Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sensorial android app

Sensorial on Google Play

Ow, it's been like forever since i write my last post (too bad for me right).
Since it has been too long, don't think that i was doing nothing (actually play PS4 too some time of my life... :P).

Those last months were a blast! I learn java/android programming and thought: "Why not release some app on the Play Store?". So that what i did! This is my first blog post explain some of the core functions i use in my app, so it can help others.

So, let's start with an idea, you must have an idea to build an app, even if that idea has already been implemented for someone else right? The idea behind Sensorial is very simple: Give you data about sensors that we can find in our daily life.

You must thought, "IoT"[1] right? That's one path... why not. But since we are on the IT space, i learn that baby steps is a great thing, so im starting small. For now the app will give you some sensors information available using the hardware you have on your device and some collected over the internet using your geolocation to get the better value for you in that point of time and space.

So that's what is implemented right now, but the original idea was way more simple, my father just wanted to replace he's old app that give him values of speed, distance and altitude. Very simple right? So i implement some other features that in the end he found very usefull.

But enough of history, lets talk "techie".

In this first post im just listing the libraries used to build Sensorial.
The first one was ButterKnife[2], and what a great lib uhm? It takes out all the trouble of writing over and over the famous Android findViewById[3] method of the Activity.
ButterKnife was my choice because it looks very simple to use (but in the end Eclipse Bundle impose some difficult) and have some good documentation. If you don't know the library or know but never used give that a change, it's good.

Ok, said one lib right, just to be clear im using 7 libraries! You are think, "That's too much! It must be a performance killer!". Well... it's not that much actually, the performance of the app is good, and usage is not bad, some of those libraries have more performance that the original android code! You could try for yourself if want to, anyway, all those libraries add some high level interface on the programming make it easy to do some tasks.
The others libraries im using are the following:

  •  GSON[4]: Great lib to work with json format, since some of the internet services that im using to get sensor info return in json, it was a must have. If you look in the internet the performance is much better that the default android parser. Also you could check jackson, it claims to have better performance that GSON!
  • Http-Request[5]: The android code to make a http request is disgusting, this lib is great, it reminds me python request (which i find awesome!).
  • Joda Time[6]: if you work with date on Java you suffer whole life until Joda was created... :D it is excellent when it comes to parser and transform string into date objects and vice versa.
  • SugarOrm[7]: Awesome, i was checking for orm in android and found this precious lib... what it makes speciall? The simplicity... if you are looking for "Simple is better than Complex", use this and be happy. A plus is that the lib is active on github!!!!
  • ListViewAnimations[8]: This was a life saver for me... android has its ListView component, and im using to make the list of sensors in the main activity. But how one can implement some list special operations? Like Drag and Drop, Swipe to dismiss and stuff like that? Well, enter ListViewAnimations... this lib has all!! And some more! If you are using ListView, check this out and be a little more happy when coding for your users and improve their experiences!
All those libraries will help you a little more to build a great and easy to use app, you should check Sensorial to get a little idea what you could build.
Sensorial is a paid app, but im thinking in release a free version also, the problem in release a free version is that one of the service im using is a paid one, and if the app has too much requests to that service, the app could be down for a few hours...

Anyway, in the next posts i will explain some problems and solutions found to build Sensorial, and perhaps my next android app. 
Sensorial is far from finish its development life cycle, im have much more ideas to implement on it to leave there on the Play Store without updates!


[1]: Internet of Thins (IoT)
[2]: ButterKnife
[3]: findViewById
[4]: GSON
[5]: Http-Request
[6]: Joda Time
[7]: SugarORM
[8]: ListViewAnimations
[9]: Sensorial on Google Play