Adding Open Street Maps to PSLab Android

PSLab Android app is an open source app that uses fully open libraries and tools so that the community can use all it’s features without any compromises related to pricing or feature constraints. This will brings us to the topic how to implement a map feature in PSLab Android app without using proprietary tools and libraries. This is really important as now the app is available on Fdroid and they don’t allow apps to have proprietary tools in them if they are published there. In other words, it simply says we cannot use Google Maps APIs no matter how powerful they are in usage.

There is a workaround and that is using Open Street Maps (OSM). OSM is an open source project which is supported by a number of developers all around the globe to develop an open source alternative to Google Maps. It supports plenty of features we need in PSLab Android app as well. Starting from displaying a high resolution map along with caching the places user has viewed, we can add markers to show data points and locations in sensor data logging implementations.

All these features can be made available once we add the following dependencies in gradle build file. Make sure to use the latest version as there will be improvements and bug fixes in each newer version

implementation "org.osmdroid:osmdroid-android:$rootProject.osmVersion"
implementation "org.osmdroid:osmdroid-mapsforge:$rootProject.mapsforgeVersion"
implementation "org.osmdroid:osmdroid-geopackage:$rootProject.geoPackageVersion"

 

OSM will be functional only after the following permission states were granted.

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION"/>
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE"  />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE" />

 

In a view xml file, add the layout org.osmdroid.views.MapView to initiate the map view. There is a known issue in OSM library. That is during the initiation, if the zoom factor is set to a small value, there will be multiple instances of maps as shown in Fig 1. The solution is to have a higher zoom value when the map is loaded.

Figure 1: Multiple map tiles in OSM

Once we initialize the map view inside an activity, a zoom level can be easily set using a map controller as follows;

map = findViewById(R.id.osmmap);
map.setTileSource(TileSourceFactory.MAPNIK);
map.setBuiltInZoomControls(true);
map.setMultiTouchControls(true);

IMapController mapController = map.getController();
mapController.setZoom((double) 9);
GeoPoint startPoint = new GeoPoint(0.00, 0.00);
mapController.setCenter(startPoint);

 

After successfully implementing the map view, we can develop the business logic to add markers and descriptions to improve the usability of OS Maps. They will be available in the upcoming blog posts.

Reference:

  1. https://github.com/osmdroid/osmdroid/wiki/How-to-add-the-osmdroid-library-via-Gradle
  2. https://www.openstreetmap.org/

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Capturing Position Data with PSLab Android App

PSLab Android app by FOSSASIA can be used to visualize different waveforms, signal levels and patterns. Many of them involve logging data from different instruments. These data sets can be unique and the user might want them to be specific to a location or a time. To facilitate this feature, PSLab Android app offers a feature to save user’s current location along with the data points.

This implementation can be done in two ways. One is to use Google Maps APIs and the other one is to use LocationManager classes provided by Android itself. The first one is more on to proprietary libraries and it will give errors when used in an open source publishing platform like Fdroid as they require all the libraries used in an app to be open. So we have to go with the latter, using LocationManager classes.

As first step, we will have to request permission from the user to allow the app access his current location. This can be easily done by adding a permission tag in the Manifest.xml file.

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION" />

 

Since we are not using Google Maps APIs, capturing the current location will take a little while and that can be considered as the only downfall of using this method. We have to constantly check for a location change to capture the data related to current location. This can be easily done by attaching a LocationListener as it will do the very thing for us.

private LocationListener locationListener = new LocationListener() {
   @Override
   public void onLocationChanged(Location location) {
       locationAvailable = true;
   }

   @Override
   public void onStatusChanged(String s, int i, Bundle bundle) {/**/}

   @Override
   public void onProviderEnabled(String s) {/**/}

   @Override
   public void onProviderDisabled(String s) {
       // TODO: Handle GPS turned on/off situations
   }
};

 

In case if the user has turned off GPS in his device, this method wouldn’t work. We will have to request him to turn the feature on using a simple dialog box or a bottom sheet dialog.

We can also customize how frequent the locationlistener should check for a location using another class named LocationManager. This class can be instantiated as follows:

locationManager = (LocationManager) getSystemService(Context.LOCATION_SERVICE);

 

Then we can easily set the time interval using requestLocationUpdates method. Here I have requested location updates in every one second. That is a quite reasonable rate.

locationManager.requestLocationUpdates(provider, 1000, 1, locationListener);

 

Once we have set all this up, we can capture the current location assuming that the user has turned on the GPS option from his device settings and the LocationManager class has a new location as we checked earlier.

if (locationAvailable) {
   Location location = locationManager.getLastKnownLocation(LocationManager.GPS_PROVIDER);
}

 

Each location will contain details related to its position such as latitudes and longitudes. We can log these data using the CSVLogger class implementation in PSLab Android app and let user have this option while doing his experiments.

Reference:

  1. An open source implementation : https://github.com/borneq/HereGPSLocation/blob/master/app/src/main/java/com/borneq/heregpslocation/MainActivity.java

Google Maps: https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/android-sdk/intro

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