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2
Background Information
This chapter provides background information aboutAndroid operatingsystem and
HTML5technology. It alsoprovidesAndroid application fundamentals and HTML5
newfeaturescomparingwithHTML4.
2.1 Android operating system
AndroidisLinuxbasedoperatingsystemformobiledevices(6). ItisdevelopedbyOpen
HandsetAllianceandconsistsofoperatingsystem,middlewareandkeyapplications.
AndroidkernelisbasedonLinuxkernelwithseverallayersontopofthatasshownon
gure2.1.
Application developmentisdoneusingJavaprogramminglanguage. Android ap-
plicationconsistsofoneormoreapplicationcomponents. TheyareActivity, Service,
ContentProvider andBroadcastReceiver. Activity istypicalentrypointofapplication.
Typicallyitrepresentsasinglescreenwhichusercaninteractwith. Activity iscreated
bysubclassingActivity classandimplementingonCreate() method.
AnotherapplicationcomponentisService. Itspurposeistoperform long-running
tasksin background. Service doesnot provideuserinterface. TypicallyService does
notrequiretoreportresulttoothercomponentandstopitselfafternishingoperation.
OneoftheService usageisuploadingordownloadinglesovernetwork.
Next component is Content Provider. Its task is to manage access to application
data. Application datacan be stored in any persistent storage which isaccessed by
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2. BACKGROUNDINFORMATION
application. Moreover, datacan be shared to other applicationsifContent Provider
allowsit.
LastcomponentdescribedinthissectionisBroadcastReceiver. BroadcastReceiver
listensandrespondstosystem-widebroadcastmessages. TypicallyBroadcastReceiver
isusedtoestablishcommunicationsbetween Activities,Services andAndroid system.
Forexample, Android system can notifyActivity orService aboutnetworkstatusor
Service cannotifyActivity aboutnishingtask.
Inadditiontocode, Androidapplication requiresresourcessuchasimages,string
constants, animation descriptions, menus, styles, dimensions, and layout of activity
user interface. Most resources are dened with XML les. Usingsuch approach, it
makesiteasytoupdateapplicationvariouscomponentswithoutcodemodication.
Itispossibletoprovidedierentsetofresourcesfordierentdevicecongurations.
Thisincludes:
* Devicehardwarepropertiessuchasscreenresolutionandphysicalkeyboardavail-
ability;thiscanbeusedtoprovidebetterqualitydrawablesforlargescreenres-
olutiondevices.
* Devicesoftwarepropertiessuchaslanguage,regionandplatformversion;thiscan
beusedtoprovidetranslatedversionofstringconstantsfordierentlanguages
* Devicecurrentstatesuchasportraitorlandscapeorientation, ifitisconnected
todockstation; thiscan beused tochangeactivitylayoutdependingon screen
orientation.
ForeachresourceincludedinAndroidproject,uniqueidentierisgenerated,which
can be used to access this specic resource from application code or other resource
denedinXML.
2.2 HTML5
HTML5isthefthrevisionoftheHTMLstandard. Alotofchangesmadeinelements
(7). Besidechangingand enrichingold one, itprovidesplentyofnewelements. This
includesnewmediaelementslike<audio>and<video>,newstructuralelementslike
<section>and <article>. Anotherthing isthat HTML5species not only markup
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2.2HTML5
Figure2.1: Androidarchitecture
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2. BACKGROUNDINFORMATION
butalsoAPIswhichcanbeusedwithJavaScript. ManynewAPIsareintroducedsuch
as:
* Canvaselement,for2Ddrawing
* Oineapplicationsforinteractingwithapplicationeventwhennetworkconnec-
tionisnotavailable
* Nativedraganddrop -noneedtowritecomplexJavaScriptcodetoimplement
draganddropfunctionality-itwillbesupportednatively
* Web storage - key-value storageframework similar to Cookies, but with larger
storagecapacityandimprovedAPI
* DatabasesAPI-tomanipulateclient-sidedatabasesusingSQL
Somerelatedtechnologiesare notincluded intoW3CHTML5specication, how-
ever theycan beused together with HTML5. W3Cpublishesspecication forthem
separately. Hereissomeofthem:
* Geolocation-providesaccesstogeographicallocationinformationassociatedwith
client
* Web workers - give ability to run background scripts independently form UI
scripts. This will help to keep web page responsible and execute longrunning
scriptssimultaneously
* WebSockets-toenablebidirectionalcommunication between browserandweb-
server
DespitethefactthatHTML5specicationstatusonMay2012isstillunderdevel-
opment, itispartiallysupportedbymanybrowsers(8). ItincludesAndroid andiOs
browsers which are based on WebKit (9). Forconvenience, layoutengine names are
used instead of browser names in HTML5 APIs support table2.3. Table 2.2 shows
examplebrowsernamesbehindeachengine.
8
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2.2HTML5
Figure2.2: Layoutengines
Figure2.3: HTML5APIssupport
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2. BACKGROUNDINFORMATION
2.3 Summary
HTML5providesalotnewfeaturescomparingwithitspredecessorandisstillunder
development,howeveritssupportbybrowsersisonthegoodlevel. Despitetheamount
of new features, HTML5 is limited by browser capabilities and can not use all the
featuresprovidedbyAndroidplatform.
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3
State of the Art
ThestateofartinthisthesisdescribesadvantagesanddisadvantagesofHTML5appli-
cationsovernativeapplicationsonmobileplatforms. Itgivesshortoverviewofnative
bridgingframeworks,describingfeaturestheyexposetoJavaScript. Italsoshowspos-
sibleways to converting Javacodeinto JavaScript. The last section ofthis chapter
concentratesonANTLR-toolforparsergeneration.
3.1 HTML5 and native applications
Mobiledevicesmarketaswellasmobileapplicationmarketisgrowingrapidly. When
startingmobileapplicationdevelopment,oftentherstquestioniswhichplatformto
choose? Thereareseveralmethodsto"writeoncerunanywhere"application;however
thereareseveralmajordrawbacksforeachofthem. Flashformobiledevicesisnolonger
supportedforAdobe,mobilewebsitesolutionrequiresInternetconnectionandhaveno
accesstonativemobilecapabilities. HTML5isatechnologythatsolvescrossplatform
in-compatibility,supportsoineweb-applicationsandallowsusingsomenativemobile
features.
NativeapplicationhavesomeadvantagesoverHTML5application(10),(11). One
ofthemisthatnativeapplicationcandomore. Nativeapplicationsupportmultitouch,
hardwaresensors, canprovideaccesstothedeviceoperatingsystem. Nativeandroid
applicationcancommunicatewitheachotherusingintents. Thiscantbeachievedby
usingHTML5.
11
3. STATEOFTHEART
Fromtheotherhand,webstandardsareevolving. WithHTML5wealreadycanrun
applicationoine,accesslocalstorage,playbackmultimediales,createsocketconnec-
tion(12). Thereisalsopossibilitytocreatehybridapplication-nativeapplicationwith
embeddedwebviewwhich providesuserinterface. Thisapproachgainsbenetsfrom
bothnativeandHTML5applications,howeveritaddscomplexitytoyourapplication.
Anothernativeapplicationbenetsarespeed-HTML5applicationshaveruntime
layer, theycanusesuchhardwareacceleration asGPU,theycan usemultithreading,
they get nativelook and feel justby usingnativetoolkit. AlsoHTML5applications
arelimitedinlocalstorageandlackofsourcecodeprotection.
3.2 Bridging frameworks
Despite the fact that HTML5supports many useful features for mobileapplication,
thewide range of mobile devicefeatures is still uncovered. Toenrich pureHTML5
functionalitybridgingframeworkscanbeused(13). Theygiveabilitytoaccessnative
functionalitiesbyexposingthem toJavaScript. Bridgingframeworks encapsulateall
supported native functionality and provide JavaScript APIs for accessing them, so
developerscanconcentrateonlyonwrittingcodeusingHTML,CSSandJavaScript.
3.2.1 PhoneGap
PhoneGap (14) is open source mobile development framework developed by Nitobi
Software. Framework uses HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Framework creates native
WebView-controllerandallapplicationlogicisexecutedinsidethiscontroller. Great
thingaboutthisframeworkispluginsupport,sobasicallyanyphonefunctionsupport
canbeadded. PhoneGapsupportsallmajormobileplatformsincludingiOs,Android,
Blackberry,WindowsPhone.
Figure 3.1shows Android device features, from which Android version they are
supported and iftheycanbeaccessed bydeviceWebView. From thetableit isseen
thatbridgingframeworksgainbenetsfromHTML5featureslikegeolocationandlocal
storage,whicharesupportedbylayoutengine. Somefeatures,mostlyhardwarerelated,
stillrequireexposingbybridgingframework.
12
3.3Java toJavaScriptcompilers
Figure3.1: AndroidOsdeaturesandbrowsersupport
3.2.2 Titanium Appcelerator
TitaniumAppcelerator(15)wasdevelopedbyAppceleratorInc. andreleasedin2008.
Initiallyplatformprovidespossibilitytocreatecross-platformdesktopapplicationsfor
PC,MacandLinux. LaterAndroidandiOssupportwereadded.
For mobile platforms Titanium application are written using HTML, CSS and
JavaScript. UsingTitaniumAPIdeveloperscangetaccesstonativephonecapabilities
likegeolocationandaccelerometer. Moreover,TitaniumAPIsupportsaccesstonative
UIconstructions,soapplicationgetsnativelookandfeeloneveryplatform.
The output package consist mostly of native code. In addition it contains cus-
tomizedWebKitlayoutengine.
3.3 Java to JavaScript compilers
ThissectiongivesshortoverviewofexistingJavatoJavaScriptcompilers.
3.3.1 Java2Script
Java2ScriptisopensourcetoolwhichtranslatesJavacodetoJavaScript. Java2Script
allowyou tobuild application using SWTas UI framework, and then compiles itto
JavaScript(16). ItiswellintegratedwithEclipseJDTandallowstoreuseSWT(17)
developmenttoolssuchasSWTDesigner.
13
3. STATEOFTHEART
Figure3.2: ANTLRparserwork ow
3.3.2 GWT
AnotherreadytousesoftwareforconversionJavasourcetoJavaScriptisGWT-the
opensourcesetoftoolsbyGoogle. GWTcanbeusedasframeworkfordevelopingmo-
bileandtabletapplication. OneoftheusefulGWTfeaturesisthatJavatoJavaScript
compiler performs code optimization. It includes not only removing dead code but
alsoin-liningmethods, toavoid unproductive calls. Italsosupports severalHTML5
featuressuch as DatabaseAPI, StorageAPI, GeolocationAPI (18). Another usefull
thingisthatGWTcanobfuscateJavaScriptcode.
Fromthecodepointofview,GWTsupportsalmostallcoreJavalanguagesyntax
andsemantics. Severalcoreclasseshavefunctionalitywhichistooexpensivetosupport
entirely. Lightenedversionofthoseclassesprovidedbyframework. ForexampleGWT
providesownbrowser-safetimerclasswhichissimpliedforrunninginsingle-threaded
environment. For buildinguserinterfaceGWTusesownwidgets library. It includes
simplewidgets,forexample: Button,CheckBox andTextAreaaswellascompexones,
forexample: TabPanel,PopupPanel,RichTextArea.
3.3.3 ANTLR
ANTLRstandsforANotherToolforLanguageRecognition(19). Itistooldevelopedby
TerenceParrforparsersgeneration. ANTLRgrammarsarebasedonExtendedBackus-
NaurForm(EBNF).ExampleandexplanationofEBNFcanbefoundinAppendix2.
BasedonthegrammarleANTLRgenerateslexer-whichconvertsstreamofcharacters
toastream oftokens and parser -which processesastream oftokensand generates
abstractsyntaxtree.
14
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