MIT App Inventor.jpg

On Friday, 27th of October the lovely and inspiring Irina Ivanova led the workshop for MIT App Inventor at the Coding Girls Plovdiv Headquarters - 3Hub. There were around 8 people present, most of which didn't come from developer or coding background, myself included. Irina started the presentation with a few words about herself and her journey as a freelancer in the world of programming and technology. After that she explained the basics of the MIT App Inventor, which was supposed to be the base of our future applications.

What is MIT App Inventor?

So what is indeed MIT App Inventor and how does it work? MIT App Inventor is an intuitive, visual programming environment that allows everyone, especially people without prior knowledge of programming and app development, to create different applications for smartphones and tablets. The MIT App Inventor is an Android based block-based coding program, which enables you to learn and create without writing a single line of code. Thanks to this open source project everyone (even children) can learn to create apps specifically for their needs and ideas. The MIT App Inventor was originally created by GOOGLE and there is an enormous amount of information, tutorials and ideas how to use it, which you can find at www.appinventor.mit.edu, Google.com, YouTube (Mass TLC).

In order to start working with MIT App Inventor there are a few things you need: 
    - Internet access
    - a Google Account
     - a PC to test your app or an Android device
    - MIT AI2 Companion for your Android device (which is highly recommended) or an Android Emulator to test on PC

How to use MIT App Inventor?

After explaining all of this to us, Irina helped us test and connect the devices. First we had to install the MIT AI2 Companion on our Android devices. On our laptops we had opened the appinventor.mit.edu page, then we clicked on create apps and we logged in via our Google accounts - yes, it's that easy! This was all we needed before getting to work. The next thing we had to do was to connect the devices by clicking Go To Connect -> AI Companion. While some of the participants had some trouble connecting, it is the fastest way to test how the app is coming along on the Android device.

What came after that was the creative job. The MIT App Inventor platform is incredibly easy to work with. After beginning a new project, you have access to a various control palette. There you can find different user interface (buttons, images, textboxes, labels, etc.), layout, media (radio, sound, YandexTranslate), drawing and animation, sensors (barcode scanner, clock,  location sensor), storage, social medias, even LEGO MINDSTORMS and FirebaseDB. You can custom every chosen control from the palette, the way they all connect, how they look. You can also create different amount of screens, how they open, how they connect. 

Final thoughts

MIT App Inventor is an easy and accessible way to create the apps, based on specific needs or ideas. Personally, I learned a lot from this workshop provided by Coding Girls Plovdiv. The speaker, Irina Ivanova, explained everything in great detail, while answering furthermore questions and helping everyone understand the platform better. What I found specific for the MIT App Inventor is the variety of uses and controls that you can put in your app, while choosing the connections between the different screens and pages. Despite having no deep knowledge in coding for applications, I can see myself using MIT App Inventor in the future. And what is more important every person with specific idea and curiosity can create functional applications for themselves or for a small business. All you have to do is go to www.appinventor.mit.edu and start exploring the world beyond your imagination. 

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Nov 1, 2017 By Elena Lulcheva

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