Creating Device Screen to show connection status of PSLab Device

For using the PSLab Device the user needs to connect the PSLab device to an Android Phone having a PSLab android app. So there should be a screen that should be able to show the proper status of the PSLab device connection to the android app dynamically and it should also contain instructions on “How to connect the device to the app”.

So, in this blog we will create a device screen which shows the proper status of the connection of the PSLab device with the phone.

First step will be designing the layout for the device screen, for this we will create a fragment named HomeFragment and for its layout we will make use of the Relative Layout as view group and then create a Linearlayout inside it and position it at the center so that it always appears at the center in different screen sizes.

Then inside the LinearLayout, we will create(as shown in respective order) :

  1. ImageView and TextView for showing the status of device connection.
  2. Linear Layout with multiple TextView showing instructions on “How to connect the device to the screen”.
  3. A TextView that will direct the user to a webview showing PSLab website.

After creating all the above views we have created the layout will look like this: –

Now for showing the PSLab connection status dynamically, we have to implement following logic:

  1. When the device is connected it should show the connected icon and text and hide the instructions.
  2. When the device is disconnected it should show the disconnected icon and text and also the instructions.

For this, we will create a method inside the HomeFragment Java file which make use of Arguments deviceConnected and deviceFound to store device connected status.

public static HomeFragment newInstance(boolean deviceConnected, boolean deviceFound) {
HomeFragment homeFragment = new HomeFragment();
homeFragment.deviceConnected = deviceConnected;
homeFragment.deviceFound = deviceFound;
return homeFragment;
}

When both arguments are true we will show the connected text and icon and hide the instructions.

And when both arguments are false we will show the disconnected text and icon and display the instructions.

if (deviceFound && deviceConnected) {
   tvConnectMsg.setVisibility(View.GONE);
   tvVersion.setText(scienceLab.getVersion());
   tvVersion.setVisibility(View.VISIBLE);
   imgViewDeviceStatus.setImageResource(R.drawable.icons8_usb_connected_100);
   tvDeviceStatus.setText(getString(R.string.device_connected_successfully));
} else {
 imgViewDeviceStatus.setImageResource(R.drawable.icons_usb_disconnected_100);
 tvDeviceStatus.setText(getString(R.string.device_not_found));
}

How do we know that the device is connected?

For this, we have to handle the USB Attach event [1] that is whenever the USB is connected the Android will give a broadcast of USB connected and on receiving that broadcast in the app we will replace the HomeFragment giving setting both arguments to true. 

We will create a Broadcast Receiver[2] in the main activity which executes it’s onReceive() method on receiving USB attach event.

private final BroadcastReceiver mUsbReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver() {
   public void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent) {
     String action = intent.getAction();
     if (UsbManager.ACTION_USB_DEVICE_ATTACHED.equals(action)) {
       UsbDevice device =  intent.getParcelableExtra(UsbManager.EXTRA_DEVICE);
       if(device!=null){                                                  
         getSupportFragmentManager().beginTransaction().replace(R.id.frame,                                            
           HomeFragment.newInstance(true, true)).commitAllowingStateLoss();
         }           
      }
   }
};

Here In the OnReceive Method, we will replace our device screen fragment by passing parameters deviceConnected = true and deviceFound = true to HomeFragment newInstance() method.

Every time we create a Receiver we have to bind corresponding intent filters with broadcast receivers when the application is created.

IntentFilter filter = new IntentFilter(UsbManager.ACTION_USB_DEVICE_ATTACHED);
registerReceiver(mUsbReceiver, filter);

Similarly, we also have to handle the USB Detach event [2], here we will create a Broadcast Receiver[2] which executes in onReceive() method whenever the device is detached and here inside onReceive() method we will replace our device screen by passing parameters deviceConnected = false and deviceFound = false to newInstance() method in HomeFragment.

private final BroadcastReceiver mUsbReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver() {
   public void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent) {
     String action = intent.getAction();
     if (UsbManager.ACTION_USB_DEVICE_DETACHED.equals(action)) {                                           
getSupportFragmentManager().beginTransaction().replace(R.id.frame,                                            
           HomeFragment.newInstance(false, false)).commitAllowingStateLoss();
         }           
      }
   }
};

Thus, as shown in fig. 2 we have shown the PSLab device connection status dynamically on the screen by handling the USB attach/detach events.

Figure 2 shows the UI of ‘Device Screen’ for the two possible status: ‘not connected’ and ‘connected’

Resources

  1. Codepool Blog – “How to monitor USB events on Android?” by Xiao Ling
  2. Vogella article “What is Broadcast Receiver and how to insert it your app?”

Creating Custom Borders for Widgets and Layouts in PSLab Android

User Interface (UI) is one of the most important part of any software development. In PSLab Android App while developing the UI, custom borders are used for various widgets and layouts. This makes the UI look more appealing and widgets and layouts look more highlighted.

In Android, we can do a range of border customization. We can make border rounded, define its thickness and even change its color. Let’s see how to achieve this.

First, go to drawable folder in the tree view on the left size of the Android studio. Then go to new and click on Drawable resource file.

Then a New Resource File dialog box will appear. Type the filename and then click OK.

After this, a new XML file is created. Now we can write the code for creating custom borders. For this, we have to define few elements.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<shape xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">
....
</shape>

Shape Drawables allows defining background, borders, and gradients for the Views.

<solid android:color="#FFFFFF"/>

Here we are setting the background color of the widget/layout to which the border is applied to.

<stroke android:width="3dip" android:color="#B1BCBE" />

Now we are applying the 3dip width to the border and set its color. This shape requires the <stroke> element to define the width and color of the line.

<corners android:radius="10dip"/>

In order to make the corners of the border round, <corner> element is used to define the radius of the corners. We are taking it to be 10dip.

<padding android:left="0dip" android:top="0dip" android:right="0dip" android:bottom="0dip" />

The padding is expressed in pixels for the left, top, right and bottom parts of the view. Padding is used to offset the content of the view by a specific number of pixels.

After applying this border on a layout we get the following results.

Similarly making following changes in the element values help us to make border for the Text View

<solid android:color="@android:color/white" />
<stroke android:width="1dip" android:color="#ffcdd2" />
<corners android:radius="2dp"/>

Other examples

Control Activity

Logical Analyzer Activity

Resources

  1. Stack Overflow Solution to How to make a layout with rounded corners?
  2. Youtube Video on How to create a layout with rounded corner borders in Android? by Sylvain Saurel

Adding Tweet Streaming Feature in World Mood Tracker loklak App

The World Mood Tracker was added to loklak apps with the feature to display aggregated data from the emotion classifier of loklak server. The next step in the app was adding the feature to display the stream of Tweets from a country as they are discovered by loklak. With the addition of stream servlet in loklak, it was possible to utilise it in this app.

In this blog post, I will be discussing the steps taken while adding to introduce this feature in World Mood Tracker app.

Props for WorldMap component

The WorldMap component holds the view for the map displayed in the app. This is where API calls to classifier endpoint are made and results are displayed on the map. In order to display tweets on clicking a country, we need to define react props so that methods from higher level components can be called.

In order to enable props, we need to change the constructor for the component –

export default class WorldMap extends React.Component {
    constructor(props) {
        super(props);
        ...
    }
    ...
}

[SOURCE]

We can now pass the method from parent component to enable streaming and other components can close the stream by using props in them –

export default class WorldMoodTracker extends React.Component {
    ...
    showStream(countryName, countryCode) {
        /* Do something to enable streaming component */
        ...
    }
 
    render() {
        return (
             ...
                <WorldMap showStream={this.showStream}/>
             ...
        )
    }
}

[SOURCE]

Defining Actions on Clicking Country Map

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, World Mood Tracker uses Datamaps to visualize data on a map. In order to trigger a piece of code on clicking a country, we can use the “done” method of the Datamaps instance. This is where we use the props passed earlier –

done: function(datamap) {
    datamap.svg.selectAll('.datamaps-subunit').on('click', function (geography) {
        props.showStream(geography.properties.name, reverseCountryCode(geography.id));
    })
}

[SOURCE]

The name and ID for the country will be used to display name and make API call to stream endpoint respectively.

The StreamOverlay Component

The StreamOverlay components hold all the utilities to display the stream of Tweets from loklak. This component is used from its parent components whose state holds info about displaying this component –

export default class WorldMoodTracker extends React.Component {
    ...
    getStreamOverlay() {
        if (this.state.enabled) {
            return (<StreamOverlay
                show={true} channel={this.state.channel}
                country={this.state.country} onClose={this.onOverlayClose}/>);
        }
    }

    render() {
        return (
            ...
                {this.getStreamOverlay()}
            ...
        )
    }
}

[SOURCE]

The corresponding props passed are used to render the component and connect to the stream from loklak server.

Creating Overlay Modal

On clicking the map, an overlay is shown. To display this overlay, react-overlays is used. The Modal component offered by the packages provides a very simple interface to define the design and interface of the component, including style, onclose hook, etc.

import {Modal} from 'react-overlays';

<Modal aria-labelledby='modal-label'
    style={modalStyle}
    backdropStyle={backdropStyle}
    show={true}
    onHide={this.close}>
    <div style={dialogStyle()}>
        ...
    </div>
</Modal>

[SOURCE]

It must be noted that modalStyle and backdropStyle are React style objects.

Dialog Style

The dialog style is defined to provide some space at the top, clicking where, the overlay is closed. To do this, vertical height units are used –

const dialogStyle = function () {
    return {
        position: 'absolute',
        width: '100%',
        top: '5vh',
        height: '95vh',
        padding: 20
        ...
    };
};

[SOURCE]

Connecting to loklak Tweet Stream

loklak sends Server Sent Events to clients connected to it. To utilise this stream, we can use the natively supported EventSource object. Event stream is started with the render method of the StreamOverlay component –

render () {
    this.startEventSource(this.props.channel);
    ...
}

[SOURCE]

This channel is used to connect to twitter/country/<country-ID> channel on the stream and then this can be passed to EventStream constructor. On receiving a message, a list of Tweets is appended and later rendered in the view –

startEventSource(country) {
    let channel = 'twitter%2Fcountry%2F' + country;
    if (this.eventSource) {
        return;
    }
    this.eventSource = new EventSource(host + '/api/stream.json?channel=' + channel);
    this.eventSource.onmessage = (event) => {
        let json = JSON.parse(event.data);
        this.state.tweets.push(json);
        if (this.state.tweets.length > 250) {
            this.state.tweets.shift();
        }
        this.setState(this.state);
    };
}

[SOURCE]

The size of the list is restricted to 250 here, so when a newer Tweet comes in, the oldest one is chopped off. And thanks to fast DOM actions in React, the rendering doesn’t take much time.

Rendering Tweets

The Tweets are displayed as simple cards on which user can click to open it on Twitter in a new tab. It contains basic information about the Tweet – screen name and Tweet text. Images are not rendered as it would make no sense to load them when Tweets are coming at a high rate.

function getTweetHtml(json) {
    return (
        <div style={{padding: '5px', borderRadius: '3px', border: '1px solid black', margin: '10px'}}>
            <a href={json.link} target="_blank">
            <div style={{marginBottom: '5px'}}>
                <b>@{json['screen_name']}</b>
            </div>
            <div style={{overflowX: 'hidden'}}>{json['text']}</div>
            </a>
        </div>
    )
}

[SOURCE]

They are rendered using a simple map in the render method of StreamOverlay component –

<div className={styles.container} style={{'height': '100%', 'overflowY': 'auto',
    'overflowX': 'hidden', maxWidth: '100%'}}>
    {this.state.tweets.reverse().map(getTweetHtml)}
</div>

[SOURCE]

Closing Overlay

With the previous setup in place, we can now see Tweets from the loklak backend as they arrive. But the problem is that we will still be connected to the stream when we click-close the modal. Also, we would need to close the overlay from the parent component in order to stop rendering it.

We can use the onclose method for the Modal here –

close() {
    if (this.eventSource) {
        this.eventSource.close();
        this.eventSource = null;
    }
    this.props.onClose();
}

[SOURCE]

Here, props.onClose() disables rendering of StreamOverlay in the parent component.

Conclusion

In this blog post, I explained how the flow of props are used in the World Mood Tracker app to turn on and off the streaming in the overlay defined using react-overlays. This feature shows a basic setup for using the newly introduced stream API in loklak.

The motivation of such application was taken from emojitracker by mroth as mentioned in fossasia/labs.fossasia.org#136. The changes were proposed in fossasia/apps.loklak.org#315 by @singhpratyush (me).

The app can be accessed live at https://singhpratyush.github.io/world-mood-tracker/index.html.

Resources

Using Firebase Test Lab for Testing test cases of Phimpme Android

As now we started writing some test cases for Phimpme Android. While running my instrumentation test case, I saw a tab of Cloud Testing in Android Studio. This is for Firebase Test Lab. Firebase Test Lab provides cloud-based infrastructure for testing Android apps. Everyone doesn’t have every devices of all the android versions. But testing on all of them is equally important.

How I used test lab in Phimpme

  • Run your first test on Firebase

Select Test Lab in your project on the left nav on the Firebase console, and then click Run a Robo test. The Robo test automatically explores your app on wide array of devices to find defects and report any crashes that occur. It doesn’t require you to write test cases. All you need is the app’s APK. Nothing else is needed to use Robo test.

Upload your Application’s APK (app-debug-unaligned.apk) in the next screen and click Continue

Configure the device selection, a wide range of devices and all API levels are present there. You can save the template for future use.

Click on start test to start testing. It will start the tests and show the real time progress as well.

  • Using Firebase Test Lab from Android Studio

It required Android Studio 2.0+. You needs to edit the configuration of Android Instrumentation test.

Select the Firebase Test Lab Device Matrix under the Target. You can configure Matrix, matrix is actually on what virtual and physical devices do you want to run your test. See the below screenshot for details.

Note: You need to enable the firebase in your project

So using test lab on firebase we can easily test the test cases on multiple devices and make our app more scalable.

Resources:

Receiving Data From the Network Asynchronously

We often need to receive information from networks in Android apps. Although it is a simple process but the problem arises when it is done through the main user interaction thread. To understand this problem better consider using an app which shows some text downloaded from the online database. As the user clicks a button to display a text it may take some time to get the HTTP response. So what does an activity do in that time? It creates a lag in the user interface and makes the app to stop responding. Recently I implemented this in Connfa App to download data in Open Event Format.

To solve that problem we use concurrent thread to download the data and send the result back to be processed separating it from main user interaction thread. AsyncTask allows you to perform background operations and publish results on the UI thread without having to manipulate threads and/or handlers.

AsyncTask is designed to be a helper class around Thread and Handler and does not constitute a generic threading framework. AsyncTasks should ideally be used for short operations (a few seconds at the most). If you need to keep threads running for long periods of time, it is highly recommended you use the various APIs provided by the java.util.concurrent package such as Executor, ThreadPoolExecutor and FutureTask.

An asynchronous task is defined by a computation that runs on a background thread and whose result is published on the UI thread. An asynchronous task is defined by 3 generic types, called Params, Progress and Result, and 4 steps, called onPreExecute, doInBackground, onProgressUpdate and onPostExecute.

In this blog, I describe how to download data in an android app with AsyncTask using OkHttp library.

First, you need to add dependency for OkHttp Library,

compile 'com.squareup.okhttp:okhttp:2.4.0' 


Extend AsyncTask class and implement all the functions in the class by overriding them to modify them accordingly. Here I declare a class named AsyncDownloader extending AsyncTask. We took the string parameter, integer type progress and string type result to return instead which will be our JSON data and param is our URL. Instead of using get the function of AsyncTask we implement an interface to receive data so the main user interaction thread does not have to wait for the return of the result.

public class AsyncDownloader extends AsyncTask<String, Integer, String> {
    private String jsonData = null;

    public interface JsonDataSetter {
        void setJsonData(String str);
    }


    JsonDataSetter jsonDataSetterListener;

    public AsyncDownloader(JsonDataSetter context) {

        this.jsonDataSetterListener = context;
    }

    @Override
    protected void onPreExecute() {
        super.onPreExecute();
    }

    @Override
    protected String doInBackground(String... params) {

        String url = params[0];

        OkHttpClient client = new OkHttpClient();
        Request request = new Request.Builder()
                .url(url)
                .build();
        Call call = client.newCall(request);

        Response response = null;

        try {
            response = call.execute();

            if (response.isSuccessful()) {
                jsonData = response.body().string();

            } else {
                jsonData = null;
            }

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


        return jsonData;
    }

    @Override
    protected void onPostExecute(String jsonData) {
        super.onPostExecute(jsonData);
        jsonDataSetterListener.setJsonData(jsonData);
    }
}


We download the data in doInBackground making a request using OkHttp library and send the result back in onPostExecute method using our interface method. See above to check out the complete class implementation.

You can make an instance to AsyncDownloader in an activity. Implement interface to receive that data.

Tip: Always close AsyncTask after using to avoid many concurrent tasks at one time.

Find the complete code here.

References:

Using The Dark and Light Theme in SUSI iOS

SUSI being an AI for interactive chat bots, provides answers to the users in the intelligent way. So, to make the SUSI iOS app more user friendly, the option of switching between themes was introduced. This also enables the user switch between themes based on the environment around. Any user can switch between the light and dark themes easily from the settings.

We start by declaring an enum called `theme` which contains two strings namely, dark and light.

enum theme: String {
    case light
    case dark
}

We can update the color scheme based on the theme selected very easily by checking the currently active theme and based on that check, we update the color scheme. To check the currently active theme, we define a variable in the `AppDelegate` which holds the value.

var activeTheme: String?

Below is the way the color scheme of the LoginViewController is set.

var activeTheme: String?func setupTheme() {
  let image = UIImage(named: ControllerConstants.susi)?.withRenderingMode(.alwaysTemplate)
  susiLogo.image = image
  susiLogo.tintColor = .white
  UIApplication.shared.statusBarStyle = .lightContent
  let activeTheme = AppDelegate().activeTheme
  if activeTheme == theme.light.rawValue {
    view.backgroundColor = UIColor.lightThemeBackground()
  } else if activeTheme == theme.dark.rawValue {
    view.backgroundColor = UIColor.darkThemeBackground()
  }
}

Here, we first get the image and set the rendering mode to `alwaysTemplate` so that we can change the tint color of the image. Next, we assign the image to the `IBOutlet` and change the tint color to `white`. We also change the status bar style to `lightContent`. Next, we check the active theme and change the view’s background color accordingly. For this method to execute, we call it inside, `viewDidLoad` so that the theme loads up as the view loads.

Next, lets add this option of switching between themes inside the `SettingsViewController`. We add a cell with `titleLabel` as `Change Theme` and use the collectionView’s delegate method of `didSelect` to show an alert. This alert contains three options, Dark theme, Light Theme and Cancel. Let’s code that method which presents the alert.

func themeToggleAlert() {
  let imageDialog = UIAlertController(title: ControllerConstants.toggleTheme, message: nil, preferredStyle: UIAlertControllerStyle.alert)
  imageDialog.addAction(UIAlertAction(title: theme.dark.rawValue.capitalized, style: .default, handler: { (_: UIAlertAction!) in
    imageDialog.dismiss(animated: true, completion: nil)
    AppDelegate().activeTheme = theme.dark.rawValue
    self.settingChanged(sender: self.imagePicker)
    self.setupTheme()
  }))
  imageDialog.addAction(UIAlertAction(title: theme.light.rawValue.capitalized, style: .default, handler: { (_: UIAlertAction!) in
    imageDialog.dismiss(animated: true, completion: nil)
    AppDelegate().activeTheme = theme.light.rawValue
    self.settingChanged(sender: self.imagePicker)
    self.setupTheme()
  }))
  imageDialog.addAction(UIAlertAction(title: ControllerConstants.dialogCancelAction, style: .cancel, handler: { (_: UIAlertAction!) in
    imageDialog.dismiss(animated: true, completion: nil)
  }))
  self.present(imageDialog, animated: true, completion: nil)
}

Here, we assign the alert view’s title and add 3 actions and their respective completion handlers. If we see inside these completion handlers, we can notice that we first dismiss the alert followed by updating the activeTheme variable in AppDelegate and call the `settingChanged` function which updates the user’s settings on the server. Finally, we update the color scheme.

Now, if we build and run the app and change the theme from the settings, we will notice that on returning to the chat view, the color scheme is not updated. The reason here is that we are setting up the theme on viewDidLoad which loads only once and is not executed until the controller is presented again. Here, we make use of the `viewDidAppear` method which executes every time the view appears.

override func viewDidAppear(_ animated: Bool) {
  super.viewDidAppear(animated)
  setupTheme()
}

To persist the selected theme, we used the UserDefaults to save the theme which got assigned everytime to the `activeTheme` variable when the app loads up.

UserDefaults.standard.set(AppDelegate().activeTheme, forKey: ControllerConstants.UserDefaultsKeys.theme)

On app launch, we assigned this User Default the value of the light theme as a default.

Below is the final output:

References:

Upgrading the Style and Aesthetic of an Android App using Material Design

I often encounter apps as I add Open Event format support that don’t follow current design guidelines. Earlier styling an app was a tough task as the color and behaviour of the views needed to be defined separately. But now as we move forward to advanced styling methods we can easily style our app.

I recently worked on upgrading the user interface of Giraffe app after adding our Open Event support. See the repository to view the code for more reference. Here I follow the same procedure to upgrade the user interface.

First we add essential libraries to move with our material aesthetic. The Appcompat library provides backward compatibility.

//Essential Google libraries
compile 'com.android.support:appcompat-v7:25.3.1'
compile 'com.android.support:design:25.3.1

Then we define an XML file in the values folder for the style of the app which we get through Appcompat library. We could inherit same style in the entire app or separate style for the particular activity.

<resources>

   <!-- Base application theme. -->
   <style name="AppTheme" parent="Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar">
       <!-- Customize your theme here. -->
       <item name="colorPrimary">@color/colorPrimary</item>
       <item name="colorPrimaryDark">@color/colorPrimaryDark</item>
       <item name="colorAccent">@color/colorAccent</item>
   </style>


   <style name="AlertDialogCustom" parent="Theme.AppCompat.Light.Dialog.Alert">
       <item name="colorPrimary">@color/colorPrimary</item>
       <item name="colorAccent">@color/colorAccent</item>
   </style>

</resources>

So now we can see the views made following the same color scheme and behaviour throughout the app following current design guidelines without any particular manipulation to each of them.

Tip: Don’t define values of colors separately for different views. Define them in colors.xml to use them everywhere. It becomes easier then to change in future if needed.

The app now uses Action Bar for the frequently used operations unlike the custom layout that was made earlier.

This is how Action Bar is implemented,

First declare the action bar in XML layout,

Tip: Define color of the bar two shades lighter than the status bar.

 <android.support.design.widget.AppBarLayout
             android:layout_width="match_parent"
             android:layout_height="wrap_content"
             android:background="@android:color/transparent"
             android:theme="@style/ThemeOverlay.AppCompat.Dark.ActionBar">
             <android.support.v7.widget.Toolbar

                 xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"         
                 android:id="@+id/toolbar_options"
                 android:layout_width="match_parent"
                 android:layout_height="?attr/actionBarSize"
                 android:background="@color/colorPrimary"
                 app:popupTheme="@style/ThemeOverlay.AppCompat.Dark">
                 
                 <TextView
                     android:layout_width="wrap_content"
                     android:layout_height="wrap_content"
                     android:text="@string/options"
                     android:textColor="@color/colorAccent"
                     android:textSize="20sp" />
              </android.support.v7.widget.Toolbar>

</android.support.design.widget.AppBarLayout>

Then you can use the action bar in the activity, use onCreateOptionsMenu() method to inflate options in the toolbar.

@Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        ...

        setTitle("");
        title = (TextView) findViewById(R.id.titlebar);
        Toolbar toolbar = (Toolbar) findViewById(R.id.toolbar_main);
        setSupportActionBar(toolbar);

        ...
    }

The menu that needs to be inflated will be like this for two button at the right end of the action bar for bookmarks and filter respectively,

<menu xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
      xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto">
     <item
        android:id = "@+id/action_bookmark"
        android:icon = "@drawable/ic_bookmark"
        android:menuCategory = "secondary"
        android:title = "Bookmark"
        app:showAsAction = "ifRoom" />
 
     <item
         android:id = "@+id/action_filter"
         android:icon = "@drawable/ic_filter"
         android:menuCategory = "secondary"
         android:title = "Filter"
         app:showAsAction = "ifRoom" />
</menu>

To adapt the declared style further, Alert Dialogs are also modified to match the app’s theme, it’s style is defined along with the app’s style. See below

AlertDialog.Builder noFeedBuilder = new AlertDialog.Builder(context,R.style.AlertDialogCustom);
            noFeedBuilder.setMessage(R.string.main_no_feed_text)
                    .setTitle(R.string.main_no_feed_title)
                    .setPositiveButton(R.string.common_yes, new DialogInterface.OnClickListener() {
                  ...
            noFeedBuilder.show();

Here is an example of improvement, before and after we update the user interface and aesthetic of app in easy steps defined,

   

See this for all the changes made to step up the user interface of the app.

References:

 

Create an App Widget for Bookmarked Sessions for the Open Event Android App

What is an app widget?

App Widgets are miniature application views that can be embedded in other applications (such as the Home screen) and receive periodic updates. These views are referred to as Widgets in the user interface, and you can publish one with an App Widget provider. – (Android Documentation).

Android widget is an important functionality that any app can take advantage of. It could be used to show important dates, things that the user personalizes on the app etc. In the context of the Open Event Android App, it was necessary to create a bookmark widget for the Android phones so that the user could see his bookmarks on the homescreen itself and need not open the app for the same. In the open event android app, the widget was already created but it needed bug fixes and UI enhancements due to migration to the Realm database migration. Therefore, my majority of work circled around that.

Implementation

Declare the app widget in the manifest. All the updates in the application would be received by the class which extends the AppWidgetProvider if it needs to be reflected in the widget.

<receiver
   android:name=".widget.BookmarkWidgetProvider"
   android:enabled="true"
   android:label="Bookmarks">
   <intent-filter>
       <action android:name="android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE" />
       <action android:name="${applicationId}.ACTION_DATA_UPDATED" />
       <action android:name="${applicationId}.UPDATE_MY_WIDGET" />
   </intent-filter>
   <meta-data
       android:name="android.appwidget.provider"
       android:resource="@xml/widget_info" />
</receiver>

 

Create a layout for the widget that is to be displayed on the homescreen. Remember to use only the views defined in the documentation. After the creation of the layout, create a custom widget updater which will broadcast the data from the app to the receiver to update the widget.

public class WidgetUpdater {
   public  static  void updateWidget(Context context){
       int widgetIds[] = AppWidgetManager.getInstance(context.getApplicationContext()).getAppWidgetIds(new ComponentName(context.getApplicationContext(), BookmarkWidgetProvider.class));
       BookmarkWidgetProvider bookmarkWidgetProvider = new BookmarkWidgetProvider();
       bookmarkWidgetProvider.onUpdate(context.getApplicationContext(), AppWidgetManager.getInstance(context.getApplicationContext()),widgetIds);
       context.sendBroadcast(new Intent(BookmarkWidgetProvider.ACTION_UPDATE));
   }
}

 

Next, create a custom RemoteViewService to update the views in the widget. The reason this is required is because the app widget does not operate in the usual lifecycle of the app. And therefore a remote service is required which acts as the remote adapter to connect to the remote views. In your class, override the onGetViewFactory() method and create a new remoteViewsFactory object to get the the data from the app on updation of the bookmark list. To populate the remote views, override the getViewsAt() method.

public class BookmarkWidgetRemoteViewsService extends RemoteViewsService {

@Override
public RemoteViewsFactory onGetViewFactory(Intent intent) {

return new RemoteViewsFactory() {
   private MatrixCursor data = null;

   @Override
   public void onCreate() {
       //Called when your factory is first constructed.
   }

   @Override
   public void onDataSetChanged() {
       }

   @Override
   public RemoteViews getViewAt(int position) {
       } 
   }
}

 

Finally, create a custom AppWidgetProvider which parses the relevant fields out of the intent and updates the UI. It acts like a broadcast receiver, hence all the updates by the widgetUpdater is received here.

public class BookmarkWidgetProvider extends AppWidgetProvider {

   public void onUpdate(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager, int[] appWidgetIds) {
	  RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.bookmark_widget);
             setRemoteAdapter(context, views);

   }

   @Override
   public void onReceive(@NonNull Context context, @NonNull Intent intent) {
       super.onReceive(context, intent);
   }

   private void setRemoteAdapter(Context context, @NonNull final RemoteViews views) {
       views.setRemoteAdapter(R.id.widget_list,
               new Intent(context, BookmarkWidgetRemoteViewsService.class));
   }

}

 

Conclusion

For any event based apps, it is crucial that it regularly provide updates to its users and therefore app widget forms an integral part of that whole experience.

References

 

 

Adding Event Overview Route in Open Event Frontend

In Open Event Frontend we have an event overview route which is like a mini dashboard for an event where information regarding event sponsors, general info, roles, tickets, event setup etc. is present. All of the information is present in their corresponding components and this dashboard is made up of those components. To create this dashboard we will first create its components.

To create a component we will use following ember command-

ember -g component <component-name>

This command will give us three files: a template, a component and a test file corresponding to that component. We will use this command to generate all our components.

Now let’s discuss each component separately and see how many of them are combined to form this route-

The event-setup-checklist component contains semantic ui’s steps to maintain checklist of basic-details, sponsors, session & microlocation, call for speakers, session and speakers form customization so that it becomes easy to identify which step is complete and which is not.

Next is general-info component which shows basic information about an event like start-time, end-time, location, number of speakers, number of sponsors etc. It also shows whether the event is live or not.

In manage-roles component, manage the role for a given person, add people and assign different roles to them, edit roles for different people. Also we can see who are invited for a given role and who accepted them.

In event-sponsors component we manage the sponsors for the event, edit an existing sponsor, add a new sponsor with their logo, name, type and level. Also we can delete an existing sponsor.

Next is the ticket component which displays the details of number of orders, number of tickets sold, and total sales. Also it displays the number of types of tickets are sold.

Next is our app-component which has two choices. First is to generate android app for the event and second is to generate webapp of the event.

And finally in our view.index template, we add these components using ui stackable grid layout. Whenever we want to conditionally show or hide a component, we can do that in our event.index template and hence it becomes very easy to manage huge amounts content on a single page.

Resources

Search Functionalities in SUSI Android App Using Android SearchView Widget

Searching is a common feature that is required in most applications. But the problem in implementing searching functionality is that there is no common way to do that. People fight over whose way is best to implement search functionality. In this blog post we’ll be looking at how search functionality works in SUSI Android App and how is it implemented. We have used Android’s SearchView widget to do that. There are many other ways to do so but this one is best suited for our requirements. Let’s see how it works.

UI Components used for Searching

1. Search icon (magnifying glass icon)

In the action bar, you can see a small icon. Clicking on the icon initiates search.

2. Edit text

An Obvious requirement is an edit test to enter search query.

3. Up and Down arrow keys

Required to search through the whole app. Simply use the up and down arrow keys to navigate through the app and find out each occurrence of the word you want to search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Cross Button

Last but not the least, a close or cross button to close the search action.

Implementation

We have used Android’s inbuilt Widget SearchView. According to official android documentation

A widget that provides a user interface for the user to enter a search query and submit a request to a search provider. Shows a list of query suggestions or results, if available, and allows the user to pick a suggestion or result to launch into.

This widget makes searching a lot easier. It provides all methods and listeners which are actually required for searching. Let’s cover them one by one.

  1. Starting the search: searchView.setOnSearchClickListener Listener simply activates when a user clicks on search icon in the toolbar. Do all your work which needs to be done at the starting of the search like, hiding some other UI elements of doing an animation inside the listener
searchView.setOnSearchClickListener({
   chatPresenter.startSearch()
})
  1. Stop the Search: searchView.setOnCloseListener Listener gets activated when a user clicks on the cross icon to close the search. Add all the code snippet you want which is needed to be executed when the search is closed inside this like maybe notify the adapter about data set changes or closing the database etc.
searchView.setOnCloseListener({
   chatPresenter.stopSearch()
   false
})
  1.  Searching a query:  searchView.setOnQueryTextListener Listener overrides 2 methods:

3.1 onQueryTextSubmit: As the name suggests, this method is called when the query to be searched is submitted.

3.2 onQueryTextChange: This method is called when query you are writing changes.

We, basically wanted same thing to happen if user has submitted the query or if he is still typing and that is to take the query at that particular moment, find it in database and highlight it. So, chatPresenter.onSearchQuerySearched(query) this method is called in both onQueryTextSubmit and onQueryTextSubmit  to do that.

 searchView.setOnQueryTextListener(object : SearchView.OnQueryTextListener {
 
      override fun onQueryTextSubmit(query: String): Boolean {
           //Handle Search Query
           chatPresenter.onSearchQuerySearched(query)
           recyclerAdapter.query = query
           return false
       }

       override fun onQueryTextChange(newText: String): Boolean {
           if (TextUtils.isEmpty(newText)) {
               modifyMenu(false)
               recyclerAdapter.highlightMessagePosition = -1
               recyclerAdapter.notifyDataSetChanged()
               if (!editText.isFocused) {
                   editText.requestFocus()
               }
           } else {
               chatPresenter.onSearchQuerySearched(newText)
               recyclerAdapter.query = newText
           }
           return false
       }
   })
   return true
}
  1. Finding query in database: Now we have a query to be searched, we can just use a database operation to do that. The below code snippet finds all the messages which has the query present in it and work on it. If the query is not found, it simply displays a toast saying “Not found”
override fun onSearchQuerySearched(query: String) {
   chatView?.displaySearchElements(true)
   results = databaseRepository.getSearchResults(query)
   offset = 1
   if (results.size > 0) {
       chatView?.modifyMenu(true)
       chatView?.searchMovement(results[results.size - offset].id.toInt())
   } else {
       chatView?.showToast(utilModel.getString(R.string.not_found))
   }
}

This is the database operation.

override fun getSearchResults(query: String): RealmResults<ChatMessage> {
   return realm.where(ChatMessage::class.java).contains(Constant.CONTENT,
           query, Case.INSENSITIVE).findAll()
}

  1. Highlighting the part of message: Now, we know which message has the query, we just want to highlight it with a bright color to display the result. For that, we used SpannableString to highlight a part of complete string.
String text = chatTextView.getText().toString();
SpannableString modify = new SpannableString(text);
Pattern pattern = Pattern.compile(query, Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE);
Matcher matcher = pattern.matcher(modify);
while (matcher.find()) {
   int startIndex = matcher.start();
   int endIndex = matcher.end();
   modify.setSpan(new BackgroundColorSpan(Color.parseColor("#ffff00")), startIndex, endIndex, Spannable.SPAN_EXCLUSIVE_EXCLUSIVE);
}
chatTextView.setText(modify);

Summary

The whole point of this blog post was to educate about SearchView widget of android and how it makes it easy to search queries. All the methods you need are already implemented. You just need to call them and add database operation.

Resources

  1. The link to official android documentation explaining about different methods in SearchView Class https://developer.android.com/reference/android/widget/SearchView.html
  2. Another tutorial about SearchView http://www.journaldev.com/12478/android-searchview-example-tutorial