Getting Signed Release apk’s from the command line

 

View story 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 Organizer’s Server: Custom Forms

As we know, open event organizer’s server provides a means of creating events. And an important part of events is sessions and speakers of sessions. But different events have different details required for sessions and speakers of sessions. Some might feel that only Name and Email-ID of speaker is enough, while others may require their Github, Facebook, etc. links. So the best way to solve this is to make a custom form so that the organizers get to select what all fields they want in the forms. But how to do this? Well, thanks to JSON

In the Step-5 of Event Creation Wizards, we have option (or switches) to include and require various fields available for the session form and speaker form for applying in a particular Session Form. Here is how it looks:
custom_form.png

As we can see, each field has 2 options – Include and Require. On clicking the Include switch the Require switch is enabled through jQuery. The Include switch means that the field is included in the form while the Require switch signifies that the field will be a compulsory field in the form.

Storing Options

We create a javascript array containing a single object. This object in turn is made up of objects with field names as keys and another object as value. This object in turn contains the keys include and require. The value of include and require is 0 by default. On selecting, their value is changed to 1. An example structure of the array is like:

[{
    "title": {
        "include": 1,
        "require": 1
    },
    "subtitle": {
        "include": 0,
        "require": 0
    },
    "short_abstract": {
        "include": 1,
        "require": 0
    },
    "long_abstract": {
        "include": 0,
        "require": 0
    },
    "comments": {
        "include": 1,
        "require": 0
    },
    "track": {
        "include": 0,
        "require": 0
    },
    "session_type": {
        "include": 0,
        "require": 0
    },
    "language": {
        "include": 0,
        "require": 0
    },
    "slides": {
        "include": 1,
        "require": 0
    },
    "video": {
        "include": 0,
        "require": 0
    },
    "audio": {
        "include": 0,
        "require": 0
    }
}]

This array is then converted to string format using JSON.stringify, submitted through form and stored in database in the form of a string.

Rendering Forms

Now, we have already stored the options as selected by the organizer. But now we need to render the forms based on the JSON string stored in the database. Firstly, in the server side we convert the string to JSON object in python using json.loads . Then we send these JSON objects to the templates.

In the templates, we create form elements based on the values of the include and require of each form element. A sample element HTML is like this:

Screenshot from 2016-06-17 22:38:40

We use a loop to iterate over the JSON object and thus add the elements which have  “include = 1”  . The final form looks something like this:

session-form

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.

Export Timeline as iCal

iCal or iCalendar is the Internet standard for sharing event schedules or session timelines among each other. The filename extension for iCal is .ics . It is supported by a number of applications such as Google Calendar, Apple Calendar,] Yahoo! Calendar, Lightning extension for Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey, and partially by Microsoft Outlook . In Open Event Organizer’s Server we have added a feature to export the Schedule of a particular Event in iCal format.

Continue reading “Export Timeline as iCal”

Bower Dependency & Configure .bowerrc to use Proxy

2 weeks into GSOC 2016, the project has really started to grow at a rapid pace. There have been a lot of issues related to UI as well as other different bugs. As we use more and more libraries for the user interface of the dashboard, we added bower dependencies to install the libraries.

Why Use Bower?

Some of the benefits of using bower dependencies are:

  • Simplify what might be called declarative dependency management; i.e. you declare your dependencies in bower.json so that other things can determine them easily
  • No need to commit dependencies to version control
  • Semantic versioning is used to help define a range of acceptable versions for a dependency, which makes it easy to update to newer versions within the defined range
  • No need to locate various builds (debug, minified, etc)
  • Simple to use different builds of a dependency for dev vs. prod
  • Bower lets you easily search and install libraries even locking to a specific version. Bower makes it easy to list and update dependencies.
  • You can distribute the bower.json file and everyone can get up to speed with a simple “bower install”

Prerequisites

There are some things you’ll need before you can start working with Bower:

  • The command line.
  • Node and NPM.
  • Git.
  • Global Installation. .

To install Bower globally:

$ npm install -g bower

bower.json

The `bower.json` file looks a lot like Node’s `package.json`. It is a manifest file that allows you to specify the various packages you want to download along with their version number and various features. This is how the `bower.json` looks for the open-event-orga-server project.Screenshot from 2016-06-04 05:25:08.png

.bowerrc

The `.bowerrc` file can be seen as a configure file for bower which dictates various rules to it. Though mostly this file is ignored and is used mainly to specify the directory where the libraries are to be installed instead of the default `bower_components`, however it can be used to do a lot more than that.

Screenshot from 2016-06-04 05:29:50.png

For example, one of the biggest problem you might face while installing using bower is if your organization/institute has a proxy network through all network connections pass. In that case bower install might not be able to install the libraries. However we can configure the .bowerrc to work via proxy.

Configure .bowerrc to use Proxy

To use http proxy, we can add 2 properties to .bowerrc which will make bower search and install libraries using the proxy. The properties are “proxy” and “https-proxy”. This 2 properties dictate that both http:// and https:// links are to be searched via the proxy. So, to make this settings, we can configure the .bowerrc something like this:
Screenshot from 2016-06-04 05:35:13.png

This should then fix your problem of proxy and will install your libraries as desired.

Enhancing Open Event Organizer Server

Today, the coding phase of GSoC 2016 starts and marks the beginning of the implementation of all the prototypes and brainstormed ideas. Open Event Organizer Server as explained previously is the backend server for the organizers to create events, sessions, mark tracks, add social links, date/time, etc. It acts as the dashboard for creating data which then gets displayed through the client side apps , i.e open event webapp and android app. Sounds perfect. But as we know there is always scope for improvement.

So, this year we focus on making the server even better. The purpose is not only to make it more useful and powerful with added features but also to make it intuitive for the organizer so that the app can be used to its fullest benefits. A lot of brainstorming by a lot many students and mentors of this project have resulted in a final protoype to be implemented with some features and a better UI.

Some of the features that we have decided to add are:

  • API authentication to provide proper permissions. This helps in improving the overall security.
  • Oauth authentications. No more registration required. The organizer can straightaway use their google, fb and other login credentials to login and create events.
  • Social Links. The organizer can now add social links for their events such as google plus event link, facebook event link, hashtag values, etc.
  • Schedule UI. Now the organizer can directly add the events in calendar and get notified on that particular day. One can also export it in different formats.
  • Overall UI Improvement. We aim to make the UI much more intuitive and easier to use for the organizer so that all the features can be used to its fullest advantage.

This is briefly the aim for making open event organizer server bigger, better and more useful. With this aim, we start our coding today and try to provide a great product by the end of GSoC 2016. A product so good that every event organizer starts using this. Looking forward to making it a success.

Vote for Open Event in Google Impact Challenge

Please vote for Open Event in the Google Impact Challenge: https://impactchallenge.withgoogle.com/deutschland/charity/lxde

The idea of Open Event is to give organizers and participants a tool to plan events and distribute information to attendees. We are working on an organizers server and mobile apps (https://github.com/fossasia/open-event).

Your vote for Open Event will support the development of the project. Thank you!

FOSSASIA and Openclipart Launch Internet of Things T-shirt Design Contest

Special prizes await international designers, students and artists who join the competition and create T-shirt designs for Asia’s premier Open Technology event taking place from March 18-20 at the Science Centre Singapore.

FOSSASIA and Openclipart are launching a contest for International students, artists and designers to design a T-shirt graphic representing “The Internet of Things for Me.” 1st place winner of the contest will win a FiftyThree Pencil and final design placement on the official FOSSASIA 2016 T-shirt. Second and third place winners’ graphics will be used as design elements at the conference main party on the second day of the event.

FOSSASIA Openclipart

“FOSSASIA 2016’s theme is about the Internet of Things for Me,” said chair of FOSSASIA, Hong Phuc Dang. “What better way to represent this idea visually than to unleash local Singaporean and international designers, artists, professionals and students to make artwork representing their ‘things’ and expression about this topic.”

FOSSASIA 2016 challenges all participants to join the contest at Openclipart, the world’s largest collection of original and free to use clipart. The contest begins February 11, 2016 and runs for two weeks until February 24, 2016 where three judges will select the top three compositions. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will be selected, awarded, and announced publicly.

“Since 2004, Openclipart has been a dynamic creative community of artists and designers producing more than 89,000 clipart by more than 4,900 artists,” stated Openclipart founder, Jon Phillips. “This competition is to bring creativity to the conference, and use the powerness of Open to create image composition of what the Internet of Things is all about. Even better, all the artwork made in the competition will be released into the public domain using Creative Commons Zero 1.0 license so that anyone may use the images for any reason, even commercially.”

Judges for the competition will be Singapore-based artist and designer Gloria Chiang, chair of FOSSASIA Hong Phuc Dang and technologist and co-organizer Mario Behling. After the two-week competition ends on February 24, 2016, results will be announced March 2, 2016.

“Singapore is a hub of software and cultural innovation,” said Singapore-based artist, Gloria Chiang. “FOSSASIA 2016 is a brilliant place to showcase international innovation trends and work with local artists, designers and students to illustrate these concepts.”

“FOSSASIA 2016 T-shirt design competition participants artwork will be showcased not only on T-shirts and publicly on the web, it will also be used to create an atmosphere for the 2nd night of the FOSSASIA 2016 conference,” said organizer Hong Phuc Dang. “All participants of the FOSSASIA 2016 conference are invited to attend this special event and share the works found at our party with the hashtag #FOSSASIA. With lots of surprises, you will not want to miss FOSSASIA 2016.”

Join the competition at: http://openclipart.org/fossasia2016