Preparing a release for Phimpme Android

Most of the essential features are now in a stable state in our Phimpme Android app. So we decided to release a beta version of the app. In FOSSASIA we follow branch policy where in development all current development will take place and in master branch the stable code resides.

Releasing an app is not just building an apk and submitting to the distribution platform, certain guidelines should follow.

How I prepare a released apk for Phimpme

List down the feature

We discussed on our public channel what features are now in stable state and can be released. Features such as account manager and Share Activity is excluded because it is not complete and in under development mode. We don’t want to show and under development feature. So excluded them. And made a list of available features in different category of Camera, Gallery and Share.

Follow the branch policy.

The releasable and stable codebase should be on master branch. It is good to follow the branch policy because it helps if we encounter any problem with the released apk. We can directly go to our master branch and check there. Development branch have very volatile because of active development going on.

Every Contributor’s contribution is important

When we browse our old branches such as master in case of ours. We see generally it is behind 100s of commits to the development. In case of that when we create a PR for that then it generally contains all the old commits to make the branch up to the latest.

In this case while opening and merging do not squash the commits.

Testing from Developer’s end

Testing is very essential part in development. Before releasing it is a good practice that Developer should test the app from their end. We tested app features in different devices with varying Android OS version and screen size.

  • If there is any compatibility issue, report it right away and there are several tools in Android to fix.
  • Support variety of devices and screen sizes

Changing package name, application ID

Package name, application ID are vitals of an app. Which uniquely identifies them as app in world. Like I changed the package name of Phimpme app to org.fossasia.phimpme. Check all the permission app required.

Create Release build type

Build types are great to way categorize the apps. Debug and Release are two. There are various things in codebase which we want only in Debug modes. So when we create Release mode it neglect that part of the code.

Add build types in you application build.gradle

buildTypes {
   release {
       minifyEnabled false
   }

Rebuild app again and verify from the left tab bar

Generate Signed apk and Create keystore (.jks) file

Navigate to Build → Generate Signed APK

Fill all details and proceed further to generate the signed apk in your home directory.

Adding Signing configurations in build.gradle

Copy the keystore (.jks) file to the root of the project and add signing configurations

signingConfigs {
       config {
           keyAlias 'phimpme'
           keyPassword 'phimpme'
           storeFile file('../org.fossasia.phimpme.jks')
           storePassword 'XXXXXXX'
       }
   }

InstallRelease Gradle task

Navigate to the right sidebar of Android Studio click on Gradle


Click on installRelease to install the released apk. It take all the credentials from the signing configurations.

Resources

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Getting Signed Release apk’s from the command line

 

View at Medium.com

If anyone of you has deployed an application on the play store, you may have most probably used Android Studio’s built in Generate signed apkoption.

The generate apk option in android studio

Recently while making the Open Event Apk generator, I had to make release apk’s, so that they could be used by an event organiser to publish their app, plus apk’s had to be signed because if they were not signed, it would be impossible to upload due to checks by Google.

Error shown on the developers console

So since I was building the app using the terminal and I didn’t have the luxury of signing the app using Android studio and I had to look for alternatives. Luckily I found two of them :

  1. Using the Signing configs offered by gradle
  2. Using the Oracle sun jarsigner

First of all the signing configs in gradle is a great way to do this. Most Open source apps use this as a way to put their code out for everyone to view and sucessfully hide any private keys and password.

You just need to add few lines of code in your app level build.gradle file and create a file called keystore.properties

In your keystore.properties, we just need to store the sensitive info and this file will be accessible only to people who are part of the project.

storePassword=myStorePassword
keyPassword=mykeyPassword
keyAlias=myKeyAlias
storeFile=myStoreFileLocation

Next we go to the build.gradle and add these lines to read the keystore.properties file and it’s variables

// Create a variable called keystorePropertiesFile, and initialize it to your
// keystore.properties file, in the rootProject folder.
def keystorePropertiesFile = rootProject.file("keystore.properties")

// Initialize a new Properties() object called keystoreProperties.
def keystoreProperties = new Properties()

// Load your keystore.properties file into the keystoreProperties object.
keystoreProperties.load(new FileInputStream(keystorePropertiesFile))

Next we can add the signingConfigs task and reference the values we got above over there

android {
    signingConfigs {
        config {
            keyAlias keystoreProperties['keyAlias']
            keyPassword keystoreProperties['keyPassword']
            storeFile file(keystoreProperties['storeFile'])
            storePassword keystoreProperties['storePassword']
        }
    }
    ...
  }

So As you see this is as simple as this but according to my requirements this seemed a bit tedious since a person setting up the apk generator had to make a keystore file, then find the build.gradle and change the path of the keystore file according to the server directories. So this does the trick but this can be so tedious for someone with no technical experience, so I researched on other solutions and then I got it : Jarsigner and Zipalign

First of all,the jarsigner and zipalign are 2 great tools and the best part about them is that both of them work perfectly with a just one line commands. For signing the app :

jarsigner -keystore <keystore_file> -storepass <storepassword> <apknameTosigned> <alias>

and then zipaligning :

zipalign -v 4 <unaligned-apk-location> <path-to-generated-aligned-apk>

So this is it, we finally used these 2 commands to sign and zipalign an apk and it works perfectly fine. Please test and share comments of the demo live @ http://192.241.232.231. Ciao !

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