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ginstr logo main.png developers manual

Overview

To provide a better understanding of creating ginstr apps this overview explains some of the key components of the ginstr launcher as well as the purpose of the ginstr launcher itself.

The idea behind ginstr launcher

The idea behind ginstr launcher is to provide a quick method of creating custom B2B Android apps for various clients by using a rapid development environment that is easy for an average person to use and understand. The ginstr launcher allows creating simple out of the box solutions that work immediately in the field or on desktop computers.

What is ginstr launcher?

A “host” app and “client” apps that are functioning within the ginstr launcher environment. Each ginstr app is a group (folder) of files (XML) and has a unique name in the base folder of ginstr launcher. The ginstr app designer edits and creates files which are stored to external storage of the device. Upon launch of ginstr launcher those files are “read” and the ginstr app is “generated” automatically.

Use cases for ginstr launcher

Company asset tracking client app

Use case:
Company X wants to track internal assets (laptops, mobile phones, tablets, etc…) which they assign to employees. An asset tracking solution should have the ability to save some basic data about the asset as well as pictures and signature of people that assign/accept an asset. They need a system that will provide quick and simple asset entry and tracking in the field which would send data to a central location.
Solution:
The ginstr app designer builds a ginstr app with necessary elements, incorporates behaviour, and specifies data fields.
Solution would have the following features:
The app can track assets by entering serial numbers or scanning an NFC tag attached to the asset. Entry fields would also include a photo field that uses the devices camera to create a photo, and a signature field that uses the touchscreen to capture the signature and save it. Since ginstr launcher has an integrated database component it would also sync all data entered to a server.

How ginstr launcher works

The ginstr launcher after installation and opening loads $defaultApp which represents launcher application which shows login screen. This application is used to create shortcuts for other ginstr apps and for installing / uninstalling ginstr apps from ginstr cloud that are available to user.

The first screen of default application shows login screen into default ginstr app. User needs to provide their credentials (e-mail & password) to enter the app.

Once logged in default app will show list of ginstr apps available from the server.

If user clicks the
install
button next to a ginstr app name, the selected app will be downloaded from ginstr cloud and unpacked to local directory. After installing, the user can click on the name of the ginstr app to launch it or exit to home screen of Android device and launch the app via shortcut icon that was generated when installing ginstr app.
  • login screen of $defaultApp
  • list of ginstr apps available to user after login (may vary depending on assigned ginstr apps to users account)

A ginstr app is a group of XML files, images, fonts and other asset files organised into a folder that uniquely represents a ginstr app in ginstr launcher base folder. ginstr launcher uses that group of files to generate and show a client app.

Preferences

entering ginstr launcher settings

Preferences represent the global settings of ginstr launcher. They define how resources are going to be loaded, the behaviour of application, etc.

The ginstr launcher preferences can be accessed by clicking the settings button settings turquoise.png located in the upper right corner of the login screen.

The first page when opening settings will look like the screenshot shown to the right. Note that the current selected language for using ginstr launcher is English. Clicking on “settings” will open the next page with options to configure ginstr launcher. Changing configuration data will affect usage in every ginstr app used on device, including language, credentials, etc.

select language

This option sets the display language for ginstr launcher and ginstr app.
Currently ginstr launcher supports German, English, French, Spanish, Arabic & Hebrew, while ginstr apps may support all stated or some, depending on translations that exist for the ginstr app.
In case that a ginstr app does not have language files for current ginstr launcher language selection, the language for ginstr app will fallback to default language files which are German. After selecting a different language, the currently used ginstr app will be restarted and language change applied.
ginstr launcher settings screen

data via Wi-Fi only

If this option is checked, ginstr launcher will not permit using 3G/4G data traffic on device for app data replication with ginstr cloud.
Each ginstr app retains local database structure which is replicated from ginstr cloud to the device and vice-versa when new data is made with app. In some cases the amount of data sent to ginstr cloud or to be received from ginstr cloud to device can be significant. This option allows the prevention of this if in a given moment cost charges for data traffic are unacceptable.

ginstr iD credentials

User credentials can be saved here for convenience, removing the requirement to manually enter login credentials each time app is started.
Note that saved credentials will be used in each started ginstr app.

auto login

When checked, starting ginstr app and ginstr launcher will automatically use saved user credentials and execute authentication process.
ginstr iD credentials must be provided before this feature can be activated.
If an NFC tag is defined for the SSO user, this associated tag can be scanned instead of manually entering the user credentials. The option to add or modify the NFC tag associated with your SSO user account can be found in the general section of the my account settings menu.

reply to e-mail address

Optional preference used to define email address which will be used as a reply to email when user receives email from ginstr launcher.

activate promotional code

This enables using hidden app features, not available for regular users.
For more information make request to ginstr launcher developers.

kiosk mode

The kiosk mode is an optional feature for smartphones which are intended to be used exclusively for ginstr apps. The kiosk mode is password protected and prevents the smartphone from being used for any other apps or functions other than ginstr launcher.
When activating the kiosk mode, you are prompted to define a password for kiosk mode.
Take note of the Kiosk-Mode password! This is absolutely essential to enable you to exit kiosk mode again.
Under no circumstances should this password be made available to your employees
After defining a Kiosk-Mode password, press the home button on the device and you will be asked to select an application to be used as Home.
Please select ginstr launcher from the list of available applications to complete Kiosk-Mode set-up.
Pressing the home button on the device will now display a list of installed ginstr apps to choose from.
To deactivate kiosk mode, press the settings button settings turquoise.png on the device homescreen to access the preferences screen and un-check the kiosk mode option.
After entering the correct Kiosk-Mode password, kiosk mode will be deactivated.

about

This open dialog page with info about ginstr launcher version, ginstr app version, image source source and other ginstr information data.

log files

Clicking on this will create log file of current ginstr app state combined from all actions and data made during app instance and open email client to send this log file to ginstr launcher developers.
This log file is useful for developers in enhancement and bug-fixing.

automation test

Enabling this checkbox affects app usage, displaying widgets which helps automation procedure to collect data for which device modules are needed. For instance, reading of NFC tags is often invisible or not possible to enter tag data within ginstr app.
Enabling automation test will provide additional input boxes to enter NFC tag data and execute NFC tag reading, simulating the NFC tag process.

enable GPS mock

Enables generation of "fake" GPS data on screens which use location widgets in case real GPS is not available.

replication log

Enabling this option will keep log of synchronisation data between local app storage and ginstr cloud. In some cases this synchronisation may not be successful due to network issues or XML errors.

system log

Enabling system log will keep a log of all actions, data traffic and other process during ginstr apps instances.
Note that all log files are stored on device and send from device only. Uninstalling ginstr launcher or ginstr app will destroy those log files.
In most cases ginstr apps developer will use settings to switch between language and storing user credentials. It is not required to have checked any log data creation.

General hints and tips

  • While ginstr launcher is online it tries to communicate with the server. When connection is bad or server is having issues, you can start ginstr launcher in offline mode provided you have completed at least one successful login.
  • Using any action to go back to login screen does not clear all data from memory. Persistent data can be purged by restarting the ginstr launcher and running the app.
  • To save phone numbers and emails please use GnPhoneNumber and GnEmail and not GnEditText
  • To use an account as developer and override all permissions for the app which are controlled by SSO, flag for the user account has to be changed to "developer" true (ask someone in ginstr to do that for you). This will trigger tables and column generation on client side and will ignore all permissions on SSO related to app. If app is not on backend server and not visible in ginstr $defaultApp, copy it to base folder of ginstr launcher and click "create shortcut" button on first screen of $defaultApp. This will create shortcut on home screen and it will be possible to use the app

Debugging ginstr launcher

To have better insight into processes that occur in the background while ginstr launcher is running, a log can be obtained via ginstr launcher interface. This log is not documented due to frequent code changes, but you can consult developers about any information that you find in that log.

Log can be obtained in two ways:

  1. After launching the ginstr app, click the settings button (the gear icon) and look for the button log files or LogDaten which is positioned at the bottom of the preferences screen. Upon clicking the button, ginstr launcher will package all log data and ask you to choose application with which you want to send log data. Choose email client and specify the recipients address, or leave default to send the log to ginstr developers.
  2. Another way to obtain ginstr launcher log is to add a widget to any screen. When button is pressed, the same procedure is executed as when pressing preferences button in previous approach.

Further Reading

ginstr app

Widgets

Actions

Validation

Controls

Database

Permissions

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