February 23rd, 2012, 12:11 PM
Sounds fair to me! Thanks.
Beware of the robot.
March 5th, 2012, 12:07 PM
I was just wondering if there is a plan to make it possible to 'drag and drop' elements on device? Just for layout purposes it would make it far easier and less restrictive when editing element layout. Guessing not that easy to implement mind you.
March 6th, 2012, 03:07 AM
I have thought about that a ton actually. There are severe limitations with the underlying layout mechanisms that make drag-and-drop a very wonky experience. Since I'm relying on Android's layout capabilities, the positioning and alignment settings are very difficult to represent within a free drag placement approach. Some insight into this problem actually exists in the Android dev environment. They have a graphical editor for adding and placing components into layouts and it's horrible, not worth using beyond just to get the element on the page.
There is one fairly usable alternative I've been considering, but it's an all-or-nothing kind of deal. We could theoretically totally ignore all inter-component alignment (which would make entities appear in the upper-left corner by default) and use the margin values to position elements absolutely. I don't personally like this because it's very inflexible: nothing automatically re-adjusts position as stuff like screens (if you use multiple types of devices) or entities (e.g. a button graphic changes and its a different size) change. Also if you go to adjust your layout and want to move one button, you have to re-adjust all others by hand.
But I've been thinking of enabling this, so you could drag the items directly in Edit Mode and you'd essentially just be setting the margin values. I would also create a 'snap-to' grid of sorts (locking the margin increments to a user-specifiable amount) which would make it easier to position things near each-other.
Something else that should help with simplified layouts is a new feature I recently added (will release it in the next few days) that allows entity groups (ButtonGroup) to automatically position items in a straight row or column. So you add a ButtonGroup to the layout, set it as 'linear', and choose 'horizontal' or 'vertical', and just add items to it and they'll align one after the other.
What do you think?
March 13th, 2012, 03:58 AM
I still like the idea of dragging directly in edit mode as you mention - probably just me, but I find it hard to visualise and layout correctly and very time-consuming without this sort of thing. With that in mind, I think your comments on the 'snap-to-grid' and that dragging/dropping would essentially be setting margin values makes sense to me. In all honesty the thought came from some weird undesirable results I found when manually setting element layout positions and references that I just couldn't nut out. It left me thinking 'wish there was an easy drag/drop/snap to grid type edit mode'
Your idea on ButtonGroup layout I think I understand and that would assist in making things easier with a fresh layout vs.where it stands now. I assume you mean run with that and then edit elements individually/manually to get them aligned exactly where needed? Not as nice as drag/drop, but I can see how it would help for sure.
March 13th, 2012, 02:17 PM
I'll be prioritizing the snap-to-grid dragging mode right after the 2.0 release then, as I believe it'll be a welcome option for a lot of users. There is also the somewhat distant possibility down the road of a PC/Mac editing software that would allow for more complete drag-and-drop editing, and would output a config.xml you could then load onto the device. But this would be quite a bit down the road, as I'd rather get the actual app stable, polished and feature-rich before I focus on that.
Funny enough, the original plan was to only have direct config.xml editing (with the 'Layout Mode' feature which allows you to see the changes happen on-device as you updated/saved your config.xml). I felt that excluded a huge portion of potential users so I started down the whole on-device editing road to get to what's there today. On-device editing was supposed to be a lightweight addition before I launched it officially, but it has ended up soaking up almost six months of new work so far. But it's a different app now as a result. Hopefully for the better. ;D
Yes the intention with the ButtonGroup linear layout would let you quickly create new Entities that would lay out in a way that isn't just clumped together in the corner so you can at least see what you're working with. Since most piece of layout are often arranged in a linear fashion, you may only then need to position the ButtonGroup as a whole and not every single Entity inside it.
One other user flow I've forgotten to mention that should help; there is a rich concept of re-using layout controls, both on your own layouts and between other Andre users. The 'Entity Gallery' in edit mode is intended to be used to store and share not only individual Entities that you've configured for yourself, but entire ButtonGroups of Entities. These modular groups will be one-click sharable to/from andreapp.com, and there will be an open gallery on the site in which you can browse other people's submitted layouts.
So say I make a really nice cursor control layout (e.g. a select button in the middle surrounded by up/down/left/right buttons) with custom graphics. I can click 'share' in my Gallery and it'll upload the entire thing to andreapp.com. You'll then be able to go to the andreapp.com gallery on your phone, browse to this item and click it and have it added to your own Gallery. Then you can drop the entire group, new graphics and all, right into your own layouts. These buttons can optionally already be 'programmed' with functionality too, so you can not only share visual layout, but full functionality too.
So my hope is that as the user base grows and shares components through this mechanism, you won't necessarily be building entire layouts from scratch most of the time. You'll pick and choose these pre-implemented chunks and just arrange them on your device as you wish. Even entire pages will be sharable this way, so you could start from one you like and just modify it here and there to suit your device and tastes.
All that said, I've had a string of unexpected, unrelated distractions occur in the last month or so, and progress is very slow. At this rate, the release version will probably be several more weeks at best. I will however be releasing a new beta by this weekend which adds the linear modes mentioned above as well as a bunch of bug-fixes based on the error reports I've seen.
March 13th, 2012, 03:36 PM
Thanks Luke - sounding great!
March 19th, 2012, 08:50 PM
Some examples that I would like to see included right off the bat that I think would be very useful would be:
1) an example of how to deliver the phone number of a caller on your mobile to Girder in a payload as part of the caller ID plug-in so that we can do as we wish with it, including making text-to-speech announcements.
2) an example of how to trigger events in Girder through Andre on the phone using Tasker. That way we could do things like mute the volume of our PC at the same time as we mute our phones before going to bed, etc.
What do you think? Doable?
Beware of the robot.
March 20th, 2012, 03:30 PM
March 25th, 2012, 04:15 PM
Andre 1.9.31b Available
New in version 1.9.31b:
+ Feature: Edit Timers, Translation animations (alpha,rotate,scale,move) on-device
Beta Expiration now set to May 1st
Feature: Edit Timers, Translation animations (alpha,rotate,scale,move) on-device
You can now create/edit/delete Timers and (most) animations on the device, including all variations and settings. The only exception are sprite animations, which are treated differently and will be added next.
Given that there is only one remaining on-device editing item to add, and just a handful of release clean-up items to do, I've pushed out the expiration date to May 1st, which will most definitely be the last beta released here. Starting in early April, there will be a release-candidate version submitted to the Android market which will receive all release candidate updates until the official 2.0.
March 28th, 2012, 04:49 AM
Think your www.andreapp.com website has been hacked Luke. Seems initial visit and most links end up with porn site redirects Got the download though thanks