Update Note (March 14, 2012):
Google has discontinued App Inventor on December 31, 2011. Fortunately, it’ll now be maintained and evolved by MIT which has already relaunched it’s new beta version. You can check it at: “http://appinventoredu.mit.edu“.
In a near future, unlike Google’s version, I hope that MIT will let us export the source code of our apps created with App Inventor, and then continue it’s development on an IDE, like a usual Android app.
Today I decided to play a little bit with App Inventor for Android…
I already knew that App Inventor has some limitations, for instance, currently it can’t be used to develop multiple screen apps. But that’s ok if your App doesn’t need to use those unavailable features.
I was thinking to try App Inventor and if I’d like it, maybe I could use it to create the base/core of some Apps. Then I’d export those Apps code to continue their development with Eclipse and Android SDK.
In this way I supposed that I’d be able to overcome those App Inventor restrictions, as far as I didn’t need to get my App back to App Inventor again.
So, after setting up my system (Mac + Android phone) I’ve started the first tutorial, Hello Purr. Below you see an App Inventor screen-shot with this tutorial App.
Figure 1: App Inventor - Hello Purr Tutorial
I was quite happy with App Inventor, specially with its Block Editor which is very interesting, specially because we can visually build Apps without writing on line of code!
It’ll certainly allow some non developers (and not only, I hope) to create their first Apps and it may motivate some of them to go further away and start learning how to program.
Figure 2: App Inventor - Block Editor
Kudos for Google folks by, as they say on the site, having reused the Open Blocks Java library (for creating visual blocks programming languages) distributed by the MIT’s Scheller Teacher Education Program which derives from thesis research by Ricarose Roque.
I’ll not describe blocks here but if you want to know more about it, take a look at the App Inventor Blocks Reference.
This is really great and I think that in a few years, much of the code programming (if we still can call it that, then) will be done with tools like Block Editor.
Now, let’s return to the topic of my post…
After happily hear the meoowww of my tutorial cat on my phone, I was already thinking how it would be nice to use App Inventor to start porting our next iPhone App to Android.
But, then in the FAQs I realized that I can’t do it in the way I want, without being limited to the App Inventor features:
“Can I develop in App Inventor and export the source code to Eclipse or some other IDE to work on it further?
No, App Inventor does not generate Java source code.”
Well, I hope Google will reconsider it…
What do you think?
Do you think Google is right by not allowing the export of those App’s code, targeting App Inventor only to “amateurs” as I called it (with no pejorative intention) to designate non programmers which want to start creating their Apps?
Let me know what you think…