Category Archives: B4A

B4A + B4J: Profile your apps ‘live’ with ABMonitor

ABMonitor2

It has been some time since I could give my donators a new goodie;), and this time it is a library/tool to profile and monitor your B4J + B4A (7.01+) apps (not limited to ABMaterial WebApps!) I’ve been needing something like this for some time for my own projects, but couldn’t find one that suited me.  This can be a very good asset to find Memory Leaks or to track which method takes up to much time.

Using a very simple API, you can track how long the code execution time is, the times hit, average time, memory usage etc for any block of code you want to investigate.  I deliberately gave you this API freedom, as profiling ALL your code (as most programming languages do) is just drowning you in to much information so you don’t see the wood for the trees anymore.

QUICK NOTE: Do not forget to set your DONATORKEY and the port in the Viewer params.txt . The same port and the IP of your Viewer have to be used in the apps you are monitoring!

How it works:
ABMonitor uses the Jamon library, which has a extremely low overhead on your code. Just by disabling it (using the SetActive method), you can actually leave it in your production apps if you want (or use B4Js conditional compiling if you want to get rid of it all together in a production app).

ABMonitor consists of two main parts:
1. The ‘live’ ABMonitor Viewer.

Instructions: Simply start the Viewer in a command prompt using: java -jar ABMonitor.jar

This Viewer shows all the stuff you are monitoring with the API. It shows e.g. how many times some part of your code was hit, how long it took, what the average time was, when it was last accessed, memory consumption etc… It is presented in a TreeView Table, so you can check every detail (depending on how deep you’ve coded your profiling).  At the bottom, the last 50 runs are presented in some line charts.

Because the IDE of B4X is ‘live’, so is the Viewer! Thanks to this unique feature of the B4X products, you can update your code and see the results in the Viewer immediately.

Little side note: This ‘live’ IDE part is a little-known/promoted feature (except within the B4X community of course, as for us this is normal), but it has a HUGE advantage over any other tool out there.  In similar market aimed tools, like Xojo for example, you have to compile and re-compile every single time you make the smallest of changes to your code (on bigger projects it takes up to 20 minutes, some users reported). In B4X, just change the code, and continue running.  Not happy with it? Change it again and see what gives. BIG production time-saver! Some of you who used to program in VB6 know what I mean…

2. The ABMonitorB4X libraries (ABMonitorB4A.jar/ABMonitorB4J.jar).

Install instructions: Copy the xml and jars (dont’t forget jamon-2.81.jar), to your B4A or B4J libraries folder. In the IDE select the ABMonitorB4X library, the RandomAccessFile library and the Network library.

This API connects your own apps with the monitor. It basically consists of a Start and a Stop method.

First, we have to make the connection with the Viewer. Thanks to Erels new Resumable Subs, doing this is a breeze:

In Main make some declarations:

Sub Process_Globals
   Public Monitor As ABMonitor

   Private port As Int = 10090 ' <-- Set your Viewers Port!
   Private ip As String = "127.0.0.1" ' <-- Set your Viewers IP!
   Private abmonitor As AsyncStreams
   Private client As Socket

   ' Useful to quickly activate/deactivate the monitoring
   Public TRACKMONITOR As Boolean = True
End Sub

Next add the following resumable sub:

Sub ConnectMonitor()
   Dim c As Socket
   c.Initialize("client")
   c.Connect(ip, port, 5000)
   Wait For Client_Connected (Successful As Boolean)
   If Successful Then
     client = c
     abmonitor.InitializePrefix(client.InputStream, False, client.OutputStream, "abmonitor")
     Log("ABMonitor connected")
     Monitor.SetActive("Template", True,abmonitor, 5)
   Else
     Log("ABMonitor disconnected")
   End If
End Sub

Sub abmonitor_Error
   Monitor.SetActive("Template", False,Null, 0)
   Log("ABMonitor disconnected")
End Sub

You can set the interval the data should be send to the Viewer, in seconds, with the last parameter in ‘Monitor.SetActive(“Template”, True,abmonitor, 5)’.  In this example, it is every 5 seconds.  Note: This does not mean it is tracked every 5 seconds! The library will continue tracking everything, but it will only send all the info over to the Viewer every 5 seconds.

Finally, Initialize the monitor and call the resumable sub when your app starts (a good place is e.g. before StartMessageLoop in a Server app):

...
Monitor.Initialize("YOURDONATORKEY")

ConnectMonitor

StartMessageLoop

Ready to do some monitoring!

As I said, there are basically only two commands: Start and Stop.

There are two ways to monitor/profile your code (you can mix the use of them):

a. Monitor some code:
You want to monitor a query, or a whole sub, … In general this is a complete block of code.

Good practice is using the class/module name as the Group parameter, and the method name as the Label, but you can put whatever you want. This will later be used in the Viewer to group stuff. (Group and Label are the first and second parameters in the calls).

Example:

Private Sub WebSocket_Connected (WebSocket1 As WebSocket)
   If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Start("ABMPageTemplate", "WebSocket_Connected", "")

   '   ... the code you want to monitor

   If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Stop("ABMPageTemplate", "WebSocket_Connected", "")
End Sub

Or tracking a query:

..
If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Start("ABMPageTemplate", "MySlowQuery", "")

Dim SQL_str As String
SQL_str = "SELECT cases.CaseID, cases.CaseUserID, cases.CaseType, cases.CaseSummary FROM tCases WHERE cases.CaseStatus=1;"
Dim cases As List = DBM.SQLSelect(SQL, SQL_str, Null)

If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Stop("ABMPageTemplate", "MySlowQuery", "")
...

b. Monitor methods which are used in multiple places, and you want to know where it was called.
You have for example a page.Refresh method, which is called in multiple places. You can use the third parameter to set the ‘caller’. In general there will only be one line of code between the start() and stop().

This caller will later be used in the Viewer to build a call tree (or stack trace)

Example:

Private Sub WebSocket_Connected (WebSocket1 As WebSocket)
     ...
     If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Start("ABMPageTemplate", "page.Refresh", "WebSocket_Connected")
     page.Refresh
     If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Stop("ABMPageTemplate", "page.Refresh", "WebSocket_Connected")
     ...
End Sub

public Sub ConnectPage()
   ...
   ' refresh the page
   If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Start("ABMPageTemplate", "page.Refresh", "ConnectPage")
   page.Refresh
   If Main.TRACKMONITOR Then Main.Monitor.Stop("ABMPageTemplate", "page.Refresh", "ConnectPage")
   ...
End Sub

As you can see, you are totally free to monitor anything you want.

Call for action: if anyone out there is a guru in making B4i libraries, please PM me!  The java library code is quite simple and it shouldn’t be to hard for an experienced B4i library coder to write one which can connect to the same Viewer.  If we got this one too, then we’ve covered all major platforms in B4X!

ABMonitor is part of a multi-pack on libraries, frameworks and tools all Donators to this blog receive.

Included are currently:

ABMaterial (B4J) A very powerful framework combining a tuned Materialize CSS with the free programming tool B4J. It allows creating Web Apps that not only look great thanks to Googles Material Design, but can be programmed with the powerful free tool from Anywhere Software without having to write a single line of HTML, CSS or Javascript code!

ABExchange (B4J) It can be used to sync the ABMCalendar control with your exchange server and outlook. It can also send a mail.

ABJasperReports (B4J) his is a little library that allows you to export reports created in Jasper Reports in your B4J applications. They can be exported to pdf, html and xls. You can use parameters defined in JasperReports.

ABPDFBox (B4J) With this library you can print PDF files (either by showing a dialogbox or directly to a specified printer). Works in UI and NON-UI apps.

ABMonitor (B4J + B4A) Tool to monitor/profile your B4A (7.01+) and B4J code! Includes the libraries for both platform + the ABMonitor Viewer. See the tutorial for more info.

ABCron (B4J + B4A) A more advanced timer library that can schedule more intelligently tasks using Cron expressions. You can also set a start and end datetime. I’ve added a method RestartApplicationNONUI() that should restart you .jar file when the Cron expression is met.

ABEvaluator (B4J + B4A) Evaluate mathematical expressions. You can also write your own functions in B4J/B4A.

ABPlugin (B4J) Create Live plugins for you own apps. This means you can create plugins that can be added/removed while your app is running. Note it is a little experiment that shows the power of B4J. The ‘compile to library’ feature of B4J is very handy to create plugins.

ABZXCVBN (B4J + B4A) Realistic password strength estimation.

ABTreeTableView (B4J) Custom B4J component which combines a TreeView with a TableView.

Until next time!

Alwaysbusy

Click here to Donation and support ABMaterial


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!

 

 


B4A: ABFlicB4A library for Flic buttons

cute-as-a-button-1

You probably have seen these nifty little IoT Flic buttons around. They are a fun and relative cheap BLE button that allows you to do something when the button is clicked, doubleclicked or hold.

I decided to write a wrapper for the Android SDK to use with B4A.

How to use:
1. Install the Flic app from the Google Play.
2. On their developer page, create a new app: you get a key and a secret.
3. Copy the ABFlicB4A library jar and xml to your library folder and select it in B4A

Here is a small video demonstrating the library.  You can the use the full power of B4A to do about, well, everything…

Example usage code:

Sub Process_Globals

End Sub

Sub Globals
   Private flic As ABFlic
   Private Button2 As Button
   Private Button3 As Button
   Private Button4 As Button
   Private Label1 As Label
   Private Button1 As Button

   Private MyFlicID As String

   Private FlicResults As List
End Sub

Sub Activity_Create(FirstTime As Boolean)
   Activity.LoadLayout("1")
   FlicResults.Initialize
   FlicResults.Add("RESULTACTION_HOLD")
   FlicResults.Add("RESULTACTION_SINGLECLICK")
   FlicResults.Add("RESULTACTION_DOUBLECLICK")
End Sub

Sub Activity_Resume
   ' your key and secret
   flic.Initialize("Flic", "d60d36a0-XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX", "db5c2b3d-XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX", "ABFlicTest")
End Sub

Sub Button1_Click
   flic.ForgetButton(MyFlicID)
End Sub

Sub Button2_Click
   flic.GrabButton
End Sub

Sub Button3_Click
   flic.StartListening
End Sub

Sub Button4_Click
   flic.StopListening
End Sub

Sub flic_Added(buttonID As String, Name As String)
   MyFlicID = buttonID
   Log("Added: " & buttonID)
   Label1.Text = "Added: " & buttonID & CRLF & Label1.Text
End Sub

Sub flic_Clicked(buttonID As String, wasQueued As Boolean, timeDiff As Int)
   MyFlicID = buttonID
   Log("Clicked: " & buttonID)
   Label1.Text = "Clicked: " & buttonID & CRLF & Label1.Text
End Sub

Sub flic_DoubleClicked(buttonID As String, wasQueued As Boolean, timeDiff As Int)
   MyFlicID = buttonID
   Log("DoubleClicked: " & buttonID)
   Label1.Text = "DoubleClicked: " & buttonID & CRLF & Label1.Text
End Sub

Sub flic_Holded(buttonID As String, wasQueued As Boolean, timeDiff As Int)
   MyFlicID = buttonID
   Log("Holded: " & buttonID)
   Label1.Text = "Holded: " & buttonID & CRLF & Label1.Text
End Sub

Sub flic_Removed(buttonID As String)
   MyFlicID = ""
   Log("Removed: " & buttonID)
   Label1.Text = "Removed: " & buttonID & CRLF & Label1.Text
End Sub

Sub flic_Error(err As Int)
   Log("Error: " & err)
   Label1.Text = "Error: " & err & CRLF & Label1.Text
End Sub

I’m currently working on a Desktop/Raspberry Pi version of this library, which I will share in the B4J forum later.

The library can be found at the B4A forum.

Happy programming!

Alwaysbusy


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