Using PhoneGap for Competitive Analysis

We’re considering PhoneGap for building our competitive analysis application on Android tablets this year. That would let students program in Javascript/HTML/CSS rather than having to learn the details of Android development. Last year we used hard wired Android tablets connected to a locally hosted web server running on a Raspberry Pi. We had enough issues with running ethernet cables all over the stands and dropped matches that we’d like to switch to Bluetooth and a system where the tablets store up all their data and transfer it when they have a connection to a server.

I’d love to hear the experiences of teams who have already used PhoneGap for this application. Would you do it again? How do you transfer data (flash drive, Bluetooth, cables?) Did you use the Adobe or the open source version?

Phonegap is a cool suggestion, I’ve actually never heard of it before today, but I love some of the Apps that run on it, given the right resources, I would totally try to use it.

Anyway, per your data transfer question. Its not perfect, but the easiest way to do scouting data transfer in my experience is just using cellular data transfers and dealing with the intermittent coverage issues the best you can. People tend to blow them out of proportion anyway. Every venue is unique, and wireless access simplifies so many other issues since Wifi is a no-go. Personally I’d rather have intermittent/crappy wireless cellular access, then being limited to physical access on a wired network.

You can live without real time updates, there are work arounds, and at the end of the day it just ends up being the easiest to go with cellular coverage. Just make sure you have an easy way to view time stamps and resubmit data as necessary. And have a back up plan to do it the paper way if you have to.

2959 has used phonegap for 2 years now and it works great. We don’t rely on live data, rather we compile it at the end of the day for analysis. We just keep notes during matches the analyze the raw data at night.

We use a program called Telerik App Builder to build our apps. It is an awesome product And free for 2 projects. Takes care of a LOT of the hassle and gives you a nice IDE that is web based.

I’ve used PhoneGap for projects before. It’s not terrible. I wouldn’t try to build a consumer facing app with it but for internal apps I’d say it’s good enough.

I used the open source version.

I can’t comment on the data connectivity, most of the apps I’ve done with it were just packaged webapps so they relied on network connectivity in some fashion.

Anyway, per your data transfer question. Its not perfect, but the easiest way to do scouting data transfer in my experience is just using cellular data transfers and dealing with the intermittent coverage issues the best you can. People tend to blow them out of proportion anyway. Every venue is unique, and wireless access simplifies so many other issues since Wifi is a no-go. Personally I’d rather have intermittent/crappy wireless cellular access, then being limited to physical access on a wired network.

We’ve had okay luck using AT&T or Verizon for data transfer at regional events as long as our applications had the smarts to store and retry. At St. Louis, though, those networks seem to fall apart under the crazy heavy load.

The kendoui javascript framework just added offline support to their javascript database functions. It will automatically sync up when there is a signal (or when you tell it to).

Would it be possible to use the FireChat/OpenGarden api on top of PhoneGap or another App Builder? Mesh Networkingwould be the obvious solution for most FRC applications.

A fair warning about Bluetooth, I’d like to direct your attention to the 2014 Q&A question #Q508[1]](http://www.usfirst.org/sites/default/files/uploadedFiles/Robotics_Programs/FRC/Game_and_Season__Info/2014/2014_FRC_QandA.pdf)

Emphasis mine.

Good to keep in mind that Bluetooth is allowed until it’s not. Since it runs down in the 2.4Ghz band and is low power it seems unlikely to bother the field. Besides the stands are full of Bluetooth devices like headphones so FIRST would have a hard time controlling them.

We use a program called Telerik App Builder to build our apps. It is an awesome product And free for 2 projects. Takes care of a LOT of the hassle and gives you a nice IDE that is web based.

Telerik does look like a cool product. Unless they start doing a special educational/FIRST deal it’s outside of our price range. It appears they’ve changed their trial to just be 30 days.

This is true, except for at the Championship and at other events where FTC are running using 2.4Ghz Samantha modules. In the past, volunteers have worked very hard to get any 2.4Ghz sources shut down at such events.

Telerik actually switches you to their starter edition art the end of your trial. Limits you to two projects and a 100mb database.