Category: Android

Free Unity 3 “basic” License

Last year I talked a bit about some of my augmented reality projects. Many of you have sent questions and posted comments so I suppose there is a certain level of interest in that field. One of the conclusions I had back then was that to achieve a certain level of quality (great lighting effects, surface reflection, etc.) when rendering a 3D model in an augmented reality project, you better use a good 3D engine (such as Unity). I still think this is true.

Yesterday I “discovered” that Unity is offering its iOS and Android “basic” license for free until April 8th. Normally, you’d have to pay $400 for each of them. So if you were unsure Unity was a good choice for your project of not, go ahead and buy it for free. 😉 What a great way to finally test it out.

  1. Go to https://store.unity3d.com/index.html
  2. Select Unity FREE
  3. Add features: iOS and Android (both free until April 8th)
  4. Proceed to checkout
  5. Open email upon reception, and follow the instructions

Now enjoy your brand new installed Unity development tools!

Remove Underline from Android TextView Link

As you may already know, the TextView object has a property named android:autoLink that creates HTML or email links automatically. You also got properties to change link colors such as android:textColorLink and android:textColorHighlight. The only missing option many of us would like to have is a way to remove the underline under the link itself.

Sadly, removing the underline seems to be somewhat “hard” to achieve. So here’s my way of doing this, greatly inspired of the code I found on this blog.

First, let’s create a TextView:

<TextView android:id="@+id/myTextView"
          android:text="Want to search www.google.com?"
          android:textColor="#409bbf"
          android:textColorLink="#783302"
          android:textColorHighlight="#ff0000"
          android:autoLink="web"/>

The TextView above should look approximately like this when rendered in Android:

Want to search www.google.com?

Then we need a “util” class we’ll name URLSpanNoUnderline:

package com.evilcodingmonkey.android.util;

import android.text.TextPaint;
import android.text.style.URLSpan;

public class URLSpanNoUnderline extends URLSpan {
    public URLSpanNoUnderline(String p_Url) {
        super(p_Url);
    }

    public void updateDrawState(TextPaint p_DrawState) {
        super.updateDrawState(p_DrawState);
        p_DrawState.setUnderlineText(false);
    }
}

If you already have a StringUtil-like class (I always have one in my projects), add the following function to it. You may add this function anywhere you want anyway…

/**
 * Removes URL underlines in a string by replacing URLSpan occurrences by
 * URLSpanNoUnderline objects.
 *
 * @param p_Text A Spannable object. For example, a TextView casted as
 *               Spannable.
 */
public static void removeUnderlines(Spannable p_Text) {
    URLSpan[] spans = p_Text.getSpans(0, p_Text.length(), URLSpan.class);

    for(URLSpan span:spans) {
        int start = p_Text.getSpanStart(span);
        int end = p_Text.getSpanEnd(span);
        p_Text.removeSpan(span);
        span = new URLSpanNoUnderline(span.getURL());
        p_Text.setSpan(span, start, end, 0);
    }
 }

The last thing you have to do to replace all occurences of URLSpan by URLSpanNoUnderline in your TextView objects. I do that by modifying the onCreate function of my Activity classes. For example, this is the onCreate function of the “about” screen of my app:

protected void onCreate(Bundle p_SavedInstanceState) {
    super.onCreate(p_SavedInstanceState);

    setContentView(R.layout.about);

    // Remove underlines from HTML links
    TextView txtUrlGoogle = (TextView)findViewById(R.id.textUrlGoogle);

    // Make sure the TextView was instantiated correctly
    if(txtUrlGoogle != null) {
        StringUtil.removeUnderlines((Spannable)txtUrlGoogle.getText());
    }
}

And we’re done! As you can see, this is totally reusable. All TextView properties such as color will continue to work as they are intended to. As I said at the beginning of my post, I did not invented this way of removing underlines, but I think this will help clarify it, and show how it can be easily reused.

Setting Up Eclipse for Android Under Ubuntu

Android using Eclipse under UbuntuI know, tutorials such as this one can be found all around the Web. But I feel this might be helpful for many people reading this blog. I will try to cover everything from JDK installation to deploying applications directly to your phone using the “run” button in Eclipse.

Used for this tutorial

  • Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal)
  • Acer TimelineX 1830T netbook
  • Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate
  • USB cable

Before you continue

Before you continue, please note that I rarely use the Ubuntu Software Center to install packages and applications so I will mostly use command line in this article. If this causes you any problem, feel free to post your questions in the comments section.

Installing Eclipse

If you don’t already know, Eclipse is a free and open source IDE (integrated development environment) that can be used to develop in Java, C++, PHP, Ruby, and many more. To install Eclipse, open a Bash shell and execute the following:

sudo apt-get install eclipse

By installing the Eclipse package, many other packages such as Java JRE and JDK will be installed. This will save you a lot of configuration time.

Installing the Android SDK

Call it a personal preference. but I like to install SDK’s in the /usr/lib folder. If you prefer to install it somewhere else, in your home folder for example, feel free to do so. Note: replace your_user by your Ubuntu user name.

cd /usr/lib
sudo mkdir android
sudo chown -R your_user:your_user android
cd android

Now navigate to the Android SDK Download Page and copy the link to the Linux (i386) SDK. At the time of writing this article, the URL is: http://dl.google.com/android/android-sdk_r10-linux_x86.tgz. Now back to your shell:

wget http://dl.google.com/android/android-sdk_r10-linux_x86.tgz
tar -xvzf android-sdk_r10-linux_x86.tgz

Installing the ADT Plugin for Eclipse

The Android Development Tools (ADT) Plugin is required for any Android development. Follow these instructions to install it:

  1. Open Eclipse (confirm workspace location if prompted, default location is good)
  2. In Eclipse’s top menu, select Help / Install New Software…
  3. Click on the “Add…” button
  4. Enter “ADT Plugin” for the name, the following for the URL and click the OK button: https://dl-ssl.google.com/android/eclipse/
  5. Check “Developer Tools” (to download everything offered) and click the Next button twice
  6. Accept terms and conditions and click “Finish”
  7. If security warning pops, click “OK” to continue
  8. When asked, click “Yes” to restart Eclipse

Configuring Eclipse with the Android SDK

Eclipse needs to know where the Android SDK was installed:

  1. In Eclipse’s top menu, select Window / Preferences
  2. In the window’s left menu, click on “Android”
  3. Click “Browse…” and locate the place where the Android SDK was previously installed (in my case: /usr/lib/android/android-sdk-linux_x86)
  4. Click “OK” but not “Apply”

Other essential SDK components

Before you are ready to start developing, some essential components must be downloaded and installed using the Android SDK and AVD Manager. To open the manager, you can use the download-like arrow icon located in left part of Eclipse’s icon bar, or you can select Window / Android SDK and AVD Manager from the top menu.

Click on “Available Packages” on the left, and under “Android Repositories” select the following packages:

  • Android SDK Platform-tools
  • Android SDK Tools (if in the list, but it shouldn’t at this point)
  • Documentation for Android SDK
  • One or several SDK Platforms (I chose Android 2.1 and 2.2 because that’s the API’s I’m developing for)
  • Click “Install Selected”
  • Select “Accept All” and click “Install”
  • When asked, click “Yes” to restart the ADB

Note 1: it is recommended you choose an Android API as low as possible to reach as many users as possible. Click here for the latest usage share.

Note 2: if you need more help selecting components, please read this.

Adding the Platform Tools to your environment

To make the Android SDK Platform-tools available from everywhere, you need to add the platform-tools directory to the PATH environment variable. To do so, use your favorite text editor (I use nano) and do the following:

nano ~/.bashrc

Scroll to the end of the file and add this line:

PATH=$PATH:/usr/lib/android/android-sdk-linux_x86/platform-tools/

Logout from your Ubuntu session and log back in. Now the “adb” command should be available from anywhere in your Bash shell.

Setting your phone

To be able to deploy your applications directly from Eclipse to your phone, you need to do two things:

  1. Set USB Debugging on (on my phone, with Android 2.2, it’s located under Settings / Applications / Development)
  2. Allow install of non-market applications (again, on my phone, under Settings / Applications)

Connect your phone to ADB

Using your USB cable, connect your phone to your computer. Your phone should “say” it is now under USB debugging. On your computer, open a shell and type:

adb devices

You should get an output like this one:

List of devices attached
1000ed430c4c    device

If you can’t see your device, try:

adb kill-server
adb start-server

Finally, deploy to your phone

Now start Eclipse. Open your Android project or create a new one (not covered in this tutorial).

You will need to create a run configuration at this point if not done already. What is important here is to set your configuration’s target to “Manual”. When finished, press “run” (the green play button). A window entitled “Android Device Chooser” should now open and your phone should be there. Select it and press the OK button. It should then deploy to your phone and the application will start by itself.

If you get a timeout error

When deploying to your phone, you may someday get:

Android error: Failed to install *.apk on device *: timeout.

It can be solved easily by going into Eclipse’s top menu in Window / Preferences / Android / DDMS, and changing the ADB connection timeout.

Why not use the emulator?

The emulator may be a good tool in some situations (you can’t own/test all different devices). But I prefer to develop directly on my phone. This is why this tutorial won’t cover the use of the emulator. At this point, I’m almost sure you will figure it out by yourself as all the required tools have now been installed.

Need more help?

I really hope this will help you getting started with your Android development projects. If this tutorial doesn’t answer all your questions, here are some sites/pages you may want to visit:

As always, feel free to post your questions or comments!

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