How you can decrease application size by 60% (In only 5 minutes)?

Mobile devices always have limited resources. They have a limited amount of battery, limited storage, limited processing power, limited RAM, limited internet connectivity … and the list goes on. This doesn’t matter if you are targeting Android or iOS. This is the universal truth.

In past couple of months, I was developing an android application Anti-Theft Screen Lock. This application capture image using device’s front camera, play alert whenever someone entered the wrong password to unlock the device. If you want to know more here is the play store page, go ahead and read the description:

http://bit.ly/2lLDOML

Here, I am going to tell you about some simple the tweaks and tricks I applied to decrease the application size. These tricks are very simple and easy to apply. These may help you in your current/future applications too.


Smaller is always batter:

As a developer we always care about the application performance, design and user experience the most. But, most of the developer forget (or underestimate) one thing: Application Size. This is one of the key factors if you want to target next billion users with your application.

There are more than 11000 android powered devices available on the market and most of them are having low-end configurations, limited storage capacity (1GB to 8GB of internal storage) and even 2G or 3G connectivity. These devices are having major market share in developing countries like India, Bazil or countries in Africa etc, where you can find your next billion users.

Keeping your application size optimum becomes very important. The less your application uses storage, the more user gets more free space to store their videos and images. Let’s be honest, you don’t want your user to uninstall your application because of “Storage out of space” notification.

1*cjMsR_IEniBq3SXQ3YtJ6g.jpeg

These developing countries are also having the limited 2G/3G connectivity. So, if your application is large in size, it will take the larger time to download the application (And more chances that user won’t download it in the first place). Also, most of the users are having a limited amount of internet data. Every byte user uses to download the application, will affect your user’s wallet.

So, it is clear that in the world of mobile application,

Smaller is always better.


Breakdown your APK using APK Analyser

Android studio provides a handful tool: APK Analyser. APK Analyser will tear down your application and let you know which component in your .apk file is taking the larger amount of space? Let’s have a look in Anti-Theft screen lock apk file without any optimization applied.

1*qwluezWR7KE9-raJVkAc9A.png

From the apk analyzer output, you can see that the application raw size is about 3.1MB. After applying play store compressions, the application size is roughly 2.5 MB.

As you can see from the screenshot, there are main 3 folders that are consuming most of the application size.

  • classes.dex — This is the dex file which contains all the bytecode files of your java code that will run on your DVM or ART.
  • res — This folder includes all the files under your res folder. Most of the time this will contain all the images, icons and raw files, menu files, and layouts.

1*8ITi0D6JrpibvAC9iTG2rA.png

  • resources.arsc — This file holds all the value resources. This file contains all the data you have under your different value folders. This resource contains strings, dimensions, styles, integers, ids etc.

1*B1MMigEQSVfKIJRmujeIag


So, now you know what an APK is made of. Let’s see, how can we decrease the application size by optimising one by one component.

Reduce classes.dex:

As we discussed, this contains all the java code. While you build your application, gradle will combine all of your .class files from all the modules and convert those .class files to .dex files and combine them in single classes.dex file.

If you are curious, how the compilation process works, visit my another blog post : The Jack and Jill: Should you use in your next Android Application?

Single classes.dex file can accommodate, approximately 64K methods. If you exceed this limit, you have to enable multidexing in your project. Which will create another classes1.dex file to include all remaining methods. Thus the number of classes.dex file depends on the number of methods you have.

1*koKowwJQ0aavZ6-Sh1I6AQ.png

As you can see currently “Anti-Theft Screen Lock” contains 4392 classes and 29897 methods. This result is without applying proguard. You have two default proguard file you can apply.

  • proguard-android-optimize.txt
  • proguard-android.txt

As the name suggests “proguard-android-optimize.txt” is the more aggressive progurard configuration. We used this as the default proguard configuration. You can add you custom proguard configurations in proguard-rules.pro file in your /app directory.

By setting minifyEnabled to true, yo are telling proguard to remove all the unused methods, instructions and slim down the classes.dex file.

Here is the result from minify enabled APK,

 1*FPR6BZkWLBYhHs6YO9lLvA.png

As you can see by enabling the proguard in every module of our project we can we are able to reduce the classes.dex file size almost by 50%. Also, you can see method count decreased from 29897 to 15168 (almost 50%). Hurray…!!!🎊🎉

Size decreased from 3.1 MB to 1.98MB. (~50% decrease)


Reduce res:

The second largest component in your apk size is your res folder, which contains all the images, raw files, and XML. You cannot add/remove/modify your XML, as they are containing your layouts. But we can decrease the image files.

  • shrinkResourcesattribute will remove all the resources, those are not used anywhere in the project. Enable this in your build.gradle file by adding below line:
  • resConfigs attribute will remove all the other localized resources while building the application. In our case, “Anti-Theft Screen Lock” only supports the English language. While all the support libraries may have localized folders for other languages. Which we don’t need. So, add following line to allow only English resources to be added in APK file.
  • Android Studio 2.3, and you application minimum version is 18 or above, you should use webp instead of png. webp images are having less size than png files and also it retains the original image quality. More to that webp images are natively supported in Android. So you can load webp images in ImageView same as other raster images. So, you don’t have to change your layouts.

You can select drawable and mipmap folders from you project, right click and select convert to webp. This will open below configuration dialog.

1*Y51gzPlk1Pcd_0s8lqcc9Q.png

Press ok and it will convert all the png images to webp format one-by-one. If the webp image is having the larger size than png, Android Studio will automatically skip that file.

Let’s see the final result:

1*UiwJkvIhWjrNNj2DU7Z3kA.png

Volla!!! res folder size decrease from 710KB to 597KB.

Size decrease by 105KB. (Decrease by 16%)

You can also convert the images to vector drawable. But for that, you have to make some changes to make it backward compatible. If you want to learn more on vectors see this great post by Chris Banes.


TL;DR:

  • Enable proguard in your project by adding following lines to your release build type.
  • Enable shrinkResources.
  • Strip down all the unused locale resources by adding required resources name in “resConfigs”.
  • all the images to the webp or vector drawables.

Conclusion:

By applying above simple tricks the application size decreases from 3.19 MB to 1.89 MB.

These are the most simple tricks. There are many other tweaks that can reduce your application size. But, you should always apply above simple tricks to your android applications to make sure you reduce the application size as much as you can.

For more tips and tricks you can read this from Android Developers website.

Remember: Smaller is Alway Better. 😉

Glide vs. Picasso

Glide and Picasso are the most used image loading library in the world of android applications. Most of the android application developers have used any of these or both libraries in their career. Both libraries provide number of features, very fast and optimized. They are also well tested on many applications. On the surface, it looks like both are working on the same mechanism. But they both are very different in the way how they download images, caches images and loads them into memory. Today, we are going to look into the core differences between both the libraries and try to figure out which one is the best for application development.

We are comparing Glide v3.7.0 and Picasso v2.5.2 versions for this article. The latest available version might be different depending on when you are reading this article.

Import to the project:

Picasso and Glide, both are on jcenter. You can simply import those into your project with below dependency.

Picasso:

Glide:

support-v4 dependency is not needed for most of the projects as most of them uses support library by default.

Size and Method Count:

While comparing the sizes of the .jar file of both the libraries, Glide is almost 3.5 times larger than Picasso in size.

1rqe23b0xa6fpd6zopjx2aq

Picasso has method count of 849, while Glide has total 2678 method count. 2678 is quite a lot for 65535 methods limit of Android DEX file. You should enable ProGuard if you choose to use Glide.

1se-djihhpw8iwf4gij66aa

Syntax:

Both libraries have almost same syntax if you want to simply load the image from the URL and display them into the image view. Both support the fade animations and center crop. You can also add placeholder image to display while loading the image or while the image loading fails.

Glide:

Picasso:

One thing in which Glide dominates is, it is designed to work with Activity and Fragment’s life cycle too. You can pass the activity or fragment context with Glide.with() and it will brilliantly integrate with activity lifecycle callbacks such as onPause() or onResume().

1*Luh0ueUaCghrAywvkMxE4Q.png

Disk caching:

Both the library supports caching the image in the disk. They download the images from the URL and store those images on the disk by caching. But there are some differences how they store the images in the cache.

Picasso downloads the image and stores the full-size image (in my case the image resolution was 1160*750) in the cache and whenever we ask for the same image, it will return the full-size image and resize them to fit into the ImageView in real time.

On the other hand, Glide works differently. Glide downloads the image from the given URL, resize it to the size of the image view and stores it to the disk cache. So if you are loading the same image in two different sized image views, Glide will store two different copies of the same image in the cache with different resolutions. That will increase the disk cache size, but it has some of its own benefits. We will see that in the next section.

When I tried to adjust ImageView to the different sizes, Picasso cached only single size of the image and that is full-size. While Glide caches separate files for each size of ImageView. On down point of this approach is, although an image has already been loaded once, if you need to load the image in another size ImageView, it needs to be downloaded once again before be resized to the right resolution and then be cached.

Memory:

By default, Glide uses RGB_555 configuration while Picasso loads images in ARGB_8888 configuration to load the bitmap into memory. So for fair comparison, I made some changes in GlideModule to load images in ARGB_8888 format by creating a new class which extended from GlideModule like this:

Below is the graph of memory consumption of loading the image in Glide and Picasso:

1*-TOjFF8NJ6W7bmHZycjDtw.png

By looking into the graph, we can see that Glide is more memory efficient (about 8 MB) than Picasso (about 13 MB). This is pretty much understandable as we discussed in the earlier section, that Picasso loads the full-size image into the memory and relies on GPU to resize that image to fit into the size of the ImageView. While Glide loads an image that is already resized as per the ImageView, that requires significantly less memory than loading the full image like Picasso. This helps to prevent your app from throwing popular OutOfMemoryError.

Time taken to load the Image:

When we try to load an image from the URL, both libraries checks their local caches and if the image is not present in the cache, they will download the image from the URL.

When I tried to download images from the URL, Picasso was quite fast in loading the image from the internet than Glide. Maybe because after downloading the image, Picasso directly pushes the full-size image to the memory; while Glide resizes the image as per the dimension of the ImageView. That needs some time to resize the image. (You can reduce this time by using thumbnail() which we will discuss in later section.)

1*P7b1K_pp494aPLZ2sFI3Sw.gif

But while loading the image from the cache, Glide wins the battle. This is because of an advantage of the way Glide was designed. While the Picasso causes some delay on loading since it needs to be resized the image first in real-time before images are set to an ImageView. Even if you use .noFade()to appear it instantly.

1*0nIGJyOVgut-kCDMbu3kIg.gif

Other features that Glide support but not Picasso:

  • Animated GIF support: Glide supports animated GIF images out of the box. Loading GIF is simple. Just use the same Glide.with(...).load(...)call and if the image you load is an animated GIF. Also, because of Glide integrates with your activity life-cycle, animated GIFs are also paused in onStop() to avoid draining the battery in the background. While as of now, Picasso does not support animated GIF images. So, if you want to display some animated GIF, then Glide is the only option here.
  • Thumbnail support: With Glide, you can load multiple images into the same view at the same time. To first load a thumbnail at 1/10th the size of your view and then load the full image on top, you can use below code:

 This will reduce the time your user has to see image loading spinners without sacrificing quality.

  • Configurations & Customization: One good thing about Glide is, it provides various conflagrations and customization options. So, you can tweak Glide library as per your requirement. You can read more about this at configuration page.

Conclusion:

Neither Glide nor Picasso is perfect. You can use any of this library based on your application requirement. If you want the smaller app and you require very fewer features in the image loading, than Picasso is best. But If you want more customization, animated GIF support, and very better memory management, you should use Glide as your image loader library.

In my opinion, Glide is the winner over here as it handles memory very well and prevents my app from OutOfMemoryError. Also, loads image much faster than Picasso. And yes, the support for animated GIFs is almost killer.

References:

How to decrease your Gradle build time by 65%?

Gradle is very powerful build system. It handles the very complex process of building .dx files from java source code, merging all the resources and assets into the application package (.apk) and signing the application.

But gradle isn’t perfect. It is comparatively slower than other build systems out there.


Why should you care about build time of your project?

For a long time, I was OKAY with my build timings. I thought I can live with this. I used to do other stuff like surfing the internet, making coffee and even taking my lunch while gradle builds my project.

Now, let’s say you work on the above I/O’16 application project for 6 hours a day and run gradle build to install debug apk file on your test device for almost 15 times, you will spend 35 minutes a day and almost 3 hours/week(almost 10% of total time) just sitting idle and watching gradle build running.

That’s why it is very important that you optimize your build timing. The less time you spend watching gradle build your project, the more you can be productive. After all, time is precious.

I applied some modifications in my build process to decrease the build time and here are a few tips for you that will help you to decrease your build timings.


Here for example purpose, we will use Google I/O application as the sample project. We are going to run all the benchmarks on that project. This project contains more than 28 dependencies and 41538 method references. Also, the source code of the application is openly available on GitHub.

1d3wzkk8xca6siekdwgzclq


Build without any modifications:

Let’s measure the time to build and debug app from the project with the current configuration using below command.

./gradlew android:assembleDebug --profile

— profile will tell gradle to measure the time taken to execute each task and dump that data into HTML file. You can find that report under /projectDir/build/reports/profile directory.

1*owSs_JMY2F5KkOziRaRolg.png

  • As you can see it takes 2 minutes and 43 seconds to build the debug apk from the source on my machine. Keep this figure in your mind.

These benchmark timings may vary on your machine depending on your system configuration. Here I am going to use my 13″ Macbook Pro 2016 with touch barto run all these tasks.

Now, let’s try to decrease this time.


Gradle Build Cycle:

Gradle has three distinct phases in build life cycle:

  1. InitialisationIn this stage of the build life cycle, gradle picks the project and decides what things to build.
  2. ConfigurationHere, gradle will evaluate your build.gradle script, configure all the plugins and evaluate the task graph.
  3. ExecutionIn this phase gradle actually runs all the task those were evaluated in previous phase to get the work done and build the application.

As you can see that out of all three phases, only execution phase performs all the operations. That means that first two phases are just overhead to the gradle build process. We don’t care about them. But, sadly whenever you do anything with gradle this two phases will always get executed.

So, how can we measure the time taken to execute first two phases? Luckily, gradle provides — dry-run command, that tells gradle to evaluate the project but don’t run any task. Thus execution phase won’t get executed. So, run this command in your terminal:

./gradlew android:assembleDebug --dry-run --profile

Here is the time taken by first two phase on over Google I/O project.

You can see in above statistics that gradle passed almost 7.8 seconds just to initialise and configure the project. That is completely waste of time for us.


Let’s see if we can decrease the time taken to initialise and configure the project.

Configure on demand:

Google I/O app has two components/modules:

  • Android : That contains the source code related to the andorid application and
  • Server : This contains code related to backend server.

Now, if you are building an android application, you don’t want to configure server component. Right? But previous statistic shows that gradle passed almost a second to just configure server component.

Gradle provides — configure-on-demand flag, that will tell gradle to only build the projects that it really needs to build. Let’s run this command.

./gradlew android:assembleDebug --dry-run --profile --configure-on-demand

As you can see, if we use — configure-on-demandgradle will skip configuring the server module and it will decrease the build time by almost a second. I know this is not a huge gain, but small drops can fill the whole lake!!!

Time decreased : 1 second (6% win).

How you can enable configure-on-demand in android studio?

You can enable — configure-on-demand for every build you can add org.gradle.configureondemand=true in your gradle.properties file or in your android studio, navigate to Preferences > Build, Execution, Deployment > Compiler and check configure on demand option.

1*MBn53rnxIQdfEIWMp9JOOw.png

Enable daemon:

Gradle has a very good feature called Gradle DaemonDaemon keeps the instance of the gradle up and running in the background even after your build finishes. This will remove the time required to initialize the gradle and decrease your build timing significantly.

You won’t be able to see the time difference in your first build as gradle has to initialize and start the daemon, but build times will decrease in subsequent builds as gradle daemon is already initialised.

./gradlew android:assembleDebug --dry-run --profile --configure-on-demand --daemon

1hdjpmnafvlwiwhf4eaqj1q

In our case, the build time is decreased by about 4.5 seconds. Hurray!!!

Time decreased by : 4.5 seconds (71% win)

How you can enable daemon in android studio?

If you are using the gradle version 3.0 or above, the gradle daemon is by default enabled. But, if you are running on older versions of gradle then you can enable it for every build by adding org.gradle.daemon=true in your gradle.properties file.

Always keep your gradle up-to-date:

Gradle itself got faster with each new releases. There are many tweaks and performance improvements in the latest versions of gradle. Also, if you are running on gradle 2.4 or above, gradle will also cache build artifacts and that will improve the build time significantly.

So, always make sure that you are using the latest version of the gradle. You can go to /gradle/wrapper/gradle-wrapper.properties and upgrade gradle version by changing distributionUrl.

While writing this article, the gradle the latest gradle version is 3.3. Here is the updated gradle-wrapper.properties file for I/O application.1*77iuK0YxGUcRmcTPNHpeXg.png

./gradlew android:assembleDebug --dry-run --profile --configure-on-demand --daemon

1*s4ymdQIRaAgpZy_h6Yja8A.png

Time decreased by : 0.7 seconds (82% win 🍾)


So far we achived almost 82% gain in initialise and configuration timings. Now, let’s try to decrease the time required in execution phase.

Increase the heap size:

Since android studio 2.0, gradle uses dex in the process to decrease the build timings for the project.

“Dex in process” is a process that allows to run multiple dex processes to run within the single VM that is also shared with the gradle.

Generally, while building the applications, multiple dx processes runs on different VM instances.1*L-XJGmxyWGvmqYErQ7klZw.png

But starting from the Android Studio 2.0, all these dx processes runs in the single VM and that VM is also shared with the gradle.(You need to have build tool version 23.0.2 or above to enable dex in the process.)

1*6JRzZijRNkHPHlbyUIlaFQ.png

This decreases the build time significantly as all the dex process runs on the same VM instances. But this requires larger memory to accommodate all the dex processes and gradle. That means you need to increase the heap size required by the gradle daemon. By default, the heap size for the daemon is about 1GB. You have to increase the heap size by adding below line in your gradle.properties.

org.gradle.jvmargs=-Xmx3072m -XX:MaxPermSize=512m -XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError -Dfile.encoding=UTF-8

The required heap size varies from machine to machine. For my machine, I found that 3GB heap size is perfect. Any more increase in the heap size doesn’t affect the build timing significantly.

Now, let’s run full clean build using the below command:

./gradlew android:assembleDebug --profile --configure-on-demand --daemon

1*2Bi_Rwf7ySeveu-Icl7nWg.png

Time decrease by : 1 min 43 sec (63% win) — From 2 min 43 sec to 1 min

Modularise and Parallelise build:

Allow gradle to build your project in parallel. If you have multiple modules in you project, then by enabling this, gradle can run build operations for independent modules parallelly. This may decrease the build time significantly for very complex and multi-module projects.

You can enable parallelism by adding org.gradle.parallel=true in your gradle.properties file.

As our project doesn’t have multiple modules, building parallel won’t make much difference.

1*YnJyE8U214HG_4aHinXn1w.png

Time decrease by : 1 min 45 sec (64.5% win)


Other small things to remember:

Avoid heavy computations, like increasing the version code from git commits count or downloading some files from url while building the project. Gradle will spend time to perform those computations or network operations and that will afftect build timings.

Don’t use dynamic dependency like,

compile 'com.android.support:appcompat-v7:23.0.+'

If you are using the dynamic dependencies, gradle will go online and check if there is any newer version for the library is available or not? (Most of the time, it is just waste of the precious build time). Instead, use the fixed dependencies and update them manually time to time.

compile 'com.android.support:appcompat-v7:23.0.2'

TL;DR:

The long story short, add below lines to your gradle.properties file and you will get almost 65% decrease in your build time.

 <gist>2fbf175066a0cadbb3af1008954ed077</gist>

1*5Fmeh0sckqPGpgBbybARHQ-2.jpeg

Continuous Integration and Code Coverage in Android using Travis CI

Testing has always been a trending topic in the world of Android. It becomes a time consuming task in large android projects where multiple developers are working together, maintaining the code quality and resolving bugs; which is a very difficult task.

This is a very serious issue in the open source projects where multiple developers from different environment and different level of expertise contribute to a single code base. Everyone is not the perfect and someone can commit changes that break the application code and we should have something that can alert us if someone is doing something wrong as soon as possible.

It would be great if we can find out that whether the code we are going to push onto our master branch of repository contains any possible bugs that can break the system. Here, continuous integration comes into play.


What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous Integration (CI) is a development practice that requires developers to integrate code into a shared repository several times a day. Each check-in is then verified by an automated build, allowing teams to detect problems early.

In simple words, each time you commit and push your code to the remote repository, continuous integration will check if everything is working correctly in the code before you merge it into your master (assuming you are using git for version control).

With continuous integration, you can:

  •  Automated build process. Every commit/push to a git repo will automatically trigger a new build.
  • Find out Android Lint errors.
  • Coding styles to ensure that the new code is matching the code format that your team has decided.
  • Get the code coverage percentage. This will be really helpful to figure out if any part of the code is remaining to test.
  • Run Unit tests located on your /test directory of project.
  • Run Instrumentation tests located in your /androidTest project.

How to configure Continuous Integration?

As the title of this post suggests, here I am going to use Travis CI. You can use other services available to the market like CircleCI, Codeship, etc. But here, I will stick to Travis CI as it is most used CI service for GitHub projects and also it is free for Open Source projects.

Prerequisites:

  • An account on GitHub. I believe nowadays every developer has it.
  • An account in Travis CI. If you don’t have it yet you can create it from here.

Let’s start with the integration. For the demo purpose, I am going to use API 25 as the targeted Android version in our Gradle and we are going to test our build on API 21 and API 19.

We have skipped the description of some lines as we don’t want to make this article too long and boring. We will concentrate more on the lines which are more important and difficult to understand.

Step-1 : Creating .yml file

First, create a .travis.yml file into your project’s root directory. This file will contain the configuration script for the automated build testing.

1fshca7ehyvosixq8sczwca

Step-2 : Basic setup:

Add above lines at the starting of the file. This basically tells Travis that this repository is an android application source code and it has to use Java 8 for compilation. The notification section will provide email notifications on the email you provided whenever a build gets completed successfully or fails due to some error.

Step-3 : Defining android targets:

Next, add above lines to your .travis.yml file. The line under the matrix section defines the Android API version and the processor architecture, on which the code will be tested. These lines re-executes the script for each variable. So if I write another line with: “– ANDROID_TARGET=android-16 ANDROID_ABI=armeabi-v7a”, it will execute the whole script with the 21, 19 and 16 APIs. We can say it is really useful to test different API levels. So, each commit you push to the repository will start two separate builds and test prepossess. You can see this in Travis dashboard like below.

1xrxjad5hawop4pgcypscpa

In the global section, you can declare any global environment variable that is required to successfully complete the build process. This field is optional. Here, we defined “ADB_INSTALL_TIMEOUT =10”. This will increase the ADB connection timeout to 10 mins. Normally, it is 2 minutes by default.

Step-4 : Setting up the build configs

The android section contains the build related configurations. Specify the build tools version, targeted android API and extra repository you required to complete the build process like play services, m2repository, etc. At the end, specify emulator system images on which application testing will be performed. If you are going to use more than one API levels like this example, remember to define all the emulators needed. In our case, we are going to perform a test on API 21 and 19. So “sys-img-armeabi-v7a-android-25”, “sys-img-armeabi-v7a-android-18” are required emulator images.

Step-5: Enabling caching of resources:

Travis can cache directories that you need to speed up the subsequent builds by caching the Gradle dependency folders. To enable the caching, you have to specify which directories you want to cache under the cache section. Here, I am caching some of the .gradle folders.

Step-6: Writing build script:

In every project, we need to run the instrumentation tests. So we will run the emulator using “emulator -avd test -no-skin -no-audio -no-window &”. “ android-wait-for-emulator” script will wait until emulator is up and running. This will print “Waiting for emulator” in Travis log until emulator starts. The next two lines are printing the available devices for our information and sending the key “menu” to the emulator to unlock it.

Make sure you are using supported android targets and android ABI. You can list out supported android targets by running “android list targets”. You will get list of the supported android targets for given build environments in Travis log window like below:

1*he10rbUQvNTLQQ1IRAUeDQ.png

Step-7: Enabling code coverage:

Code coverage is the best way to motivate you and your team to write more tests. Once we launched the tests and connected tests on Travis, we can generate the code coverage report with all the results. Once the jacoco (Java Code Coverage library) report is generated, it uploads all the reports tothe codecov server. You can see these reports online. (If you don’t know how to integrate jacoco in your android project, we found this article very useful. Or you can see the sample project, created by the codecov team.)

To run the code coverage after every successful build, you can integrate codecov by adding below lines in .travis.yml.

Congratulations! We completed all the required changes in our repository.

Your final .travis.yml file should look like this:

Step-8:

We are almost there. Stay with us. Now, sign in to Travis CI website and go to “Add new repository”. Select the repository in which you integrated .travis.yml file and enabled the Travis integration.

1ul3byu0joekdm2f68wqn7w
Enable travis integration by clicking the switch

That’s it. You are ready to push your commit with .travis.yml file.


Run your first build:

As soon as you push the commit to your GitHub repository, Travis will start building the project automatically. You can see the past build history by going to the “Build history” tab.

1utqdiqolts5wgkelt8ua-g

You can see your build status (whether it is running, passed or failed) right behind your GitHub repository commits list.

1*f4OxepYumczZgVvwV1cmqw.png

At this stage, if your build fails, try to find out what went wrong. You can find answers on how to fix those bugs on StackOverflow or paste your error in the comments below. We will try our best to resolve those the errors.

Here is one sample project to help you:

You can also find the test project that we used for the demonstration purpose in this tutorial in the below link. Go ahead and take a look into it.

https://github.com/multidots/Android-Automated-Test-and-CI-Demo

This is an sample application which validates email address you entered in edit text. Here, we integrated Travis CI and CodeCov using Jacoco. You can see all the build statuses in Travis CI from here. If you want to see the latest code coverage report for the project, you can find it over here. This will give you an idea of how code coverage report looks like.


Conclusion:

Continuous Integration (CI) is one of the good practice while developing the code. This lets you and your team concentrate on development and reduces the efforts required for maintaining the code. By outsourcing the maintenance of your test infrastructure, you can remove a whole bunch of work from your engineering team that can then be used to build your product. On another hand, code coverage gives you better idea of the amount of code remaining to test and inspires your team to write better test cases. As an overall effect, they both together help you and your team to develop robust product and allows you to deploy your code with confidence.

Code your next android app using RxJava

RxJava is new hot topic in the world of Android Development. The only problem is that it is very difficult to understand. Especially, Functional reactive programming is very hard to understand when you come from Object Oriented Programming. So, I am developing a series of articles to help you understand the basic concept of Reactive Programming.

In the previous Part 1we get the basic concept of the reactive programming. If you did not read yet, I will encourage you to first go through Part 1 and get the basic idea about reactive programming.

As we discussed in Part 1, Rx is made up of three key component.

RX = OBSERVABLE + OBSERVER + SCHEDULERS

Let’s create each component one by one. But, first let’s start with integration.


Integrate RxAndroid in project

RxAndroid is basically an android specific wrapper that provides some functions explicit to android and those are not available in RxJava. So, if you want to integrate Rx into your java project only, you don’t need to implement RxAndroid library into your project.

Here is the gradle dependency of RxJava and RxAndroid.

The version of both the library may change, depends on when you are reading this article. You can find latest version from here.


Marble Diagram

Rx uses marble diagram to explain how any operator works. Marble diagrams are very convenient and easy to understand.

  • The line above the box indicates the raw data. This data needs to be emitted by the observable. Different types of objects are display with different shapes.
  • Box in the middle indicates operator. There are many other operators available, that basically controls when and how the observable should emit the data. We are going to look into those operators in future.
  • The line below the box indicates the data that is emitted by the observable. Observer in Rx receives this emitted data.

filter


Let’s create Observable

As you know observable is nothing but a function that emits the data stream. Below is the observable that emits 1 to 5 one after another.

Here just() is called as an operator. It emits the values provided in arguments. (And that’s why they named as just.)

0bhyoyg_o-glxlikv

Sometimes we want to refine specific event only to be emitted by observable. Let’s say in our above example we only want to emit only odd numbers out of the observable. We can achieve this thing using another operator called filter(). As the name suggest filter operator filters items emitted by an Observable.

06oy3ienx8ysblul


Creating observer

Observers consume the data stream emitted by the observable. Wheneverthe observable emits the data all the registered observer receives the data.

In RxJava there are three callbacks you are going to receive in an observer.

  • onNext() : This method will be called when there is any new data emitted by the observer. The object that is emitted by the observable can be found in argument parameters of this callback.
  • onError() : You will receive this callback whenever there is any error occurred on observable. (After all the world is not perfect.)
  • onComplete() : Whenever observable is done with emitting the data streams, you will receive this callback. This indicates that there is no more data to emit.

In many cases you don’t care about onCompleted() or onError(). So instead of using Observer<T> we can use a simpler class to define what to do during onNext() using Action1 class.

Here, onCall() is equivalent to onNext() in our first approach.


Manage concurrency using Scheduler

As you know scheduler in the reactive programming manages the concurrency.

In Android the most common operation when dealing with asynchronous tasks is to observe the task’s result or outcome on the main thread because you want to update the UI. Using vanilla Android, this would typically be accomplished with an AsyncTask. But with Rx you can achieve this by using the schedulers.

There are two methods, which controls thread management.

  • subscribeOn() : By using this method you can define on which thread the observable should run.
  • observeOn() : By using this method you can define on which thread the observer should run.

RxJava and RxAndroid library provides some predefined schedulers. Like, Schedulers.io() indicates the IO thread. While Schedulers.newThread() will create a new thread to run observer/observable. You can find other various types of schedulers here.

Finally, we will use subscribe() to subscribe the observer to receive the data issued by the observable. This will return Subscription object that holds the reference to that specific connection between observer and observable.

Let’s see the output of above program.

16zdedxewtwsrasybxipjvw

We can see from the output that only odd numbers were emitted by the observer. At the end, when all the data are emitted, onComplete() got execute.

Unsubscribe:

If you want to unsubscribe the observer from observable, you can call unsubscribe.

In android this is essential that you call unsubscribe in onDesrtoy() of your activity/fragment to release the connection between observer and observable. Otherwise, it may call memory leak.

If you have multiple subscriptions in your class, then you can use CompositeSubscription to unregister all the subscriptions at once. Below is an example on how you can do that:


In the next part I am going to explain different operators used in RxJava. Meanwhile, If you liked the article, click the 💚 below so more people can see it!

twitter-follow

What is Reactive Programming?

 

Nowadays everybody is talking about Reactive Programming and you’re curious in learning this new thing called Reactive Programming. Maybe you’ve seen it used a few places but you’re still a little confused and would like some clarifications.

In this article, we are going to learn the basic concepts of the Reactive Programming. Starting from the next article we are going to do some real programming and learn how to use RxJava in the Android application development.

So, first let’s understand what are the problem we are facing? Why do we require Reactive Programming? Because if there is no problem, then we don’t need a solution right??


Why do we need Asynchronous work?

The simple answer is we want to improve the user experience. We want to make our application more responsive. We want to deliver a smooth user experience to our users without freezing the main thread, slowing them down and we don’t want to provide the jenky performance to our users.

To keep the main thread free we need to do a lot of heavy and time-consuming work we want to do in the background. We also want to do heavy work and complex calculations on our servers as mobile devices are not very powerful to do the heavy lifting. So we need asynchronous work for network operations.


The evaluation matrix:

evaluation-matrix

Let’s see what do we need from the library that handles all the asynchronous work. You can imagine below 4 points as the evaluation matrix for the asynchronous library.

  • Explicit execution: If we start the execution of a bunch of work on a new thread, we should be able to control it. If you are going to perform some background task, you gather the information and prepare them. As soon as you are ready, you can kick-off the background task.
  • Easy thread managementIn asynchronous work, thread management is the key. We often need to update the UI on the main thread from the background thread in the middle of the task or at the end of the task. For that, we need to pass our work from one thread (background thread) to another thread (here main thread). So you should be able to switch the thread easily and pass the work to another thread when needed.
  • Easily composable: Ideally, It would be great if we can create an asynchronous work and as we start spinning background thread, it just do it’s work without depending any other thread (especially on UI thread) and stays independent from the other thread until it finishes its job. But in the real world, we need to update the UI, make database changes and many more things that make threading interdependent. So the asynchronous library should be easily composable and provide less room for the error.
  • Minimum the side effects: While working with multiple threads, the other thread should experience minimum side effects from the other thread. That makes your code easily readable and understandable to a new person and it also makes error easily traceable.

What is Reactive Programming?

According to wikipedia:

Reactive programming is a programming paradigm oriented around data flows and the propagation of change. This means that it should be possible to express static or dynamic data flows with ease in the programming languages used, and that the underlying execution model will automatically propagate changes through the data flow.

In simple words, In Rx programming data flows emitted by one component and the underlying structure provided by the Rx libraries will propagate those changes to another component those are registered to receive those data changes. Long story short: Rx is made up of three key points.

RX = OBSERVABLE + OBSERVER + SCHEDULERS

We are going to discuss these points in detail one by one.

  • Observable: Observable are nothing but the data streams. Observable packs the data that can be passed around from one thread to another thread. They basically emit the data periodically or only once in their life cycle based on their configurations. There are various operators that can help observer to emit some specific data based on certain events, but we will look into them in upcoming parts. For now, you can think observers as suppliers. They process and supply the data to other components.
  • Observers: Observers consumes the data stream emitted by the observable. Observers subscribe to the observable using subscribeOn()method to receive the data emitted by the observable. Whenever the observable emits the data all the registered observer receives the data in onNext() callback. Here they can perform various operations like parsing the JSON response or updating the UI. If there is an error thrown from observable, the observer will receive it in onError().
  • Schedulers: Remember that Rx is for asynchronous programming and we need a thread management. There is where schedules come into the picture. Schedulers are the component in Rx that tells observable and observers, on which thread they should run. You can use observeOn()method to tell observers, on which thread you should observe. Also, you can use scheduleOn() to tell the observable, on which thread you should run. There are main default threads are provided in RxJava like Schedulers.newThread() will create new background that. Schedulers.io() will execute the code on IO thread.

3 simple steps to use Rx in your application

filter

Let’s look into the basic example. This will explain 3 simple steps to use Reactive programming in your application.

Step-1 Create observable that emits the data:

Here database is an observable which emits the data. In our case, it emits the strings. just() is an operator. Which basically emits the data provided in the argument one by one. (We are going to look into the operators in detail in our upcoming articles. So, don’t worry about them.)

Step -2 Create observer that consumes data:

In above code snippet observer is an observer that consumes the data emitted by the database observable. It processes the data received and also handles error inside it.

Step-3 Manage concurrency :

At the last step, we define our schedulers that manage the concurrency. subscribeOn(Schedulers.newThread()) tells database observable to run on background thread. observeOn(AndroidSchedulers.mainThread()) tells observer to run on the main thread. This is basic code for reactive programming.

So by now you should be able to understand, why we need reactive programming, why we need them and how we can implement them. In the upcoming articles, we are going to learn how to use RxJava and it’s operators in detail.


What next? (Part 2)

Now, visit the next part to start some programming example in RxJava and how to use RxJava in your Android/Java project.

If you liked the article, click the 💚 below so more people can see it!

Twitter Follow.png

Why you should learn Go?

Go will be the server language of the future.” — Tobias Lütke, Shopify

In past couple of years, there is a rise of new programming language: Go or GoLang. Nothing makes a developer crazy than a new programming language, right? So, I started learning Go before 4 to 5 months and here I am going to tell you about why you should also learn this new language.

I am not going to teach you, how you can write “Hello World!!” in this article. There are lots of other articles online for that. I am going the explain current stage of computer hardware-software and why we need new language like Go? Because if there is no problems, then we don’t need solution, right?


Hardware limitations:

Moore’s law is failing.

First Pentium 4 processor with 3.0GHz clock speed was introduced back in 2004 by Intel. Today, my Mackbook Pro 2016 has the clock speed of 2.9GHz. So, nearly in one decade, there is no too much gain in the raw processing power. You can see the comparison of increasing the processing power with the time in below chart.

DennardScaling.png

From the above chart yo can see that the single-thread performance and the frequency of the processor remained steady for almost a decade. If you are thinking that adding more transistor is the solution, than you are wrong. This is because at smaller scale some quantum properties starts to emerge (like tunneling and because it actually costs more to put more transistors (why?) and the number of transistors you can add per dollar starts to fall.

So, for the solution of above problem,

  • Manufacturers started adding more and more cores to the processors. Now a days we have quad-core and octa-core CPUs available.
  • We also introduced hyper threading.
  • Added more cache to the processors to increase the performance.

But above solutions has it’s limitations too. We cannot add more and more cache to the processor to increase performance as cache have physical limits: the bigger the cache, the slower it gets. Adding more core to the processor has its cost too. Also, that cannot scale to indefinitely. These multi-core processors can run multiple threads simultaneously and that brings concurrency to the picture. We’ll discuss it later.

So, if we cannot rely on the hardware improvements, the only way to go is more efficient software to increase the performance. But sadly, modern programming language are not much efficient.

“Modern processors are a like nitro fueled funny cars, they excel at the quarter mile. Unfortunately, modern programming languages are like Monte Carlo, they are full of twists and turns.” — David Ungar


Go has goroutines !!

As we discussed above, hardware manufacturers are adding more and more cores to the processors to increase the performance. All the data centers running on those processors and we should expect an increase in the number of cores in upcoming years. More to that, today’s applications using multiple micro-services for maintaining database connections, message queues and maintain caches. So, the software we develop and the programming languages should support concurrency easily and they should be scalable with increased number of cores.

But, most of the modern programming languages(like Java, Python etc.) are from the ’90s single threaded environment. That doesn’t mean they do not support multi-threading. Most of those programming languages supports multi-threading. But the real problem comes with concurrent execution and threading-locking, race conditions and deadlocks. Those things makes it hard to create a multi-threading application on those languages.

For an example, Creating new threads in Java is not memory efficient. As every thread consumes approx 1MB of the memory heap size and eventually if you start spinning thousands of threads, it will put tremendous pressure on the heap and will cause shut down due to out of memory. Also, if you want to communicate between two or more threads, it’s very difficult.

On the other hand, Go was released in 2009 when multi-core processors were already available. That’s why GoLang is built with keeping concurrency in mind. Go has goroutines instead of threads. They consume almost 2KB memory from the heap and you can spin millions of goroutines at any time.

parallel-execution

Other benefits are :

  • Goroutines have growable segmented stacks. That means they will use more memory only when needed.
  • Goroutines have a faster startup time than threads.
  • Goroutines come with built-in primitives to communicate safely between themselves (channels).
  • Goroutines allow you to avoid having to resort to mutex locking when sharing data structures.
  • Also, goroutines and OS thread are not 1:1 mapping. A single goroutine can run on multiple threads. Goroutines are multiplexed onto a small number of OS threads.

You can see Rob Pike’s excellent talk concurrency is not parallelism to get more deep understanding on this.

All the above points, make Go very powerful to handle concurrency like Java, C and C++ while keeping concurrency code straight and beautiful like Earlang.

concurancy


Go runs directly on underlying hardware.

One most considerable benefit of using C, C++ is their performance over other modern higher level languages like Java/Python. Because C/C++ are compiled and not interpreted.

Processors understand binaries. Generally, when you build an application using Java or other JVM-based languages when you compile your project, it compiles the human readable code to byte-code which can be understood by JVM or other virtual machines that run on top of underlying OS. While execution, those VM interprets those bytecodes and convert them to binaries that can be understood by processors.

VM.png
Execution on VM based languages

While on the other side, C, C++ does not execute on VMs and that removes one step from the execution cycle and increases the performance. It directly compiles the human readable code to binaries.

non-vm
Execution on non-VM based languages

But, freeing and allocating variable in those languages is a huge pain. While most of the programming languages handle object allocation and removing using Garbage Collector or Reference Counting algorithms.

Go brings best of both the worlds. Unlike lower level languages like C/C++, Go is compiled language. That means performance is almost nearer to lower level languages. It also uses garbage collection to allocation and removal of the object. So, more malloc() and free() statements!!! Cool!!!


Code written in Go is easy to maintain.

Let me tell you one thing. Go does not have crazy programming syntax unlike other languages. It has very neat and clean syntax.

The designers of the Go at google had this thing in mind when creating the language. As google has the very large code base and thousands of developers were working on that same codebase, code should be simple to understand to other developers and one segment of code should have minimum side effects on another segment of the code. That will make code easily maintainable and easy to modify.

Go intentionally leaves out many features of many features of modern OOP languages.

  • No classes. Every thing is divided into packages only. Go has only structs instead of classes.
  • Does not support inheritance. That will make code easy to modify. In other languages like Java/Python, if the class ABC inherits class XYZ and you make some changes in class XYZ, then that may produce some side effects in other classes that inherit XYZ. By removing inheritance, Go makes it easy to understand the code also (as there is no super class to look at while looking at a piece of code).
  • No have constructors.
  • No annotations.
  • No generics.
  • No exceptions.

Above changes make Go very different from other languages and it makes programming in Go different than other. You may not like some of the points from above. But, it is not like you can not code without above features. All you have to do is write 2–3 more lines. But on the positive side, it will make your code cleaner and add more clarity to your code.

Code fun.PNG

Above graph displays that Go is almost as efficient as C/C++, while keeping the code syntax simple as Ruby, Python and other languages. That is a win-win situation for both humans and processors!!!

Unlike other new languages like Swift, it’s syntax of Go is very stable. It remained same since the initial public release 1.0, back in year 2012. That makes it backward compatible.


Go is backed by Google.

  • I know this is not any direct technical advantage. But, Go is designed and supported by Google. Google has one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world and it is scaled massively. Go is designed by Google to solve their problems of supporting scalability and effectiveness. Those are the same issues you will face while creating your own servers.
  • More to that Go is also used by some big companies like Adobe, BBC, IBM, Intel and even Medium.(Source: https://github.com/golang/go/wiki/GoUsers)

Conclusion:

  • Even though Go is very different than other object-oriented languages, but it is still the same beast. Go provides you high performance like C/C++, super efficient concurrency handling like Java and fun to code like Python/Perl.
  • If you don’t have any plans to learn Go, I will still say hardware limit puts pressure to us, software developers to write super efficient code. The developer needs to understand the hardware and make the programs optimize accordingly. The optimized software can run on cheaper and slower hardware (like IOT devices) and overall batter impact on end user experience.

~If you liked the article, click the 💚 below so more people can see it! Also, you can follow me on by clicking follow button below, so you get updates regarding future articles on Go!!~

follow me on twitter.jpg