Nathan Handler's Blog

Debian Mobile
31st March 2013

For one of my classes, the final project is to work on a personal project for four weeks. Since I have never done mobile programming before, I decided I would use this project as a chance to teach myself the basics of Android development. Paul Tagliamonte recently blogged about a Google Summer of Code project idea for a Debian Android application. It was this post that motivated me to create a Debian Android application for my final project. We are only in the middle of week one, but my plan is to have at least a basic BTS and PTS interface done by the end of the project. Then, depending on a few things, I hope to turn it into a Google Summer of Code project or simply continue developing it on my own.

As I mentioned, I am only a few days into the project. One of the first hurdles I encountered was interacting with the SOAP interfaces available for the PTS and BTS. There are a few examples available on the wiki, but there are not any for Java. A Google search also failed to return any clear and simple results. As a result, I decided I would create a Python script that would accept requests from the Java Android application via a REST API and pass them on to the SOAP API before returning the result as JSON. Before I could finish writing the script, Paul mentioned that he had already written a similar program a few months ago. I immediately stopped working on my script and began preparing a patch for Paul's program to add support for some missing PTS SOAP functions as well as the entire BTS. After a few hours, I had the ability to query the PTS and BTS via a REST API from Java.

While I normally prefer to use VIM for my programming, I decided to follow Google's recommendation and use Eclipse. I was able to follow their guide to get the SDK setup and a simple demo application running. One of the few hurdles I encountered was when I wanted to make web requests. Due to the ability for such requests to stall, you are required to perform them in a separate thread. This only becomes aparant when you try to test your application on an actual device; the emulator will happily run the process in the main thread. Regardless, I was eventually able to modify the demo application to allow me to make requests to my Python REST server and then parse and display the result.

Here are some screenshots of the application running.

Main Screen API Functions Information Entered Result

If you have any feature suggestions, questions, or comments, feel free to send me an email ( The source code for the Android application is currently not available, but I plan to put it up in a git repository sometime in the near future. The source code for the Python script that provides a REST API to access the PTS and BTS SOAP interface is available on GitHub.

Tags: android, planet-debian, planet-ubuntu.

Created by Chronicle v4.6