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ENGINEERING

3min read

Cockpit Debug Menu—Tweak Your Android App with Open-Source Tool

We are happy to launch a brand new open source library for Android developers! This tool was developed to tweak your app easily at runtime. We all know it. When developing an Android app, there are always some small changes you want to apply and test. Colors, margin size, timeouts, different endpoints etc. – there are many aspects that need adjustments and you probably change them many times. Changes mean rebuilding your project all over again. Frustrating, right? This is where Cockpit comes in handy.

Why?

At Polidea we often change the application details or use some optional features we want to turn on and off during the development. It’s not that big of a problem if the person who does it is a developer – they can just change the code and rebuild the project, although it takes some time. But if this person was a designer, things would get more complicated. The whole process may involve more people and become time-consuming. Of course you can write your own “developer panel” for each application you work on, but wouldn’t it be better if you could just add a dependency in your build.gradle and have a library addressing that problem and doing it for you? We prefer the latter – and that’s how Cockpit was created.

Tweak your Android app!

Cockpit is a helpful Android tool consisting of two parts – Gradle plugin generating a set of params based on user-defined yaml file and the Android classes to manage and display those params. We’ve created a compact built-in UI, so the usage of the library is as simple as it gets.

When developing an Android app, there are always some small changes you want to apply and test. This is where Cockpit comes in handy.

To get started, you need to define your cockpit. This is done via simple cockpit.yml file, for example:

color: "#ff0033"
fontSize: 30
showFooter: true

There are only name and value for each param, nothing more! Based on the file, our plugin generates Cockpit.java class, in this case:

package com.polidea.cockpit.cockpit;

import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import com.polidea.cockpit.activity.CockpitActivity;
import com.polidea.cockpit.manager.CockpitManager;
import com.polidea.cockpit.manager.CockpitParam;
import java.lang.String;

public class Cockpit {
 static {
   initializeCockpit();
 }

 private static void initializeCockpit() {
   CockpitManager.getInstance().addParam(new CockpitParam("color", String.class, "#ff0033"));
   CockpitManager.getInstance().addParam(new CockpitParam("fontSize", Integer.class, 30));
   CockpitManager.getInstance().addParam(new CockpitParam("showFooter", Boolean.class, true));
 }

 public static String getColor() {
   return (String) CockpitManager.getInstance().getParamValue("color");
 }

 public static void setColor(String color) {
   CockpitManager.getInstance().setParamValue("color", color);
 }

 public static int getFontSize() {
   return (int) CockpitManager.getInstance().getParamValue("fontSize");
 }

 public static void setFontSize(int fontSize) {
   CockpitManager.getInstance().setParamValue("fontSize", fontSize);
 }

 public static boolean getShowFooter() {
   return (boolean) CockpitManager.getInstance().getParamValue("showFooter");
 }

 public static void setShowFooter(boolean showFooter) {
   CockpitManager.getInstance().setParamValue("showFooter", showFooter);
 }

 public static void showCockpit(Context context) {
   Intent intent = new Intent(context, CockpitActivity.class);
   context.startActivity(intent);
 }
}

That way you can use the params like any other code in your project – you can access them via their get and set methods from Cockpit class. We didn’t want to force the users to use Kotlin, so although Cockpit project is written in it, the generated Cockpit is a Java class. What’s more, you can use UI panel populated with your params to change the values – and they will persist!

You can use UI panel populated with your params to change the values – and they will persist!

Cockpit is designed to be a debug-only tool, so the release version of the generated class won’t contain any setters. The aim is to prevent any unauthorized changes in the release build.

At Polidea we believe Cockpit library can significantly improve your project’s development process. For now, only the flat-structured yaml file is supported, but we plan lots of new features in the future versions. Take a look at the code on our GitHub and stay tuned for the updates!

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MartaSoftware Engineer

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