Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Programming Mobile Phones - Revisit, Review, DroidScript looking good.

An intense weekend programming the test Android Phone. I was making slow progress with the cross-platform tools: Cordova and Xamarin. In the meantime I have been finding that I can prototype a lot of what we want to do with conventional web pages stored on a webserver not needing phone app programming at all.  I need a simple framework, where Android-only is OK, and framework can add phone functions value to my HTML prototypes.  I did a more in depth look at "DroidScript"and it is looking good. I began by trying to work out from the documentation how it could work with an HTML-based user interface, That was inconclusive so I ran it and found immediately that it offers an "HTML App" option which meets my needs very well.

In principle "DroidScript" is like a simplified "Cordova" but "DroidScript" keeps it simple by only supporting Android. The "DroidScript" IDE (Integrated Development Environment) runs completely on the phone although we can run it from a PC via a web interface using a WiFi connection. This lets us drive "DroidScript" with a full screen and keyboard. The IDE is remarkably capable considering it is a download of only 8 Meg compared to the multiple gigabytes of its rivals. It is a good fresh experience to make small edits then test run instantly.

The "HTML App" experience is of an HTML web page, with JavaScript blocks just as we would expect with standard web pages. The only remarkable element is a script import of "app.js" which turns out to be the interface into the phone functions. So it is a very familiar environment with an extended JavaScript which is highly phone capable.

The authors of "DroidScript" are interested in robotics and have done work on getting robotics support into their APIs. "DroidScript" has resources ranging from community contributed sample apps to paid plugins.

"DroidScript" has a home website and an online wiki, but I found it was best experienced, including documentation, by running it on the phone while remoting from the PC. "DroidScript" is a free app from the Google Play store. There are some paid plugins or enthusiasts can get these and support the project via a premium subscription model.

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