.net barcode reader camera Empowering intuitive UIs in Java

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Empowering intuitive UIs
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The power of Android s application framework lies in the way it brings a web mindset to mobile applications. This doesn t mean the platform has only a powerful browser and is limited to clever JavaScript and server-side resources, but rather it goes to the core of how the Android platform works and how users interact with the mobile device. The power of the internet is that everything is just a click away. Those clicks are known as Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), or alternatively, Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs). Using effective URIs permits easy and quick access to the information users need and want every day. Send me the link says it all. Beyond being an effective way to get access to data, why is this URI topic important, and what does it have to do with Intents The answer is nontechnical but crucial: The way a mobile user navigates on the platform is crucial to its commercial success. Platforms that replicate the desktop experience on a mobile device are acceptable to only a small percentage of hardcore power users. Deep menus and multiple taps and clicks are generally not well received in the mobile market. The mobile application, more than in any other market, demands intuitive ease of use. A consumer might buy a device based on cool features that were enumerated in the marketing materials, but that same consumer is unlikely to even touch the instruction manual. A UI s usability is highly correlated with its market penetration. UIs are also a reflection of the platform s data access model, so if the navigation and data models are clean and intuitive, the UI will follow suit. Now we re going to introduce Intents and IntentFilters, Android s innovative navigation and triggering mechanisms.
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Intents and how they work
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Intents and IntentFilters bring the click on it paradigm to the core of mobile
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application use (and development) for the Android platform:
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Introducing Android
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An Intent is a declaration of need. It s made up of a number of pieces of infor-
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mation that describe the desired action or service. We re going to examine the requested action and, generically, the data that accompanies the requested action. An IntentFilter is a declaration of capability and interest in offering assistance to those in need. It can be generic or specific with respect to which Intents it offers to service. The action attribute of an Intent is typically a verb; for example VIEW, PICK, or EDIT. A number of built-in Intent actions are defined as members of the Intent class, but application developers can create new actions as well. To view a piece of information, an application employs the following Intent action:
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android.content.Intent.ACTION_VIEW
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The data component of an Intent is expressed in the form of a URI and can be virtually any piece of information, such as a contact record, a website location, or a reference to a media clip. Table 1.1 lists some Android URI examples.
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Table 1.1 Commonly employed URIs in Android URI data content://contacts/people Geo:0,0 q=23+Route+206+Stanhope+NJ http://www.google.com/
Type of information Contact lookup Map lookup/search Browser launch to a specific website
The IntentFilter defines the relationship between the Intent and the application. IntentFilters can be specific to the data portion of the Intent, the action portion, or both. IntentFilters also contain a field known as a category. The category helps classify the action. For example, the category named CATEGORY_LAUNCHER instructs Android that the Activity containing this IntentFilter should be visible in the main application launcher or home screen. When an Intent is dispatched, the system evaluates the available Activitys, Services, and registered BroadcastReceivers (more on these in section 1.5) and dispatches the Intent to the most appropriate recipient. Figure 1.4 depicts this relationship among Intents, IntentFilters, and BroadcastReceivers. IntentFilters are often defined in an application s AndroidManifest.xml file with the <intent-filter> tag. The AndroidManifest.xml file is essentially an application descriptor file, which we ll discuss later in this chapter. A common task on a mobile device is looking up a specific contact record for the purpose of initiating a call, sending a text message, or looking up a snail-mail address when you re standing in line at the neighborhood pack-and-ship store. Or a user might want to view a specific piece of information, say a contact record for user 1234. In these cases, the action is ACTION_VIEW and the data is a specific contact record
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