Going Deeper

September 24, 2012 – Returning to build a second app in App Inventor carried a few not-so-surprising, but pleasant results. First, because I was more familiar with the interface of App Inventor, I was willing to play around with the component designer and blocks editor and found myself experimenting more than I did on my first try. Second, having discovered last time that the components and blocks really will come together into an working app, I spent more time preparing to make my second app look better and I put greater effort into making the app more useful. Though I was far from satisfied with its final appearance and functionality, I was happy with the changes that I made.

For example, I noticed in the text tutorial for PaintPot that the final product would simply have colored buttons for selecting color. Wanting to build on that, I took the time to locate a paint bucket image from Microsoft’s clip art collections (copyright and usage are OK for this assignment). I then altered the color in the icon using Adobe Fireworks and saved each copy at a proper size for icons. I feel that these little paint buckets enhanced the visual quality of app greatly.

There was a third result that I’ll briefly note (a result of my return to build a second app), and that was my comfort level with my device and with the use of AI’s emulator. I am still having trouble getting my phone to connect to app inventor in the proper USB mode, but I’m comfortable with using the emulator for periodic testing and with the overall process of getting my app onto my phone when all is said and done.

Perhaps I am, at the present time, somewhat like the majority of beginning programmers who, according to the authors’ comments on page 229 of the text, aren’t quite ready to take into account all software engineering principles. However, reading that particular chapter in the text was helpful as it reminded me that building apps is about more than knowing how to manipulate and construct the event handlers and variables and whatever else goes into an app, but it is also about design.

Who am I making apps for and what problems will they address? Am I willing to take the time to diagram my app’s logic on paper, or will I try to wing with only a mental image in my head? Am I willing to test often in spite of the constant connectivity issues that the emulator and my phone are having? Will I slow down and divide and layer the building process, or will I find my traditional blinders and pull multiple all-nighters because I “just want to see it finished?”

I’m thinking that a useful app for this course’s final project would be a Journey to Excellence (JTE) tool for use in Scouting organizations. I completed a project on this same topic in another class last fall, but there remains a significant amount of work to be done. In fact, the greatest weakness that I felt remained in my instructional design project from last year was the lack of necessary support tools for tracking and utilizing the JTE progam (I simply didn’t have time to develop any). Perhaps this course will give me the opportunity to develop one of these support tools in the form of an app.

Works Referenced

Wolber, D., Abelson, H., Spertus, E., & Looney, L. (2011). App inventor: Create your own android apps. O’Reilly Media, Inc: Sebastapol, CA. ISBN 978-1-4493-9748-7

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