Developer blues... Why bother?
This normally optimistic developer was feeling a little down this morning and found myself muttering the question "Why bother?". After thinking about it a bit, I feel a little better now. But like many of you, I am still a discouraged by PB's deficiencies and delays in getting them resolved. I have been working hard on some improvements to my app but it's getting hard to justify my efforts with an elephant named Magnetometer in the room.
Without access to the compass, I can't work on the enhancements that matter the most. This means that I can't deliver what I promised to my customers - and that bothers me a lot. I am itching to get started implementing Augmented Reality features and I am asking for some assistance from some of the many Android Gurus lurking in these precincts.
Below is a request that I posted in the official RIM developers' forums. I have cross-posted it here in the hope that someone can help with fast-tracking my app's "point-and-view" capability.
Magnetometer workaround for AIR app
Android developer's are fortunate in that the PB's magnetometer is available and working in the player. Unfortunately my native AIR app won't have access until NDK 2.0 is released and some kind C++ developer provides an ANE. Meanwhile I am exploring possible ways to fast-track testing features that require access to the compass. The augmented reality features that I want to add to my astronomy app are quite complex and I am looking for a way to get a head start on development. I think that a temporary work-around would be useful for other AIR developers who are wanting to include AR features in their apps but are being held up by SDK limitations..
Woiuld it be possiblee to build an Android daemon app to provide manetometer readings via a socket connection?Could a native AIR app communicate with such a service running in the Android player? Does such an app already exist and if so, how can I get my hands on it?
PlayBook does indeed have a bright future.
On the other hand, sales of my app are very poor and there has not been a new review since DevCon. I will be submitting an update with significant enhancements shortly but it won't include the "big one" that everyone has been requesting. I am worried about the reception that it will receive.
- CrackBerry Genius
11-01-2011, 09:57 AM #5
- 2,627 Posts
Developer blues... Why bother?
I've had your app since it came out. Good job.
But as far as waiting on that one big update ... If this 2.0 debacle has showed us anything is that small incremental updates that fix small things and open new features and options is FAR better than holding out until its all done.
Sent from my BlackBerry 9850 using Tapatalk
Any comments on my proposal for a fast-track - is this possible?
- CrackBerry Abuser
11-01-2011, 10:32 AM #7
- 348 Posts
I have your app as well, and it is great. Just used it last night as we took a small bench break while trick-n-treating. I think that we, the customers, understand that the delay of your major features /upgrades are there due to you waiting for updates from RIM.
I build a lot of system tools and work-flow databases etc and the advise that I can provide is wait and do it correctly. Your question above seems to be a round-about way to get the job done, not necessarily the correct or proper method. I often find that although round-about methods get the job done, they can also cause more issues then the wait would have. I am simply thinking about those on 2.0 beta vs those not. Will this cause a divide in your customer base of have and have-nots? With all of the issues that people have on a daily basis with 2.0 would you not want to wait for a solid system release to customers in Feb.
I think your hands are tied, and yes this is frustrating but some inter-mental updates and clear communication on your intend to upgrade on the release of tools and system upgrades is a good going forward strategy.
Again, you have made a great app, that is very enjoyable and useful in it present state, please hold tight and keep the app awesome.
@pinkert11, thanks for your good advice. Too many devs try to overcome SDK deficiencies by implementing kludges and workarounds in the final product. I'm just looking for a temporary means to get compass readings in order to test my AR code. The app would not be released to App World until there is actual APIs available.
BTW, GPS can give readings for compass heading, but because the device has to be in motion, this method is not appropriate for my app and is also useless for testing. The temporary work-around that I mentioned would give readings from the PBs magnetometer chip and would allow me to test my app's AR functions.
The following note may hurt my sales but so what: For the next few weeks you do not need any kind of app to help you find Jupiter. You can't miss it in the sky these days, even under bright city lights it's just so bright and beautiful!
- 11-01-2011, 12:48 PM #12
Buzz, I'm probably not exactly the person you want to hear back from but I do have good news on your idea, it's very possible!
Here's just an example that shows you can pass data between the AP and applications running natively on the PB, take a look at the attached screenshot. On the left you see Android Player running "Remote Web Desktop" in the Android player, and on the right you can see my simple browser app open to "http://127.0.0.1:8999". Here's an installable BAR file for OS 2.0's AP if you would like to test or look into this more: Remote_Web_Desktop_v5.6.0.bar
Soooo, you need an Android daemon running on the PB that basically just streams GPS info over HTTP/whatever to 127.0.0.1 only. Not too bad from a programming stance, but I'm not sure how familiar you are with the Android SDK.
Hope this helps!
I don't have any information about what data a magnetometer provides beyond a simple value for heading. NDK docs are not yet available for the PB. I would need to know which direction the device is pointed regardless of its angle/orientation in 3 dimensions. I definitely need a better understanding of how the sensor works before designing my implementation. Can you point me to an online link for Android documentation regarding usage of the compass in real AR situations?
Thanks fagain or responding. If you can point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.
- CrackBerry Abuser
11-01-2011, 04:31 PM #15
- 245 Posts
He seems to be very open, and tt least may be able to give you some direction or hope on when the magnetometer be exposed for AIR apps.
1. We do not have to wait for AIR 3.0 for ActionScript Native Extensions (ANEs). The PB implementation of current version of AIR (2.7) already supports ANEs so AIR developers now have access to NDK 1.0 APIs.This ability is not available on any other platform. A tutorial was recently posted so that we can get started using ANEs. This is all great news but it does not solve my magnetometer problem anyway (see next point 2).
2. Native APIs exposing the magnetometer will not be available until NDK 2.0 is released. The release date has not been announced (unless you accept "soon" as a firm date)
3. RIM has not announced that they will provide an ANE for the magnetometer nor the ActionScript classes that would handle events generated by the sensor. Therefore I am resigned to the fact that I will either have to learn C++ myself (not trivial) or I will have to convince a friendly NDK developer to lend a hand (i.e. do the work for me). Neither of these "solutions" is particularly attractive to the average AIR developer. One problem is that each and every developer would be re-inventing the wheel for each API function. Not very efficient!
4. There has been some talk of asking RIM to set up a formal mechanism so that developers with NDK experience can share common NDKs with devs like myself. There would be a central repository from which we could retrieve required libraries. This sounds like something that RIM could and should run with but so far nothing has happened. So I do not know if and when RIM will take ownership of this worthwhile project.
In addition I have recently started a Facebook page and will consider posting ads there when resources permit. I am also highly visible on the RIM support site and have articles in the CB App news section, PlayBookDaily.com and BlackBerrySync.com. If you do a Google search on the words "playbook" and "astronomy" you will get several references to my app - even a few tweets. I am constantly trying to get noticed but my need to do some actual coding (and and my "real" life and livelihood) keep getting in the way.
With all this, my numbers do add up to very much - however I don't complain much because they are currently above average for a niche PB app like mine. For me, this is a long-term project and I am prepared to be patient. My financial situation will improve if and when RIM sells some PlayBooks. Where there is volume, return on investment follows. February cannot come soon enough!
- 11-01-2011, 06:09 PM #19
Coding for Android: Using orientation sensors: Simple Compass sample
And here's some sample code showing a simple TCP server from the Android perspective:
Incorporating Socket Programming into your Applications « Think Android
Simple connection example part II - TCP communication | Hello Android
Hopefully between those links you can at least get started. I'd go grab the Android 2.3.3 SDK (API10), you can get it here: Android SDK | Android Developers
Once you get it installed and such, if you'd like some more help I'd be willing to see what I can help out with. Let me know...
- 11-01-2011, 06:22 PM #21
You're welcome! Also, I tried to choose the 3 different sites strategically so you would get exposure to some really helpful Android coding sites. That's one thing that's different from the BB platform, TONS of shared code out there to help people get started quickly with the platform. Those 3 sites should provide you with examples for most coding scenarios, good luck!
- CrackBerry Master
11-01-2011, 06:27 PM #22
- 1,027 Posts
I cannot personally contribute much to this thread, but I have an ongoing email conversation with A. Saunders at RIM, and I specifically asked about this in my reply to him. Hopefully something helpful will come of it._______________
Lovin' the Playbook!!!
Follow me @BerryInformed
- CrackBerry Master
11-01-2011, 06:52 PM #24
- 1,027 Posts
Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
- 11-01-2011, 06:58 PM #25
i just saw this thread and immediately bought the app. i agree that this app could easily land in top 10 playbook apps. while i cant contribute to your dilemma, i do hope the information you need from rim comes soon.
-a supporting customer