Scripting Layer 4 Android

Last week I wanted to try out some of the touted “customization abilities” and ease of development of the Android platform for developers.  Being a hacker at heart, I had to give it a shot.

I wasn’t yet ready to fully throw myself into full on app development yet, mostly due to time constraints, and family commitments ( I must keep the family happy after all ).  So I just wanted to try out some stuff without spending too much time on this quest.

After a little bit of googling, I landed on SL4A ( Scripting Layer for Android ).  It appears to be a pretty cool option, as you can use a few different scripting options including but not limited to Lua, Perl, Python, PHP and Ruby.  I personally feel more comfortable, for now, with python, so I figured, what do I have to lose.

Setup is relatively straight forward, you install the sl4a app from their site, follow the instructions to install an interpreter ( i.e. the python, perl or ruby interpreter ).  Then its a simple matter of firing up a text editor on your computer, pumping out the script and copying it to the /sl4a/scripts folder on your phone ( by mounting your phone using USB storage ).  The python interpreter actually had quite a few sample scripts to take a look at, including Google authentication, accelerometer readings, UI components, barcode scanner and Text to Speech.

I wouldn’t recommend this as an alternative to app development, but it is a pretty cool way to prototype, or to test the feasibility of something.  In fact that’s what I used to test the possibility for an App I’m working on. (more on that later).

Anyone out there wanting to try something out, or just see what can be done on an Android device, the learning curve is a lot easy to manage than the IPhone one, especially since you can stick to a language you know.

happy hacking

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Tim Voet has been in the IT industry since 1997. Tim started his career doing tech support and network administration at a large Pharma company. He then spent the next 12 years doing development, leading and managing development teams, mostly in Java, but also some PHP, and Ruby on Rails. Tim has always hands on, and loves challenges that make most people cringe. When he isn't at work, he's spending as much time as he can with his wife and 3 boys. Life can be a busy time with that many young kids. He is currently open to new consulting opportunities, please feel free to contact him with your project information tim - at - timvoet dot com

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