BANano 4.50 released and Anywhere Software drops a bomb!

“A very exiting week it is” would Yoda say.

The latest version of BANano introduces the BANanoServer.b4xlib library, which is an easy to use wrapper around jServer, the same B4J lib ABMaterial uses. One can now use BANano to make stand-alone Web sites, but also interfaces for e.g. IoT and Raspberry Pi (when using the BANanoServer lib: as this is a normal B4J app, it can use all B4J libs on the server side) and build complex Web Apps.

NOTE: BANano still works without the BANAnoServer Library as it did before in case you want to use another backend like PHP, but only having to program in one language has huge advantages and is what RAD is al about. :)

When you will look at the code of BANanoServer, ABM users will recognize the powerful Caching system, Root, Websocket support and HTTP/2 filters. In BANano, all that code is removed from your own projects view (but still accessible as it is an open source .b4xlib).

Some ‘easy-to-use’ methods to communicate between the browser and the server are added (to call methods from each other and to exchange files).

More info and download BANano for free here: BANano Download

But the biggest news this week must have been the BOMB Erel from Anywhere Software dropped: B4A, the tool to make native Android apps, is from now on free to use for everyone!

From his announcement a couple of weeks ago:

I’m very proud in the continuing progress of B4X tools. I’m also very proud to be part of this amazing developers community.

In the last couple of years, I have a growing feeling that B4X tools do not realize their potential. While there are all kinds of development tools, B4X offers a unique set of features: simple, powerful, mature, great community, RAD, native, cross platform and more.
B4X tools are an excellent choice for a wide range of real-world use cases.

So, the question is how to make B4X more popular? Obviously, it is not a simple nor a short-term task.
A clear growth barrier is the fact that unlike most development tools today, B4A and B4i are not free. This wasn’t the case 10 years ago.

The big announcement today is that B4A will become free in a few weeks. The framework – set of internal libraries, will be open sourced.

We will accept contributions for B4A like currently done with B4J.
We’ve also secured funds from a US investor who shares my vision of making B4X a popular development tool. These resources will allow us to further expand.

Two huge points were raised here: for one, the tool that started it all (B4A) to make native Android apps, is now 100% free (download it here)! It is clear that nowadays paying for a development platform is so 2009. Some development vendors may exist for 20+ years, but haven’t grown accordingly and seem to be stuck in overprotecting their (outdated?) technology.  Clearly, Erel is not one of them and is thinking on how to expand his tools into the next decade.

But the second part may be even more exciting: a private US investor has shown interest in the potential of B4X and shares Erel view of the future.  This opens a whole new world to the development tool and allows to think a lot bigger. He can expand his team not only with new developers, but even more important, surround himself with professionals to market his brand and let the world know of the big impact his technology can have on any software developer.

Just read up on the forum (100K+ members) and one quickly realizes the brought spectrum of apps that can be written with B4X. It is used by big corporations like NASA, IBM and Bosch to name a few, but also by small companies and citizen developers. I for one use it daily in my day job at OneTwo and we feel so secure with the tools we use it as the foundation of all our software.  Very rarely one comes across a tool where the developers are so close to its users and actually listens to their concerns and wishes.  I remember having found a bug (yeah, you really have to go deep to find one) and after reporting it to the Anywhere Software team, 10 minutes(!) later, an update was released.  This has never been seen and blocked me zero time in my own development.

I am a big fan of the B4X suite. It allowed me to write ABMaterial and BANano, two libraries to make modern Websites and Webapps.  Something I can’t see me do in any other tool, at least not with such ease and speed. And it is fun, really fun to work with too. 🙂

So I think Yoda would concur: ‘The future, bright it is!’

Alwaysbusy

B4X: An experiment for practical use of IoT on the shop floor

Beacons

At OneTwo, we are always searching for ways to make things easier on the workfloor.  For nearly a decade, we introduced barcode scanners everywhere! From architects and accountants, over carpenters and contractors, to farmers and gardeners are now using our small barcode scanners to record times, jobs and used materials.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been investigating how we could tackle another common issue, but now on the factory shop floor.  Working on a specific step in the development of a product demands the constant focus of the operator so using a barcode scanner to get the instructions is, well, just not practical if you have your hands full.

Time to get to the lab! Provided with heaps of coffee, some unhealthy snacks and an open mind we started putting some ideas together on the whiteboard.  We wanted to give as much feedback to the operator as possible using monitors,  beamer projections at the workstation and personal instructions on phones and tablets.

The key to deliver hyper-contextual content to the users is knowing the location of every chess piece in the game: the workstation, the machine that is going to be build and the operator(s).  The underlying communication technology was going to be Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The Raspberry Pi has it and so does almost any phone or tablet. By attaching a cheap BLE Beacon to the machine we could understand the location of all the players.

Using B4X for this project was a no-brainer, as Erels toolbox is just made to build stuff like this! One important link in the chain was missing:  the BLE reader in B4J for the Raspberry Pi.  However, writing some small scripts and calling it using jShell and a couple of timers did the job just fine.

Scripts code:

Two scripts to discover BLE devices around the Raspberry Pi.  Each one runs in its own jShell in B4J. First one scans for devices, second one reads whatever they broadcast.

#!/bin/bash
# Beacon Scan by Alain Bailleul 2017
sudo timeout -s SIGINT 5s hcitool lescan

#!/bin/bash
# Beacon Scan by Alain Bailleul 2017
sudo timeout -s SIGINT 5s hcidump -X > scan.txt

Also, as the Raspberry Pi has to be a BLE beacon itself (so the Android Native app can discover it), I had to write another little script:

#!/bin/bash
# Beacon Scan by Alain Bailleul 2017

sudo hciconfig hci0 leadv 3
sudo hcitool -i hci0 cmd 0x08 0x0008 19 02 01 06 03 03 aa fe 11 16 aa fe 10 00 02 6f 6e 65 2d 74 77 6f 07 $1 $2 $3 00 00 00 00 00 00
sudo hciconfig

IPN=$(ip addr show eth0 | awk ‘/inet / {print $2}’ | cut -d/ -f 1)
IPW=$(ip addr show wlan0 | awk ‘/inet / {print $2}’ | cut -d/ -f 1)
MACN=$(ip link show eth0 | awk ‘/ether/ {print $2}’)
MACW=$(ip link show wlan0 | awk ‘/ether/ {print $2}’)

echo “$MACW;$IPW;$MACN;$IPN;END” > macip.txt

For anything related to presenting the instructions, we could use ABMaterial.

Alright! We’ve got everything we needed to set up a test scenario for a workstation so time to bring out the cool slide:

How it works

Although there are a lot of physical components and different OS’s in play, B4X has all the tools to make them seamlessly talk to each other using one language.  For the native Android part, I wrote my own BLE discovery library based on the altbeacons library. (Note, there is a library available in B4A to discover BLE devices).

For the video demonstration, things you have to keep in mind:

INPUT:

  1. OneTwo box + BLE beacon: represents a machine arriving on the workstation
  2. Raspberry Pi (under the table): represents the workstation
  3. Android Phone: represents an operator/visitor at the workstation

OUTPUT:

  1. On the monitor, for each ‘machine’ some info is presented (e.g. a serial number, to what country it has to be shipped, etc)
  2. On the phone: specific instructions for the operator(s) for this ‘machine’, or a greeting to a visitor.
  3. On the workstation, projected global instructions for the operator(s) for this ‘machine’ with a beamer.

Let’s have a look how all of this plays out:

This turned out to work all very well for a first trial! For real world usage, the project will need some more work (like improving the algorithms to discover the BLE devices, setting thresholds or calculating them without calibration, etc…).  But we are very excited with the possibilities this low-cost solution can already show in such a short time.

Next step will be setting this up on a real workstation on the shop floor in a real factory later this month.

Until next time,

Alwaysbusy

Click here to Donation and get the latest ABMaterial first!

 

 

B4i (iOS): Yup, you read that right!

(Not official logo)
(Not official logo)

Amazing news from Anywhere software: Erel is working on B4i! This development suite for cross development (Android/Mac/Windows/Linux) will be joined by iOS.

After the great success of Basic4Android (simply the best development tool for Android, by far), Erel suprised us all with Basic4Java last year. A free! tool to create cross platform software for Mac, Windows and Linux.

And now, he has an ever bigger suprise: Basic4iOS!
Just like it’s brother B4A, B4i will compile to native code (Objective C in this case). Combined with the powerful IDE (Xojo, check this one out, it’s bug free and blazing fast) with its unique debugging capabilities and features, this is a certain winner, again!

As a Windows developer, you won’t even need a Mac to compile:

…The current plan is to host a cloud of Macs for the compilation which means that developers will not need to have access to a Mac computer. There will also be an option to host the remote Mac compiler locally instead of the cloud compilers…

And the clever debugging tricks well known from B4A will also be at your fingertips:

…The rapid debugger will allow modifying the code without rebuilding the package making the “testing cycle” much quicker…

It’s simply amazing how Anywhere Software can build such powerful (and most of all stable and reliable) development tools in such a short time span. And at a price that dwarfs the competition!

Well done Erel! We are looking forward for this little beauty by the end of this year. It’s gonna be great, I’m sure of that!

Alwaysbusy

QuiQRun! launched

Barcelona Skin
Barcelona Skin

QuiQRun!, the social, fast barcode scanner and creator!

I’m very happy to release the first version of QuiQRun! for Android! In the next weeks I may do a couple of articles on the blog on how some things are done. (Basic4Android and Java).

I want to thank everyone that did test and translate the app!

Download free version

Please rate QuiQRun! if you like it!

More information and screenshots can be found at http://www.quiqrun.com

Alain

QuiQRun! Localization

QuiQRun! Skin Italia
Skinning QuiQRun!

Hi all,

I’m looking for people who can translate about 150 terms and some short sentences for my new app QuiQRun! If you can help me, send me a mail to alain.bailleul@pandora.be.

I already have English, Dutch, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

What can I offer?

1. The full version of QuiQRun!
2. A skin in QuiQRun! with your favorite colors
3. Full credit in the apps credits screen
4. Eternal gratitude!

How do I use it in B4A?
The translations are stored in a language file, eg. en-us.lng.

They are stored in a predefined format:

{0000};Scanned
{0001};Scan
{0002};Create
{0003};Setting new skin, one moment...
{0004};Tap to get more info!
{0005};This QRCode is expired!
...

In Basic4Android, It checks if it has a translation, if not it uses the default you put in the GetString function. Here is the snippet I use:

Sub Process_Globals
    Public LangStrings As Map
    Public BOM As Int = 65279 ' Byte Order Mark for Windows UTF-8 files
End Sub

Sub Activity_Create(FirstTime As Boolean)
    Dim R As Reflector
    R.Target = R.RunStaticMethod("java.util.Locale", "getDefault", Null, Null)
    Dim tmpLang As String = R.RunMethod("getLanguage")
    Select Case tmpLang
        Case "nl"
            LoadLanguageFile("nl-be.LNG")
        Case "fr"
            LoadLanguageFile("fr-fr.LNG")           
        Case "it"
            LoadLanguageFile("it-it.LNG")
        Case "es"
            LoadLanguageFile("es-es.LNG")
        Case "de"
            LoadLanguageFile("de-de.LNG")
        Case Else
            LoadLanguageFile("en-us.LNG")
    End Select

    ' using it:
    ToastMessageShow(GetString("{0003}","Setting new skin, one moment..."), true)
End Sub

Public Sub LoadLanguageFile(setLanguageFile as String)
    LangStrings.Initialize
    
    If File.Exists(File.DirAssets, setLanguageFile) Then
        Dim txtR As TextReader
        txtR.Initialize(File.OpenInput(File.DirAssets, setLanguageFile))
        Dim line As String
        line = txtR.ReadLine
        Do While line  Null
            line = line.Replace(Chr(BOM), "")
            LangStrings.Put(line.SubString2(0,6), line.SubString(7))
            line = txtR.ReadLine
        Loop
        txtR.Close
    End If   
    
End Sub

Public Sub GetString(iCode As String, iDefault As String) As String
    If LangStrings.ContainsKey(iCode) Then
        Return LangStrings.Get(iCode)
    Else
        Return iDefault
    End If
End Sub

Thanks!

Alwaysbusy

QuiQRun! A glimpse…

QuiQRun
I’m currently working on my new Android app called QuiQRun and this is the first time it is presented to the public. It is currently in the testing phase so it won’t be long until I will release it to Google Play.

What is QuiQRun?

QuiQRun consists of two main parts:

1. The White side: Save – Share – Scan QR Codes

• Scan QR Codes and barcodes with our fast build in scanner
• Decrypt codes created with QuiQRun Security and read codes generated by other apps
• A human readable summary and the raw QR data
• Save codes for later use. All codes are organized in a nice list for easy retrieval.
• Share your QR Code on Facebook, Twitter, Email, Dropbox and many more…
• Use the QR Code immediately on your smartphone

2. The Black side: Make – Share – Protect QR Codes

• Make QR Codes for Websites, Wifi, Contacts, locations, coupons and many more…
• Protect your QR Code with QuiQRun Security
– Encryption
– Prevent saving the QR Code
– Password or PIN protect
– Set an expiration date
• Share your QR code on Facebook, Twitter, Email, Dropbox and many more…
• Use the QR Code immediately on your smartphone

And here are the first screenshots!

QuiQRun
QuiQrun on Android

QuiQRun is written in Basic4Android. If you are a licensed user of B4A you can download an exclusieve preview version from the B4A ‘Test my App!’ forum! I would definitely appreciate the feedback 🙂

More information and screenshots can be found at QuiQRun

The coming weeks I’ll keep you up to date. Follow me on Twitter: QuiQRun

Alwaysbusy

Basic4Android v3.20 is released!

B4A Anchors
B4A Anchors

Again, another great update of B4A! Erel has continued to improve the visual designer, this time with a great new feature you may know from typical PC languages: Anchors. (Xojo/Realbasic users may recognize them as the LockLeft, LockTop, LockRight and LockBottom properties)

Anchors allow you to define a constant distance between the view and one or more of the parent bounds. By using anchors, you can design screens and B4A will ‘stretch’ them according to the device size. This is different than scalling because it takes more relative positions into account.

Here is a short video demonstrating the anchore feature:

Important designer improvements:
* Copy & paste – work both inside the layout or between different layouts.
* Undo / redo feature.
* The views are organized in a tree for easier navigation.
* AutoScaleAll keyword now works with all variants, not just the “standard” variant.
* Colors fields can be copied and the colors values can be pasted or directly typed.
* Designer script find / replace dialog.
* The grid is saved in the layout file.
* Landscape / Portrait designer keywords to test the current orientation.
* UI Cloud threshold reduced to 10 seconds.

Other great new features and improvements:
* #AdditionalRes attribute
* Sync button in the Files tab – Syncs the project files with the Files folder.
* Modules added to the Find Sub / Module tool (Ctrl + E).
* Tabs order in the IDE is preserved.
* Modules files that were not modified will not be saved thus preserving the correct time stamp.
* DateTime.SetTimeZone now accepts a Double instead of Int.
* Shortcuts: F11 – Restart (rapid debugger), F2 in the designer connects to the device.
* JavaObject v1.00 – new RunMethodJO / GetFieldJO methods.
* Bug fixes and other minor improvements.

So head to the B4A website to check it out and if you don’t have a license yet (hard to believe because it is worth every penny), now is a great time to get one!

Alwaysbusy!