Dynamic Base URL Support in the Open Event Organizer App

Open Event API Server acts as a backend for Open Event Organizer Android App. The server has a development instance running on the web for developers. Developers use this instance to try out new feature additions, bug fixings and other such changes in the source code. And when confirmed working, these changes are updated to the main running instance which is kept live throughout for the users. Similarly for Android app developers, to test the app with both the instances, we have implemented the dynamic base URL support in the app. The app has a default base URL set to development instance or main instance dependent on the debug mode. That means the app will use a server on developer instance when used under debug mode and will use a main instance server if used under release mode. The app also provides an option to enter an alternate URL while login in the app which replaces default base URL in the app for the session.

In the organizer app, we are using Retrofit + Okhttp for handling network requests and dagger for dependency injection. The OkhttpClient provider in NetworkModule class looks like:

@Provides
@Singleton
OkHttpClient providesOkHttpClient(HostSelectionInterceptor interceptor) {
   return new OkHttpClient.Builder()
       .addNetworkInterceptor(new StethoInterceptor())
       .build();
}

 

Retrofit had a support for mutable base URL in the earlier versions but the feature is no longer available in the recent versions. We are using Interceptor class for changing base URL. The class has a method named intercept, which gets called at each network request. In this method, base URL is reset to the new URL.

So first you have to extend Interceptor class and reset base URL in the intercept method. The Interceptor class in the app looks like:

public final class HostSelectionInterceptor implements Interceptor {
   private String host;
   private String scheme;

   public HostSelectionInterceptor(){
       //Intentionally left blank
   }

   public void setInterceptor(String url) {
       HttpUrl httpUrl = HttpUrl.parse(url);
       scheme = httpUrl.scheme();
       host = httpUrl.host();
   }

   @Override
   public Response intercept(Chain chain) throws IOException {
       Request original = chain.request();

       // If new Base URL is properly formatted then replace the old one
       if (scheme != null && host != null) {
           HttpUrl newUrl = original.url().newBuilder()
               .scheme(scheme)
               .host(host)
               .build();
           original = original.newBuilder()
               .url(newUrl)
               .build();
       }
       return chain.proceed(original);
   }
}

 

The class has a private string field host to save base URL. The method setInterceptor is used to change the base URL. Once the base URL is changed, thereafter all the network requests use changed URL to call. So now our interceptor is ready which can be used to support dynamic base URL in the app. This interceptor is added to Okhttp builder using its method addInterceptor.

@Provides
@Singleton
HostSelectionInterceptor providesHostSelectionInterceptor() {
   return new HostSelectionInterceptor();
}

@Provides
@Singleton
OkHttpClient providesOkHttpClient(HostSelectionInterceptor interceptor) {
   return new OkHttpClient.Builder()
       .addInterceptor(interceptor)
       .addNetworkInterceptor(new StethoInterceptor())
       .build();
}

 

And now you are able to change base URL just by using the setInterceptor method of Interceptor class from anywhere in the app. And by then all the network calls use the updated base URL.

Application

I will show you here, how exactly this works in the Open Event Organizer app. On the login page, we have provided an option to enter an alternate base URL.

                                

We have kept a default URL checked. The default URL is set as per debug mode. This is done by setting the fields in the build.gradle. The code looks like:

buildTypes {
       release {
           ...
           buildConfigField "String", "DEFAULT_BASE_URL", '"https://www.eventyay.com/api/v1/"'
       }
       debug {
           buildConfigField "String", "DEFAULT_BASE_URL", '"https://open-event-dev.herokuapp.com/api/v1/"'
       }
   }

 

The field is used in the app as:

private final String DEFAULT_BASE_URL = BuildConfig.DEFAULT_BASE_URL;

 

On login, the loginPresenter calls setInterceptor method of the Interceptor to update the URL according to the user’s input. And the base URL is changed in the app for further network requests.

Links:
1. Gist link for Interceptor implementation code – https://gist.github.com/swankjesse/8571a8207a5815cca1fb
2. Google dagger dependency injector Github Repo
3. Retrofit http client Github Repo
4. Okhttp client Github Repo

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Presenters via Loaders in Open Event Organizer Android App

Open Event Organizer‘s App design follows Model View Presenter (MVP) architecture which facilitates heavy unit testing of the app. In this design pattern, each fragment/activity implements a view interface which uses a presenter interface to interact with a model interface. The presenter contains most of the data of the view. So it is very important to restore presenters after configuration changes like rotation. As on rotation, the complete activity is re-created hence all the fields are destroyed and as a result, everything is re-generated resulting in state loss on configuration change which is unexpected. Open Event Organizer App uses the loader to store/provide presenters to the activity/fragment. Loader survives configuration changes. The idea of using the loader to provide presenter is taken from Antonio Gutierrez’s blog on “Presenters surviving orientation changes with loaders“.

The first thing to do is make a PresenterLoader<T> class extending Loader<T> where T is your presenter’s base interface. The PresenterLoader class in the app looks like:

public class PresenterLoader<T extends IBasePresenter> extends Loader<T> {

   private T presenter;

   ...

   @Override
   protected void onStartLoading() {
       super.onStartLoading();
       deliverResult(presenter);
   }

   @Override
   protected void onReset() {
       super.onReset();
       presenter.detach();
       presenter = null;
   }

   public T getPresenter() {
       return presenter;
   }
}

 

The methods are pretty clear from the names itself. Once this is done, now you are ready to use this loader in for your fragment/activity. Creating a BaseFragment or BaseActivity will be clever as then you don’t have to add same logic everywhere. We will take a use case of an activity. A loader has a unique id by which it is saved in the app. Use unique id for each fragment/activity. Using the id, the loader is obtained in the app.

Loader<P> loader = getSupportLoaderManager().getLoader(getLoaderId());

 

When creating for the first time, the loader is set up with the loader callbacks where we actually set a presenter logic. In the Organizer App, we are using dagger dependency injection for injecting presenter in the app for the first time. If you are not using the dagger, you should create PresenterFactory class containing create method for the presenter. And pass the PresenterFactory object to the PresenterLoader in onCreateLoader. In this case, we are using dagger so it simplifies to this:

getSupportLoaderManager().initLoader(getLoaderId(), null, new LoaderManager.LoaderCallbacks<P>() {
   @Override
   public Loader<P> onCreateLoader(int id, Bundle args) {
       return new PresenterLoader<>(BaseActivity.this, getPresenterProvider().get());
   }

   @Override
   public void onLoadFinished(Loader<P> loader, P presenter) {
       BaseActivity.this.presenter = presenter;
   }

   @Override
   public void onLoaderReset(Loader<P> loader) {
       BaseActivity.this.presenter = null;
   }
});

 

getPresenterProvider method returns Lazy<Presenter> provider to ensure single presenter creation in the activity/fragment. The lifecycle to setup PresenterLoader in activity is onCreate and in the fragment is onActivityCreated. Use presenter field from next lifecycle that is start. If the presenter is used before the start, it creates null pointer exception. For example, if implementing with the BaseFragment, setup loader in onActivityCreated method.

@Override
   protected void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {
       super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
       Loader<P> loader = getSupportLoaderManager().getLoader(getLoaderId());
       if (loader == null) {
           initLoader();
       } else {
           presenter = ((PresenterLoader<P>) loader).getPresenter();
       }
   }

 

Make sure that your base interface implements some of the basic methods. For example, onDetach, onAttach etc. getLoaderId method must be implemented in each fragment/activity using loaders. The method returns unique id for each fragment/activity. In Organizer App, the method returns layout id of the fragment/activity as a unique id.

Using the loader approach to store/restore presenters helps in surviving their instances in configuration changes in the app. Hence improves the performance.

Links:
Antonio Gutierrez’s blog post about Presenter surviving orientation changes with Loaders in Android
Android Documentation for Loaders

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Implementing QR Code Detector in Open Event Organizer App

One of the main features of Open Event Organizer App is to scan a QR code from an attendee’s ticket to validate his/her entry to an event. The app uses Google’s Vision API library, com.google.android.gms.vision.barcode for QR code detection. In this blog, I talk about how to use this library to implement QR code detection with dynamic frame support in an Android App. The library uses a term barcode for all the supported formats including QR code. Hence in the blog, I use the term barcode for QR code format.

We use Google’s dagger for dependency injections in the app. So all the barcode related dependencies are injected in the activity using the dagger. Basically, there are these two classes – BarcodeDetector and CameraSource. The basic workflow is to create BarcodeDetector object which handles QR code detection. Add a SurfaceView in the layout which is used by the CameraSource to show preview to the user. Pass both of these to CameraSource. Enough talk, let’s look into the code while moving forward from here on. If you are not familiar with dagger dependency injection, I strictly suggest you have a look at some tutorial introducing dagger dependency injection.

So we have a barcode module class which takes care of creating  BarcodeDetector and CameraSource.

@Provides
BarcodeDetector providesBarCodeDetector(Context context) {
   BarcodeDetector barcodeDetector = new BarcodeDetector.Builder(context)
       .setBarcodeFormats(Barcode.QR_CODE)
       .build();
   return barcodeDetector;
}

@Provides
CameraSource providesCameraSource(Context context, BarcodeDetector barcodeDetector) {
   return new CameraSource
       .Builder(context, barcodeDetector)
       ...
       .build();
}

 

You can see in the code that BarcodeDetector is passed to the CameraSource builder. Now comes preview part. The user of the app should be able to see what is actually detected. Google has provided samples showing how to do that. It provides some classes that you can just add to your projects. The classes with the links are – BarcodeGraphic, CameraSourcePreview, GraphicOverlay and BarcodeGraphicTracker.

CameraSourcePreview is the custom view which is used in the QR detecting layout for preview. It handles all the SurfaceView related stuff with the additional BarcodeGraphic view which extends GraphicOveraly which is used to draw dynamic info based on the QR code detected. We use this class to draw a frame around the QR code detected. BarcodeGraphicTracker is used to receive newly detected items, add a graphical representation to an overlay, update the graphics as the item changes, and remove the graphics when the item goes away.

Override draw method of BarcodeGraphic according to your need of how you want to show results on the screen once barcode is detected. The method in the Organizer app looks like:

@Override
public void draw(Canvas canvas) {
   if (barcode == null) {
       return;
   }
   // Draws the bounding box around the barcode.
   RectF rect = new RectF(barcode.getBoundingBox());
   ...
   int width = (int) ((rect.right - rect.left)/3);
   int height = (int) ((rect.top - rect.bottom)/3);

   canvas.drawBitmap(Bitmap.createScaledBitmap(frameBottomLeft, width, height, false), rect.left, rect.top, null);
   ...
   canvas.drawRect(rect, rectPaint);
}

 

The class has a Barcode field which gets updated on barcode detection. In the above method, the field rect gets dimensions of the bounding box of the QR code detector. And accordingly, frames are drawn at the vertices of the rect . Include CameraSourcePreview inclosing GraphicOverlay in the activity’s layout.

<...CameraSourcePreview
   android:id="@+id/preview"
   android:layout_width="match_parent"
   android:layout_height="match_parent">

   <...GraphicOverlay />

</...CameraSourcePreview>

 

CameraSourcePreview and GraphicOverlay are saved in the activity from the layout. Pass CameraSource and GraphicOverlay to the CameraSourcePreview using the method start. Now the last part left is setting the processor to the BarcodeDetector to add a connection to the GraphicOverlay. Use BarcodeGraphicTracker which connects GraphicOverlay to BarcodeDetector. This is done by passing BarcodeTrackerFactory which has create method for BarcodeGraphicTracker to Multiprocessor. The code looks like:

barcodeDetector.setProcessor(
   new MultiProcessor.Builder<>(
       new BarcodeTrackerFactory(graphicOverlay)).build());

 

Now BarcodeDetector is connected to the layout. This will update the preview on the layout as overridden in the draw method of BarcodeGraphic on each barcode detection.

Links:
Google’s Vision API – link
Google Dagger github repo link – https://github.com/google/dagger

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