Auto Updating SUSI Android APK and App Preview on appetize.io

This blog will cover the way in which the SUSI Android APK is build automatically after each commit and pushed to “apk” branch in the github repo. Other thing which will be covered is that how the app preview on appetize.io can be updated after each commit. This is basically for the testers who wish to test the SUSI Android App. There are four ways to test the SUSI Android App. One is to simply download the alpha version of the app from the Google PlayStore. Here is the link to the app. Join the alpha testing and report bugs on the github issue tracker of the repo. Other way is to build the app from Android Studio but you may need to set the complete project. If you are looking to contribute in the project, this is the advised way to test the app. The other two ways are explained below.

Auto Building of APK and pushing to “apk” branch

We have written a script which does following steps whenever a PR is merged:

  1. Checks if the commit is of a PR or a commit to repo
  2. If not of PR, configures a user whose github account will be used to push the APKs.
  3. Clones the repo, generates the debug and release APK.
  4. Deletes everything in the apk branch.
  5. Commits and Pushes new changes to apk branch.

This script is written for people or testers who do not have android studio installed in their computer and want to test the app. So, they can directly download the apk from the apk branch and install it in their phone. The APK is always updated after each commit. So, whenever a tester downloads the APK from apk branch, he will always get the latest app.

if [[ $CIRCLE_BRANCH != pull* ]]
then
    git config --global user.name "USERNAME"
    git config --global user.email "EMAIL"

    git clone --quiet --branch=apk https://USERNAME:[email protected]/fossasia/susi_android apk > /dev/null
    ls
    cp -r ${HOME}/${CIRCLE_PROJECT_REPONAME}/app/build/outputs/apk/app-debug.apk apk/susi-debug.apk
    cp -r ${HOME}/${CIRCLE_PROJECT_REPONAME}/app/build/outputs/apk/app-release-unsigned.apk apk/susi-release.apk
    cd apk

    git checkout --orphan workaround
    git add -A

    git commit -am "[Circle CI] Update Susi Apk"

    git branch -D apk
    git branch -m apk

    git push origin apk --force --quiet > /dev/null
fi

Auto Updating of App Preview on appetize.io

The APKs generated in the above step can now be used to set up the preview of the app on the appetize.io. Appetize.io is an online simulator to run mobile apps ( IOS and Android). Appetize.io provides a nice virtual mobile frame to run native apps with various options like screen size, mobile, OS version, etc. Appetize.io provides some API to update/publish the app. In SUSI, we once uploaded the app on appetize.io and now we are using the API provided by them to update the APK everytime a commit is pushed in the repository.

API information (Derived from official docs of appetize.io):

You may upload a new version of an existing app, or update app settings.

Send an HTTP POST request to

https://[email protected]/v1/apps/PUBLICKEY

Replace APITOKEN with your API token and PUBLICKEY with the public key of the app you’re updating. Your API token must be permissioned to the same account as was used to upload the app. The POST body must be a JSON object. To delete a previously set field, use a value of null.

Optional Fields

  1. url: (string) a publicly accessible link to your .zip, .tar.gz, or .apk file, used to upload a new version of your app.
  2. note: (string) a note for your own purposes, will appear on your management dashboard.

For the url parameter, we have used https://github.com/fossasia/susi_android/raw/apk/susi-debug.apk and note can be anything. We have used Update SUSI Preview.

curl https://[email protected]/v1/apps/mbpprq4xj92c119j7nxdhttjm0 -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{"url":"https://github.com/fossasia/susi_android/raw/apk/susi-debug.apk", "note": "Update SUSI Preview"}'

Summary

This blog covered about how to implement an automatic structure to generate APKs for testing and using that APK to build a preview on websites like appetize.io and then using the APIs provided by them to update the APK after each PR merge in the repo. Check out the resources below to learn more about the topic. So, if you are thinking of contributing to SUSI Android App, this may help you a little in testing the app. But if not, then you can also use the similar technique for your android app as well and ease the life of testers.

Resources

  1. Docs of appetize.io to learn more about the API https://appetize.io/docs
  2. Tutorial on using curl to make API requests https://curl.haxx.se/docs/httpscripting.html
  3. Tutorial on writing basic shell scripts https://ryanstutorials.net/bash-scripting-tutorial/