Elements of an Android App

Creating an app for Android doesn’t require a full-blown integrated development environment. There are several simple, easy-to-learn and easy-to-use tools that make programming Android apps a breeze. Michael Lehman introduces MIT App Inventor 2, Basic4android, and a few other entry-level development environments to build your own app. He’ll show how to test apps on an Android emulator or directly on your phone or tablet, and demonstrate tools for building hybrid apps that run on Android, Windows Phone, and iOS devices, as well as straight on the web. Start building your first app with these simple tools today. See more at: Simple Android Development Tools.

Topics include:

  • Understanding the elements of an Android app, such as controls, sensors, effectors, and storage
  • Exploring MIT App Inventor 2
  • Getting started with Basic4android
  • Building simple apps
  • Testing apps on Android emulators and devices
  • Sharing apps
  • Creating hybrid apps with Appy Pie, Make Me Droid, and AppMakr

App Inventor for Android

Google App Inventor

App Inventor for Android is an open-source web application originally provided by Google, and now maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

It allows newcomers to computer programming to create software applications for the Android operating system (OS). It uses a graphical interface, very similar to Scratch and the StarLogo TNG user interface, which allows users to drag-and-drop visual objects to create an application that can run on Android devices. In creating App Inventor, Google drew upon significant prior research in educational computing, as well as work done within Google on online development environments.

App Inventor and the projects on which it is based are informed by constructionist learning theories, which emphasizes that programming can be a vehicle for engaging powerful ideas through active learning. As such, it is part of an ongoing movement in computers and education that began with the work of Seymour Papert and the MIT Logo Group in the 1960s and has also manifested itself with Mitchel Resnick’s work on Lego Mindstorms and StarLogo.

App Inventor includes:

  • A designer, in which a program’s components are specified. This includes visible components, such as buttons and images, which are placed on a simulated screen, and non-visible components, such as sensors and web connections.
  • A blocks editor, in which the program’s logic is created.
  • A compiler based on the Kawa language framework and Kawa’s dialect of the Scheme programming language, developed by Per Bothner and distributed as part of the GNU operating system by the Free Software Foundation.
  • An app for real-time debugging on a connected Android device.

On December 6, 2013 (the start of the Hour of Code), MIT released App Inventor 2, renaming the original version “App Inventor Classic” Major differences are:

  • The blocks editor in the original version ran in a separate Java process, using the Open Blocks Java library for creating visual blocks programming languages. Open Blocks is distributed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Scheller Teacher Education Program (STEP) and is derived from master’s thesis research by Ricarose Roque. Professor Eric Klopfer and Daniel Wendel of the Scheller Program supported the distribution of Open Blocks under an MIT License. Open Blocks visual programming is closely related to StarLogo TNG, a project of STEP, and Scratch, a project of MIT Media Laboratory’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group. App Inventor 2 replaced Open Blocks with Blockly, a blocks editor that runs within the browser.
  • The | MIT AI2 Companion app enables real-time debugging on connected devices via Wi-Fi, not just USB.

As of May 2014, there were 87 thousand weekly active users of the service and 1.9 million registered users in 195 countries for a total of 4.7 million apps built.

Website: Build My Site


Originally published at buildmy-site.com on November 10, 2014.

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