Working with Styles and Themes in Android

All those who have worked with styles and themes know that they’re hard to get right. We tend to get frustrated when we work with them. The hierarchy easily devolves into spaghetti code. How often did you want to change a style but feared you might break the continuity of the design of the app somewhere or the other.

I ran into a similar situation recently. I had to change the whole app’s style’s and theme by just changing the colors etc. in one location. This was for the Open Event android project where we wanted that while generating an apk by the apk generator we could change the color scheme of the app and could make it customisable for the needs of the organisations.

So, I’ll be talking about styling different views in this post. This shall be a long post!

When should we use styles

First of all, most of us get confused on when should we use styles instead of an inline attribute. Now I am going to show the rules that I follow:

When you have multiple views that should look identical ( Perhaps that do similar things)

Few Examples :

  • Payment screens. You want to get the user through a bunch of ordering and payment screens. You need similar kind of buttons there to make it look like a continuous process. Hence we make the Buttons follow one particular style
<style name="Payment_Buttons">
    <item name="android:minWidth">@dimen/button_min_width</item>
    <item name="android:minHeight">@dimen/button_min_height</item>
    <item name="android:background">@color/my_choice_color</item>
</style>

Try to use themes to tweak default styles

Themes provide a way of defining the default style of many widgets. For example :

If you want to define the default button for all of your payment screens in the example above, you can do something like :

<style name="ButtonTheme">
    <item name="android:buttonStyle">@style/MyButton</item>
</style>

But note that if you’re tweaking the default style, the only tricky part is to figure out the parent of your style but that’s really dificult due to a lot of variation within the different versions of android. If you’re using something that’s part of the AppCompat, then it’s okay. you don’t need to worry about the variations but when you want to style something not in AppCompat, then the main problem arises. So For example I want a button to be Holo until kitkat and then Material starting Lollipop, I’ll do something like this :

In values/styles.xml –

<style name="ButtonParent" Parent = "android:Widget.Holo.Button" />
<style name="ButtonParent.Holo">
    <item name="android:background">@drawable/my_bg</item>
</style>

Then in values-v21/styles.xml:

<style name="ButtonParent" parent ="android:Widget.Material.Button/>

This makes the button consistent with guidelines and the app looks perfect.

Now, Themes vs Styles

This is a topic which most of the developers don’t know about. They get confused on what is the difference between them. I was also not totally clear about this until recently. A theme is infact a style, the only difference is the usage.

  • We set a theme in the Manifest of the app or an activity
  • We set a style in a layout file or a widget
  • There are more styles than themes (Checkout styles.xml and themes.xml)
  • Definition of a theme is in the essence jsut a collection of references to stlyes that the theme will use.
  • To elaborate, let’s see the example of Theme.Holo :

It has a combination of

  1. Widget.Holo.Button
  2. Widget.Holo.Button.Small
  3. TextAppearence.Holo.Small
  4. TextAppearence.Holo.Small.Inverse

So, There can be different styles like this which can be referenced in a theme. Themes can be divided into 2 parts : General themes and sub themes

You can have a general them like Theme.ABC and if you want a variation of this general theme, for example no actionbar, you can add another theme like Theme.ABC.NoActionBar . This theme will not have the ActionBar

Inheritance

One of the interesting things that most people don’t know about is inhertance of styles/themes. What do I mean by this is that you can use existing styles and create some variations to suit different needs. There are 2 ways to use this inheritance. I’m going to try to explain and elorate on them :

  1. With a parent attribute

This is the most common way to use it and the way that most of the developers learn it while working on styles for the first time.

So how actually do we use it?

<style name = "Child" parent = "@style/Parent">
</style>

Here the child inherits all the properties of the style with the name “Parent” and define new properties in this style name “Child” where they can define new properties they want on top of the parent style.

2. With implicit style names

The other way to inherit styles/themes using the implicit way. Instead of setting a parent attribute, just prefix your new style/theme with the name of its parent and a dot. Something like this :

<style name = "Parent.Child">
</style>

This works the same as the previous method. Using this reduces some time to write additional parameter and is used by almost all experienced developers.

Plus you get some checks as well while writing code in Android studio. But be careful while using this as you need to take care of somethings :

For example,

  • The Parent style/theme needs to exist, Otherwise an error
  • You cannot inherit default themes and styles. For example you can’t create
<style name = "Theme.Holo.myTheme">

but you do this

<style name = "myTheme" parent = "Theme.Holo">

I know this can be overwhelming for a person who’s just starting with styles and themes. Trust me I was also not able to understand the concepts on the first go. I had to spend some time to grasp all that can be done using styles and themes. So I think this should be it for this blog. It’s already gotten pretty big.

Be sure to check out the Open event android project here and the usage of styles and themes there. Ciao till next time!

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Creating a Widget for your Android App

Having a widget for your app, not only helps it to stand out among its alternatives but also provides user information on the go without having to open the app. Keeping this thought in mind, I decided to make a widget for my GSoC project. Let’s go through the steps involved.

Step 1:

Creating a new widget from Android Studio.

Open up your project for which you need a widget and navigate to the project’s Java source. Create a new sub-package there named widget. Right click on the newly created sub-package and select the New->Widget option from there.

new_widget

Follow the instructions on the next screen.

screenshot-area-2016-07-30-002554
Most of the fields here are pretty much self explanatory. After doing this and running the app in your device, you will be able to see a widget for your app in the widget picker.
Screenshot_20160730-003515_01

 

Just kidding, this was the easy part, off to more harder things now!

Step 2:

Populating the widget with data.

Now, there can be 2 broad type of widgets Information Widgets and Collection Widgets.

Information widgets are simple widgets that are used to display an information that changes with time, for example Weather Widget or a Clock Widget.

Whereas, collection widgets are widgets which display a collection of data, for example the GMail widget is a collection widget.
These are relatively complex and harder than the Information Widgets.

In this post, we will focus on making a Collection Widget.

For Collection widgets, we need two layout files, one for the widget and one for each item in the widget collection.

Go ahead and create the two layout files. The wizard automatically generates the widget_layout.xml for you, you just need to edit it up.

stock_layout.xml
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:orientation="vertical">

    <LinearLayout
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:id="@+id/widget_toolbar"
        android:layout_height="?android:attr/actionBarSize"
        android:background="@color/colorPrimary">

        <ImageView
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="match_parent"
            android:layout_gravity="center"
            android:src="@drawable/stock_up"
            android:contentDescription="@string/stock_widget" />

        <ImageView
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="match_parent"
            android:layout_gravity="center"
            android:src="@drawable/stock_down"
            android:contentDescription="@string/stock_widget" />

        <TextView
            android:layout_width="0dp"
            android:layout_height="match_parent"
            android:layout_weight="1"
            android:layout_marginStart="32dp"
            android:gravity="center_vertical"
            android:text="@string/your_stocks"
            android:textAppearance="@android:style/TextAppearance.DeviceDefault.Widget.ActionBar.Title"
            android:layout_marginLeft="32dp" />
    </LinearLayout>

    <ListView
        android:id="@+id/widget_listView"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:background="@color/backGround"></ListView>

</LinearLayout>
list_item.xml
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="72dp"
    android:gravity="center_vertical"
    android:orientation="horizontal"
    android:paddingLeft="16dp"
    android:paddingRight="16dp"
    >
  <TextView
      android:id="@+id/stock_symbol"
      style="@style/StockSymbolTextStyle"
      android:layout_width="wrap_content"
      android:layout_height="wrap_content"
      android:gravity="start|center_vertical"
      tools:text="List Item"
      />
</LinearLayout>

Next up, having a look at the modified files, we can see that the Widget creation wizard added some stuff into out AndroidManifest.xml and created a new java file.

Upon taking a closer look at the manifest, we can see that the widget’s java class has been registered as a <receiver/>

Next, opening up the NewAppWidget.java, we will see that it extends AppWidgetProvider and some methods are already overridden for you.

Time to edit up this file to reference to the layouts we have just created.

import android.annotation.TargetApi;
import android.app.PendingIntent;
import android.appwidget.AppWidgetManager;
import android.appwidget.AppWidgetProvider;
import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.os.Build;
import android.support.annotation.NonNull;
import android.widget.RemoteViews;

/**
 * Implementation of App Widget functionality.
 */
public class StockWidgetProvider extends AppWidgetProvider {

    private static void updateAppWidget(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager,
                                        int appWidgetId) {
        // Construct the RemoteViews object which defines the view of out widget
        RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.widget_layout);
        // Instruct the widget manager to update the widget
        if (Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= Build.VERSION_CODES.ICE_CREAM_SANDWICH) {
            setRemoteAdapter(context, views);
        } else {
            setRemoteAdapterV11(context, views);
        }
        /** PendingIntent to launch the MainActivity when the widget was clicked **/
        Intent launchMain = new Intent(context, MainActivity.class);
        PendingIntent pendingMainIntent = PendingIntent.getActivity(context, 0, launchMain, 0);
        views.setOnClickPendingIntent(R.id.widget, pendingMainIntent);
        appWidgetManager.notifyAppWidgetViewDataChanged(appWidgetId,R.id.widget_listView);
        appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(appWidgetId, views);
    }

    @Override
    public void onUpdate(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager, int[] appWidgetIds) {
        // There may be multiple widgets active, so update all of them
        for (int appWidgetId : appWidgetIds) {
            updateAppWidget(context, appWidgetManager, appWidgetId);
        }

        super.onUpdate(context, appWidgetManager, appWidgetIds);
    }

    @Override
    public void onEnabled(Context context) {
        // Enter relevant functionality for when the first widget is created
    }

    @Override
    public void onDisabled(Context context) {
        // Enter relevant functionality for when the last widget is disabled
    }

  /** Set the Adapter for out widget **/

    @TargetApi(Build.VERSION_CODES.ICE_CREAM_SANDWICH)
    private static void setRemoteAdapter(Context context, @NonNull final RemoteViews views) {
        views.setRemoteAdapter(R.id.widget_listView,
                new Intent(context, StockWidgetService.class));
    }

    
    /** Deprecated method, don't create this if you are not planning to support devices below 4.0 **/
    @SuppressWarnings("deprecation")
    private static void setRemoteAdapterV11(Context context, @NonNull final RemoteViews views) {
        views.setRemoteAdapter(0, R.id.widget_listView,
                new Intent(context, StockWidgetService.class));
    }

}

Now, create a WidgetDataProvider which will provide us with data to be displayed inside the widget.

You can use a static data for now (like a prefilled ArrayList, but make sure that this data should be dynamic for making the widget meaningful)

import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.database.Cursor;
import android.os.Binder;
import android.widget.RemoteViews;
import android.widget.RemoteViewsService;

/**
 * Created by the-dagger on 24/7/16.
 */

public class WidgetDataProvider implements RemoteViewsService.RemoteViewsFactory {

    private Context context;
    private Cursor cursor;
    private Intent intent;

    //For obtaining the activity's context and intent
    public WidgetDataProvider(Context context, Intent intent) {
        this.context = context;
        this.intent = intent;
    }

    private void initCursor(){
        if (cursor != null) {
            cursor.close();
        }
        final long identityToken = Binder.clearCallingIdentity();    
        /**This is done because the widget runs as a separate thread 
        when compared to the current app and hence the app's data won't be accessible to it
        because I'm using a content provided **/
        cursor = context.getContentResolver().query(QuoteProvider.Quotes.CONTENT_URI,
                new String[]{QuoteColumns._ID, QuoteColumns.SYMBOL, QuoteColumns.BIDPRICE,
                        QuoteColumns.PERCENT_CHANGE, QuoteColumns.CHANGE, QuoteColumns.ISUP},
                QuoteColumns.ISCURRENT + " = ?",
                new String[]{"1"},null);
        Binder.restoreCallingIdentity(identityToken);
    }

    @Override
    public void onCreate() {
        initCursor();
        if (cursor != null) {
            cursor.moveToFirst();
        }
    }

    @Override
    public void onDataSetChanged() {
        /** Listen for data changes and initialize the cursor again **/
        initCursor();
    }

    @Override
    public void onDestroy() {
    cursor.close();
    }

    @Override
    public int getCount() {
        return cursor.getCount();
    }

    @Override
    public RemoteViews getViewAt(int i) {
        /** Populate your widget's single list item **/
        RemoteViews remoteViews = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.list_item_quote);
        cursor.moveToPosition(i);
        remoteViews.setTextViewText(R.id.stock_symbol,cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.SYMBOL)));
        remoteViews.setTextViewText(R.id.bid_price,cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.BIDPRICE)));
        remoteViews.setTextViewText(R.id.change,cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.CHANGE)));
        if (cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.ISUP)).equals("1")) {
            remoteViews.setInt(R.id.change, "setBackgroundResource", R.drawable.percent_change_pill_green);
        } else {
            remoteViews.setInt(R.id.change, "setBackgroundResource", R.drawable.percent_change_pill_red);
        }
        return remoteViews;
    }

    @Override
    public RemoteViews getLoadingView() {
        return null;
    }

    @Override
    public int getViewTypeCount() {
        return 1;
    }

    @Override
    public long getItemId(int i) {
        return i;
    }

    @Override
    public boolean hasStableIds() {
        return true;
    }
}

Let’s also create a service that invokes the WidgetDataProvider after a fixed interval

import android.content.Intent;
import android.widget.RemoteViewsService;

/**
 * Created by the-dagger on 24/7/16.
 */

public class StockWidgetService extends RemoteViewsService {
    @Override
    public RemoteViewsFactory onGetViewFactory(Intent intent) {
        return new WidgetDataProvider(this,intent);
    }
}

Phew.. almost done with this now.

Finally edit up the widget_info.xml located inside /res/values/xml/ of your project.

Edit it to reference the time after which your widget will be updated, the preview image which should show up in the widget picker and minimum width and height of the widget.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<appwidget-provider xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:initialKeyguardLayout="@layout/app_widget"
    android:initialLayout="@layout/app_widget"
    android:minHeight="110dp"
    android:minWidth="170dp"
    android:previewImage="@drawable/example_appwidget_preview"
    android:resizeMode="horizontal|vertical"
    android:updatePeriodMillis="86400000"
    android:widgetCategory="home_screen"></appwidget-provider>

Well, once this is done, go ahead and fire up your app. You will be able to see the newly created and updated widget in your homescreen.

 widget

Pretty awesome right!
Congratulations on making your first widget.

For now the app only opens a specific activity on clicking it, but you can read up a bit on how to execute a separate task on clicking each item on the list by using a pendingIntent.

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Unit testing JSON files in assets folder of Android App

So here is the scenario, your android app has a lot of json files in the assets folder that are used to load some data when in first runs.
You are writing some unit tests, and want to make sure the integrity of the data in the assets/*.json are preserved.

You’d assume, that reading JSON files should not involve using the Android Runtime in any way, and we should be able to read JSON files in local JVM as well. But you’re wrong. The JSONObject and JSONArray classes of Android are part of android.jar, and hence

 
JSONObject myJson = new JSONObject(someString);

The above code will not work when running unit tests on local JVM.

Fortunately, our codebase already using Google’s GSoN library to parse JSON, and that works on local JVM too (because GSoN is a core Java library, not specifically an Android library).

Now the second problem that comes is that when running unit tests on local JVM we do not have the getResources() or getAssets() functions.
So how do we retrieve a file from the assets folder ?

So what I found out (after a bit of trial and error and poking around with various dir paths), is that the tests are run from the app folder (app being the Android application module – it is named app by default by Android Studio, though you might have had named it differently)

So in the tests file you can define at the beginning

    public static final String  ASSET_BASE_PATH = "../app/src/main/assets/";

And also create the following helper function

    public String readJsonFile (String filename) throws IOException {
        BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(new FileInputStream(ASSET_BASE_PATH + filename)));
        StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        String line = br.readLine();
        while (line != null) {
            sb.append(line);
            line = br.readLine();
        }

        return sb.toString();
    }

Now wherever you need this JSON data you can just do the following

        Gson gson = new GsonBuilder().create();
        events = gson.fromJson(readJsonFile("events.json"),
                Event.EventList.class);
        eventDatesList = gson.fromJson(readJsonFile("eventDates.json"), EventDates.EventDatesList.class);
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Getting fired up with Firebase Database

As you might’ve noticed, in my Open Event Android Project, we are asking the user to enter his/her details and then using these details at the backend for generating the app according to his/her needs.

One thing to wonder is how did we transmit the details from webpage to the server.

Well, this is where Firebase comes to the rescue one more time!

If you’ve read my previous post on Firebase Storage, you might have started to appreciate what an awesometastic service Firebase is.

So without any further adieu, lets get started with this.

Step 1 :

Add your project to Firebase from the console.

 newProj
Click on the Blue button

Step 2 :

Add Firebase to your webapp

Open the project, you’ve just created and click on the bright red button that says, “ Add Firebase to your web app”

 addFirebase

Copy the contents from here and paste it after your HTML code.

Step 3 :

Next up, navigate to the Database section in your console and move to the Rules tab.

 screenshot-area-2016-07-18-204133.png

For now, let us edit the rules to allow anyone to read and write to the database.

 screenshot-area-2016-07-18-204437

Almost all set up now.

Step 4 :

Modify the HTML to allow entering data by the user

This looks something like this :

Now let us setup our javascript to extract this data and store this in Firebase Database.

We are almost finished with uploading the data to the database.

Enter data inside the fields and press submit.

If everything went well, you will be able to see the newly entered data inside your database.

screenshot-area-2016-07-18-205651.png

Now on to retrieving this data on the server.

Our backend runs on a python script, so we have a library known as python-firebase which helps us easily fetch the data stored in the Firebase database.

The code for it goes like this

The data will be returned in JSON format, so you can manipulate and store it as you wish.

Well, that’s it!

You now know how to store and retrieve data to and from Firebase.
It makes the work a lot simpler as there is no Database schema or tables that need to be defined, firebase handles this on its own.

I hope that you found this tutorial helpful, and if you have any doubts regarding this feel free to comment down below, I would love to help you out.

Cheers.

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Uploading json assets and icons to your app via the app generator

If you have tried out our app generator webpage, you should’ve noticed an option that allows you to upload a zip file which will contain the json for the event.

Why do we need this?

Well, this is needed because not every event organizer can maintain a server and API endpoints which contain the details for their event, so they can simply generate a json for the event by exporting it through the options provided to them on Google Spreadsheets and then they can upload them on the server, so that these files can be packaged in the android and web apps.

Implementation :

The implementation is pretty straightforward and consists of 3 parts :

  1. Making changes to the html file to allow user to upload the zip
<tr>
  <td valign="top">
    <label for="sessions">Zip containing .json files</label>
  </td>
  <td valign="top">
    <input accept=".zip" type="file" id="uploadZip" name="sessions">
  </td>
</tr>

2. Retrieve this file in the javascript and then make an AJAX call to the server

var file_data = $('#uploadZip').prop('files')[0];
 var form_data = new FormData();                 
 form_data.append('file', file_data);
 $.ajax({
            
                  url: '/upload.php', // point to server-side PHP script
                  cache: false,
                  contentType: false,
                  processData: false,
                  data: form_data,                         
                  type: 'post',
                  success: function(php_script_response){
                    // do something
                  }
                });

So here, the form_data contains the details about the file to be uploaded.

In the AJAX call, upload.php takes reads form_data variable and then initiates the upload to the server.

3. Setup a PHP script on the server to respond to the above AJAX call

<?php
    if ( 0 < $_FILES['file']['error'] ) {
        echo 'Error: ' . $_FILES['file']['error'] . '<br>';
    }
    else {
        move_uploaded_file($_FILES['file']['tmp_name'], "/var/www/html/uploads/upload.zip"); 
    }
?>

Here in the PHP script, the file is read and uploaded to a temporary directory in the server.

We then manually copy it to a location and name of our choice.

In case there are multiple users accessing the website and uploading their assets at the same time, we need to pass a timestamp variable to the AJAX call to and later on use it while renaming the uploaded file.

This is to ensure that the file uploaded by one user is not overwritten by another user.

How do we use this data during app compilation

The uploaded zip is then uncompressed and its contents are moved to the assets folder of the android app’s directory.

zip_ref = zipfile.ZipFile(path_to_zip_file, 'r')
zip_ref.extractall(directory)
zip_ref.close()
#TODO: Change path here
for f in os.listdir(directory+ "/zip"):
	if f.endswith('.json'):
		copyfile(f, directoy + "open-event-android/android/app/src/main/assets/"+f)
	elif f.endswith('.png'):
		copyfile(f, directory + "open-event-android/android/app/src/main/res/drawable"+f)
replace(directory+"/open-event-android/android/app/src/main/res/values/strings.xml", 'mipmap/ic_launcher', 'drawable/' + f)

Here replace is a function that searches in the source file for the phrase supplied as it’s argument and changes it with the new phrase.

Now when the app is compiled and ran on a user’s device, it will first search for a json file in the assets directory and if it exists, use that for fetching the data instead of making a network call. For this I have used Gson to first parse the offline files otherwise retrofit makes request to the api and fetches the data from there.

But if there is no json in the assets folder, a normal network call using retrofit will be made and the data will be fetched from the API defined by the user.

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How to parse json assets with gson

So most of us have json assets in our app which we parse on runtime to get the data and use it accordingly but what I have seen is that most of the people create a JSONObject or JSONArray after reading the json into an inputstream but then handling it becomes difficult since we have to manually extract every entity in each array which makes it bound to a lot of errors. A better approach to using it is making use of gson : an open source library by Google to serialise and deserialise Java object to (and from) Json. It’s pretty easy to use and makes the development process easy. For those of you not still convinced on using gson, I’d like to demonstrate the code we had to write to without using gson and the one using gson as well.

So to start with lets see the json file we’ll be using. It’s the events.json file from the open event project.

{
  "events": [
    {
      "color": "#fdfdfd",
      "email": "[email protected]",
      "end_time": "2015-07-14T00:00:00",
      "id": 4,
      "latitude": 37.783839,
      "location_name": "Moscone centre",
      "logo": "http://mysecureshell.readthedocs.org/en/latest/_images/logo_redhat.png",
      "longitude": -122.400546,
      "name": "FOSSASIA",
      "slogan": "Fossasia",
      "start_time": "2015-05-28T13:00:00",
      "url": "www.google.com"
    }
  ]
}

As you can see it has an object that has an array of event objects. So what we’ll first do is that we’ll get the whole json as a string by openeing an inputstream and then directing it to a buffer. Then we convert the buffer array to a string object.

String json = null;
try {
    InputStream inputStream = getAssets().open("events.json");
    int size = inputStream.available();
    byte[] buffer = new byte[size];
    inputStream.read(buffer);
    inputStream.close();
    json = new String(buffer, "UTF-8");

} catch (IOException e) {
    e.printStackTrace();
}

Now we have the json as a string which we can now parse it using a combination of JSONObject and JSONArray. First we’ll access data in the outer json object i.e. “events”. That’ll be done by

JSONObject jsonObject = new JSONObject(json);
JSONArray events = jsonObject.getJSONArray("events");

Now that we have the array, we can traverse it to get the objects inside events array

for (int j=0; j < events.length(); j++){
    JSONObject cit = events.getJSONObject(j);
    String color = jsonObject.getString("color");
    String email = jsonObject.getString("email"); 
    String endTime = jsonObject.getString("end_time");
    String id = jsonObject.getString("id");
    String latitude = jsonObject.getString("latitude");
    String locationName = jsonObject.getString("location_name");
    String logo = jsonObject.getString("logo");
    String longitude = jsonObject.getString("longitude");
    String name = jsonObject.getString("name");
    String slogan = jsonObject.getString("slogan");
    String startTime = jsonObject.getString("start_time");
    String url = jsonObject.getString("url");
}

This is how we go about it. Now for the exiting part.

We already have an Event data class which has the constructor, getters and setters etc.

public class Event {

    int id;

    String name;

    String email;

    String color;

    String logo;

    @SerializedName("start_time")
    String start;

    @SerializedName("end_time")
    String end;

    float latitude;

    float longitude;

    @SerializedName("location_name")
    String locationName;

    String url;

    String slogan;

    public Event(int id, String name, String email, String color, String logo, String start,
                 String end, float latitude, float longitude, String locationName, String url, String slogan) {
        this.id = id;
        this.name = name;
        this.email = email;
        this.color = color;
        this.logo = logo;
        this.start = start;
        this.end = end;
        this.latitude = latitude;
        this.longitude = longitude;
        this.locationName = locationName;
        this.url = url;
        this.slogan = slogan;
    }

    public String getEmail() {
        return email;
    }

    public void setEmail(String email) {
        this.email = email;
    }

    public String getColor() {
        return color;
    }

    public void setColor(String color) {
        this.color = color;
    }

    public String getUrl() {
        return url;
    }

    public void setUrl(String url) {
        this.url = url;
    }

    public String getSlogan() {
        return slogan;
    }

    public void setSlogan(String slogan) {
        this.slogan = slogan;
    }

    public int getId() {

        return id;

    }

    public void setId(int id) {
        this.id = id;
    }

    public String getName() {
        return name;
    }

    public void setName(String name) {
        this.name = name;
    }

    public String getLogo() {
        return logo;
    }

    public void setLogo(String logo) {
        this.logo = logo;
    }

    public String getStart() {
        return start;
    }

    public void setStart(String start) {
        this.start = start;
    }

    public String getEnd() {
        return end;
    }

    public void setEnd(String end) {
        this.end = end;
    }

    public float getLatitude() {
        return latitude;
    }

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

    public float getLongitude() {
        return longitude;
    }

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

    public String getLocationName() {
        return locationName;
    }

    public void setLocationName(String locationName) {
        this.locationName = locationName;
    }

}

Now here we name the parameters to the same as that in the json we have or we can just add @SerializedName(entity_name). Then we go to the code for actually retrieving the data from the json file using this data class. How we can do that is by first making a class that’ll get the array of events for us.

public class EventResponseList {
    @SerializedName("events")
    public List<Event> event;
}

Now all we do is

EventResponseList eventResponseList = gson.fromJson(json, EventResponseList.class);

We have a list of events that were in the json array.

Voila! That’s it. It’s so easy to get a list of all the events from the JSONArray and since the library is available for gradle, it’s even better. You can just add

compile 'com.google.code.gson:gson:2.7'

to your build.gradle dependencies and you’re good to go. Cheers!

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Push your apk to your GitHub repository from Travis

In this post I’ll guide you on how to directly upload the compiled .apk from travis to your GitHub repository.

Why do we need this?

Well, assume that you need to provide an app to your testers after each commit on the repository, so instead of manually copying and emailing them the app, we can setup travis to upload the file to our repository where the testers can fetch it from.

So, lets get to it!

Step 1 :

Link Travis to your GitHub Account.

Open up https://travis-ci.org.

Click on the green button in the top right corner that says “Sign in with GitHub”

screenshot-area-2016-07-15-205733.png<

Step 2 :

Add your existing repository to Travis

Click the “+” button next to your Travis Dashboard located on the left.

screenshot-area-2016-07-15-210630.png<

Choose the project that you want to setup Travis from the next page

screenshot-area-2016-07-15-210916.png
Toggle the switch for the project that you want to integrate

Click the cog here and add an Environment Variable named GITHUB_API_KEY.
Proceed by adding your Personal Authentication Token there.
Read up here on how to get the Token.

 screenshot-area-2016-07-15-213931.png<

Great, we are pretty much done here.

Let us move to the project repository that we just integrated and create a new file in the root of repository by clicking on the “Create new file” on the repo’s page.

Name it .travis.yml and add the following commands over there

language: android 
jdk:
  - oraclejdk8
android:
  components:
    - tools
    - build-tools-24.0.0
    - android-24
    - extra-android-support
    - extra-google-google_play_services
    - extra-android-m2repository
    - extra-google-m2repository
    - addon-google_apis-google-24
 before_install:
 - chmod +x gradlew
 - export JAVA8_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle
 - export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA8_HOME
 after_success:
 - chmod +x ./upload-gh-pages.sh
 - ./upload-apk.sh
 script:
 - ./gradlew build

Next, create a bash file in the root of your repository using the same method and name it upload-apk.sh

  #create a new directory that will contain out generated apk
  mkdir $HOME/buildApk/ 
  #copy generated apk from build folder to the folder just created
  cp -R app/build/outputs/apk/app-debug.apk $HOME/android/
  #go to home and setup git
  cd $HOME
  git config --global user.email "[email protected]"
  git config --global user.name "Your Name" 
  #clone the repository in the buildApk folder
  git clone --quiet --branch=master  https://user-name:[email protected]/user-name/repo-name  master > /dev/null
  #go into directory and copy data we're interested
  cd master  cp -Rf $HOME/android/* .
  #add, commit and push files
  git add -f .
  git remote rm origin
  git remote add origin https://user-name:[email protected]/user-name/repo-name.git
  git add -f .
  git commit -m "Travis build $TRAVIS_BUILD_NUMBER pushed"
  git push -fq origin master > /dev/null
  echo -e "Donen"

Once you have done this, commit and push these files, a Travis build will be initiated in few seconds.
You can see it ongoing in your Dashboard at https://travis-ci.org/.

After the build has completed, you will can see an app-debug.apk in your Repository.

IMPORTANT NOTE :

You might be wondering as to why did I write [skip ci] in the commit message.

Well the reason for that is, Travis starts a new build as soon as it detects a commit made on the master branch of your repository.

So once the apk is uploaded, that will trigger another build in Travis and hence forming an infinite loop.

We can prevent this in 2 ways :

First, simply write [skip ci] somewhere in the commit message and it will cause Travis to ignore the commit.

Or, push the apk to any other branch which is not configured for Travis build.

So well, that’s almost it.

I hope that you found this tutorial helpful, and if you have any doubts regarding this feel free to comment down below, I would love to help you out.

Cheers.

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Set up Firebase to upload user files

If you’ve read my previous post on uploading files to server, you might have noticed that it was not an easy task to achieve.

There is way too much boilerplate code for uploading a single file, and it will be much more complex in case we plan to upload multiple files, which I need to do for my project.

So what’s the solution to this?

ENTER FIREBASE!

Yeah, you read it right, Firebase once again to the rescue!

I came to know that firebase allows user to store and access the files easily to the built in storage.

Enough chatter for now, lets get to code!

Step 1 :

Add your project to Firebase from the console.

newProj.PNG

Click on the Blue button

Step 2 :

Add Firebase to your webapp

Open the project, you’ve just created and click on the bright red button that says, “ Add Firebase to your web app”

addFirebase.PNGCopy the contents from here and paste it after your HTML code.

Step 3 :

Open the “Storage” tab from the navigation drawer and navigate to the rules tab over there.
We need to set up specific rules as to who all can upload and read files to the storage bucket.

storageRules.PNG
For testing purposes, I’ve allowed everyone to read and write to my storage, but that shouldn’t be the case for your production app

Step 4 :

Add code for uploading your files.

First create a document selection widget and an upload button in your website’s index.html.

<tr>
<td valign=”top”>
<label for=”icon”>Zip File</label>
</td>
<td valign=”top”>
<input accept=”.zip” type=”file” id=”uploadZip” name=”icon”>
</td>
</tr>

Next, create a button to initiate the upload

<tr>
<td colspan=”5″ style=”text-align:center”>
<button type=”submit”>Upload Zip</button>
</td>
</tr>

Next up, inside the JavaScript, add a submitlistener for the submit button and call preventDefault inside it to prevent the form from doing the default action.

var form = document.querySelector(“form”);
form.addEventListener(“submit”, function(event) {
event.preventDefault();

Next up, get a reference to the upload location from your firebase storage bucket.

var timestamp = Number(new Date());
var storageRef = firebase.storage().ref(timestamp.toString());

Next, get the upload button from its ID and add its contents to a variable named file_data.

var $ = jQuery;
var file_data = $(‘#uploadZip’).prop(‘files’)[0];

Now upload that file to firebase.

storageRef.put(file_data);

If everything went as expected, you’ll be able to see the uploaded files onto your firebase console.

 storage

So, you can really appreciate the awesomeness of Firebase by now.
It has replaced the work done by over 50+ lines of code (spread around AJAX calls, PHP Scripts and JavaScript methods) by a single method call.

I would urge you to go through the documentation for more clarity on this.
https://firebase.google.com/docs/storage/

Well, that was it for now.
Next time, I’ll tell you how to retrieve the files back from the storage and add user’s details to Firebase Database.(Yeah, no need for Tables and SQL anymore!)

Cheers. 😀

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Uploading a file to a server via PHP

Uploading a file to a server via PHP

If you have been following my posts about my GSoC project, you would be knowing that we are making an app generator which will allow users to easily generate an android app for any event that they plan to host.

So, the next thing that we wanted in our app was to allow the users to upload a zip containing the json files (in case they don’t have an API, from where app can fetch data from) and then upload it to the server where we can use these files during the app compilation.

Steps below will tell you , how we achieved it :

Changes to HTML

First thing that we needed to do was add a file upload element to out HTML page that would allow only .zip files to be uploaded.
It was pretty simple one liner code which goes as follows

<tr>
<td valign=”top”>
<label for=”sessions”>Zip containing .json files</label>
</td>
<td valign=”top”>
<input accept=”.zip” type=”file” id=”uploadZip” name=”sessions”>
</td>
</tr>

PHP script to upload file on to the server

Next, we needed a server sided script (I used PHP) which would upload the zip provided by the user on to the server and store it to a unique location for each user.
The code for that was,

<?php
if ( 0 < $_FILES[‘file’][‘error’] ) {
echo ‘Error: ‘ . $_FILES[‘file’][‘error’] . ‘<br>’;
}
else {
move_uploaded_file($_FILES[‘file’][‘tmp_name’],“/var/www/html/uploads/upload.zip”);
}
?>

So what is happening here is basically the input arg. is first checked whether it is null or not null.
If it is null, and error is thrown back to the user, else the file is renamed and uploaded to the uploads folder in the server’s public directory.

Changes to the JavaScript

This was the part that needed most of the changes to be done, we first had to store the file that is to be uploaded in the form data, and then make and AJAX call to the php file located on the server.

var file_data = $(‘#uploadZip’).prop(‘files’)[0];
var form_data = new FormData();
form_data.append(‘file’, file_data);
$.ajax(
{ url: ‘/upload.php’, // point to server-side PHP script
cache: false,
contentType: false,
processData: false,
data: form_data,
type: ‘post’,
success: function(php_script_response){
ajaxCall1(); } //Chain up another AJAX call for further operations
});

So, that’s almost it!
Some server sided changes were also required like allowing the web user to execute the upload.php script and making the uploads directory writable by the web user.

Well, does it work?

Um, yeah it does.
There are a few issues with concurrent users which we are still debugging, but apart from that it works like a charm!

Here you can see a folder created by each user based on his/her timestamp
And here you can see the file that was uploaded y him/her
screenshot-area-2016-07-04-124957
Lastly our webapp (Looks stunning right?)

So, that was all for this week, hope to see you again next time.
Cheers and all the best 🙂

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Error Handling in Retrofit 2

For the Open Event android app we were using retofit 1.9 with an okhttp stack plus a gson parser but recently retrofit 2.0 was released and it was a major update in the sense that it a lot of things have been changed.

For starters, you don’t have to declare synchronous and asynchronous requests upfront and you can just decide that while executing. The code for that will look something like this. This is how we define our request methods in our api service

import retrofit.Call;
public interface APIService {
   @POST(“/list”)
   Call<Repo> loadRepo();
}

Now if we want to make a synchronous request, we can make it like

Call<Repo> call = service.loadRepo();
Repo repo = call.execute();

and for an asynchronous request, we can call enqueue()

Call<Repo> call = service.loadRepo();
call.enqueue(new Callback<Repo>() {
    @Override
    public void onResponse(Response<Repo> response) {
    // Get result Repo from response.body()    
    }
    @Override
    public void onFailure(Throwable t) {

    }
});

And another thing that changed in the async call throws a throwable on failure, so essentially the RetrofitError class is gone and since we were using that in our app, we had to modify the whole error handling in the app, basically from the grounds up.

So, when we decided to move to retrofit 2 after the stable version was released, we had to change a lot of code and the main part that was affected was the error handling. So, replacing the retrofitError class, I used the throwable directly to retrieve the error type something like this

if (error.getThrowable() instanceof IOException) { 
    errorType = “Timeout”; 
    errorDesc = String.valueOf(error.getThrowable().getCause()); 
} 
else if (error.getThrowable() instanceof IllegalStateException) {                 
    errorType = “ConversionError”; 
    errorDesc = String.valueOf(error.getThrowable().getCause()); 
} else { 
    errorType = “Other Error”; 
    errorDesc = String.valueOf(error.getThrowable().getLocalizedMessage()); 
}

This was ofcourse for all failure events. And to handle all response events I compared the HTTP status codes and displayed the errors :

Integer statusCode = response.getStatusCode(); 
if (statusCode.equals(404)) { 
    // Show Errors in a dialog
    showErrorDialog(“HTTP Error”, statusCode + “Api Not Found”); 
}

This is how we can compare other HTTP errors in retrofit and assign the correct status accordingly. I personally think that this is a better implementation than Retrofit 1.9 and the RetrofitError was a bit tedious to work with. It wasn’t very thought of before implementation because it was not easy to tell what kind of error exactly occured. With Response codes, one can see what are the exact error one faces and can gracefully handle these errors.

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