Exploring App Inventor

by Amit


Update (March 3, 2012): MIT App Inventor is now BETA and public for general consumption

I have been exploring App Inventor since a month starting with writing an article for Linux Journal. During this time, App Inventor has been shut down by Google, and handed over to MIT to carry on the development of the software. This transition phase has been quite interesting personally. From just being a consumer of the service, I have had the opportunity to play around with hosting the service – i.e. running an AI service on Google App Engine, which anyone can use.

Here I shall summarize some of my own findings and the current state:

The Current State

The current state is in transit. For a more official status update, please see the above link. The summary is that the source code for the App Engine was released a day before. One of the things it allows you to do is run your App Engine service locally. Please see this link for the instructions. Note that you would need ~4G of RAM to give Java enough memory to play around. If you want to host the open source version of the service on Google App Engine, please follow my forum posting here. If you want to continue using the MIT published JAR’s for running your own App Inventor instance, please follow the link here. Basically, to host your service, there are two things you must do (detailed here)

    1. First, upload the App Inventor application to Google App Engine
    2. Setup your build server – this needs to be a publicly accessible machine. By that I mean, this IP should be visible to the world. People have used Amazon EC2. I just used a web host/domain I own personally.

Using the Service

If you just want to start using the service without going into the hassles for setting up yourself, sign up for MIT’s own testing service here. You could also send me an email or comment to be added to the whitelist of users for my own service at http://appinventordemo.appspot.com and just in case you just want to have a look at what all is you may check out the references and tutorials here at http://echorand.com/appinventor/about/.

Getting Help and Sharing your Findings

Miscellaneous

  • Some issue I faced while installing the generated APK’s on the Android device:
  • Once you have got a place to try out App Inventor, remember the only condition is : you agree to have fun! :-) Let us know on one of the forums or in a comment.
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