Implementing search bar in PSLab app

PSLab offers a large range of functions with a large field of applications. This results in the long access path to certain information and functionality in the app, which affects the user experience (UX) negatively. In this blog post, I will show how the UX in Android applications with many functions can be improved by implementing a ‘Search Bar’. Further, I have created a screencast that follows the step-by-step description shown in this blog post [1].

Search Bar is the functionality which can be seen nowadays in almost all the apps. It is a handy widget for users to navigate the app. PSLab’s Android app was lacking this functionality and so I added it using an external library from Mirrajabi called ‘search-dialog’ [3]. I decided to use this library as it provides a search bar with built-in functionality of highlighting the text that’s selected or written down in the ‘Edit Text’ field by the user and also it overlays on the screen which provides a good user experience rather than other search bars which overlap on the text provided on the screen with a ListView. Further working with this dependency was easier than working with others as it seems well designed.

The Search Bar was added in the Saved Experiments section which contains a lot of default experiments along with their respective manuals. The search bar was intended to provide the user with a greater UI so that they don’t need to navigate through sections every time to find an experiment.

This blog is a step by step guide on how to implement it in any app.

  1. First, add dependencies in the gradle at both project level and app level. By adding these dependencies, we don’t need to worry about writing code for how the Search Bar will filter searches and how it will be placed on the screen.

App Level :

'com.github.mirrajabi:search-dialog:1.1'

Project Level :

maven { url "https://jitpack.io" }
  1.  Create a SearchModel class which will help to carry out the search operations.
public class SearchModel implements Searchable {

	private String mTitle;

	public SearchModel(String mTitle) {
    	this.mTitle = mTitle;
	}

	public void setTitle(String mTitle) {
    	this.mTitle = mTitle;
	}

	@Override
	public String getTitle() {
    	return mTitle;
	}
}

The SearchModel class helps to communicate with the filtered search results by returning the string which is selected:

  • SearchModel(String string) – It is a default constructor
  • setTitle(String string) – It is a method used to set the string provided in the search results
  • getTitle() – It is also a method to get the string selected by the user from the filtered search result provided
  1.  Now provide some data which needs to be searched using an ArrayList or by using StringArrays and then converting it to Search Model Object.
private ArrayList<SampleSearchModel> createSampleData(){
        ArrayList<SampleSearchModel> items = new ArrayList<>();
        items.add(new SampleSearchModel("First item"));
        items.add(new SampleSearchModel("Second item"));
        items.add(new SampleSearchModel("Third item"));
        items.add(new SampleSearchModel("Fourth item"));

        return items;
    }
  1.  At last add the constructor in MainActivity to make the search bar.
SimpleSearchDialogCompat(Context context, String title, String searchHint, @Nullable Filter filter, ArrayList<T> items,
SearchResultListener<T> searchResultListener)

All the parameters can be given according to requirement. The function of each and every parameter are as under :

  • Context – Provide context of the current activity
  • String title – To provide title to Search Bar
  • String searchHint – To provide hint text to the user
  • Filter – To provide any additional filters to the search made by the user
  • ArrayList<T> – To provide data that can be searched
  • SearchResultListener<T> – The method which handles what to do when a user clicks on the filtered searches provided

Let’s try to search for the Piezo Buzzer and UltraSonic Range Finder Experiments in the Search Bar :

Figure 1. GIF of implemented Search Bar

So, in this way, I have implemented the Search Bar functionality in the PSLab application. One last note that try to practice this widget before implementing it in the main project as it requires some practice of filters as per requirements and also its location needs to be defined as per the requirement of an organization as it can be placed anywhere from the main screen to the toolbar to navigation drawer. Below are some of the useful resources to get best practice.

Resources

  1. https://youtu.be/QyqbRHt1NUE – How to make a search bar like above (By – Harsh Patel (me))
  2. https://github.com/mirrajabi/search-dialog – This is the GitHub Page of the library which I used in making an attractive screen overlaying search bar rather than the old one with the list view placed in the toolbar
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Implementing Search Bar Using GitHub API In Yaydoc CI

In Yaydoc’s, documentation will be generated by typing the URL of the git repository to the input box from where user can generate documentation for any public repository, they can see the preview and if they have access, they can push the documentation to the github pages on one click. But In Yaydoc CI user can register the repository only if he has access to the specific repository, so I decided to show the list to the repository where user can select from the list but then it also has one problem that Github won’t give us all the user repository data in one api hit and then I made a search bar in which user can search repository and can register to the Yaydoc CI.

var search = function () {
  var username = $("#orgs").val().split(":")[1];
  const searchBarInput = $("#search_bar");
  const searchResultDiv = $("#search_result");

  searchResultDiv.empty();
  if (searchBarInput.val() === "") {
    searchResultDiv.append('<p class="text-center">Please enter the repository name<p>');
    return;
  }

  searchResultDiv.append('<p class="text-center">Fetching data<p>');

  $.get(`https://api.github.com/search/repositories?q=user:${username}+fork:true+${searchBarInput.val()}`, function (result) {
    searchResultDiv.empty();
    if (result.total_count === 0) {
      searchResultDiv.append(`<p class="text-center">No results found<p>`);
      styles.disableButton("btnRegister");
    } else {
      styles.disableButton("btnRegister");
      var select = '<label class="control-label" for="repositories">Repositories:</label>';
      select += '<select class="form-control" id="repositories" name="repository" required>';
      select += `<option value="">Please select</option>`;
      result.items.forEach(function (x){
        select += `<option value="${x.full_name}">${x.full_name}</option>`;
      });
      select += '</select>';
      searchResultDiv.append(select);
    }
  });
};

$(function() {
  $("#search").click(function () {
    search();
  });
});

In the above snippet I have defined search function which will get executed when user clicks the search button. The search function will get the search query from input box, if the search query is empty it’ll show the message as “Please enter repository name”, if it is not empty it’ll hit the GitHub API to fetch user repositories. If the GitHub returns empty array it’ll show “No results found”. In between searching time “Fetching data” will be shown.

$('#search_bar').on('keyup keypress', function(e) {
    var keyCode = e.keyCode || e.which;
    if (keyCode === 13) {
      search();
    }
  });

  $('#ci_register').on('keyup keypress', function(e) {
    var keyCode = e.keyCode || e.which;
    if (keyCode === 13) {
      e.preventDefault();
      return false;
    }
  });

Still we faced some problem, like on click enter button form is automatically submitting. So I’m registering event listener. In that listener I’m checking whether the key code is 13 or not. Key code 13 represent enter key, so if the key code is 13 then i’ll prevent the form from submitting. You can see the working of the search bar in the Yaydoc CI.

Resources:

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