Creating an Installer for PSLab Desktop App

PSLab device is made useful with applications running on two platforms. One is Android and the other one is a desktop application developed using Python frameworks. Desktop application uses half a dozen of dependent libraries and they are required to be installed prior to installing the application itself.

For someone with zero or less knowledge on how to install packages in a Linux environment, this task will be quite difficult. To ease up the process of installing the desktop application in a computer, we can use a script to run specific commands which will install the dependencies and the application.

Dependencies required by PSLab  Desktop app

  • PyQt 4.7
  • Python 2.6, 2.7 or 3.x
  • NumPy, Scipy
  • pyqt4-dev-tools
  • Pyqtgraph
  • pyopengl and qt-opengl
  • iPython-qtconsole

These dependencies can be made installed using a bash script running with root permission. A bash script will have the file extension “.sh” and a header line;

#!/bin/bash

A bash script needs to be made executable by the user himself. To do this, user needs to type a one line command in the terminal as follows and enter his password;

sudo chmod +x <Name_of_the_script>.sh

The keyword “sudo” interprets as “Super User DO” and the line follows will be executed with root permission. In other words with administrative privileges to modify system settings such as copying content to system folders.

The keyword “chmod” stands for “Change Mode” which will alter the mode of a file. In current context, the file is made executable by adding the executable property to the bash script using “+x” syntax.

Once the script is made executable, it can be executed using;

sudo ./<Name_of_the_script>.sh

An installer can be made attractive by using different colors rather than the plain old text outputs. For this purpose we can use color syntax in bash script. They are represented using ANSI escape codes and following is a list of commonly used colors;

Black        0;30     Dark Gray     1;30
Red          0;31     Light Red     1;31
Green        0;32     Light Green   1;32
Brown/Orange 0;33     Yellow        1;33
Blue         0;34     Light Blue    1;34
Purple       0;35     Light Purple  1;35
Cyan         0;36     Light Cyan    1;36
Light Gray   0;37     White         1;37

As in any programming language, rather than using the same line in many places, we can define variables in a bash script. The syntax will be the variable name followed by an equal sign with the value. There cannot be spaces around the equal sign or it will generate an error.

GREEN='\033[0;32m'

These variables can be accessed using a special syntax as follows;

${GREEN}

Finally we can output a message to the console using the “echo” command

echo -e "${GREEN}Welcome to PSLab Desktop app installer${NOCOLOR}"

Note that the keyword “-e” is used to enable interpretation of the following backslash escapes.

In order to install the packages and libraries, we use two package management tools. One is “apt” which stands for “Advanced Packaging Tool” and the second is “pip” which is used to download python related packages from “Python Package Index”. The following two lines illustrates how the two commands can be accessed.

apt-get install python-pip python-dev build-essential -y

pip install pyqtgraph

The keyword “-y” avoids the confirmation prompt in console to allow installation by pressing “Y” key every time it installs a package from “apt”.

Resources:

Showing “Get started” button in SUSI Viber bot

When we start a chat with SUSI.AI on Viber i.e. SUSI Viberbot, there should be an option on how to get started with the bot. The response to it are some options like “Visit repository”, “How to contribute” which direct the user to check how SUSI.AI bot is made and prompts him/her to contribute to it. Along with that an option of “start chatting” can be shown to add up some sample queries for the user to try.

To accomplish the task at hand, we will accomplish these sub tasks:

  1. To show the “Get started” button.
  2. To show the reply to “Get started” query.
  3. To respond to the queries, nested in the response of “Get started”

Showing “Get started”:

The Viber developers platform notifies us when a user starts a conversation with our bot. To be exact, a conversation_started event is sent to our webhook and can be handled accordingly. The Viberbot shows a welcome message to the user along with a Get started button to help him/her start.

To send just the welcome message:

if (req.body.event === 'conversation_started') {
       // Welcome Message
       var options = {
           method: 'POST',
           url: 'https://chatapi.viber.com/pa/send_message',
           headers: headerBody,
           body: {
               // some required body properties here
               text: 'Welcome to SUSI.AI!, ' + req.body.user.name + '.',
               // code for showing the get started button here.
        }
           json: true
       };
 
       request(options, function(error, res, body) {
           // handle error
       });
   }

The next step is to show the “Get started” button. To show that we use a keyboard tool, provided by Viber developers platform. So after the “text” key we have the “keyboard” key and a value for it:

keyboard: {
             "Type": "keyboard",
             "DefaultHeight": true,
             "Buttons": [{
                 "ActionType": "reply",
                 "ActionBody": "Get started",
             }]
         }

The action type as shown in the code, can be “reply” or “open-url”. The “reply” action type, triggers an automatic query sent back with “Get started” (i.e. the value of “ActionBody” key), when that button gets clicked.

Hence, this code helps us tackle our first sub task:

Reply to “Get started”:

We target to make each SUSI.AI bot generic. The SUSI FBbot and SUSI Tweetbot shows some options like “Visit repository”, “Start chatting” and “How to contribute?” for the “Get started” query. We render the same answer structure in Viberbot.

The “rich_media” type helps us send buttons in our reply message. As we ought to use three buttons in our message, the button rows are three in the body object:

if(message === "Get started"){
                   var options = {
                       method: 'POST',
                       url: 'https://chatapi.viber.com/pa/send_message',
                       headers: headerBody,
                       body: {
                           // some body object properties here
                           type: 'rich_media',
                           rich_media: {
                               Type: "rich_media",
                               ButtonsGroupColumns: 6,
                               ButtonsGroupRows: 3,
                               BgColor: "#FFFFFF",
                               Buttons: buttons
                           }
                       },
                       json: true
                   };
 
                   request(options, function(error, res, body) {
                       if (error) throw new Error(error);
                       console.log(body);
                   });

As said before, 2 type of Action types are available – “open-url” and “reply”. “Visit repository” button has an “open-url” action type and “How to contribute?” or “start chatting” has a “reply” action type.

Example of “Visit repository” button:

var buttons = [{
                Columns: 6,
                Rows: 1,
                Text: "Visit repository",
                "ActionType": "open-url",
                "ActionBody": "https://www.github.com/fossasia/susi_server",
                // some text styling properties here
             }];

To respond to the “reply” action type queries:

When the “reply” action type button gets clicked, it triggers an automatic query sent back to the bot with the value same as that of the “ActionBody” key. So we just need to apply a check if the message string recieved is “Start chatting” or “How to contribute?”

For the response to “Start chatting”, we plan to show sample queries for the user to try. This can be shown by using buttons with the action type as “reply”.

Code snippet to show a button with the text as “What is FOSSASIA?”:

var buttons = [{
                        Columns: 6,
                        Rows: 1,
                        Text: "What is FOSSASIA? ",
                        "ActionType": "reply",
                        "ActionBody": "What is FOSSASIA?",
                        // text styling here
                    }];

For the response to “How to contribute”, we show some messages to help the user contribute to SUSI.AI. These messages also just need buttons with it, to be able to apply the necessary action.

We respond with 2 messages to the user, both the messages have a button.

For example, a button to visit the SUSI.AI Gitter channel:

var buttons = [{
                    Columns: 6,
                    Rows: 1,
                       Text: "<font color=#323232><b>Chat on Gitter</b></font>",
                      ActionType: "open-url",
                      ActionBody: "https://www.gitter.im/fossasia/susi_server",
                      // text styling here
            }];

This way we have successfully added the “Get started” option to our Viberbot and handled all the subsequent steps.

Resources:

  1. Viber video managing chat extensions by Ingrid Lunden from Tech crunch.
  2. Develop a chat bot with node js by Slobodan Stojanović from smashing magazine.

Join Codeheat Coding Contest 2017

Codeheat is a coding contest for developers interested in contributing to Open Source software and hardware projects at FOSSASIA.  Join development of real world software applications, build up your developer profile, learn new new coding skills, collaborate with the community and make new friends from around the world! Sign up for #CodeHeat here now and follow Codeheat on Twitter.

The contest runs until 1st February 2018. All FOSSASIA projects take part in Codeheat including:

Grand prize winners will be invited to present their work at the FOSSASIA OpenTechSummit in Singapore from March 23rd -25th 2018 and will get 600 SGD in travel funding to attend, plus a free speaker ticket and beautiful Swag.

Our jury will choose three winners from the top 10 contributors according to code quality and relevance of commits for the project. The jury also takes other contributions like submitted weekly scrum reports and monthly technical blog posts into account, but of course awesome code is the most important item on the list.

Other participants will have the chance to win Tshirts, Swag and vouchers to attend Open Tech events in the region and will get certificates of participation.

codeheat-logo

Team mentors and jury members from 10 different countries support participants of the contest.

Participants should take the time to read through the contest FAQ and familiarize themselves with the introductory information and Readme.md of each project before starting to work on an issue.

Developers interested in the contest can also contact mentors through project channels on the FOSSASIA gitter.

Additional Links

Website: codeheat.org

Codeheat Twitter: twitter.com/codeheat_

Codeheat Facebook: facebook.com/codeheat.org

Participating Projects: All FOSSASIA Repositories on GitHub at github.com/fossasia

Autolinker Component in Loklak Search

In Loklak Search the post items contain links, which are either internal or external. These links include the hashtags, mentions, and URLs. From the backend server we just received the message in the plain text format, and thus there is need to parse the plain text and render it as clickable links. These clickable links can be either internal or external. Thus we need an auto-linker component, which takes the text and render it as links.

The API of the Component

The component takes as the input the plain text, then four arrays of strings. Each containing the text to be linked. These are hashtags, mentions, links and the unshorten attribute which is used to unshorten the shortened URLs in the post. These attributes are used by the component to render the text in the appropriate format.

export class FeedLinkerComponent implements OnInit {
@Input() text: string;
@Input() hashtags: string[] = new Array<string>();
@Input() mentions: string[] = new Array<string>();
@Input() links: string[] = new Array<string>();
@Input() unshorten: Object = {};
}

The Logic of the Component

The basic logic of the component works as the following, we divide the text into chunks known as shards, we have three basic data structures for the component to work

  • The ShardType which is the type of the chunk it specifies whether it is plain, hashtags, mentions, and links.
  • The Shard which is the simple object containing the text to show, its type and the link it refers to

The StringIndexdChunks, they are utilized to index the chunks in the order in which they appear in the text.

const enum ShardType {
plain, // 0
link, // 1
hashtag, // 2
mention // 3
}

class Shard {
constructor (
public type: ShardType = ShardType.plain,
public text: String = '',
public linkTo: any = null,
public queryParams: any = null
) { }
}

interface StringIndexedChunks {
index: number;
str: string;
type: ShardType;
}

First we have a private method of the component which searches for all the elements (strings) in the text. Here we have an array which maintains the index of those chunks in the text.

private generateShards() {
const indexedChunks: StringIndexedChunks[] = [];

this.hashtags.forEach(hashtag => {
const indices = getIndicesOf(this.text, `#${hashtag}`, false);
indices.forEach(idx => {
indexedChunks.push({index: idx, str: `#${hashtag}`, type: ShardType.hashtag});
});
});

this.mentions.forEach(mention => {
const indices = getIndicesOf(this.text, `@${mention}`, false);
indices.forEach(idx => {
indexedChunks.push({index: idx, str: `@${mention}`, type: ShardType.mention});
});
});
}

Then we sort the chunks according to their indexes in the text. This gives us sorted array which consists of all the chunks sorted according to the indexes as they appear in the text.

indexedChunks.sort((a, b) => { return (a.index > b.index) ? 1 : (a.index < b.index) ? -1 : 0; });

The next part of the logic is to generate the shard array, an array which contains each chunk, once. To do this we iterate over the Sorted Indexed array created in the previous step and use it split the text into chunks. We iterate over the text and take substrings using the indexes of each element.

let startIndex = 0;
const endIndex = this.text.length;

indexedChunks.forEach(element => {
if (startIndex !== element.index) {
const shard = new Shard(ShardType.plain, this.text.substring(startIndex, element.index));
this.shardArray.push(shard);
startIndex = element.index;
}
if (startIndex === element.index) {
const str = this.text.substring(startIndex, element.index + element.str.length);
const shard = new Shard(element.type, str);
switch (element.type) {
case ShardType.link: {
if (this.unshorten[element.str]) {
shard.linkTo = str;
shard.text = this.unshorten[element.str];
}
else {
shard.linkTo = str;
}
break;
}

case ShardType.hashtag: {
shard.linkTo = ['/search'];
shard.queryParams = { query : str };
break;
}

case ShardType.mention: {
shard.linkTo = ['/search'];
shard.queryParams = { query : `from:${str.substring(1)}` };
break;
}
}
this.shardArray.push(shard);
startIndex += element.str.length;
}
});

if (startIndex !== endIndex) {
const shard = new Shard(ShardType.plain, this.text.substring(startIndex));
this.shardArray.push(shard);
}

After this we have generated the chunks of the text, now the only task is to write the view of the component which uses this Shard Array to render the linked elements.

<div class="textWrapper">
<span *ngFor="let shard of shardArray">
<span *ngIf="shard.type === 0"> <!-- Plain -->
{{shard.text}}
</span>
<span *ngIf="shard.type === 1"> <!-- URL Links -->
<a>{{shard.text}}</a>
</span>
<span *ngIf="shard.type === 2"> <!-- Hashtag -->
<a [routerLink]="shard.linkTo" [queryParams]="shard.queryParams">{{shard.text}}</a>
</span>
<span *ngIf="shard.type === 3"> <!-- Mention -->
<a [routerLink]="shard.linkTo" [queryParams]="shard.queryParams">{{shard.text}}</a>
</span>
</span>
</div>
  • This renders the chunks and handles the links of both internal and external type.
  • It also also makes sure that the links get unshortened properly using the unshorten API property.
  • Uses routerLink, angular property to link in application URLs, for asynchronous reloading while clicking links.

Resources and Links

This component is inspired from the two main open source libraries.

Earlier these libraries were used in the project, but as the need of unshortening and asynchronous linking appeared in the application, a custom implementation was needed to be implemented.

Creating Settings Screen in SUSI Android Using PreferenceActivity and Kotlin

An Android application often includes settings that allow the user to modify features of the app. For example, SUSI Android app allows users to specify whether they want to use in built mic to give speech input or not. Different settings in SUSI Android app and their purpose are given below

Setting                                        Purpose
Enter As Send It allows users to specify whether they want to use enter key to send message or to add new line.
Mic Input It allows users to specify whether they want to use in built mic to give speech input or not.
Speech Always It allows users to specify whether they want voice output in case of speech input or not.
Speech Output It allows users to specify whether they want speech output irrespective of input type or not.
Language It allows users to set different query language.
Reset Password It allows users to change password.
Select Server It allows users to specify whether they want to use custom server or not.

Android provides a powerful framework, Preference framework, that allows us to define the way we want preferences. In this blog post, I will show you how Settings UI is created using Preference framework and Kotlin in SUSI Android.

Advantages of using Preference are:

  • It has own UI so we don‘t have to develop our own UI for it
  • It stores the string into the SharedPreferences so we don’t need to manage the values in SharedPreference.

First, we will add the dependency in build.gradle(project) file as shown below.

compile ‘com.takisoft.fix:preference-v7:25.4.0.3’

To create the custom style for our Settings Activity screen we can set

android:theme=“@style/PreferencesThemeLight”

as the base theme and can apply various other modifications and colour over this. By default, it has the usual Day and Night theme with NoActionBar extension.

Layout Design

I used PreferenceScreen as the main container to create UI of Settings and filled it with the other components. Different components used are following:

  • SwitchPreferenceCompat: This gives us the Switch Preference which we can use to toggle between two different modes in the setting.
<com.takisoft.fix.support.v7.preference.SwitchPreferenceCompat

android:defaultValue=”true”

  • PreferenceCategory: It is used for grouping the preference. For example, Chat Settings, Mic Settings, Speech Settings etc are different groups in settings.

  • ListPreference: This preference display list of values and help in selecting one. For example in setLanguage option ListPreference is used to show a list of query language. List of query language is provided via xml file array.xml (res/values). Attribute android:entries point to arrays languagentries and android:entryValue holds the corresponding value defined for each of the languages.
<ListPreference

android:title=“@string/Language”
android:key=“Lang_Select”

android:entries=“@array/languagentries”

android:entryValues=“@array/languagentry”

</ListPreference>

Implementation in SUSI Android

All the logic related to Preferences and their action is written in ChatSettingsFragment class. ChatSettingsFragment extends PreferenceFragmentCompat class.

class ChatSettingsFragment : PreferenceFragmentCompat()

Fragment populate the preferences when created. addPreferencesFromResource method is used to inflate view from xml.

addPreferencesFromResource(R.xml.pref_settings)

Reference

Creating Modified Initrd for Meilix

We are modifying the Initrd file in order to modify the live user configuration which is not available via skel but can be modified by editing the casper configuration like hostname or the systemd configuration.

Linux has the Initrd or “Initial ram-disk” used during the boot process. A Linux kernel is modular. The Kernel files, drivers, reside in separate files, i.e., kernel modules. The kernel does not require drivers as BIOS handles all the work of loading Initrd into the memory. After the kernel is loaded, it starts the boot process. Initrd contains all the drivers Linux needs to boot and the user can rebuild Initrd without changing the kernel.

Files inside Initrd

The files inside Initrd include the conf where the casper configuration is found which is required for the live user creation and its configuration.

The Initrd file is used when booting a live Meilix and can be found in the casper directory of the ISO.

We start with downloading the ISO and mounting it:

sudo mount -o loop meilix-i386.iso /mnt

Modifying the Initrd

Now extract the content into a folder so that one can modify them. It depends on the image type in the Meilix. We have the image in lz format it can be in gzip format for other distributions.

mkdir initrd-tmp
  cd initrd-tmp
lzma -dc -S .lz /mnt/casper/initrd.lz | cpio -id

 

Now we can modify the files like hostname or the files required to run during boot. The Initrd file is responsible for all the configuration available to the live user like the theme for Plymouth. We can modify the boot menu or plymouth or the files and folders the user gets like the default wallpaper.

Repack the modified files into a new initrd:

find . | cpio --quiet --dereference -o -H newc | gzip -9 > ~/new-initrd.gz

 

These are steps to modify the Initrd file which can be used to customize the Meilix live user configuration like hostname, Plymouth theme and user files.

Resources

Modifying Notifications in Meilix

There are many settings available for notifications in Meilix like position, size, timeout which can be modified with help of the notifications settings available in LXQT.

Theming Notifications

We will start by creating a file in /usr/share/lxqt/themes for creating a qss file of the notification theme as lxqt-notificationd.qss. This file tells the LXQT about what the colors, size, border, etc. are for a notification.

We start with notifications in this file. We can define color of the text of notifications. It supports alpha values too, but making text transparent decrease.

Notification {
    color: #313639;
    border: 1px solid rgba(155, 155, 155, 00%);
    background:rgba(240, 240, 240, 00%);
    margin: 0px;
    border-radius: 5px;
}

 

We can add a custom close button also we just need to add the path of the button in the qss file.

#closeButton {
    margin: 3px;
    border-radius: 4px;
    border: 1px solid transparent;
    padding: 4px;
    qproperty-icon: url(lxqt-notificationd/window-close.svg);
}

 

Other properties like hover on close button for animations can be used like.

#closeButton:hover {
    color: rgba(54, 54, 54, 100%);
    background: rgba(30, 145, 255, 30%);
    border: 1px solid rgba(30, 145, 255, 100%);
}

 

We can also define custom font, background like an image file, or actions like click, hover etc.

For other notification settings we can create a configuration file notifications.config which we can place in root  or in ~/.config depending upon application weather we want to apply it system wide or only for user.

The configuration file for disabling the sounds in LXQT:

[Sounds]
No sound=true

 

Settings can also be changed using the menu and they are saved in .config/lxqt/notifications.conf. We have changed the spacing to zero in Meilix so that the notifications are invisible and do not disturb during an event (instead of disabling it in case someone wants notifications they can change the spacing).

[General]
spacing=0

Resources

Indexing for multiscrapers in Loklak Server

I recently added multiscraper system which can scrape data from web-scrapers like YoutubeScraper, QuoraScraper, GithubScraper, etc. As scraping is a costly task, it is important to improve it’s efficiency. One of the approach is to index data in cache. TwitterScraper uses multiple sources to optimize the efficiency.

This system uses Post message holder object to store data and PostTimeline (a specialized iterator) to iterate the data objects. This difference in data structures from TwitterScraper leads to the need of different approach to implement indexing of data to ElasticSearch (currently in review process).

These are the following changes I made while implementing ‘indexing of data’ in the project.

1) Writing of data is invoked only using PostTimeline iterator

In TwitterScraper, the data is written in message holder TwitterTweet. So all the tweets are written to index as they are created. Here, when the data is scraped, Writing of the posts is initiated. Scraping of data is considered a heavy process. This approach keeps lower resource usage in average traffic on the server.

protected Post putData(Post typeArray, String key, Timeline2 postList) {
   if(!"cache".equals(this.source)) {
       postList.writeToIndex();
   }
   return this.putData(typeArray, key, postList.toArray());
}

2) One object for holding a message

During the implementation, I kept the same message holder Post and post-iterator PostTimeline from scraping to indexing of data. This helps to keep the structure uniform. Earlier approach involves different types of message wrappers in the way. This approach cuts the processes for looping and transitioning of data structures.

3) Index a list, not a message

In TwitterScraper, as the messages are enqueued in the bulk to be indexed. But in this approach, I have enqueued the complete lists. This approach delays the indexing till the scraper is done with processing the html.

Creating the queue of postlists:

// Add post-lists to queue to be indexed
queueClients.incrementAndGet();
try {
    postQueue.put(postList);
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
DAO.severe(e);
}
queueClients.decrementAndGet();

 

Indexing of the posts in postlists:

// Start indexing of data in post-lists
for (Timeline2 postList: postBulk) {
    if (postList.size() < 1) continue;
    if(postList.dump) {
        // Dumping of data in a file
        writeMessageBulkDump(postList);
    }
    // Indexing of data to ElasticSearch
    writeMessageBulkNoDump(postList);
}

 

4) Categorizing the input parameters

While searching the index, I have divided the query parameters from scraper into 3 categories. The input parameters are added to those categories (implemented using map data structure) and thus data fetched are according to them. These categories are:

// Declaring the QueryBuilder
BoolQueryBuilder query = new BoolQueryBuilder();

 

a) Get the parameter– Get the results for the input fields in map getMap.

// Result must have these fields. Acts as AND operator
if(getMap != null) {
    for(Map.Entry<String, String> field : getMap.entrySet()) {
        query.must(QueryBuilders.termQuery(
field.getKey(), field.getValue()));
    }
}

 

b) Don’t get the parameter- Don’t get the results for the input fields in map notGetMap.

// Result must not have these fields.
if(notGetMap != null) {
    for(Map.Entry<String, String> field : notGetMap.entrySet()) {
        query.mustNot(QueryBuilders.termQuery(
                field.getKey(), field.getValue()));
    }
}

 

c) Get if possible- Get the results with the input fields if they are present in the index.

// Result may preferably also get these fields. Acts as OR operator
if(mayAlsoGetMap != null) {
    for(Map.Entry<String, String> field : mayAlsoGetMap.entrySet()) {
        query.should(QueryBuilders.termQuery(
                field.getKey(), field.getValue()));

    }
}

 

By applying these changes, the scrapers are shifted from a message indexing to list of messages indexing. This way we are keeping load on RAM low, but the aggregation of latest scraped data may be affected. So there will be a need to workaround to solve this issue while scraping itself.

References

Restoring State after Orientation Change in Loklak Wok Android

During orientation change i.e. from portrait to landscape mode in Android, the current activity restarts again. As the activity restarts again, all the defined variables loose their previous value, for example the scroll position of a RecyclerView, or the data in the rows of RecyclerView etc. Just imagine a user searched some tweets in Loklak Wok Android, and as the user’s phone is in “Auto rotation” mode, the orientation changes from portrait to landscape. As a result of this, the user loses the search result and has to do the search again. This leads to a bad UX.

Saving state in onSavedInstanceState

The state of the app can be saved by inserting values in a Bundle object in onSavedInstanceState callback. Inserting values is same as adding elements to a Map in Java. Methods like putDouble, putFloat, putChar etc. are used where the first parameter is a key and the second parameter is the value we want to insert.

@Override
public void onSaveInstanceState(Bundle outState) {
   if (mLatitude != null && mLongitude != null) {
       outState.putDouble(PARCELABLE_LATITUDE, mLatitude);
       outState.putDouble(PARCELABLE_LONGITUDE, mLongitude);
   }
...
}

 

The values can be retrieved back when onCreate or onCreateView of the Activity or Fragment is called. Bundle object in the callback parameter is checked, whether it is null or not, if not the values are retrieved back using the keys provided at the time of inserting. The latitude and longitude of a location in TweetPostingFragment are retrieved in the same fashion

public void onViewCreated(View view, @Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {
   ...
   if (savedInstanceState != null) { // checking if bundle is null
       // extracting from bundle
       mLatitude = savedInstanceState.getDouble(PARCELABLE_LATITUDE);
       mLongitude = savedInstanceState.getDouble(PARCELABLE_LONGITUDE);
       // use extracted value
   }
}

Restoring Custom Objects, using Parcelable

But what if we want to restore custom object(s). A simple option can be serializing the objects using the native Java Serialization or libraries like Gson. The problem in these cases is performance, they are quite slow. Parcelable can be used, which leads the pack in performance and moreover it is provided by Android SDK, on top of that, it is simple to use.

The objects of class which needs to be restored implements Parcelable interface and the class must provide a static final object called CREATOR which implements Parcelable.Creator interface.

writeToParcel and describeContents method need to be override to implement Parcelable interface. In writeToParcel method the member variables are put inside the parcel, in our case describeContents method is not used, so, simply 0 is returned. Status class which stores the data of a searched tweet implements parcelable.

@Override
public int describeContents() {
   return 0;
}

@Override
public void writeToParcel(Parcel dest, int flags) {
   dest.writeString(mText);
   dest.writeInt(mRetweetCount);
   dest.writeInt(mFavouritesCount);
   dest.writeStringList(mImages);
   dest.writeParcelable(mUser, flags);
}

 

NOTE: The order in which variables are pushed into Parcel needs to be maintained while variables are extracted from the parcel to recreate the object. This is the reason why no “key” is required to push data into a parcel as we do in bundle.

The CREATOR object implements the creation of object from a Parcel. The CREATOR object overrides two methods createFromParcel and newArray. createFromParcel is the method in which we implement the way an object is created from a parcel.

public static final Parcelable.Creator<Status> CREATOR = new Creator<Status>() {
   @Override
   public Status createFromParcel(Parcel source) {
       return new Status(source); // a private constructor to create object from parcel
   }

   @Override
   public Status[] newArray(int size) {
       return new Status[size];
   }
};

 

The private constructor, note that the order in which variables were pushed is maintained while retrieving the values.

private Status(Parcel source) {
   mText = source.readString();
   mRetweetCount = source.readInt();
   mFavouritesCount = source.readInt();
   mImages = source.createStringArrayList();
   mUser = source.readParcelable(User.class.getClassLoader());
}

 

The status objects are restored the same way, latitude and longitude were restored. putParcelableArrayList in onSaveInstaceState and getParcelableArrayList in onCreateView methods are used to push into Bundle object and retrieve from Bundle object respectively.

@Override
public void onSaveInstanceState(Bundle outState) {
   super.onSaveInstanceState(outState);
   ArrayList<Status> searchedTweets = mSearchCategoryAdapter.getStatuses();
   outState.putParcelableArrayList(PARCELABLE_SEARCHED_TWEETS, searchedTweets);
   ...
}


// retrieval of the pushed values in bundle
@Override
public View onCreateView(LayoutInflater inflater, ViewGroup container,
                            Bundle savedInstanceState) {
   ...
   if (savedInstanceState != null) {
       ...
       List<Status> searchedTweets =
               savedInstanceState.getParcelableArrayList(PARCELABLE_SEARCHED_TWEETS);
       mSearchCategoryAdapter.setStatuses(searchedTweets);
   }
   ...
   return view;
}

Resources:

Fixing Infinite Scroll Feature for Susper using Angular

In Susper, we faced a unique problem. Every time the image tab was opened, and the user scrolled through the images, all the other tabs in the search engine, such as All, Videos etc, would stop working. They would continue to display image results as shown:

Since this problem occurred only when the infinite scroll action was called in the image tab, I diagnosed that the problem probably was in the url parameters being set.

The url parameters were set in the onScroll() function as shown:

onScroll () {
let urldata = Object.assign({}, this.searchdata);
this.getPresentPage(1);
this.resultDisplay = ‘images’;
urldata.start = (this.startindex) + urldata.rows;
urldata.fq = ‘url_file_ext_s:(png+OR+jpeg+OR+jpg+OR+gif)’;
urldata.resultDisplay = this.resultDisplay;
urldata.append = true;
urldata.nopagechange = true;
this.store.dispatch(new queryactions.QueryServerAction(urldata));
};

The parameters append and nopagechange were to ensure that the images are displayed in the same page, one after the other.
To solve this bug I first displayed the query call each time a tab is clicked on the web console.
Here I noticed that for the tab videos, nopagechange and append attributes still persisted, and had not been reset. The start offset had not been set to 0 either.
So adding these few lines before making a query call from any tab, would solve the problem.

urldata.start = 0;
urldata.nopagechange = false;
urldata.append = false;

Now the object is displayed as follows:

Now videos are displayed in the videos tab, text in the text tab and so on.
Please refer to results.component.ts for the entire code.

References:

  1. On how to dispatch queries to the store: https://gist.github.com/btroncone/a6e4347326749f938510
  2. Tutorial on the ngrx suite:http://bodiddlie.github.io/ng-2-toh-with-ngrx-suite/