WebRatio Mobile lets you build Android apps that you can test on your mobile or submit to the Google Play Store. This article guides you through the build process, showing how to create a release build, prepare and submit the Application on the Google Play Store.
The procedure shown in the article requires you to have:
- an active internet connection to build the project
- all the graphical assets (including icons, images, screenshots and marketing material) to identify and advertise your application.
To learn more about:
- Icons, please read the official Google specification available here.
- Images, screenshots and marketing material, please read the official Google specification available here.
- a publisher account for the Google Play Store.
To register follow these steps:
- Open the Android Developer Console
- Register as a developer
- Read the Developer Distribution Agreement
- Pay the 25$ USD registration fee
- Verify the account
Please before proceeding with registration, and for any kind of trouble, rely on the Google Official Documentation available here.
Build Android App
You can easily build an Android app creating and configuring an Android build configuration for your mobile project. You can even create more than one build for the same mobile project according to your needs. The build process is done in a single-step and requires an active Internet connection since its executed on a WebRatio Cloud Server.
The Build option is available in the main WebRatio Mobile Platform toolbar.
Press this button to open the Build As Configurations dialog.
To create a Mobile Android Build Configuration, right-click on the Mobile - Android option and select New. A dialog called Build As Configuration is shown. Configure the properties as explained in the next section and press Build to start the build process.
Release Build Mode
To create a release build there are no other prerequisites except that you need an active Internet connection.
This build mode can be used when you have to prepare the app for submission to the Google Play Store, or if you want to have a lightweight package to test the application on the device without the debug infrastructure. To know how to test your application on a device refer to the How to Build and Test an Android Application article.
To create a release build you need to configure the Build As Configuration dialog (build-dialog hereinafter) using all of the properties available in the Main tab.
The Main tab of the build-dialog contains the information needed to correctly create the mobile application package.
The Project property is reference to the mobile project you want to build. It is preloaded with the currently open project, however you can choose another project using the Browse button.
The other three properties, App Name, App Id and App Version are respectively the name, the unique identifier and the version of the mobile application. These properties are preloaded by WebRatio Mobile Platform, but you are free to change them as needed. All three properties are mandatory in order to build the project successfully.
Then, to create a debug build set the Build Mode property to Release.
Once that the Build Mode is set to Release all of the other properties become mandatory.
The Keystore File is a file stored on your machine and is the auto-signed certificate that is used to certify the developer identity and sign the apps. The same Keystore File can be used for more than one mobile application. If you don’t already have a Keystore File, you can create it using KeyTools (official documentation available here) and use it for the current configuration pressing the Browse... or you can create it directly in WebRatio Mobile Platform by pressing the Create… button next to the property.
Show how to Create a Keystore File from the dialog
If you click on the Create... button you will see a new dialog asking for the Keystore properties:
In order to create a Keystore File, the first thing to do is to choose the directory and file name for the Keystore you are creating. Press the Browse… button, choose a folder and set a file name.
After that, set a password for your Keystore File and confirm it as shown below.
The Key Alias is automatically preloaded from the license information and you can change it; you then need to set a password for it and confirm it.
Then fill in the Certificate issuer details; at least one field should be filled.
Once you complete all the required information, press the Create button to generate the Keystore File. Remember to save the Keystore File for future releases since you can reuse it.
Once you have a Keystore File, if that file contains only one key then all the other properties are automatically preloaded, except the Account Manager App Id; otherwise you have to fill in the properties manually.
The Keystore Password property asks for the same password used to encrypt the Keystore File.
The Key Alias and Key Password are respectively the user and password of the identity used to create the Keystore File.
The Target Devices lets you choose which devices will run your App.
The Account Manager App Id property enables your app to share the access credentials (username and password) with other apps built with WebRatio Mobile Platform. To use the credentials of a mobile application you have to set this property with the App Id of that mobile application. The number of mobile applications that can share their credentials is unlimited.
In a situation where you want to share the same set of credentials used for the mobile app A with the apps B and C you have to put in the Account Manager App Id property of B and C the App Id of A (ex: com.yourcompany.a).
The Notification Sender ID property must be set if your app needs to use Push Notification. You have to set this field with the Project Number that you can obtain at step three of this tutorial.
The Model tab contains some project configuration properties that let you customize the behavior of the mobile application. It’s not mandatory to set the properties of this tab, it depends strictly on your mobile app.
The Back-end Base URL is the URL of the remote back-end server. If your app uses one remember to set a value for it.
The Check Credentials on Resume flag states whether or not the user credentials must be checked every time the user opens the mobile application. This is another option strictly related to your app structure.
Once all of the properties are set correctly you can press the Build button to start the process.
A dialog will show you a feedback message about the build execution.
The build process ends successfully and you will see a page showing the App Dashboard.
From this page you can:
- Download the *.apk package from the Download App Package link and then move it to the phone using the USB transfer
- Scan the QRCode to start the download of the package right onto your device. The QRCode can be eventually scanned using WebRatio Mobile Developer app which will directly start up the installer.
To learn how to install and run a build on your device, refer to the How to Build and Test an Android Application article.
Publish Android App
Before going through the content of this section you have to prepare your Android App for publishing on the Google Play Store. Make sure you accomplish all of the following tasks.
- Prepare the Branding Assets
In order to publish an Android App you have to prepare a set of assets, called branding assets, that do belong to the *.apk package.
WebRatio Mobile Platform helps you define the set of Icons and the set of Splash Screens through the Prepare Branding Assets tool.
This tool is available right clicking on a Mobile Project from the WebRatio Explorer and choosing the WebRatio > Prepare Branding Assets option.
You only have to provide one icon file for the Icons and one for the Splash Screens; then the tool automatically resizes the images to fit all of the required size and resolutions and produces, as output, two folders containing the generated icons and splash screens.
- Prepare the Remote Servers
If your app uses external services, make sure they are up and running, and make sure that your app is able to connect to them.
- Build the App in Release Mode
You can refer to the Release Build Mode section of this article.
- Test the Application for Release
There are common tests you have to do before starting the publish process in order to be sure that most common features are working correctly. You can refer to the Google Official Documentation about App testing.
- Register a Publisher Account
Refer to the Prerequisites section of this article.
- Prepare the Images and Marketing Assets
Refer to the Prerequisites section of this article.
- Upload the APK
Once that the APK is ready and the Assets are prepared it’s time to upload the APK to the Google Play Store. You do this by logging into the Android Developer Console.
There are six required steps you have to go through:
- Upload the APK: upload the *.apk generated by the build process
- Upload the Assets: attach all the required icons and screenshots
- Listing Details: enter the information of your app that will be displayed on the Google Play Store
- Publishing Options: specify the options that determine which devices will be able to download the application
- Contact Information: insert the contact details of the developer of the application
- Consent: declare that the application meets the Android Content Guidelines and that the application is subject to U.S. export laws
All the steps are described on Google’s Official Documentation, take a tour here.
All the resources linked from the Google’s Official Documentation are subject to change at Google’s discretion.