

  1. Look for any external module attached to your Arduino board using jumper wires. If so, remove those connections completely and press the reset button on the Arduino circuit board. The attached modules can be one of the following: Micro SD Card module, Bluetooth module, etc.
  2. Remove pin connections, if any from the TX and RX pin-slots in the Arduino board. These pre-attached pins can cause unnecessary signal transfers which can hinder and make the actual port of Arduino board busy.
  3. Before connecting the Arduino to the Android device, go to the drop down menu in the app at the top-right corner -> Settings -> Board Type -> Arduino -> UNO
  4. Now, you need to code a sketch and make it ready for compile and upload to the circuit board. We will use a basic example sketch for this case. Feel free to try out your own custom coded Arduino sketches. Go to the drop-down menu -> Sketch -> Examples -> Basics -> AnalogReadSignal
  5. Don’t compile the sketch yet because we haven’t connected any Arduino circuit board to our Android device. So first, connect the Arduino circuit board to the Android device through the OTG cable connected to the Arduino-USB cable.
  6. You should see some LEDs lit up on the circuit board (indicates power is flowing to the board). Go ahead to compile the sketch. Click the ‘lightning’ icon on the top in the toolbar of the app. You should see the code/sketch getting compiled. Once done you should see a toast message saying “Compilation finished”. This signifies that your code/sketch has been verified by the compiler.

                                              Figure 2: Successful Compilation of sketch

This process is inevitable and there is hardly any issue while compiling a sketch.

       7. Upload the sketch: Click on the upload icon from the toolbar in the app. Upload             should start once you get a pop-up dialog like this:

                                           Figure 3: Arduino board detected successfully

Once you click Okay, the upload shall start and if your code is correct and matches the particular Arduino circuit board, you shall get a successful upload, which was not the case earlier for the error : “no Arduino boards found” on clicking the upload button.

So, that’s it then. Hope this blog adds value to your development skills and you can continue working bug free with your Android-Arduino connections.

Resources:

  1. Author – Nick Gamon, Article – Have I bricked my Arduino uno problems with uploading to board, Date – Nov’16 2016, Website – https://arduino.stackexchange.com/questions/13292/have-i-bricked-my-arduino-uno-problems-with-uploading-to-board
  2. Author – Arduino Products, Article – Arduino boards, Website – https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Boards

3. Author – Anton Smirnov, App name – ArduinoDroid, Website – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=name.antonsmirnov.android.arduinodroid2&hl=en_IN

Tags: FOSSASIA, Neurolab, GSOC19, Open-source, Arduino, Serial terminal

Continue Reading

Implementing a Splash Screen, the wiser way

Implementing a Splash Screen, the wiser way

What is a Splash Screen?

A Splash Screen is basically a nice intro-screen that mobile applications have on startup of the app on a device. The splash screen can be customized according to the app’s UX need-animations, sound effects, etc. are some common tweaks to a simple splash screen.

I have been working with FOSSASIA on the Neurolab Android App where we made a splash screen for the same. Our implemented splash screen is below:

                                                     Neurolab Splash Screen

While developing this, we followed Google Material Design guidelines and the pattern it suggests is termed as ‘Launch Screen’. Displaying a launch screen can decrease the sense of long load time, and has the potential to add delight to the user experience. Launch screen implementation is considered as one of the best-practised development skills for a proper splash screen for an app.

Implementation 

Now, it is not a good idea to use a splash screen that wastes a user’s time. This should be strictly avoided. The right way of implementing a splash screen is a little different. In the new approach specify your splash screen’s background as the activity’s theme background. This way, we can effectively and efficiently use the time gap between the startup of the app and the onCreate() method.

In the Neurolab app, we use the splash screen as a bridge for the time gap between the app startup when we click the app icon and the onCreate method of the Neurolab Activity (Main/Launcher Screen) of the app, wherein the various UI components are laid out on the screen and the functionalities, navigations, listeners are linked to those components.

So, here we won’t be creating a new layout for the Splash screen as a separate activity. Rather we would specify the theme of the landing activity as the splash screen.

We create a drawable named splash_screen.xml in our project and give a parent tag of layer-list. Here is the code for our drawable file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<layer-list xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:opacity="opaque">
    <item android:drawable="@android:color/white" />
    <item>
        <bitmap
            android:gravity="center_horizontal"
            android:src="@drawable/splash_image" />
    </item>
</layer-list>

Next, we are going to create a new theme in the styles resource file. This theme is going to be used as the base theme for the main activity screen of the app. In this style, we specify our created drawable file to the property name windowBackground.

<style name="AppTheme.Launcher">
        <item name="android:windowBackground">@drawable/splash_screen</item>
</style>

Then, update this style in the project manifest file to set the theme of the main activity

android:theme="@style/AppTheme.Launcher"

Having done the steps so far, we create a simple class extending the AppCompatActivity. Note- This may seem like another Activity screen, but it is not. We don’t specify the setContentView() here. Instead of this class just directs to the main/home activity using an Intent. Finally, be sure to finish() the SplashActivity activity (class) to remove prevailing unused/idle activities from back stack.

@Override
protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
// Start landing activity screen
startActivity(new Intent(SplashActivity.this, MainActivity.class));
finish();
}

We are done!!

Launch your app, and observe your Launch screen. I can promise you that your “time won’t be wasted”(pun intended).

Thanks for reading. Hope this adds value to your Android application development skills. 

References:

Tags: FOSSASIA. Neurolab, GSOC19, Open-source, splash-screen, Android

Continue Reading
Close Menu