Bottoms sheets in android

Hey Guys I recently used Bottom sheets, so that I should write a blog about it because I don’t see a lot of developers using this in their app UI’s.

It’s a very interesting UI element. A Bottom Sheet is a sheet of material that slides up from the bottom edge of the screen. Displayed only as a result of a user-initiated action, and can be swiped up to reveal additional content. It can be a temporary modal surface or a persistent structural element of an app.

This component was introduced in the Android Design Support library 23.2. Many apps like Google Maps use the bottom sheet, in which a sliding window pops up from the bottom of the screen. Also the Google play music app uses. When we drag up the sheet we see the song details as well as the current playlist.

Usage of expanded and collapsed Bottom sheets in Android

There are 3 states of Bottom sheets :-

  • Expanded — When the sheet is completely visible.
  • Collapsed — When the sheet is partially visible.
  • Hidden — When the sheet is completely hidden.

Step 1 is we need to import the latest design support library. Put this line in your app level build.gradle file.

compile ‘com.android.support:design:23.2.0’

Then one should create a new Blank Activity (not Empty Activity) in Android Studio. It sets up the CoordinatorLayout by default.

So now there ate two layouts created by default namely activity_main.xml and content_main.xml.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<RelativeLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
android:layout_width="match_parent"
android:layout_height="match_parent"
app:layout_behavior="@string/appbar_scrolling_view_behavior"
tools:context="yet.best.bottomsheets.MainActivity"
tools:showIn="@layout/activity_main">

<Button
android:id="@+id/open"
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:layout_centerHorizontal="true"
android:layout_margin="5dp"
android:text="Open Bottom Sheet" />

<Button
android:id="@+id/collapse"
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:layout_below="@+id/open"
android:layout_centerHorizontal="true"
android:layout_margin="5dp"
android:text="Collapse Bottom Sheet" />

<Button
android:id="@+id/hide"
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:layout_below="@+id/collapse"
android:layout_centerHorizontal="true"
android:layout_margin="5dp"
android:text="Hide Bottom Sheet" />

</RelativeLayout>

Notice that 3 Buttons have been created in this layout to perform different actions with the bottom sheets.

activity_main.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<android.support.design.widget.CoordinatorLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
android:layout_width="match_parent"
android:layout_height="match_parent"
android:fitsSystemWindows="true"
tools:context="yet.best.bottomsheets.MainActivity">

<android.support.design.widget.AppBarLayout
android:layout_width="match_parent"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:theme="@style/AppTheme.AppBarOverlay">

<android.support.v7.widget.Toolbar
android:id="@+id/toolbar"
android:layout_width="match_parent"
android:layout_height="?attr/actionBarSize"
android:background="?attr/colorPrimary"
app:popupTheme="@style/AppTheme.PopupOverlay" />

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

<include layout="@layout/content_main" />

<include
android:id="@+id/bottom_sheet"
layout="@layout/bottomsheet_main" />

<android.support.design.widget.FloatingActionButton
android:id="@+id/fab"
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:layout_margin="@dimen/fab_margin"
android:src="@android:drawable/ic_dialog_email"
app:layout_anchor="@id/bottom_sheet"
app:layout_anchorGravity="top|right|end" />

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

Those who aren’t familiar with the coordinator layout — basically there is a base level layout activity_main which contains the FloatingButton and within this layout including content_main.xml which will contain the rest of the layout. Notice that one also has to include bottomsheet_main.xml. This layout contains our bottom sheet layout which will be created next.

Create a new layout file called bottomsheet_main.xml

bottomsheet_main.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<RelativeLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
android:layout_width="match_parent"
android:layout_height="300dp"
android:background="#d3d3d3"
app:behavior_hideable="true"
app:behavior_peekHeight="70dp"
app:layout_behavior="@string/bottom_sheet_behavior">

<TextView
android:id="@+id/heading"
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:layout_margin="7dp"
android:text="Collapsed"
android:textSize="18sp" />

<TextView
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:layout_centerInParent="true"
android:text="Main Content"
android:textSize="20sp" />

</RelativeLayout>

This layout is how our bottom sheet will actually look. You can design it as you want.

Now for the actual java code. This is the easiest part actually. Just set listeners to the 3 buttons created and perform the corresponding action with the bottom sheet.

public class MainActivity extends AppCompatActivity {

BottomSheetBehavior bottomSheetBehavior;
Button open, collapse, hide;
TextView heading;
@Override
 protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
  super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
  setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);
  Toolbar toolbar = (Toolbar) findViewById(R.id.toolbar);
  setSupportActionBar(toolbar);

View bottomSheet = findViewById(R.id.bottom_sheet);
  bottomSheetBehavior = BottomSheetBehavior.from(bottomSheet);

setup();
 }

private void setup() {
  open = (Button) findViewById(R.id.open);
  collapse = (Button) findViewById(R.id.collapse);
  hide = (Button) findViewById(R.id.hide);
  heading = (TextView) findViewById(R.id.heading);

//Handling movement of bottom sheets from buttons
  open.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
   @Override
   public void onClick(View view) {
    bottomSheetBehavior.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED);
    heading.setText("Welcome");
    heading.setTextColor(ContextCompat.getColor(MainActivity.this, R.color.colorPrimary));
   }
  });

collapse.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
   @Override
   public void onClick(View view) {
    bottomSheetBehavior.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_COLLAPSED);
    heading.setText("Collapsed");
    heading.setTextColor(ContextCompat.getColor(MainActivity.this, R.color.colorAccent));
   }
  });

hide.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
   @Override
   public void onClick(View view) {
    bottomSheetBehavior.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_HIDDEN);
   }
  });

//Handling movement of bottom sheets from sliding
  bottomSheetBehavior.setBottomSheetCallback(new BottomSheetBehavior.BottomSheetCallback() {
   @Override
   public void onStateChanged(View bottomSheet, int newState) {
    if (newState == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_COLLAPSED) {
     heading.setText("Collapsed");
     heading.setTextColor(ContextCompat.getColor(MainActivity.this, R.color.colorAccent));
    } else if (newState == BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED) {
     heading.setText("Welcome");
     heading.setTextColor(ContextCompat.getColor(MainActivity.this, R.color.colorPrimary));
    }
   }

@Override
   public void onSlide(View bottomSheet, float slideOffset) {}
  });
 }
}

We just use the bottomSheetBehavior.setState() method to set the relevant state on each button click.

The bottom sheets can also be dragged by touch gestures. One can simply touch the sheet and drag them up or down. For these touch gestures to be handled one has to implement the onStateChanged() listener. This listener is fired everytime the state of the sheet changes by gestures. Whenever this triggers it checks the state of the bottom sheet and again do the desired action which user would have done by the button clicks.

As you can see, this is a pretty neat UI solution and can be implemented so easily. Go try it out for yourself. Adios!

Handling data in android

So this week I was working with getting some data from the sqlite database in android and someone who was a beginner in android also asked me to help him with the same. I asked him what he knew and he said that even after reading up a lot he wasn’t able to figure out what exactly to do with the data he wants to save and use in his app. I have seen that this is a problem with a lot of people starting to develop android apps. So, I decided to write a blog on how can you handle your data in your android apps.

Most of the android apps need to save data even if only to save some user preferences. So primarily there are 3 ways to save your data :

  1. In form of key values (SharedPreferences)
  2. Reading/Writing to files
  3. Writing to a database

So let’s go step by step. When we need to store just some preferences of the users like if they want notifications or what kind of theme they want : light or dark etc. So basically if we want to store a key value in the persitant storage of the app we can do that using SharedPreferences. To use sharedpreferences, we initialise the sharedpreference object like

SharedPreferences sharedPreferences = PreferenceManager.getDefaultSharedPreferences(this);

in oncreate and cache it. Then we just need to add or retrieve what we want using this cached SharedPreferences object. To Add a key value pair :

sharedPreferences.edit().putString("someKey", "someValue").apply();

Also you can put all kinds of stuff here. For example right now we added a string with key “someKey” and Value “someValue”. We can also add Booleans, Floats, Ints, Longs, StringSets etc.

To retrieve the same value we do something like this

sharedPreferences.getString("someKey", "DefaultValue");

Now if you want some logs or some values that can be exported and sent to your server, you should write them to files and maybe read some json inputs etc. as well.

Basically android has a File system similar to other platforms. All android devices have two file storage areas : “Internal” and “external” storage. The difference between them is as follows :

Internal :

  • Always available
  • Files saved here are accesible by only your app
  • When user uninstalls the app, system removes all your app’s files from internal storage

Best to use this when you want to be sure that neither the user nor the other app’s can access your files

External :

  • It’s not always available because user can mount external storage as USB storage and remove it as well
  • It’s readable by anything(Other apps, users etc.)
  • When you uninstall, system removes your app’s files from here only if you save them in the directory from getExternalFilesDir()

Now to read and write files, you need extra permissions

  • android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
  • android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE

So now let’s get down to it. How do I save and read files in my app?

You first initialise the File object

File file = new File(context.getFilesDir(), filename);

This will create a file with filename in the internal storage. For external storage

first check if the storage is available, then just create a file using getExternalStoragePublicDirectory

File file = new File(Environment.getExternalStoragePublicDirectory(
            Environment.DIRECTORY_PICTURES), albumName);
    if (!file.mkdirs()) {
        Log.e(LOG_TAG, "Directory not created");
    }
    return file;

This is for writing public files.

Now we move onto the most used part in an android app which is a database.Android has a built in SQLite database package which helps us in writing databases in files with syntax similar to SQL.

You need to add 2 classes which are mandatory and another class which basically helps you get organised. So the first is a Contract. This is where you actually write statements that will be executed later on to initialise or create the tables we want. For this make an a static abstract inner class that implements BaseColums like

public static abstract class Microlocation implements BaseColumns {
    public static final String TABLE_NAME = "microlocation";

    public static final String ID = "id";

    public static final String NAME = "name";

    public static final String LATITUDE = "latitude";

    public static final String LONGITUDE = "longitude";

    public static final String FLOOR = "floor";

    public static final String[] FULL_PROJECTION = {
            ID,
            NAME,
            LATITUDE,
            LONGITUDE,
            FLOOR

    };

    public static final String CREATE_TABLE =
            "CREATE TABLE " + TABLE_NAME
                    + " ("
                    + ID + INT_TYPE + PRIMARY_KEY + COMMA_SEP
                    + NAME + TEXT_TYPE + COMMA_SEP
                    + LATITUDE + REAL_TYPE + COMMA_SEP
                    + LONGITUDE + REAL_TYPE + COMMA_SEP
                    + FLOOR + INT_TYPE
                    + " );";

    public static final String DELETE_TABLE = "DROP TABLE IF EXISTS " + TABLE_NAME;


}

Here we are making static final Strings for column names and then creating a static final String CREATE_TABLE which is basically a statement that creates the table Microlocation with the specified key, columns, data types etc.

After adding this structure for all the tables we want to have in our database, we move on to adding a DbHelper class that extends SQLiteOpenHelper which basically has two Abstract methods called onCreate(SQLiteDatabase db) and onUpgrade(SQLiteDatabase db) which are called when the database is created and database version is changed respectively. We call all our CREATE_TABLE static Strings in onCreate which in turn creates all the tables. Something like this :

@Override
public void onCreate(SQLiteDatabase db) {
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Speakers.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Sponsors.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Sessions.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Tracks.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Sessionsspeakers.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Event.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Microlocation.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Versions.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.Bookmarks.CREATE_TABLE);
    db.execSQL(DbContract.EventDates.CREATE_TABLE);
}

You can also call DELETE_TABLE Strings in onUpgrade and the call onCreate again if you like but it’s not compulsory.

Now that you’re database is initialised, let’s add some records into it. For example I have to add a new Micrlocation I’d create a method in my data model where I’ll add a basic structure for the query and then format it with the values for a particular object of the model. Something, like this

public String generateSql() {
    String insertQuery = "INSERT INTO %s VALUES ('%d', %s, '%f', '%f', '%d');";
    return String.format(Locale.ENGLISH,
            insertQuery,
            DbContract.Microlocation.TABLE_NAME,
            id,
            DatabaseUtils.sqlEscapeString(StringUtils.optionalString(name)),
            latitude,
            longitude,
            floor);
}

and then I’d execute the string returned by the call

String query = model.generateSql();

by this

public void insertQuery(String query, DbHelper mDbHelper) {
    SQLiteDatabase db = mDbHelper.getWritableDatabase();
    db.beginTransaction();
    db.execSQL(query);
  
    db.setTransactionSuccessful();
    db.endTransaction();
}

Where db is just a SQLiteDatabase instance.

Now that we have records we want to retrieve them according to usage and for that we create helper methods. This is an example of the retrieving all the microlocations added to the database in ASCENDING order of NAME

public ArrayList<org.fossasia.openevent.data.Microlocation> getMicrolocationsList(SQLiteDatabase mDb) {
    String sortOrder = DbContract.Microlocation.NAME + ASCENDING;
    Cursor cursor = mDb.query(
            DbContract.Microlocation.TABLE_NAME,
            DbContract.Microlocation.FULL_PROJECTION,
            null,
            null,
            null,
            null,
            sortOrder
    );

    ArrayList<org.fossasia.openevent.data.Microlocation> microlocations = new ArrayList<>();
    org.fossasia.openevent.data.Microlocation microlocation;

    cursor.moveToFirst();
    while (!cursor.isAfterLast()) {
        microlocation = new org.fossasia.openevent.data.Microlocation(
                cursor.getInt(cursor.getColumnIndex(DbContract.Microlocation.ID)),
                cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(DbContract.Microlocation.NAME)),
                cursor.getFloat(cursor.getColumnIndex(DbContract.Microlocation.LATITUDE)),
                cursor.getFloat(cursor.getColumnIndex(DbContract.Microlocation.LONGITUDE)),
                cursor.getInt(cursor.getColumnIndex(DbContract.Microlocation.FLOOR))
        );
        microlocations.add(microlocation);
        cursor.moveToNext();
    }
    cursor.close();
    return microlocations;
}

First we create a cursor and then just iterate of the cursor to get microlocation objects and add them to an Arralist and return the Arraylist to the calling method.

So This are most of the things that are there to handling data in Android. Should be sufficient to get you started.

Sorry for the long post but the content couldn’t be made any smaller but I hope you gain something from this post. You can checkout implementations I have followed for the Open event project in the github repo https://github.com/fossasia/open-event-android. You can also write to me anytime on FB, Twitter, Email etc. and I’ll be happy to answer any queries. Adios!

References : 1) developers.android.com

2) https://github.com/fossasia/open-event-android

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!

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": "dev@fossasia.org",
      "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!

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.

Using TabLayouts in your Android app

So while making a sessions schedule for the open event app, I wanted to separate the sessions on the basis of the days they are scheduled for to improve the visual clarity. So to do this I had various approaches like add a filter to separate by date or add checkboxes to show only checked dates but I though they’d look ugly. Instead the best option was to add tabs in a fragment with a viewpager to scroll within them : It looks appealing, has simple and clean UI, easier to implement with the new design library. So, naturally I opted for using the Tablayout from the design Library.

Earlier, when the Support design library was not introduce, it was really a tedious job to add it to our app since we had to extend Listeners to check for tab changes and we had to manually open fragments when a tab was selected or unselected or even when it was reselected. Essentially this meant a lot of errors and memory leaks. In the design library we essentially need to add tablayout and a viewpager to our layout like this :

<android.support.design.widget.AppBarLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent">

    <android.support.design.widget.TabLayout
        android:id="@+id/tabLayout"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        app:tabGravity="fill"
        app:tabMode="fixed"
        app:theme="@style/ThemeOverlay.AppCompat.Dark.ActionBar" />

    <android.support.v4.view.ViewPager
        android:id="@+id/viewpager"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:background="@android:color/white" />

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

Next in our activity/ fragment, we can just inflate this view and create an adapter for the viewpager extending a FragmentPagerAdapter:

public class OurAdapter extends FragmentPagerAdapter {
    private final List<Fragment> mFragmentList = new ArrayList<>();
    private final List<String> mFragmentTitleList = new ArrayList<>();

    public ScheduleViewPagerAdapter(FragmentManager manager) {
        super(manager);
    }

    @Override
    public Fragment getItem(int position) {
        return mFragmentList.get(position);
    }

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

    public void addFragment(Fragment fragment, String title, int day) {

        mFragmentList.add(fragment);
        mFragmentTitleList.add(title);
    }

    @Override
    public CharSequence getPageTitle(int position) {
        return mFragmentTitleList.get(position);
    }
}

Now I had to make dynamic number of tabs, since I wanted the app to customisable on the number of days listed in the json downloaded from the server. So, I made some changes in the traditional code. This is what we do in our activity/fragment’s onCreate/OnCreatView :

viewPager = (ViewPager) view.findViewById(R.id.viewpager);

for (int i = 0; i < daysofEvent; i++) {
    adapter.addFragment(new DayScheduleFragment(),title, dayNo);
}

viewPager.setAdapter(adapter);
scheduleTabLayout = (TabLayout) view.findViewById(R.id.tabLayout);
scheduleTabLayout.setupWithViewPager(viewPager);

This is it. Now we have a basic working tablayout in a viewpager. This also has the capability to change according to the number of days specified in the json we have written.

Earlier without the design library, we would have to even add switch cases in the FragmentPagerAdapter like this :

public class OurAdapter extends FragmentPagerAdapter {
 
 public TabsPagerAdapter(FragmentManager fm) {
    super(fm);
 }
 
 @Override
 public Fragment getItem(int index) {
 
 switch (index) {
 case 0:
    return new FirstFragment();
 case 1:
    return new SecondFragment();
 case 2:
    return new ThirdFragment();
 }
 
 return null;
 }

Then we would have to override methods to listen to activities in tabs :

@Override
public void onTabReselected(Tab tab, FragmentTransaction ft) {
}

@Override
public void onTabSelected(Tab tab, FragmentTransaction ft) {
// on tab selected
// show respected fragment view
   viewPager.setCurrentItem(tab.getPosition());
}

@Override
public void onTabUnselected(Tab tab, FragmentTransaction ft) {
}

And more code to listen for swiping within tabs in a viewpager:

/**
* on swiping the viewpager make respective tab selected
**/
viewPager.setOnPageChangeListener(new ViewPager.OnPageChangeListener() {

@Override
public void onPageSelected(int position) {

// on changing the page
// make respected tab selected
actionBar.setSelectedNavigationItem(position);
}

@Override
public void onPageScrolled(int arg0, float arg1, int arg2) {
}

@Override
public void onPageScrollStateChanged(int arg0) {
}
});

You see how easy this got with the inclusion of TabLayout.

Now for the final product I made after inflating the fragments and adding recyclerviews for the schedule, I got this :

Swipable tabs

I urge you to try swipable tabs in your app as well. Adios till next time.

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 !

Open Event Apk generator

So we made this apk generator currently hosted on a server (http://192.241.232.231) which let’s you generate an android app for your event in 10 minutes out of which the server takes about 8 minutes to build 😛 . So, essentially you just have to spare 2 minutes and just enter 3 things(email, Desired app’s name and Api link). Isn’t this cool?

So how exactly do we do this?

At the backend, we are running a python scripts with some shell scripts where the python script is basically creating directories, interacting with our firebase database to get the data entered by a user. So we made these scripts to first of all to clone the open event android repo, then customise and change the code in the repo according to the parameters entered by the organiser earlier(shown in the image).

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 12.13.12 AM
Generator Website

After the code has been changed by the scripts to customise the app according to the event the app will be used for, we move on to the script to build the apk, where we build and sign the apk in release mode using signing configs and release keys from the server because we don’t the organiser to generate keys and store it on the server to avoid the hassle and also the privacy concerns involving the keys. So this is when the apk is generated on the server. Now you have questions like the apk is generated but how do I get it? Do I have to wait on the same page for 10 minutes while the apk is being sent? The answer is no and yes. What I mean by this is that you can wait to download the apk if you want but we’ll anyways send it to your email you specified on the apk generator website. This is the sample Email we got when we were testing the system

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 12.08.59 AM.png

So it’s an end to end complete solution from which you can easily get an android app for your event in just 2 minutes. Would love to hear feedback and reviews. Please feel free to contact me @ manan13056@iiitd.ac.in or on social media’s(Twitter, Facebook). Adios!

P.S. : Here is the link to the scripts we’re using.

Next steps to an Open Event Android Applications

This year also I’ll be working on the FOSSASIA Open Event project for Google Summer of Code 2016. It’s an honour to be working with such an elite team of people. We have 10 people working on Open event this time : 6 on the server and 2 each on the client apps ( Android and Webapp)

So what are our plans for this year, let’s have a look :

The system was basically setup last year but when used it for FOSSASIA 2016, we got to know the bugs it had and it was these bugs that made it unusable. for instance, the server had lack of permissions which allowed anyone to come and change data on the server which is why instead of using the server, we went with a spreadsheet and made a parser to convert the spreadsheet data into json files. So we made this Scraper that we used to create json files and commit them to github repo. We used this json as Github Api and made a website here that displays a neat schedule.

For the android app, since the json was not of the original format we used while building the server, it was buggy because it didn’t show data at a lot of places and we saw the need for many other features like live sessions, notifications for changes in timings, broadcasts from the organisers etc. That is why we have Open Event this time again as a GSoC project and it’s bigger this time with 10 students and almost as much mentors. Justin is heading the mentors team this time along with Mario to guide us into making the system perfect.

On the Android side me and Harshit Dwivedi will be taking care of everything. Since I was at FOSSASIA 2016, I talked to a lot of attendees and got to know their feedback therefore I know what all we need to include and will work really hard to make the system a success.

Adios till the next post!

Using Material Design for the Open Event App

This week I had the chance to go into more depth on the material design principles and I must say that the design itself is awesome. So, I got  started building the user interface of our event app.

After looking at a lot of apps. I decided to make a recycler view list of cardviews. Cool right? Looks awesome too. I did this by put an imageview, relative layout and a linear layout in a linear layout. In the second linear layout I added the textviews for the position, organization. Finally the description textview was added in the relative layout. This is how I designed the card layout. Now for the recycler view of cardviews, I added cardview layout to the recycler view adapter to make the list of cardviews.

I also wrote unit tests for the database this week as suggested by Mohit. At first, they were failing and since I didn’t have any experience writing tests for databases, I wasn’t able to debug them. So, I took help from mohit who ended up identifying the problems which was arising due to the singleton in the database. Apparently, You can’t use singletons in a test because we don’t control the creation of the singleton object, as it is performed inside a static method. There is no way to mock the object in order to test the behavior of our method in isolation. So for now mohit has used dependency injection to make the tests work but I am working on a way to remove the injection.

This is pretty much all from this week. Adios !!