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Topic: MIT AppInventor or Blynk or ?? (Read 4283 times) previous topic - next topic

Robin2

Some time ago (before I got an Arduino) I wrote some very simple programs for an Android phone using SL4A but I have done none of that recently.

From time to time I see Threads referring to MIT AppInventor and Blynk and it occurs to me that I might find something like that fun, or even useful. And there may be other similar products that I am not aware of.

Being naturally lazy I don't really want to learn both of them to figure out what are the strengths and weaknesses of each so I would appreciate any assessments that other Forum contributors can provide. And also information about anything else I should consider.

...R
It is a pity that there is no implementation of Python that "just works" on Android the same way it "just works" on Windows, Linux and Mac.
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

ballscrewbob

Hi R2

I tried "blynk" for a while then realised that it became PPV after quite a short while so dropped it.
You used to get so many "free points" and after you used them up had to BUY more to carry on.
Think you also got some free for referrals or publishing or something like that ?

Think the MIT might be a better option but haven't been there for a while either.

Either way if there is still a "cost" involved with blynk I know you hate spending.

It may not be the answer you were looking for but its the one I am giving based on either experience, educated guess, google (who would have thunk it ! ) or the fact that you gave nothing to go with in the first place so I used my wonky crystal ball.

Robin2

Either way if there is still a "cost" involved with blynk I know you hate spending.
Yeah. A tightwad as well as a curmudgeon :)

Definitely looking for a free program.

...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

ChrisTenone

What, I need to say something else too?

theMusicMan

Hi R2

I tried "blynk" for a while then realised that it became PPV after quite a short while so dropped it.
You used to get so many "free points" and after you used them up had to BUY more to carry on.
Think you also got some free for referrals or publishing or something like that ?

Think the MIT might be a better option but haven't been there for a while either.

Either way if there is still a "cost" involved with blynk I know you hate spending.


I may have misunderstood Blynk, then, as I thought for a developer it is free! At least that's what the pricing page says.  I have only just started looking at it and for casual home use, it seems pretty decent.
John

ballscrewbob

Hi Music man.

Thats what I thought too !
Things may have changed as I have not been over there in a while.

I managed to make a couple of very simple apps and then on my phone it started to tell me I needed to buy more credit.
At that point I decided it wasnt for me as I was still sort of playing.

It would be like the IDE here only allowing me to write a couple of sketches before wanting money !

It may not be the answer you were looking for but its the one I am giving based on either experience, educated guess, google (who would have thunk it ! ) or the fact that you gave nothing to go with in the first place so I used my wonky crystal ball.

theMusicMan

Hi Music man.

Thats what I thought too !
Things may have changed as I have not been over there in a while.

I managed to make a couple of very simple apps and then on my phone it started to tell me I needed to buy more credit.
At that point I decided it wasnt for me as I was still sort of playing.

It would be like the IDE here only allowing me to write a couple of sketches before wanting money !


Well, must say many thanks for this insight, I shall certainly keep a keen eye on it as I don't want to have to pay for something that is described as free of charges.  Thanks for the warnign and heads-up!

From what I have seen and read so far though, a Developer account - though limited in the scope of what you can do of course - is free of any monthly charges.
John

Robin2

From what I have seen and read so far though, a Developer account - though limited in the scope of what you can do of course - is free of any monthly charges.
That seems to imply that there are other forms of account that are not free - who are they aimed at, if not developers?

...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

theMusicMan

That seems to imply that there are other forms of account that are not free - who are they aimed at, if not developers?

...R
Organisations, rather than individual home-hobbyists, I think, Robin.
John

Robin2

Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

epsilon

So the census is which app ?

Also, i was going to make the auto water system with the Blynk, has anyone here customized the app ?

cunninghamd

This is a very old thread, but I've recently discovered both of these apps, and very quickly built prototypes for ideas that I've had.

They both have their strengths.

First things first, costs: both are FREE. In every sense of the word. Blynk has a pay model in place, and it seems very reasonable. But, if you install the Blynk server, then connect your app to that, you get a very large number of "credits", and if you login to the web-based admin interface for the server, you'll find the credits are entirely editable for you. In that way, with a modicum of extra effort, you can use Blynk completely without cost. I used the docker container and it was up and running in a few minutes.

Also, the Blynk server and device code is entirely open source, more on that later.

Blynk development:

Blynk is entirely focused on IOT, or device-based (Arduino, Raspberry PI, ESP, etc.) development. What this means is that the app can add buttons, graphs, gauges, text boxes, etc., however there is no ability to edit the programming logic within the app, you have to write the programming logic/code and put the code in place on your destination device.

This is great in the sense that if you're used to, or focused on, IOT development, then you get to add a nice app-interface on top of your IOT project very quickly.

Where this may fall short, is generalized app development. You won't be using Blynk to make a catalogue of your plans, or a photo gallery, but you can use Blynk to monitor the moisture level of the sensor you have installed in your plant.

MIT App Inventor development:

No cost, entirely free mobile app development, with a high level of confidence given that it's been around for a long time and being backed by MIT, the author's of the MIT open-source license.

With App Inventor, rather than an IOT-focused app development environment, you get a general purpose app development environment. It's based on Google's blockly programming language, so all programming is done by dragging various blocks (they look like puzzle pieces) around.

AppInv has built-in support for database storage, and a straight forward layout system. It may lack a little bit in the asthetics, but blockly coding is a lot of fun.

There are extensions out there, I think I've seen a demo that allows voice-based programming, and I imagine the sky's the real limit there.

There's a variety of ideas I've had, and it's been like "sheesh, writing all that code will take forever...", but AppInv is opening those doors and should allow me to bang out a few of these ideas quickly (my first app, a road game we play as a family, took me 30 minutes or so).

And then, the convergence. AppInv has the ability to post to web-based API endpoints, and Blynk's open source server provides web-based API endpoints. Thus, with a still small level of effort, you could get the amazing versatility of AppInv coupled with the ease of Blynk's app-based IOT communication ability.

Whew! The sky's the limit!

Robin2

Thanks for the update - I appreciate you taking the time.


I have come across Blockly more recently in an online program called Blockscad. I just don't like it.

I have also come across QPython which works very nicely on an Android device.

...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

cunninghamd

Programming syntax, for me, has always been the thing that blocks me from doing what I wanted to. It seems a lot like chess to me, 7 different moves, billions of possible combinations.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I write code for a living, so I've written a LOT of it. But it takes time, compiling, debugging, etc. Blockly represents a potential "meta" solution above the language, getting to the root of the logic behind an app, in a visual way.

I'd love to hear how QPython or just flat out writing code improves your experience.

And also, if Blockly isn't your thing, I believe it translates directly to JavaScript, so it may be possible to import pure JavaScript code into App Inventor and avoid Blockly entirely, but still benefit from the ability to rapidly prototype an app, I know AppInventor has been re-invented as a bunch of other for-pay services that add some level of value-add here and there, but it's still the same build-an-app -> scan a QR code sort of development (barely disguising App Inventor's foundation).

Robin2

I'd love to hear how QPython or just flat out writing code improves your experience.
I started this Thread mostly out of idle curiosity. I have little or no need to write an Android app.

I have built a GUI control system for my model trains using Python and the Bottle web framework on my laptop. Then I can access the GUI with the browser on my phone or tablet. IIRC I did try a simple program using Python and Bottle and it worked fine with QPython on Android.

...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

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