Learning MIT App Inventor: A Hands-on Guide to Building Your Own Android Apps
By: Mark Sherman (author), Derek Walter (author)Paperback
With MIT's App Inventor 2, anyone can build complete, working Android apps-without writing code! This complete tutorial will help you do just that, even if you have absolutely no programming experience. Unlike books focused on the obsolete Google version, Learning MIT App Inventor is written from the ground up for MIT's dramatically updated Version 2. The authors guide you step-by-step through every task and feature, showing you how to create apps by dragging, dropping, and connecting puzzle pieces-not writing code. As you learn, you'll also master expert design and development techniques you can build on if you ever do want to write code. Through hands-on projects, you'll master features ranging from GPS to animation, build high-quality user interfaces, make everything work, and test it all with App Inventor's emulator. (You won't even need an Android device!) All examples for this book are available at theapplanet.com/appinventor Coverage includes: * Understanding mobile devices and how mobile apps run on them * Planning your app's behavior and appearance with the Designer * Using the Blocks Editor to tell your app what to do and how to do it * Creating variables and learning how to use them effectively * Using procedures to group and reuse pieces of code in larger, more complicated apps * Storing data in lists and databases * Using App Inventor's gaming, animation, and media features * Creating more sophisticated apps by using multiple screens * Integrating sensors to make your app location-aware * Debugging apps and fixing problems * Combining creativity and logical thinking to envision more complex apps
Derek Walter is a freelance writer specializing in the mobile ecosystem. He contributes regularly to PCWorld, Macworld, Greenbot, and other sites devoted to consumer technology. He also blogs about mobile apps and other topics in technology at theapplanet.com. His undergraduate degree is in mass communication/journalism, and he holds a master's degree in educational technology from The George Washington University. Derek has also worked in education for the last 15 years as a classroom teacher and adjunct university instructor. Mark Sherman is a researcher in computer science education and has taught computing, programming, and robotics to undergraduates in the U.S., India, and China. He is an MIT App Inventor Master Trainer, and he has taught students mobile app design with App Inventor and trained teachers and faculty on best practices and pedagogy of the same. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and a master's degree in computer science, both from UMass Lowell.
Preface xiv 1 An Introduction to Programming 1 Operating Systems 2 User Interface 4 Android Strengths 6 Extending App Capabilities 8 Google Services 9 Applications 10 Programming Languages 11 Summary 13 Exercises 14 2 Building with MIT App Inventor 17 The MIT App Inventor Site 17 Signing In 18 Designer 20 Blocks Editor 20 The AI2 Companion App 21 The Android Emulator 23 USB Connection to Android Device 23 Getting Inside an App 25 Event Handlers 25 Doing One Thing at a Time 26 Exercise: Sherlock Is Watching 27 Adding an Image 29 What Can You Build? 31 Speak, Android! 31 Pollock 31 Fore 32 Android Quiz 32 Uploading to Google Play 32 Summary 33 Exercises 34 3 App Inventor Toolkit 35 Creating a New Project 36 Designer Essentials 36 Palette 37 Viewer 44 Components 45 Properties 46 Media 46 Exercise: Speak, Android! 47 Connecting Your Device 48 See Your App on a Connected Device 50 Summary 54 Exercises 54 4 Variables 55 Component Properties: The Built-in Variables 56 Clicker-Counter App 56 Properties: Getters and Setters 57 Clicker Counter Extensions 58 Event Parameters: Special Variables 58 Exercise: Pollock 60 The Interface 60 Programming Blocks 62 Additional Exercises 64 Scope: Global and Local Variables 64 Global Variables 66 Example App: Up/Down Counter 67 Local Variables 68 An Example App: Random Guess 69 What You Can Store in Variables 72 Summary 72 5 Procedures 75 What Is a Procedure? 75 Types of Procedures 76 Why Use Procedures? 79 Arguments 79 Exercise: Flick 81 Additional Exercises 83 Summary 84 6 Working with Lists 85 Modeling Things with Data 85 The List Block 85 The Basics 87 Creating an Empty List 87 Creating a List with Some Stuff Already In It 88 Working with Lists 91 Color as a List 92 Types of Lists 92 The One-Dimensional List 92 Lists as Data Structures 93 Using Multiple Lists Together (That Expand on Demand) 94 Abstraction with Lists and Procedures 98 Lists that Expand on Demand 100 Common Problems 102 Running Off the End of the List 102 Defining a Variable That Depends on Runtime Elements 104 Exercise: Android Quiz 105 Additional Exercises 112 Summary 112 7 Games and Animations 113 Adding Animations 113 ImageSprite 114 Ball 115 Canvas 116 Animation Examples 117 Smoother Animation 118 Edges and Collisions 119 Exercise: Fore 119 Additional Exercises 123 Summary 123 8 Multiple Screens and Debugging Techniques 125 Why More Than One Screen? 125 Building Apps with Multiple Screens 126 What Screens Are Good At 127 Issues with Multiple Screens 127 Switching Screens 128 Sharing Data Between Screens 129 Debugging Techniques 130 Leaving Comments 130 Test Small and Test Often 131 Do It 131 Name Well 132 Backing up Your Work 133 Exercise: Pollock Plus One 134 Additional Exercises 136 Summary 136 9 Using Media 139 Audio 140 Images 141 The ImagePicker 141 The Camera 144 Video 1 45 Exercise: Camera Action 146 Additional Exercises 146 Summary 147 10 Sensors 149 Building Location-Aware Apps 150 Using Location 150 Location Data 152 Using the Maps App with Intents 153 Saving Location Data 155 The Accelerometer 158 Detecting Tilt (and a Little Background Physics) 159 The Orientation Sensor 160 Exercise: Pushpin 161 Part 1: Designing Current Location Readout 161 Programming Part 1: The Current Location Readout 165 Part 2: Pinning a Location to Remember Later 168 Programming Part 2: Pinning a Location 170 Extension Activities 172 Summary 172 11 Databases 173 TinyDB 174 Retrieving Data from TinyDB 175 A Few TinyDB Details 176 TinyWebDB 176 Setting Up Your Own Web Database Service 176 Security and Privacy 177 FusionTables 177 Using Web GET and POST 180 Basic Files 181 Web APIs 182 Exercise: WriteMore 182 Additional Exercises 186 Summary 187 12 Distributing an App 189 Live Mode 189 Security Settings 190 Creating an APK File 191 Downloading Directly to a Computer 192 Downloading with a QR Code 196 Creating an .aia File 198 Exercise: App Distribution 200 Version Codes 200 Google Play Developer Console 201 Summary 205 Index 207
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