Outreachy- Week 1,2 Progress

Working with productFlavors  in Android.

Since the past few weeks I have been researching and working on  creating a white label version of Lumicall with my mentors Daniel, Juliana and Bruno.

Lumicall is a free and convenient app for making encrypted phone calls from Android. It uses the SIP protocol to interoperate with other apps and corporate telephone systems. Think of any app that you use to call others using an SIP ID.

What does it mean to make a  “white label” version of Lumicall?
White labelling is the idea of taking the whole or piece of Lumicall’s code by business users and tweaking it according to their requirements and functionality they want.

The white label version would have client’s name, logo, icons, themes etc which reflect their brand. Although, the underlying working of both the applications would be same.

Think of it like getting a cake from the local bakery, putting it into a home baking dish and passing it off as something you made in front of your friends and earning all the praise. Except cake is more appealing than apps.
What whitelabelling does is it takes away the pain of collecting cake ingredients, mixing them in right proportion, baking at the right temperature and uses the experience of one cake base to create more and more fancier, prettier, grander cakes. This lets the cool bakers (or the business users of lumicall) to focus on other aspects of the party like decoration, games and drinks (or monetization, publicity and new features)


Now you would wonder who these cool bakers or business users of lumicall would be?

  • Existing SIP providers can use white label version of Lumicall to expand their business and launch SIP client. This would provide a one stop shop for them!!
  • New SIP clients/developers can use Lumicall white label version to get the underlying working of making encrypted phone calls using SIP protocol, it will help them to focus on other additional functionalities they would like to include.
  • Moreover,  Companies that have existing clients such as shopping apps, social network apps can benefit from integrating lumicall to launch new business ideas

While researching this work that despite the commonalities, there would need to be a unique identifier for any application in the app store.

I found that there is difference between the package name and the applicationID. When I create a new project in Android Studio, the applicationId exactly matches the Java-style package name I chose during setup. However, the application ID and package name are independent of each other beyond this point. The thing to keep in mind is that app stores identify as a changed application ID as a different app altogether.

So if I were to make  N separate copies of the application code for N clients, it would be a maintenance nightmare, If the build system is Gradle, using product flavors is a trick that will make this maintenance easier. Instead of N separate copies, I would simply have N product flavors. Each flavor corresponds to a customized version of my application. Pro, free, whitelabel, Debug  (for development purposes), Release (for production purposes) are the basic flavors I have identified.  

Each flavor would use the same source code and files of the application but resources, icons, manifests etc that are specific to each flavor can be defined again in main/src/flavor_name directory under res folders etc. according to the requirement.

Here is a snippet from my build.gradle file::

snippetcrop

Note: You have to define at least two flavors to be able to build multiple variants.
Because once you have flavors, you can only build “flavored” application. You can’t just build “default” configuration anymore. Define an empty flavor, with no applicationIdSuffix at all, and it will use all of the default config section.

This week I’d be moving forward with the implementation of whitelabelling using productFlavors in Lumicall.
I would love to hear from someone who has done this before!
Comment here or email me and I promise you an excellent home-made-store-brought cake!

Wishing you all HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ! 🙂
-U

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