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Name: Lucas Rocha
Member since: 2002-11-28 14:12:04
Last Login: 2014-10-10 09:05:27

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New tablet UI for Firefox on Android

The new tablet UI for Firefox on Android is now available on Nightly and, soon, Aurora! Here’s a quick overview of the design goals, development process, and implementation.

Design & Goals

Our main goal with the new tablet UI was to simplify the interaction with tabs—read Yuan Wang’s blog post for more context on the design process.

In 36, we focused on getting a solid foundation in place with the core UI changes. It features a brand new tab strip that allows you to create, remove and switch tabs with a single tap, just like on Firefox on desktop.

The toolbar got revamped with a cleaner layout and simpler state changes.

Furthermore, the fullscreen tab panel—accessible from the toolbar—gives you a nice visual overview of your tabs and sets the stage for more advanced features around tab management in future releases.

Development process

At Mozilla, we traditionally work on big features in a separate branch to avoid disruptions in our 6-week development cycles. But that means we don’t get feedback until the feature lands in mozilla-central.

We took a slightly different approach in this project. It was a bit like replacing parts of an airplane while it’s flying.

We first worked on the necessary changes to allow the app to have parallel UI implementations in a separate branch. We then merged the new code to mozilla-central and did most of the UI development there.

This approach enabled us to get early feedback in Nightly before the UI was considered feature-complete.

Implementation

In order to develop the new UI directly in mozilla-central, we had to come up with a way to run either the old or the new tablet UIs in the same build.

We broke up our UI code behind interfaces with multiple concrete implementations for each target UI, used view factories to dynamically instantiate parts of the UI, prefixed overlapping resources, and more.

The new tab strip uses the latest stable release of TwoWayView which got a bunch of important bug fixes and couple of new features such as smooth scroll to position.


Besides improving Firefox’s UX on Android tablets, the new UI lays the groundwork for some cool new features. This is not a final release yet and we’ll be landing bug fixes until 36 is out next year. But you can try it now in our Nightly builds. Let us what you think!

Syndicated 2014-12-03 21:45:22 from Lucas Rocha

Joining Facebook

I am really excited to announce that I’m joining Facebook. I start in January next year. I’ll be bootstrapping Android UI efforts—frameworks and user-facing stuff—in the London office. There are still a lot of details to sort out but that’s the general plan.

Why Facebook? They have an amazing hacker-driven culture, they’re striving to do open source the right way, there’s a lot of space for experimentation, and they have massive reach in the Android space.

I’m really looking forward to learning a lot at Facebook. And there is so much to be done! I can’t wait to start :-)

Syndicated 2014-11-27 11:24:04 from Lucas Rocha

Leaving Mozilla

I joined Mozilla 3 years, 4 months, and 6 days ago. Time flies!

I was very lucky to join the company a few months before the Firefox Mobile team decided to rewrite the product from scratch to make it more competitive on Android. And we made it: Firefox for Android is now one of the highest rated mobile browsers on Android!

This has been the best team I’ve ever worked with. The talent, energy, and trust within the Firefox for Android group is simply amazing.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here but an exciting opportunity outside Mozilla came up and decided to take it.

What’s next? That’s a topic for another post ;-)

Syndicated 2014-11-26 16:57:50 from Lucas Rocha

Probing with Gradle

Up until now, Probe relied on dynamic view proxies generated at runtime to intercept View calls. Although very convenient, this approach greatly affects the time to inflate your layouts—which limits the number of use cases for the library, especially in more complex apps.

This is all changing now with Probe’s brand new Gradle plugin which seamlessly generates build-time proxies for your app. This means virtually no overhead at runtime!

Using Probe’s Gradle plugin is very simple. First, add the Gradle plugin as a dependency in your build script.

buildscript {
    repositories {
        mavenCentral()
    }

    dependencies {
        classpath 'com.android.tools.build:gradle:0.13.+'
        classpath 'org.lucasr.probe:gradle-plugin:0.1.2'
    }
}

Then add Probe’s library as a dependency in your app.

repositories {
    mavenCentral()
}

dependencies {
    compile 'org.lucasr.probe:probe:0.1.2'
}

Next, apply the plugin to your app’s build.gradle.

apply plugin: 'probe'

Probe’s proxy generation is disabled by default and needs to be explicitly enabled on specific build variants (build type + product flavour). For example, this is how you enable Probe proxies in debug builds.

probe {
    buildVariants {
        debug {
            enabled = true
        }
    }
}

And that’s all! You should now be able to deploy interceptors on any part of your UI. Here’s how you could deploy an OvermeasureInterceptor in an activity.

public final class MainActivity extends Activity {
   @Override
   protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
       Probe.deploy(this, new OvermeasureInterceptor());
       super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
       setContentView(R.id.main_activity);
   }
}

While working on this feature, I have changed DexMaker to be an optional dependency i.e. you have to explicitly add DexMaker as a build dependency in your app in order to use it.

This is my first Gradle plugin. There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement here. These features are available in the 0.1.2 release in Maven Central.

As usual, feedback, bug reports, and fixes are very welcome. Enjoy!

Syndicated 2014-10-07 23:12:03 from Lucas Rocha

New Features in Picasso

I’ve always been a big fan of Picasso, the Android image loading library by the Square folks. It provides some powerful features with a rather simple API.

Recently, I started working on a set of new features for Picasso that will make it even more awesome: request handlers, request management, and request priorities. These features have all been merged to the main repo now. Let me give you a quick overview of what they enable you to do.

Request Handlers

Picasso supports a wide variety of image sources, from simple resources to content providers, network, and more. Sometimes though, you need to load images in unconventional ways that are not supported by default in Picasso.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could easily integrate your custom image loading logic with Picasso? That’s what the new request handlers are about. All you need to do is subclass RequestHandler and implement a couple of methods. For example:

public class PonyRequestHandler extends RequestHandler {
    private static final String PONY_SCHEME = "pony";

    @Override public boolean canHandleRequest(Request data) {
        return PONY_SCHEME.equals(data.uri.getScheme());
    }

    @Override public Result load(Request data) {
         return new Result(somePonyBitmap, MEMORY);
    }
}

Then you register your request handler when instantiating Picasso:

Picasso picasso = new Picasso.Builder(context)
    .addRequestHandler(new PonyHandler())
    .build();

Voilà! Now Picasso can handle pony URIs:

Picasso.with(context)
       .load("pony://somePonyName")
       .into(someImageView)

This pull request also involved rewriting all built-in bitmap loaders on top of the new API. This means you can also override the built-in request handlers if you need to.

Request Management

Even though Picasso handles view recycling, it does so in an inefficient way. For instance, if you do a fling gesture on a ListView, Picasso will still keep triggering and canceling requests blindly because there was no way to make it pause/resume requests according to the user interaction. Not anymore!

The new request management APIs allow you to tag associated requests that should be managed together. You can then pause, resume, or cancel requests associated with specific tags. The first thing you have to do is tag your requests as follows:

Picasso.with(context)
       .load("http://example.com/image.jpg")
       .tag(someTag)
       .into(someImageView)

Then you can pause and resume requests with this tag based on, say, the scroll state of a ListView. For example, Picasso’s sample app now has the following scroll listener:

public class SampleScrollListener implements AbsListView.OnScrollListener {
    ...
    @Override
    public void onScrollStateChanged(AbsListView view, int scrollState) {
        Picasso picasso = Picasso.with(context);
        if (scrollState == SCROLL_STATE_IDLE ||
            scrollState == SCROLL_STATE_TOUCH_SCROLL) {
            picasso.resumeTag(someTag);
        } else {
            picasso.pauseTag(someTag);
        }
    }
    ...
}

These APIs give you a much finer control over your image requests. The scroll listener case is just the canonical use case.

Request Priorities

It’s very common for images in your Android UI to have different priorities. For instance, you may want to give higher priority to the big hero image in your activity in relation to other secondary images in the same screen.

Up until now, there was no way to hint Picasso about the relative priorities between images. The new priority API allows you to tell Picasso about the intended order of your image requests. You can just do:

Picasso.with(context)
       .load("http://example.com/image.jpg")
       .priority(HIGH)
       .into(someImageView);

These priorities don’t guarantee a specific order, they just tilt the balance towards higher-priority requests.


That’s all for now. Big thanks to Jake Wharton and Dimitris Koutsogiorgas for the prompt code and API reviews!

You can try these new APIs now by fetching the latest Picasso code on Github. These features will probably be available in the 2.4 release. Enjoy!

Syndicated 2014-09-23 15:52:54 from Lucas Rocha

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