Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Generate Callback Listener Helpers from AIDL

As I redesign Five I find myself tweaking/expanding the callback listeners in my interface which are handled through the RemoteCallbackList class in the service implementation. This class is great, however for each call code must be written similar to:

int N = mCallbacks.beginBroadcast();

for (int i = 0; i < N; i++) {
try {
} catch (RemoteException e) {}


This can quickly pollute the service implementation, and even if you factor these calls out to a separate class it can be a pain to create and maintain them. So, I came up with a solution in the form of a Perl script which takes as input an AIDL file defining the callback interface and outputs a class implementing the extended RemoteCallbackList. To use, simply type:

$ ./ < IFooListener.aidl >


Monday, August 25, 2008

Android Instrumentation Example

As Android approaches maturity with its recent 0.9r1 release, I began to think its time that my main project updates to match. I decided to take another look at Android's instrumentation and unit testing features to build robust tests for my critical services and activities. Unfortunately, there isn't anything new in the way of documentation however there is now is an example we can use in ApiDemos.

Looking at the new ApiDemos we see that there is a new tests directory which contains a second AndroidManifest.xml with no user activities defined. This is important as this structure allows us to have two separate APKs, one for production and one for testing, so our main distribution and build doesn't need to be polluted. Unfortunately, this approach is not compatible with the Eclipse plugin, and so we must define everything in an external build environment.

For convenience, I packaged the complete ApiDemos project with my Ant build environment here: ApiDemos-instrumentation-build.tar.gz. To build, start the emulator and run the following commands:

$ adb shell rm /data/app/ApiDemos.apk
$ ant install
$ cd tests && ant install

It is essential above that you remove the old ApiDemos.apk as the instrumentation APK must be signed with the same key as the package it tests.

Once we've got both APKs installed we can begin running our unit tests. There is no UI in Android for this, however it can be invoked more conveniently through adb as such:

$ adb shell am instrument -w

This will run all defined tests and print a dot character for each successful test, F for failure, or E for invocation error. See the javadoc in tests/src/com/android/samples/ for more sample command lines to run individual test cases or specific tests within them.

My main project, Five, has recently been updated to include unit tests in the five-client component, with more test coverage to follow in the next few weeks. For a non-trivial test case, see my CacheServiceTest.

NOTE: Previously, I was using the masa Android plugin for Maven, however it has not yet been updated to support 0.9r1. I feel that using Maven for this would have been cleaner, but the Ant approach is sufficient for this simple demonstration. Once updated, I will return here and finish this example with a more sophisticated build environment to automate testing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Android on the HTC Vogue

As many of you know, the Vogue can run Android quite nicely with support for sending/reciving SMS, incoming and outgoing calls, GPRS, touch screen, etc thanks to dzo over at Xda-Developers. See his posts and materials here:

Several folks from freenode/#android have access to this device, myself included, and have been developing tools and applications to further explore the platform on real hardware. Those tools are being hosted at the android-random project page. There is a simple file manager (Glance), a much-improved threaded text messaging app (Messages), and perhaps most importantly of all a RemoteLogcat tool that allows us to observe the running devices logcat (normally accessible through adb logcat) by piping it to a server on the public Internet.

Recently, I created an emulator skin that can be used to simulate this device's resolution during development. Simply download vogue-skin.tar and unpack it into $ANDROID_SDK/tools/lib/images/skins along with the other default skins. Then fire up the emulator as:

$ emulator -skin vogue

The skin has no decorations, just a simple 240x320px layout, but this should give you a pretty good idea how different Android can be on this device.