Basic4Android

Information about Basic4Android can be found on their homepage at http://www.basic4ppc.com/index.html

This is a simplified basic4android project, the Vampire of Needham used a server to do the calculations and I wanted to do a simpler basic4android program that does something useful.  A friend suggested “How about something to help me find my car in the mall/”  My immediate response was “There must be dozens of apps like that.”  Friends response “Make one that works”  and then proceeded to list off a number of features that needed to be improved or changed.  I looked around and decided to use one of my other PhoneGap based projects to practice with.  Over the last several years I have programmed a number of GPS Geocaching applications.  The first ran on a laptop with an attached GPS unit, the next ran on a netbook and a attached gps usb unit.  Finally the Android came out and I started trying out various schemes.  The schemes all ran ok when the GPS gods were smiling but most of the time it took too long to acquire a position.

Basic4Android Observations

The examples that come with B4A all work – All you have to do is download, unzip into a source library.  Clicking on the source.b4a file opens the source in the editor.  If you click on the link to the editor,  it opens with a skeleton outline of a new program.  The fun part is figuring out the new names for the various functions/methods and the calling sequence of the parameters.  The editor is helpful as it knows what can be associated with which type of object and it makes helpful suggestions while the source is being entered.  The other thing I was not used to is the idea the program is built around the concept of views (called screens by other people)  Because this is a Basic language wrapper it talks to the Android/linux/java via some clever translations and all java naming conventions and Android Manifest are generated as needed.   Because of my experience with PhoneGap I knew what needed to be generated but I didn’t need to change anything at that level.  I looked out of curiosity but I resisted the temptation to fool around.  One of the most important features is the debugger.  I spent a moment reading about and shortly afterward I was stepping though the code as it was running on my trusty G1.   The editor also has a visual designer that runs on the Android emulator or on a droid.  You can have the visual designer part on the emulator and the code running on the Android.   You wouldn’t want to do it in the other order as the Android doesn’t lend itself to visual design (too small and not enough keys to position stuff.)

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