I learned how to use MIT’s App Inventor this year in order to create an app for my product, On Track. The app inventor software is a free user-friendly interface that allows you to create an Android-accessible app with various functions including user interface, layout, media, drawing and animation, sensor, social and connectivity options (all to be found under the palette list on the left side of the website). For our specific project, we needed a way for users to see how many seats were available on a certain car on a train. app inventor allowed us to create an app that would let the user select the train stations they were departing from and arriving to, the time of the train they are riding on and then based on those selections, determine which car has what number of available seats.
I think the beauty of this interface is it is really easy to pick up, especially with the help of tutorials. I highly recommend watching the tutorials to familiarize yourself with the basic uses for app inventor. The first one I watched, (http://www.youtube.com/embed/Vdo8UdkgDD8?autoplay=1) was dealing with a Text-To-Speech component. All of the basic tutorials can be found here: http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/ai2/beginner-videos.html. At first I found them quite tedious (the people who teach the tutorials are very annoying), and I felt like it was a waste of time to be checking out all of these random mechanisms, but once I got to building my own app, I found that the logic skills and the understanding of what the various components are good for that I learned from these videos to be incredibly vital. So, my biggest recommendation is to play around with a bunch of components, see what works and what doesn’t, and then morph the stuff that you figure out to fit your own personal app and meet your requirements. The app I ended up creating only really used buttons, lists and images (all of these options can be found under the user interface tab under palette), but, if I do say myself, it still looked very professional and met our functionality requirement, which leads me to my next piece of advice: keep it simple. If the logic behind a particular component gets confusing, use the very simple buttons and pictures to replicate what your fully functioning app would look like. In all fairness, our app wasn’t perfectly functional in that it didn’t connect to the train car that we built, but it was a mock app that got the intention of our app across to the VC, and with the simplicity of the mechanisms we used, it seemed to perfectly functional.
I hope this was helpful! Keep coding!
Class of 2017