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App Inventor for Android

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App Inventor is a beta release from Google labs that allows drag and drop development of applications for Android phones. Instead of code, App Inventor allows you to visually design applications and use blocks to specify application logic.

Application developers (not necessarily programmers) select "blocks" from a palette, drag and drop them to the application area, and modify properties (e.g. the text that appears on a button). Your phone is tethered to your development machine and your app is downloaded as you build it, so you can test / confirm your work. The available palette includes basic blocks (e.g. buttons, text, check box, canvas) as well as blocks for media playback, geo-location, social networking (e.g. connecting to Twitter), sensors (camera, accelerometer), and "programming stuff" (e.g. database connection, loops, conditional execution).

Enterprise developers are increasingly tasked with finding ways to port all or part of an organization's application software to the Web and/or mobile platforms and vendors have responded with tools to facilitate these tasks. InfoQ has previously noted tools like PhoneGap, Rhodes and Ruboto-IRBSilverlight and HTML 5 with CSS 3. Most of these tools are concerned with cross-platform compatibility while App Inventor is strictly for Android phones.

App Inventor is open source and uses the Open Blocks java library developed at MIT and the Kawa language framework. Open Blocks visual programming is closely related to the Scratch programming language.

To access App Inventor, you are required to complete a short form that includes providing an email address - which must be a Gmail address. Tutorials and sample applications are available. App Inventor is a beta release

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Community comments

  • source code

    by luis molina /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    hi, somebody knows if source code of app inventor is public?

  • Re: source code

    by Stefan Wenig /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    The article says it's open source, but I can't find any source that confirms this. Its homepage doesn't say so.

  • Re: source code

    by dave west /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    When I wrote this post, it was my understanding that because the tool is built using other open source software, it too will be open source. However, at the moment it is in beta and you have to be invited to use the tool on a Google server via a browser.

  • Re: source code

    by Stefan Wenig /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    OS X is based on OSS too... Sorry, but this is just making stuff up.

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