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!

Basic4Android: A first look at ABPlay, a game engine library

ABPlay Screenshot
ABPlay Screenshot

It has been a while since I’ve written a new article on this blog because it have been busy months both at work and in my personal life. One of the things I wanted to do was writing an easy to use Game Engine for B4A. I have written the ABPhysics engine in the past and recently Informatix pointed out I had started another engine (ABGameEngine) before that. Development on ABGameEngine was stopped early for several reasons: time was one of them, but also because several other developers were working on an engine themselves. It seemed a little bit pointless to continue.

However, the other engines were not further developed either. Until recently Erel came up with the GameView. This is an excellent View that will cover the needs of a lot of beginning programmers. I definitely would like to urge starting game developers to take a look at this. Registered users of B4A can download the GameView lib from here.

But still, I wanted something more. I looked at ABgameEngine again, as it had some great ideas like layers, animated sprites, gamepads etc. But it was also very old code and not written very well. And it crashed all the time 🙂

I decided to restart from scratch a couple of weeks ago. Some weekends and evenings later ABPlay was born! And with a lot of goodies!

Here is a small demo video of what I got so far. it demonstrates the following:

1. Layers
     (Layer 1) the moving background with the Odies as animated sprites
     (Layer 2) the black foreground layer with a weird dancing creature that passes now and then
2. Animated sprites, not bound to a layer
     (our hero Garfield is back!)
3. A sprite can have different animations.
     (like one for standing, one for walking, one for fighting, etc)
4. A sprite can have different predefined 'Walks'
     (A walk can be build like you would build a path. It's a sequence of lines, bezier curves, wait periods etc. It's like a simple flash movie)
5. Gamepad controls
     (the 'joystick' pad on the left)
     (the 'action' pad on the right)
     (the 'direction' pad as an alternative to the joystick, not shown in this video)
6. In the demo I cannot demonstrate it with a mouse, but it is completely multi touch
     (You can control Garfield AND press the Action button X AND do a swipe anywhere at the same time)

But let’s have a look (beware this is running on the Emulator. On a real device it is much smoother):

I’m actually very pleased with the result. The graphics and handling is very smooth.
Above all, it’s still very easy to program. Here is the whole code for the demo app:

#Region  Project Attributes
	#ApplicationLabel: ABPlayTest
	#VersionCode: 1
	#VersionName:
	'SupportedOrientations possible values: unspecified, landscape or portrait.
	#SupportedOrientations: landscape
	#CanInstallToExternalStorage: False
#End Region

#Region  Activity Attributes
	#FullScreen: true
	#IncludeTitle: false
#End Region

Sub Process_Globals

End Sub

Sub Globals
	Dim myPlay As ABPlay
	' the panel that will hold the ABPlay
	Dim myPanel As Panel

	' a background and foregroud layer
	Dim bgLayer As ABLayer
	Dim fgLayer As ABLayer

	' some colors to show the multi touch points in the demo
	Dim myColors() As Int = Array As Int(Colors.Red, Colors.Green, Colors.Blue, Colors.Cyan, Colors.Yellow, Colors.Gray, Colors.White, Colors.Magenta, Colors.LightGray, Colors.DarkGray)

	' our hero
	Dim Hero As ABSprite
	' our enemies
	Dim Enemies As List

	' param to set the set the speed
	Dim Speed As Float = 0.2

	' some variables to hold the current state of the hero
	Dim currentAction As String
	Dim currentDirection As String
	Dim currentIsStanding As Boolean
End Sub

Sub Activity_Create(FirstTime As Boolean)
	' initialize ABPlay with myPanel
	myPanel.Initialize("")
	Activity.AddView(myPanel, 0,0,100%x,100%y)
	myPlay.Initialize(myPanel, "myPlay")

	'////////////// BEGIN loading sprite sequences
	' Load Sprite Sequences
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeft",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garleftstill.png"),6, 1, 1000)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeft",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garleftstill.png"),6, 1, 1000)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarStandingRight",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garrightstill.png"),6, 1, 1000)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarWalkingLeft",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garleft.png"),8, 1, 1000)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarWalkingRight",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garright.png"),8, 1, 1000)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeftFight",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garleftstillfight.png"),2, 1, 250)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarStandingRightFight",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garrightstillfight.png"),2, 1, 250)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarWalkingLeftFight",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garleftfight.png"),7, 1, 1000)
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("GarWalkingRightFight",LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "garrightfight.png"),7, 1, 1000)
	' and the ones for Odie
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("OdieStandingLeft", LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "odieleftstill.png"),7,1,Rnd(800,1200))
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("OdieStandingRight", LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "odierightstill.png"),7,1,Rnd(800,1200))
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("OdieWalkingLeft", LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "odieleft.png"),5,1,Rnd(800,1200))
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("OdieWalkingRight", LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "odieright.png"),5,1,Rnd(800,1200))
	' and the one for the creature
	myPlay.LoadSpriteSequence("CreaturePassToRight", LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "creature.png"), 3, 4, 1200)
	'////////////// END loading sprite sequences

	'////////////// BEGIN building the Hero Garfield
	' initialize the hero
	Hero.Initialize("Hero", 50%x, 50%y)
	' add sprite sequences
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeft")
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarStandingRight")
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarWalkingLeft")
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarWalkingRight")
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeftFight")
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarStandingRightFight")
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarWalkingLeftFight")
	Hero.AddSpriteSequence("GarWalkingRightFight")
	Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeft", True)
	currentDirection="LEFT"
	'//////////////  END building the Hero Garfield

	'////////////// BEGIN building the background layer with Odies
	' initalize a background layer
	bgLayer.Initialize("background", 0,0)
	bgLayer.SetBackground(LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "bga.jpg"), 1.0)
	myPlay.AddLayer(bgLayer)

	' initialize some enemies
	Enemies.Initialize
	Dim a As Int
	For a = 1 To 10
		Dim Odie As ABSprite

		' initialize an Odie with some animation sequences
		Odie.Initialize("Odie" & a, Rnd(10%x,90%x), Rnd(10%y, 90%y))
		' add multiple sprite sequences
		Odie.AddSpriteSequences(Array As String("OdieStandingLeft","OdieStandingRight","OdieWalkingLeft","OdieWalkingRight"))

		' create a random walk to the right
		Dim WalkRight As ABSpriteWalk
		WalkRight.Initialize("ToTheRight", True)
		Dim newX As Int = Odie.x+Rnd(20%x, 80%x)
		WalkRight.AddLine("OdieWalkingRight",Odie.x, Odie.y, newX, Odie.y, Rnd(90,100))
		WalkRight.AddWait("OdieStandingRight",newX, Odie.y, Rnd(10,50))
		WalkRight.AddLine("OdieWalkingLeft",newX, Odie.y, Odie.x, Odie.y, Rnd(90,100))
		WalkRight.AddWait("OdieStandingLeft",Odie.x, Odie.y, Rnd(10,50))
		Odie.AddWalk(WalkRight)

		' create a random walk to the left
		Dim WalkLeft As ABSpriteWalk
		WalkLeft.Initialize("ToTheLeft", True)
		Dim newX As Int = Odie.x-Rnd(20%x, 80%x)
		WalkLeft.AddLine("OdieWalkingLeft",Odie.x, Odie.y, newX, Odie.y , Rnd(90,100))
		WalkLeft.AddWait("OdieStandingLeft",newX, Odie.y, Rnd(10,50))
		WalkLeft.AddLine("OdieWalkingRight",newX, Odie.y, Odie.x, Odie.y, Rnd(90,100))
		WalkLeft.AddWait("OdieStandingRight",Odie.x, Odie.y, Rnd(10,50))
		Odie.AddWalk(WalkLeft)

		' pick random a walk, left or right
		Dim GoLeft As Int = Rnd(0,2)
		If GoLeft = 0 Then
			Odie.StartWalk("ToTheRight")
		Else
			Odie.StartWalk("ToTheLeft")
		End If
		bgLayer.AddSprite(Odie)
	Next
	'////////////// END building the background layer with Odies

	'////////////// BEGIN building the foreground layer with creature
	' initalize a foreground layer
	Dim fgLayer As ABLayer
	fgLayer.Initialize("foreground", 0,0)
	fgLayer.SetBackground(LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "fga.png"), 100%y/400)
	myPlay.AddLayer(fgLayer)

	' and a weird creature...
	Dim creature As ABSprite
	creature.Initialize("creature", -100%x, 100%y-240)
	creature.AddSpriteSequence("CreaturePassToRight")
	' with a walk
	Dim pass As ABSpriteWalk
	pass.Initialize("DanseToTheRight", True)
	pass.AddLine("DansingRight",creature.x, creature.y, 200%x, creature.y, 300)
	creature.AddWalk(pass)
	' and start the walk
	creature.StartWalk("DanseToTheRight")
	' add the creature to the foreground layer
	fgLayer.AddSprite(creature)
	'////////////// END building the foreground layer with creature

	'////////////// BEGIN Add game pads
	' initialize and start a Joystick Gamepad
	myPlay.InitializeJoystickPad(18, 100%y-210, 192, 192 , LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "joystick_bg.png"),LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "joystick.png"))
	myPlay.ShowJoystickPad(True)	

	' initialize and start a Action Gamepad
	myPlay.InitializeActionPad(100%x-210, 100%y-210, 192, 192 , LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "action_active.png"),LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "action_inactive.png"),LoadBitmap(File.DirAssets, "action_mask.png"),True, False, True, False)
	myPlay.ShowActionPad(True)
	'////////////// END Add game pads
End Sub

Sub Activity_Resume

End Sub

Sub Activity_Pause (UserClosed As Boolean)
	' NEEDED FOR THE MOMENT TO CATCH THE HOME KEY, RESUME/PAUSE NOT YET SUPPORTED!
	myPlay.StopAndRecycle
	Activity.Finish
End Sub

Sub Activity_KeyPress (KeyCode As Int) As Boolean 'Return True to consume the event
	Select Case KeyCode
		Case KeyCodes.KEYCODE_BACK
			' NEEDED: stop the drawing thread and recycle stuff
			myPlay.StopAndRecycle
			Activity.Finish
			Return True
		Case KeyCodes.KEYCODE_HOME
			Return True
	End Select
End Sub

Sub myPlay_Draw(c As Canvas, State As ABState)
	' the actual drawing, do NOT set a debug stop in here!

	'////////////// BEGIN Calculation stuff
	' calculate hero stuff depending on what buttons we pressed on the gamepad
	currentAction = ""
	If State.UsingActionPad Then
		' go into fight state
		If State.ACTION_X Then
			currentAction = "X"
		End If
		' go back to center
		If State.ACTION_Y Then
			Hero.SetPostition(50%x,50%y)
		End If
	End If

	Dim XMovement As Int
	Dim YMovement As Int
	If State.UsingJoystickPad Then
		XMovement = State.JOYSTICK_X*Speed
		YMovement = State.JOYSTICK_Y*Speed
		' update the hero's position and direction
		If XMovement<0 Then
			currentDirection = "LEFT"
		Else
			currentDirection = "RIGHT"
		End If
		Hero.SetPostition(Hero.x+XMovement, Hero.y+YMovement)
		currentIsStanding = False
	Else
		currentIsStanding = True
	End If

	' set the animation type
	Select Case currentDirection
		Case "LEFT"
			Select Case currentAction
				Case "X"
					If currentIsStanding Then
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeftFight", False)
					Else
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarWalkingLeftFight", False)
					End If
				Case Else
					If currentIsStanding Then
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarStandingLeft", False)
					Else
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarWalkingLeft", False)
					End If
			End Select
		Case "RIGHT"
			Select Case currentAction
				Case "X"
					If currentIsStanding Then
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarStandingRightFight", False)
					Else
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarWalkingRightFight", False)
					End If
				Case Else
					If currentIsStanding Then
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarStandingRight", False)
					Else
						Hero.StartSpriteSequence("GarWalkingRight", False)
					End If
			End Select
	End Select	

	' update the hero animation
	Hero.Update

	' move our backgrounds, does not make sense but shows the possibilities
	Dim newX, newY As Int
	Dim newMovementX, newMovementY As Int
	newMovementX=Min(Abs(XMovement),1)
	newMovementY=Min(Abs(YMovement),1)
	If currentIsStanding = False Then
		If currentDirection = "LEFT" Then
			newX = bgLayer.ViewX
			newY = bgLayer.ViewY
			If newX-newMovementX >= 0 Then
				newX = newX-newMovementX
			End If
			If newY-newMovementY >= 0 Then
				newY = newY-newMovementY
			End If
			bgLayer.SetLayerPostion(newX, newY)
		Else
			newX = bgLayer.ViewX
			newY = bgLayer.ViewY
			If newX+newMovementX <= bgLayer.OuterWidth - myPlay.Width Then
				newX = newX+newMovementX
			End If
			If newY+newMovementY <= bgLayer.OuterHeight - myPlay.Height Then
				newY = newY+newMovementY
			End If
			bgLayer.SetLayerPostion(newX, newY)
		End If
	End If

	'////////////// END Calculation stuff

	'////////////// BEGIN Drawing stuff
	'ok, all the calulations are done, let's draw!

	' draw the background layer with all its sprites on it and advance all sprite animations and walks
	myPlay.DrawLayer("background", c)

	Dim a As Int
	' draw the multitouch points that are not on the gamepad, no action here but just to show the possibilities
	For a = 0 To State.touchPoints.Size - 1
		Dim tmpP As ABTouchPoint
		tmpP = State.touchPoints.GetValueAt(a)
		c.DrawCircle(tmpP.X, tmpP.Y, 50dip, myColors(tmpP.id), True, 1dip)
	Next

	' draw the hero
	Hero.Draw(c)

	' draw the foreground layer with all its sprites on it and advance all sprite animations and walks
	myPlay.DrawLayer("foreground", c)
	'////////////// END Drawing stuff

	' NEEDED: very last line of the Draw event. Let ABPlay know it may process touches again!
	myPlay.DrawDone()
End Sub

I’m not there yet, but it’s a good start. It needs a lot more testing and a lot of new features.

Until next time!
Alwaysbusy

Click here to Donation if you like my work

Basic4Android: ABSYNCMenu, making an Actionbar with Submenus. Easy!


ABSYNCMenu.bas is a code module for an Actionbar with submenus completely written in Basic4Android. It’s an easy to use module you can drop into any project and with a couple of lines of code you have your own action bar with submenus!

Note: I’m aware there is an excellent actionbar library from corwin42 called AHActionBar at the B4A website, but as this ABSYNCMenu module is part of the upcoming ABSYNC Genesis tool (more on this tool in a later article!), I wanted to share this module with you.

Let’s get started!

Start a new project and import the attached module ABSYNCMenu.bas.

In the Main Activity we will add all the code needed to create and handle the action bar and menu. I’ll only cover the code needed for the actionbar in this tutorial, not the other ‘normal’ B4A code. There are some excellent tutorials in the B4A forum, check them out.

We define tree panels that are needed to build the ABSYNC Menu in the Sub Globals.
ABS_MainMenuPanel: for the transparent background over the whole activity that makes all the rest of the program darker and unclickable.
ABS_ActionBarPanel: for the the actionbar
ABS_DropdownMenuPanel: for the dropdown menu

Sub Globals
    Dim ABS_MainMenuPanel As Panel
    Dim ABS_ActionBarPanel As Panel
    Dim ABS_DropdownMenuPanel As Panel
End Sub

In the Activity_Create sub we load our initial layout file (.bal) we created in the designer. This may just be an empty form. See the project at the end of the article for more info. Then we call our BuildMenu() function where we define our action bar and menus.

Sub Activity_Create(FirstTime As Boolean)
    ' load the initial layout
    Activity.LoadLayout("1")

    ' call the function to initialize our menu
    BuildMenu
End Sub

Suppose we want to create the following actionbar with submenus:

Notice some menu items need to have an icon and some of them need to be disabled.
I’ll go over every major part in the code of the BuildMenu() function to explain how it works.

Start with the ABSYNC menu definition:

ABSYNCMenu.ABSYNCMenuBegin(ABS_MainMenuPanel, ABS_ActionBarPanel, ABS_DropdownMenuPanel, "ABSYNCMenuEvent", Activity.Width, Activity.Height)

Set some properties, like the colors and height of the action bar:

ABSYNCMenu.ActionBarHeight = 40dip
ABSYNCMenu.ColorActionBar = Colors.ARGB(255,255,0,0)
ABSYNCMenu.ColorActionBarItemEnabled = Colors.ARGB(255,255,255,255)
ABSYNCMenu.ColorActionBarItemDisabled = Colors.ARGB(255,64,64,64)
ABSYNCMenu.ColorMenu = Colors.ARGB(255,255,255,255)
ABSYNCMenu.ColorMenuItemEnabled = Colors.ARGB(255,0,0,0)
ABSYNCMenu.ColorMenuItemDisabled = Colors.ARGB(255,192,192,192)

Important! When you add an actionbar item you can have them left our right aligned. Depending on the alignment the icons are shown in a different order.

If the alignment is LEFT then the order of the shown icons is:
first added, second added, third added, …

If the alignment is RIGHT then the order of the shown icons is:
…, third added, second added, first added

Let’s add a simple item to the taskbar. Every actionbar item has to start with ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItemBegin and has to end with ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItemEnd. The syntax for the AddActionBarItem is as follows:

Sub AddActionBarItem(ReturnValue As String, bmpEnabled As String, bmpDisabled As String, ItemWidth As Int, LeftAligned As Boolean, Visible As Boolean, Enabled As Boolean, MenuWidth As Int)

ReturnValue: the value that will be returned to the ABSYNCMenuEvent() function. This is also the text that will be shown if no icon is provided.
bmpEnabled: the file name of the bmp for the Enabled icon.
bmpDisabled: the file name of the bmp for the Disabled icon.
ItemWidth: the width of this item. Can be bigger than the icon width. The icon will then be centered withion this width.
LeftAligned: is this icon aligned to the left of your screen or the right. See note above about alignment.
Visible: is this item visible.
Enabled: is this item enabled.
MenuWidth: the total with of the sub menu, if any.

So our full first item is like this:

ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItemBegin
ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItem("Home", "", "", 50dip, True, True, True, 0)
ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItemEnd

Another example is an actionbar item with an icon and a submenu. right after you added the actionbar item, you can add the submenu with the AddMenuItem() function.
the syntax of AddMenuItem() is:

Sub AddMenuItem(ReturnValue As String, bmpEnabled As String, bmpDisabled As String, ItemHeight As Int, IconWidth As Int, Enabled As Boolean)

ReturnValue: the value that will be returned to the ABSYNCMenuEvent() function. This is also the text that will be shown next to the icon
bmpEnabled: the file name of the bmp for the Enabled icon.
bmpDisabled: the file name of the bmp for the Disabled icon.
ItemHeight: the height of this item.
IconWidth: the width of the iconspace.
Enabled: is this item enabled.

The full item looks like this:

ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItemBegin
ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItem("Menu", "abmenuE.png", "abmenuD.png", 50dip, False, True, True, 160dip)
ABSYNCMenu.AddMenuItem("Register", "", "", 40dip, 30dip, True)
ABSYNCMenu.AddMenuItem("Connections", "ConnectionsE.png", "ConnectionsD.png", 40dip, 0, True)
ABSYNCMenu.AddMenuItem("Tables", "", "", 40dip, 0, False)
ABSYNCMenu.AddActionBarItemEnd

After all items are added, end the ABSYNC menu definition and add it to this activity:

ABSYNCMenu.ABSYNCMenuEnd(ABS_ActionBarPanel, ABS_DropdownMenuPanel)
Activity.AddView(ABS_MainMenuPanel, 0,0, Activity.Width, ABSYNCMenu.ActionBarHeight)

Now we can write our function that will handle the menu click event. This function will be automatically called by the ABSYNCMenu module.
This function is straightforward. The comments will explain what happens:

' function that returns if someone clicked on an action bar item or on a sub menu item
' Here is where you do your stuff
Sub ABSYNCMenuEvent(ReturnValue As String, HasMenu As Boolean)
	If HasMenu Then
		' is an action bar item with a menu, open it and return
		ABS_MainMenuPanel.SetLayout(0,0, Activity.Width, Activity.Height)
	Else
		' is an action bar item without a menu OR an actual menu item so we have to handle it
		ABS_MainMenuPanel.SetLayout(0,0, Activity.Width, ABSYNCMenu.ActionBarHeight)
		Select Case ReturnValue
			Case "Home"
				LoadLayoutIntoActivity("1")
			Case "Register"
				LoadLayoutIntoActivity("2")
			Case "Connections"
				LoadLayoutIntoActivity("3")
			Case "Tables"
				LoadLayoutIntoActivity("4")
			Case "All tables"
				ToastMessageShow(ReturnValue, False)
			Case "Register tables"
				ToastMessageShow(ReturnValue, False)
		End Select
	End If
        ' and redraw the action bar and menu
	ABSYNCMenu.Draw(ABS_ActionBarPanel, ABS_DropdownMenuPanel)
End Sub

Finally we’ll have to cover the touch events on the tree panels. We’ll send the event to the ABSYNCMenu module an it will handle all the rest for you.

Sub ABS_ActionBarPanel_Touch (Action As Int, X As Float, Y As Float) As Boolean 'Return True to consume the event
	' in the touch event, let the ABSYNCMenu module handle the touch
	Return ABSYNCMenu.DoActionBarTouch(Action, X, Y)
End Sub

Sub ABS_DropdownMenuPanel_Touch (Action As Int, X As Float, Y As Float) As Boolean 'Return True to consume the event
	' in the touch event, let the ABSYNCMenu module handle the touch
	Return ABSYNCMenu.DoMenuTouch(Action, X, Y)
End Sub

Sub ABS_MainMenuPanel_Touch (Action As Int, X As Float, Y As Float) As Boolean 'Return True to consume the event
	' did not touch a menu or action bar item. Close it up!
	ABS_MainMenuPanel.SetLayout(0,0, Activity.Width, ABSYNCMenu.ActionBarHeight)
	Return True
End Sub

Finished! As you can see with some very easy coding we’ll have a fully working actionbar with dropdown menu’s!

Check out the source code with the ABSYNCMenu.bas module here:
http://gorgeousapps.com/ABSYNCMenu.zip

Until next time!

Click here to Donation if you like my work

Basic4Android: Just got even better with version 1.9


The new version of B4A is here!

To celebrate the new version I have a coupon for the first 20 lucky readers who buy the Basic4android Enterprise Version for $49.5
instead of $99!

Folow this link Buy B4A Enterprise
and use coupon code: auxkmr

This version includes several important new features:

– Designer scripts – this is probably the most innovative feature added to Basic4android since the first version. It will make it much easier to support different screen sizes and resolutions.

As quoted from the B4A website:

One of the most common issues that Android developers face is the need to adopt the user interface to devices with different screen sizes.
As described in the visual designer tutorial, you can create multiple layout variants to match different screens.
However it is not feasible nor recommended to create many layout variants.

Basic4android v1.9 introduces a new tool named “designer scripts” that will help you fine tune your layout and easily adjust it to different screens and resolutions.

The idea is to combine the usefulness of the visual designer with the flexibility and power of programming code.

– B4A-Bridge – now supports Bluetooth connections as well as wireless connections.
– Java 7 JDK is supported.
– The logging system was improved and all error messages should now show in the filtered logs.
– List.SortType – new method that allows sorting items of custom types based on one of the type fields.
– Bug fixes and other minor improvements.

Read more on the new exciting scripts feature here.

Basic4Android: Using the new 3D Camera in ABExtDrawing 1.1

I’ve added the Camera object to the ABExtDrawing library for Basic4Android. This object must not be confused with the hardware camera. There are other libraries available for that. The new version 1.1 of the library can be downloaded from the B4X website.

The camera I’m talking about is a nice feature you can use to do 3D effects on the canvas without using OpenGL. The picture above is just a noral B4A canvas where we did some rotations and translations on. It simulates a scrolling list where the listitems rotate around their axe.

Additional, I shows other features of the ABExtDrawing library to do some lighting effects.

Let me show you how this is done in B4A.

We create a new type item3D. This will hold one item in the list.

Sub Process_Globals
	Type item3D (bmp As Bitmap, Top As Int, Left As Int, Width As Int, Height As Int)
End Sub

We also have to declare some variables. Note our mCamera variable which will do the 3D conversions and some constants for our lighting effects. On a Paint object we can set color filters which will affect the color values of what we draw with that Paint object. SetLightingColorFilter takes care of that. A LightingColorFilter takes two colors that are used to modify the colors that we are drawing. The first color will be multiplied with the colors we draw, while the second one will be added to the colors we draw. The multiplication will darken the color and adding will make it brighter so we can use this class to model both shadows and highlights. It would have been even better if instead of adding it would have implemented the screen blend mode, but add works OK.

To actually calculate the light we’ll use a simplified version of Phong lighting.

Sub Globals
	'These global variables will be redeclared each time the activity is created.
	'These variables can only be accessed from this module.
	Dim items As List
	Dim HalfHeight As Float

	Dim SCALE_DOWN_FACTOR As Float: SCALE_DOWN_FACTOR = 0.15
	Dim DEGREES_PER_SCREEN As Int: DEGREES_PER_SCREEN = 270

	' Ambient light intensity
    Dim AMBIENT_LIGHT As Int: AMBIENT_LIGHT = 55
    ' Diffuse light intensity
    Dim DIFFUSE_LIGHT As Int: DIFFUSE_LIGHT = 200
    ' Specular light intensity
    Dim SPECULAR_LIGHT As Float: SPECULAR_LIGHT = 70
    ' Shininess constant
    Dim SHININESS As Float: SHININESS = 200
    ' The Max intensity of the light
    Dim MAX_INTENSITY As Int: MAX_INTENSITY = 0xFF

	Dim CurrentRotation As Int
	Dim CurrentTop As Int
	Dim MyCanvas As Canvas

	Dim ScreenTop As Int: ScreenTop = 1
	Dim Panel1 As Panel

	Dim ExDraw As ABExtDrawing
	Dim mCamera As ABCamera
	Dim mMatrix As ABMatrix
	Dim mPaint As ABPaint

	Dim PI As Double: PI= 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197

	Dim ClearRect As Rect

	Dim CurrY As Int
End Sub

In the Activity_Create sub we initialize mCamera and the other variables like mPaint which we will also need for our lighting. Also our pictures are preloaded.

Sub Activity_Create(FirstTime As Boolean)
	Activity.LoadLayout("1")

	MyCanvas.Initialize(Panel1)

	HalfHeight = Activity.Height / 2

	Dim backbmp As Bitmap
	backbmp.Initialize(File.DirAssets, "background.png")
	Dim backbmp2 As Bitmap
	backbmp2.Initialize(File.DirAssets, "background2.png")
	Dim backbmp3 As Bitmap
	backbmp3.Initialize(File.DirAssets, "background3.png")

	Dim conbmp As Bitmap
	conbmp.Initialize(File.DirAssets, "contact_image.png")
	Dim conbmp2 As Bitmap
	conbmp2.Initialize(File.DirAssets, "contact_image2.png")
	Dim conbmp3 As Bitmap
	conbmp3.Initialize(File.DirAssets, "contact_image3.png")

	items.Initialize
	Dim i As Int
	Dim random As Int
	For i = 0 To 19
		random = Rnd(0,3)
		If random = 0 Then
			items.Add(CreateNewItem(backbmp, conbmp, "Colleague " & i, "Name of colleague " & i, 25, i*175, Activity.Width - 50, 120))
		Else
			If random = 1 Then
				items.Add(CreateNewItem(backbmp2, conbmp2, "Friend " & i, "Name of friend " & i, 25, i*175, Activity.Width - 50, 120))
			Else
				items.Add(CreateNewItem(backbmp3, conbmp3, "Client " & i, "Name of the client " & i, 25, i*175, Activity.Width - 50, 120))
			End If
		End If
	Next

	CurrentRotation = -(DEGREES_PER_SCREEN * ScreenTop) / Activity.Height

	ClearRect.Initialize(0,0,Activity.Width, Activity.Height)

	mCamera.Initialize
	mMatrix.Initialize
	mPaint.Initialize
	mPaint.SetAntiAlias(True)
    mPaint.SetFilterBitmap(True)

	DrawMe
End Sub

The sub CreateNewItem() is used to make one list item. Default B4A canvas drawing functions are used to show how well they work together with the ABExtDrawing functions.

Sub CreateNewItem(Background As Bitmap, icon As Bitmap, Subj As String, desc As String, Left As Int, Top As Int, Width As Int, Height As Int) As item3D
	Dim item As item3D
	Dim c As Canvas
	item.Initialize
	item.bmp.InitializeMutable(Width, Height)

	c.Initialize2(item.bmp)

	' background
	Dim dstR As Rect
	dstR.Initialize(0,0,Width,Height)
	c.DrawBitmap(Background,Null, dstR)

	' draw Icon
	dstR.Initialize(15,15, icon.Width, icon.Height)
	c.DrawBitmap(icon, Null, dstR)

	c.DrawText(Subj, 100, 30,Typeface.DEFAULT_BOLD,16, Colors.White,"LEFT")
	c.DrawText(desc, 100, 60, Typeface.DEFAULT,16, Colors.White,"LEFT")

	item.Top = Top
	item.Left = Left
	item.Width = Width
	item.Height = Height
	Return item
End Sub

In the drawItem() sub all calculations are done for one item in the list. Each item will be a block that will rotate around its X-axis and look like it is rolling on the ground when the list stars to scroll. Each block will be as wide as the item normally is and the depth will be the same as the height. We’ll use the same bitmap for all the sides.

So what do we need to do to achieve this effect? In order to draw the blocks we need to draw the bitmap two times (since we will almost always see two sides of the block). We also need to have some kind of rotation variable to keep track of the main rotation. Since the blocks should rotate when the user scrolls the list and the blocks should have the same rotation (so that they all face up at the same time, see further).

Sub DrawItem(item As item3D)
	Dim CenterX As Float
	Dim CenterY As Float

	' get centerX AND centerY
	CenterX = item.Width / 2
	CenterY = item.Height / 2

    ' get scale
    Dim distFromCenter As Float
	distFromCenter = (item.Top + CenterY - HalfHeight) / HalfHeight
	Dim scale As Float
	scale = (1 - SCALE_DOWN_FACTOR * (1 - Cos(distFromCenter)))

    ' get rotation
    Dim RotationX As Float
	RotationX = CurrentRotation - 20 * distFromCenter
    RotationX = RotationX Mod 90
    If (RotationX < 0) Then
        RotationX = RotationX + 90
    End If	

    ' draw it
    If (RotationX < 45) Then
		drawFace(item, CenterX, CenterY, scale, RotationX - 90)
        drawFace(item, CenterX, CenterY, scale, RotationX)

    Else
        drawFace(item, CenterX, CenterY, scale, RotationX)
        drawFace(item, CenterX, CenterY, scale, RotationX - 90)
    End If
End Sub

Finally, DrawFace is called and this is where the magic happens. Worth noting is that the code that will draw one face of the block is the same, it just depends on the rotation, so it’s extracted to a method. To draw a complete block we then simply draw two faces 90 degrees apart at the same place.

To draw a face we first translate the camera so that the face will be drawn closer to us. Then we rotate it and after that we translate it back so we don’t scale it. Keep in mind that the calls to the camera, just like the rotate, translate and scale methods on Canvas, needs to be written in reversed order, so to speak. In the code below, it is the last line that translates the face towards us, then we rotate it, and finally, with the first line, we translate it back.

mCamera.translate(0, 0, centerY);
mCamera.rotateX(rotation);
mCamera.translate(0, 0, -centerY);

The rest of drawFace is not that hard. It gets the matrix from the camera, pre and post translates the matrix and then draws the bitmap with the matrix.

This code will draw each item as if placed in the origin in 3D space and then we move the items to the correct place on the screen using pre and post translate on the matrix. This moves what we draw in 2D space without changing the perspective. We could apply the translation in X and Y on the camera instead, then the translation would be in 3D space and it would affect the perspective. We’re not doing that here because I want the appearance of a larger field of view than the fixed field of view of the camera. Instead, we fake it by slightly rotating and scaling the items depending on the distance from center of the screen.

We calculate the light and create a LightingColorFilter that we can set to our Paint object.

Sub drawFace(item As item3D, CenterX As Float, CenterY As Float, scale As Float, RotationX As Float)
	' save the camera state
    mCamera.save

    ' translate AND Then rotate the camera
    mCamera.translate(0, 0, CenterY)
    mCamera.rotateX(RotationX)
	mCamera.translate(0, 0, -CenterY)

    ' get the matrix from the camera AND Then restore the camera
    mCamera.getMatrix(mMatrix)
    mCamera.restore()

    ' translate AND scale the matrix
    mMatrix.preTranslate(-CenterX, -CenterY)
    mMatrix.postScale(scale, scale)
    mMatrix.postTranslate(item.left + CenterX, item.top + CenterY)

    ' set the light
	Dim cosRotation As Double
	cosRotation = Cos(PI * RotationX / 180)
    Dim intensity As Int
	intensity = AMBIENT_LIGHT + (DIFFUSE_LIGHT * cosRotation)
    Dim highlightIntensity As Int
	highlightIntensity = (SPECULAR_LIGHT * Power(cosRotation,SHININESS))
    If (intensity > MAX_INTENSITY) Then
        intensity = MAX_INTENSITY
    End If
    If (highlightIntensity > MAX_INTENSITY) Then
        highlightIntensity = MAX_INTENSITY
    End If
    Dim light As Int
	light = Colors.rgb(intensity, intensity, intensity)
    Dim highlight As Int
	highlight = Colors.rgb(highlightIntensity, highlightIntensity, highlightIntensity)
    mPaint.SetLightingColorFilter(light, highlight)   

    ' draw the Bitmap
    ExDraw.drawBitmap4(MyCanvas, item.bmp,  mMatrix, mPaint)
End Sub

The DrawMe() sub is the overall function to draw all the items.

Sub DrawMe()
	Dim i As Int
	ExDraw.save2(MyCanvas, ExDraw.MATRIX_SAVE_FLAG)
	MyCanvas.DrawRect(ClearRect, Colors.Black, True, 1dip)
	'MyCanvas.DrawBitmap(FormBack, Null, formR)
	For i = 0 To items.Size - 1
		DrawItem(items.Get(i))
	Next
	ExDraw.restore(MyCanvas)

	Panel1.Invalidate
End Sub

And in the Panel1_Touch sub we’ll animate our list. Note that it is here that we make sure all boxes face the same. This is done by the lines:

ScreenTop = ScreenTop + DeltaY
CurrentRotation = -(DEGREES_PER_SCREEN * ScreenTop) / Activity.Height

Doing like this will make the blocks rotate DEGREES_PER_SCREEN degrees when the user scrolls the list an entire screen no matter the pixel-height of the screen.

Here is the full sub:

Sub Panel1_Touch (Action As Int, X As Float, Y As Float) As Boolean 'Return True to consume the event
	Dim DeltaY As Int
	Select Action
        Case Activity.ACTION_DOWN
			CurrY = Y
            'Log("down")
        Case Activity.ACTION_MOVE
			DeltaY = Y - CurrY
			CurrY = Y
			Dim i As Int
			Dim it As item3D
			For i = 0 To items.Size - 1
				it = items.Get(i)
				it.Top = it.Top + DeltaY
				items.Set(i, it)
			Next

			ScreenTop = ScreenTop + DeltaY
			CurrentRotation = -(DEGREES_PER_SCREEN * ScreenTop) / Activity.Height

			DrawMe
            'Log("move")
        Case Activity.ACTION_UP
            'Log("up")
    End Select
    Return True
End Sub

So this concludes this tutorial. You can download the project from http://www.gorgeousapps.com/AB3DCamera.zip

Note that at the first run, it may not work very smooth on some devices. But after some time it goes very well.

Have fun programming and until next time!

Click here to Donation if you like my work

Basic4Android: new library ABExtDrawing

ABExtDrawing is a library I wrote to access more from the Android Drawing classes in B4A. It extends the B4A canvas so you can also use all Paint, Matrix, Region, ColorMatrix and Path functionalities.

Several sub objects are included:
ABPaint: a wrapper for thePaint class
ABMatrix: a wrapper for the Matrix class
ABRegion: a wrapper for the Region class
ABColorMatrix: a wrapper for the ColorMatrix class
ABRgbFunctions: several functions to manipulate RGB values

Also two extended classes
ABRectF: a wrapper around the RectF class. B4A contains the Rect class, but to use some of the functions of this library I needed the float version of Rect.
ABPath: a full wrapper for the Path class. B4A contains the Path class but only exposes LineTo. ABPath exposes all functions (like addArc, addOval, etc…)

This library is to big to list all the functions, but a lot of them are used in the attached demo. It is a B4A translation of the Thermometer project on Mind The Robot http://mindtherobot.com/blog/272/android-custom-ui-making-a-vintage-thermometer/

How to use this library:

The main object is ABExtDrawing. You pass the B4A canvas to each function:

Sub Globals
        Dim ExDraw As ABExtDrawing
        Dim MyCanvas As Canvas
        Dim Panel1 as Panel
end Sub

Sub Activity_Create(FirstTime As Boolean)
        If FirstTime Then
		Activity.LoadLayout(&quot;2&quot;)
		MyCanvas.Initialize(Panel1)
	End If
        drawRim(MyCanvas)
End Sub

Sub drawRim(Canv As Canvas)
	' first, draw the metallic body
	ExDraw.drawOval(Canv, rimRect, rimPaint)
	' now the outer rim circle
	ExDraw.drawOval(Canv, rimRect, rimCirclePaint)
End Sub

The fun part is you can create all kind of Paints:

        ' the linear gradient Is a Bit skewed For realism
	rimPaint.Initialize
	rimPaint.SetFlags(rimPaint.flag_ANTI_ALIAS_FLAG)
	rimPaint.SetLinearGradient2(1,0.40, 0.0, 0.60, 1.0, Colors.RGB(0xf0, 0xf5, 0xf0),Colors.RGB(0x30, 0x31, 0x30),rimPaint.ShaderTileMode_CLAMP)
	rimPaint.DoShaderSingle(1)

	rimCirclePaint.Initialize
	rimCirclePaint.SetAntiAlias(True)
	rimCirclePaint.SetStyle(rimCirclePaint.Style_STROKE)
	rimCirclePaint.SetColor(Colors.ARGB(0x4f, 0x33, 0x36, 0x33))
	rimCirclePaint.SetStrokeWidth(0.005)

Or make extended Paths:

        handPath.Initialize
	handPath.moveTo(0.5, 0.5 + 0.2)
	handPath.lineTo(0.5 - 0.010, 0.5 + 0.2 - 0.007)
	handPath.lineTo(0.5 - 0.002, 0.5 - 0.32)
	handPath.lineTo(0.5 + 0.002, 0.5 - 0.32)
	handPath.lineTo(0.5 + 0.010, 0.5 + 0.2 - 0.007)
	handPath.lineTo(0.5, 0.5 + 0.2)
	handPath.addCircle(0.5, 0.5, 0.025, handPath.Direction_CW)

You can also use the Save and Restore functions of the canvas:

Sub drawScale(Canv As Canvas)
	ExDraw.drawOval(Canv, scaleRect, ScalePaint)

	ExDraw.save2(Canv, ExDraw.MATRIX_SAVE_FLAG)
	Dim i As Int
	Dim y1 As Float
	Dim y2 As Float
	Dim value As Int
	Dim valueString As String
	For i = 0 To totalNicks
		y1 = scaleRect.top
		y2 = y1 - 0.020

		ExDraw.drawLine(Canv, 0.5, y1, 0.5, y2, ScalePaint)

		If (i Mod 5 = 0) Then
			value = nickToDegree(i)
			If (value &gt;= minDegrees AND value &lt;= maxDegrees) Then
				valueString = value
				ExDraw.drawText(Canv, valueString, 0.5, y2 - 0.015, ScalePaint)
			End If
		End If

		ExDraw.rotate2(Canv, degreesPerNick, 0.5, 0.5)
	Next
	ExDraw.restore(Canv)
End Sub

And write filters like this GreyScale filter:

Sub GrayScale(bmp As Bitmap) As Bitmap
    Dim bmpGrayscale As Bitmap
    bmpGrayscale.InitializeMutable(bmp.Width, bmp.height)
    Dim c As Canvas
    c.Initialize2(bmpGrayscale)

    Dim paint As ABPaint
    paint.Initialize

    Dim mat As ABColorMatrix
    mat.Initialize
    mat.SetSaturation(0)

    paint.SetColorMatrixColorFilter2(mat)

    ExDraw.drawBitmap2(c, bmp, 0, 0, paint)

    Return bmpGrayscale
End Sub

Because of all the possibilities this library has, I may do some more articles on this blog.

For more information on what you can do with the library, look into the Android Documentation http://developer.android.com/reference/android/graphics/Canvas.html

As a registered user, you can download the library from the Basic4Android website
The demo project can be downloaded from http://www.gorgeousapps.com/ABExtDrawingDemo.zip

Click here to Donation if you like my work

Prepare for Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich is coming and it seems there are a couple of changes for us developers. The new Android version will bring phones and tablets closer together. Google has put a tutorial online so we can start preparing us.

The Ice Cream Sandwich release will support big screens, small screens, and everything in between. This is the way Android will stay from now on: the same version runs on all screen sizes.

As for now, a Honeycomb application runs only on big screens and it didn’t need to think about smaller screens. In ICS, the developer will need to prepare for different layouts.

In the tutorial, Google gives tips on how you can make a layout that works well on both type devices.

Developers can already start to include some of the changes. ICS will be available around the beginning of November. Some say the Nexus Prime will be launched on November 3th and this device will have ICS.

Wondering how Basic4Android will cope with those changes.

We’ll keep an eye on that!

See the Google tutorial for more tips: http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2011/09/preparing-for-handsets.html

Augmented Reality: bring out the Bat-Signal!

After playing around with AR, I’ve decided to make a B4A library from an existing AR library: NyARToolkit (http://nyatla.jp/nyartoolkit/).

Some functions did not work properly and I had to rewrite some of them so they could fit in a B4A library. I also wanted to use the GLSurfaceView from Andrew Graham in basic4android. To do this, I had to extract everything that had to do with 3D and OpenGL. It took some fiddling around, but I think I cracked it.

With a couple of lines in b4a, I can now find the markers and put a 3D model on top of it. The speed and accuracy of the NyARToolkit is ok and it is certainly possible to make some fun projects.

Just to play around, I’ve put one of my favorite superheroes on top of the marker. Batman to the rescue!

Example of the code needed to get the markers:

Sub ABAR_MarkersFound()
	
	Dim Vect As ABARVector2D
	Dim a As Int
	Dim b As Int
	Dim Markers As List
	Markers.Initialize
	Markers = ABAR.GetMarkers()
	Dim corners As List
	corners.Initialize
	Dim Msg As String
	
	FoundMarkers = markers.Size - 1
	For a = 0 To foundMarkers
		
		Mark = Markers.Get(a)
		conf(a) = Mark.Confidence
	
		counter = 0
		Msg = "Marker: " & Mark.ARCodeIndex & CRLF
		Msg = Msg & "x:" & Mark.Center.x & " y:" & Mark.Center.y & CRLF
		Msg = Msg & "Confedence:" & Mark.Confidence & CRLF
		Corners = Mark.Corners
		Vect = Corners.Get(0)
		Msg = Msg & "Corner1=x:" & vect.x & "y:" & vect.y & CRLF
		Vect = Corners.Get(1)
		Msg = Msg & "Corner2=x:" & vect.x & "y:" & vect.y & CRLF
		Vect = Corners.Get(2)
		Msg = Msg & "Corner3=x:" & vect.x & "y:" & vect.y & CRLF
		Vect = Corners.Get(3)
		Msg = Msg & "Corner4=x:" & vect.x & "y:" & vect.y & CRLF
		Markfound = True
		For b = 0 To 15
			tmpresultf(a,b) = Mark.resultf(b)
			tmpcameraRHf(b) = Mark.cameraRHf(b)
		Next
		Msg = Msg & CRLF
			
		useRHfp = True
		drawp = True

		Log(Msg)		
	Next
	glsv.RequestRender
End Sub

Let’s get physical with Basic4Android

One of the libraries I wrote for Basic4Android is ABPhysicsEngine. This is a full 2D Newton engine. Games like ‘Angry Birds’ and ‘Cut the rope’ are made with similar engines. This one is very easy to use within B4A.

For this tutorial you must download version 1.1 of the library from the B4A forum!

Here is a little ‘anti-stress’ game I made with the library in B4A. You have to tap very fast anywhere on the screen and all kind of balls will appear and fall down on the two running Garfields. No winning or prices, but this is for learning purposes anyway.

Let’s get started with the tutorial…

Augmented Reality: Taking away the rainbow

For the Augmented Reality project, I’ll need to grayscale the image.

There are 3 types of grayscaling available in the class but the one I’ll need will be BT709. It turns out it gives the best results for searching glyphs.

It’s a simple conversion but already we have something to take into account when we use Java: the byte type. A byte in java has a value of -128 to 127 instead of 0 to 255. Therefor we will need to do & 0xFF when we return the grayscaled bitmap.

I’ll have to remember this for future calculations on the imageData array!

Here is the class. De imageData is kept in memory as I’ll need those pixels anyway to do the next step: Edge detection!

// Copyright © Alain Bailleul, Alwaysbusy's Corner 2011
//
// Grayscale type values from:
//
// AForge Image Processing Library
// AForge.NET framework
// http://www.aforgenet.com/framework/

import android.graphics.Bitmap;
import android.graphics.Color;

public static class ABImage
{
    //data that will contain the grayscaled pixels
    public byte[] imageData;
    public int width=0;
    public int height=0;
    private double RedCoefficient;
    private double GreenCoefficient;
    private double BlueCoefficient;

    //3 types of grayscaling
    public void SetGrayscaleBT709() {
        RedCoefficient   = 0.2125;
        GreenCoefficient = 0.7154;
        BlueCoefficient  = 0.0721;
    }

    public void SetGrayscaleRMY() {
        RedCoefficient   = 0.5000;
        GreenCoefficient = 0.4190;
        BlueCoefficient  = 0.0810;
    }

    public void SetGrayscaleY() {
        RedCoefficient   = 0.2990;
        GreenCoefficient = 0.5870;
        BlueCoefficient  = 0.1140;
    }

    // create a 8 bit byte array with the pixels of the grayscaled image
    public void FromBitmap( Bitmap image )
    {
        width = image.getWidth();
        height = image.getHeight();

        int[] pixelData = new int[width * height];
        int i = 0;

        image.getPixels(pixelData, 0,width, 0, 0, width, height);

        for (int pixeldatai: pixelData)
        {
             imageData[i++] = (byte) ( RedCoefficient * Color.red(pixeldatai)
                                    + GreenCoefficient * Color.green(pixeldatai)
                                    + BlueCoefficient * Color.blue(pixeldatai));
        }
    }

    //return the grayscale byte array back to a 32 bit bitmap
    public Bitmap ToBitmap()
    {
        int[] pixelData = new int[width * height];
        int i=0;

        for (byte imageDatai: imageData)
        {
            pixelData[i++] = ((255 & 0xFF) << 24) | //alpha
                ((imageDatai & 0xFF) << 16) | //red
                ((imageDatai & 0xFF) << 8 )  | //green
                ((imageDatai & 0xFF) << 0 ); //blue
            }
        return Bitmap.createBitmap(pixelData, width, height, Bitmap.Config.ARGB_8888);
    }
}

Augmented Reality on Android, a start…

I’m looking into Augmented reality on my Android phone and tablet. The main functions will be written in java and then used as a library in B4A. I’m looking into AForge.NET and I’ll probably will port some code from their C# library to java.

The first step I do is searching for glyphs in an image. This is an example of one of those glyphs:

For a human it is no problem to locate the glyphs, but for a computer it is quite a challenge.

These are the steps I’m planning to make:

1. Downscale the image to a smaller picture (for speed)

2. Convert the picture to an array of pixels

3. Greyscale the image using the pixel array

4. Run some Edge detection algorithm to help me find the blobs

5. examine the blobs and look which ones look quadrangular

6. Check if they are an actual glyph

7. calculate its position in 3D space

8. use OpenGL to show an object on the glyph

And all of this as fast as possible!

I’ll keep you posted.

Basic4Android: A new easy to use programming language for Android

Don’t let the name fool you! Although being very easy to use, it’s a powerful language. The syntax is very similar to the good old VB6, but when compiled its pure Java. Even more, you can write your own libraries in Java and use them in the IDE.

An excellent feature of B4A is the B4A-Bridge: simply the best way to debug your code line by line fast. Yes, I said debug line by line! You can place break points in your code and read the value of variables. I did mention it looked a lot like VB6, didn’t I 🙂

I’ve written some libraries in java for B4A and they are freely downloadable if you have a license. And why shouldn’t you? You can have B4A Enterprise for the ridiculous sum of $99 USD.

Anyway, definitely worth to check out!

http://www.basic4ppc.com/index.html