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Google App Inventor - An Introduction

by Dr. William L. Honig last modified 2011-01-23 02:32 PM

A concise guide to what you need to know to use App Inventor to build Android apps

Not a tutorial, not a complete how-to, but a listing of all the key things you need to know. See the readings links for details and places to find out more. These are the Key Concepts for working with App Inventor – the main stuff to get straight: Keeping each of these clear, knowing what they do and when to use them, is key. That’s what this guide helps you do

App Inventor Tools:

Define the user interface: what programmers call the Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Blocks Editor
Describe what happens when: to programmers this is the dynamic behavior of your app
A software version of a phone the runs on a normal computer: use this to test your app when you don’t have a phone to connect
Your mobile phone: Android operating system, of course

Working with Designer:

The key parts that make up the user interface, and a few things you don’t see too. The components you have already added to your app appear on the right center under “Components”
  • Buttons, text boxes, sounds, location sensors
Where you find all possible components and select those you want to use
  • Pick whatever you want to use and drag into the app
  • Change the name of your component to help you understand the app
Components have many properties that give details about them
  • Color, font, size of the component
  • Information the component needs to let it work (sound or image to be used)
Other Things
Designer window in your browser also has
  • Non Visible Components. You drag them to the normal window the views your app but they show up below it
  • Application Assets. Media files that get packaged with your app. Use only for smaller files, not full videos, songs, etc. They appear on the lower right of the Designer window.

Working with Blocks Editor:

Something your app needs to know about or respond to
  • A button is pushed
Event Handler
How your app should respond to an event
  • You build your app by setting up blocks to handle each event that matters
  • Blocks can be either built in or “My Blocks” that give access to your components in the Designer
Several types for you to mix and match to make your app work
  • when … do
  • call a function to work with a component
  • define a variable
  • use data from a component
  • change a property of a component or a variable
  • define a function
have Plugs (stick out) and Sockets (hole for a plug)
  • Plugs send data to other blocks
  • Sockets receive data from others

Other Information:

Other information on this site, please select the links next to the relevant folder on the left hand column.

Links to Online reading materials including tutorials and reference materials for App Inventor are maintained at the following link:

Department of Computer Science

Loyola University Chicago Home

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