Level Up - Android Dev: How To Automatically Extract Hardcoded Strings To res/values/strings.xml

This is just one of the many refactoring features of Eclipse. Using this extract feature, you won't even need to open res/values/strings.xml to add the String resources nor manually write out reference to the resource.

This saves a lot of time, and allows the best practice of putting String constants away from the UI/Java files so that localization can be performed easier. This method I'm about to show you is especially productive because it can change all instances of that particular String to point to the xml string resource so that you don't have to do it individually one-by-one. (I'm doing maintenance on code that has everything hardcoded, so this is a lifesaver.)

To automatically extract the String, it's easy enough:

Step 1: Highlight the entire String that you would like extracted and sent to res/values*/strings.xml
Step 2: From the menu bar, select Refactor->Android->"Extract Android String..."
Step 3: Preview options and confirm changes.

Step 2: Automatically extracting string menu option.

Step 3: Many different great refactoring options to choose from.

This works in the XML and Java files for your Android application. And, this is much quicker than manually changing all instances of hardcoded Strings to getString() and @string/.

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Webmaster: How To Get Started With MediaWiki

Want to create your own wiki pages like Wikipedia? You can organize all your thoughts, add notes for your new book you want to write, and more. The wiki can be either public, private, or half and half. You decide.

Going through this process will allow you to edit any and all features that are provided with MediaWiki, the wiki engine for Wikipedia and many other wiki sites.

Step 1. Download MediaWiki, it might be as a .tar.gz file, which in that use 7-Zip to unzip the compressed file, you may have to use 7-Zip twice to fully open it and see the source files.

Step 2. Copy all the files to a directly on your domain.com/mediawiki/w/ directory. One of the easiest ways is using FileZilla, navigating to the public directory using the GUI, then click+drag all the files into the directory. Note: The reason I said that particular directory is because it will allow you to do a lot more later on, like setup the domain.com/wiki site to serve the pages in your wiki. As you wait for all your files to upload to your server,

Step 3. Create a new database and user for that database. This is the method that the MediaWiki instance will be using to save and retrieve all the information for your wiki.

Step 4. Wait until all the files have finished uploading to your domain.com/mediawiki/w/ directory, then navigate to that page in a browser. It'll say LocalSettings.php file not found, so this is where you will use a wizard to setup all the properties of your site, like public/private and more. Each of these properties can always be changed later. I recommend reading through all of them to understand better what is available to you.

Step 5. After going through the entire wiki, the wizard will prompt you to download the LocalSettings.php file which you can then add to the same folder that you previously installed all the files in.

Step 6. In a browser, navigate to your domain.com/mediawiki/w/ and see that you have your main default page show. Congrats, you now have an instance of MediaWiki running on your own server.

If you run into any problems during this process, you can click on the little question marks in the wizard to pop up more information of a section or input area. Another great source of information is on the official install page.

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Published New App: Wall Ball

I just created a new game using a concept that I haven't seen in any other game. It's almost like a single player pong game with different objectives.

Using the Construct 2 game engine, so that I only have to create the code base once, I've made the game available for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Try it out now:
- On Windows 8
- On Windows Phone

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Construct 2: Don't Confuse "+" And "&"

I just spent over an hour debugging a problem in my Construct 2 code. Suffice to say the solution is now ingrained in my brain. Now, I want to explain a little intricacy of C2.

TLDR: In Construct 2, whenever you are dealing with text and you want to concatenate/append additional text (or a variable), then you need to use the ampersand "&" symbol. Using the plus "+" symbol will cause a silent error/bug, i.e. the program won't tell you that there is a bug. Ex: If I try to set text to "Score: " + PlayerScore, then the value of the variable `PlayerScore` will not appear. The correct way to set the text would have been: "Score: " & PlayerScore. Note, the only difference between the two codes was the plus and ampersand.

Other programming languages have "overloaded" concatenaters, meaning the "+" symbol in some languages like Java are contextual. Depending on the value to the right and left of the plus sign, it will act a different way rather than not working at all, as in C2.

In Construct 2, the only time that you should use the plus symbol is when you want to add two numbers together. That is it.

Anyways, the issue that I was trying to solve for over an hour involved using WebStorage and Functions with programmatically assigned parameters. Saving and retrieving values was working great, just not exactly the way I wanted it to. I had a highscores table for easy, medium, and hard difficulties, but they were all staying the same values across each of them. My buggy code included lots of ampersands surrounding the entire area, but basically, this is what it looked like: Save("HighScore" + LevelDifficulty, PlayerPoints). Note: The plus sign is wrong.

No programming languages I use have the ampersand as a String concatenate. So, when I viewed the code snippets a few times, even completely writing them, my mind knew exactly that String + String should be working.

If I hadn't already read the manual/documentation before this point, then I probably wouldn't have found the answer myself.

Experience built through learned mistakes.
~ Danial Goodwin ~

ps - Just in case I haven't said it enough yet... When you are using Construct 2 and dealing with text, use the ampersand, &. Don't use the plus, +, sign!


Experience Publishing to Different App Platforms

Q: How do you gain experience in publishing apps to a certain platform?
A: You create 100 apps and publish them.

Q: How do you lose experience in publishing apps to a certain platform?
A: You create 100 apps and publish them. (Details below)

I don't think anybody actually asks the second question (but I just did!). Anyways, after the first few publishes, programmers/hackers get tired of the same routines. Our jobs are basically to automate things and makes things easier!

So, that's what I did and am doing. I'm starting to automate the entire process of publishing an app. There is this great tool that is a high-level scripting language called AutoHotkey. With it, I can easily open any program programatically, and send any keyboard and mouse commands that I want to the program. Basically, a macro builder for the entire end-user operating system.

About half of the process is automated now. I'm about halfway to my personal goal of 100 apps. My goal would be to make the entire process from app file to publish a one-click process. I know it's possible, and it'll be fun to build.

Once the process is all automated, I can be free to forget the process and start thinking of other abstractions to make.

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Webmaster: How To Randomly Redirect Visitors To Different Websites

There is a very simple method using PHP to have visitors automatically redirected to another site.

Why this is useful:
- User clicks "Take me to a random" page. You can finely-tune the random outcome.
- You are doing some A/B testing and want to sent users to different locations to test.
- Or, like me, you want to share your various websites/games, from a single button.

Try clicking
Ex: http://apps.simplyadvanced.net/windows8/redirect

Step 1: Here's all the PHP code that you need:

$urls = array("siteA.com",
              "www.example.com"); $url = $urls[array_rand($urls)]; header("Location: http://$url"); ?>

Step 2: Done

Or, if you want to redirect the visitor after they visit a certain URL on your domain, then simply create an "index.php" file in the public directory that you want users to be redirected from, then the above code is all that you need to put in it.

Try it: Random Windows 8 Games created by me.
Try it: Random Windows Phone Games created by me.

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Published New App: One-Click Saga

Today (and yesterday), I created this "One-Click Saga" game using the Construct 2 game engine. C2 definitely allows great games to be created with ease.

Three games to master. Flappy's too tired to flap anymore, so he is taking a ride on different airborne vehicles. Rules are the same: tap to save the clone bird's life! But, in each game a tap does something different...

Available Now:
- Windows 8
- Windows Phone

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Programmer: How To Quickly Setup And Use Git And GitHub

A long time ago, the first time I started trying to learn Git and GitHub, I thought it was an unnecessarily complex process. All I wanted was simple version control and easy collaboration. So, instead of learning Git, I just made everything really modular. For one of my teams, we even just worked in completely different files, and it worked out okay.

But, now, I want to explain the absolute basics on how to start, in order to drastically reduce the learning curve. You can always find more detailed information later. And, you can get started right now!

- You already know what Git is.
- You are running Windows OS.
- You already have folder/file(s) in mind for added a version control system to or want to do easy collaboration on code projects.
- You want to get started with GitHub.
- You are okay with basic instructions meant for the easiest use of Git/GitHub.

Step 1: Download Git.
- Make sure you have "Git Bash" to be installed also, and you can add it to your [right-click] contextual menu also during the install process. (And/or you can add Git to your Path.)

Step 2: Configure Git.
- Open Git Bash (either right-click in file explorer or find it through search)
- Type the following two lines into the console, and change the red parts to your own information:
git config --global user.name "Your Name"
git config --global user.email "your@email.com"

Step 3: Setup project to work with Git.
- Navigate (using cd) the console to the directory where you want to enable Git.
- Run the following lines to setup the folder to work with Git and "save" all the files in the directory.
git initgit add . 
git commit -m "Initial commit"

And, now you have version control. Just do those last two lines again whenever you want to save a new version. Change the red part to something descriptive of the change.

Step 4: Create a GitHub account.
- If this is your first time using GitHub, you will need to create an SSH key. After entering the following, hit enter again to save to default location (your user folder/.ssh).
ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "your@email.com"
- The console tells you where the public key has been saved. Open that file in Notepad++ and save the contents to GitHub.com->Profile->Edit Profile->SSH Keys->Add SSH Key. (Each arrow -> is basically another click.)
- Check for success by running:
ssh git@github.com

Step 5:  Create a new repository (sometimes called a "repo")
- Click the big green button somewhere on GitHub that says "New repository"
- Name the repo and create it.
- On the page you are navigated to, find/copy the "SSH clone URL". This will be used in the next step and looks something like, "git@github.com:danialgoodwin/MyFirstRepoNameHere.git"

Step 6: Pull From GitHub, then Push To GitHub.
- Setup the location that you will push to and pull from. The part in red should be substituted with your info from step 5. (The following should all be on one line.)
git remote add origin git@github.com:andrew8088/Shazam.git
- You always want to "pull" from GitHub before you begin your work because others may have updated the code:
git pull origin master
- Now, you can finally update your code to GitHub!
git push origin master

For more great information and details, please visit:
- Easy Version Control with Git
- Official GitHub site, there should be large buttons wanting to help you further.

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Creativity: Revamp Old Ideas

A thought just occurred to me, how am I going to describe the next game I create?

One requirement would have to be that the description entices visitors to download the game and try it..

So, I could try to be original, which I usually do try to do.. Or, a new strategy occurred to me: be original within the bounds of what people already know about.

Here's a few descriptions for new games off the top of my head:
- Bomberman, without the bombs.
- Flappy Bird, but you're a fish, and underwater, avoiding nasty underwater cactus.
- Flappy Bird + Bomberman = Try to blow up pixel birds.
- Pong, but one player and no computer opponent.
- Side-scrolling shooter

Maybe these aren't the most creative ideas, but they can work. For more creativity, assumption reversal usually works better. Post coming soon. ;)
~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Webmaster: How To Shorten Default MediaWiki URL to Short (Canonical) URL Form

This was my first time shortening the URL for MediaWiki to canonical form and it literally took me less than five minutes to fully complete and test. I bet you can do it in two minutes.

Quick and easy directions:
1. Go to MediaWiki ShortURL Builder (Your wiki will have to be temporarily public)
2. Type in your current URL, for me it was " http://danialgoodwin.com/mediawiki/w/"
3. When you click "Go", make sure the article path says "/wiki/$1" or wherever you would like your MediaWiki to appear to users.
4. You now have all the code at your fingertips to place on your server. I used a GUI FTP client (like FileZilla) to transfer the new data because that was the quickest for me.

The Code:
If your configuration is the exact same as mine, then you can use these following sections of code to enable the shortcodes.

At the root of your domain, in the .htaccess file (make it if you don't have it), include (I added the "REGION" comments just for readability and future maintenance):
# REGION Redirects for MediaWiki Short Canonical URLs
RewriteEngine OnRewriteRule ^/?wiki(/.*)?$ %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}/mediawiki/w/index.php [L]RewriteRule ^/?$ %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}/mediawiki/w/index.php [L]
RewriteCond %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}%{REQUEST_URI} !-fRewriteCond %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}%{REQUEST_URI} !-dRewriteRule ^/?mediawiki/w/images/thumb/[0-9a-f]/[0-9a-f][0-9a-f]/([^/]+)/([0-9]+)px-.*$ %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}/mediawiki/w/thumb.php?f=$1&width=$2 [L,QSA,B]
RewriteCond %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}%{REQUEST_URI} !-fRewriteCond %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}%{REQUEST_URI} !-dRewriteRule ^/?mediawiki/w/images/thumb/archive/[0-9a-f]/[0-9a-f][0-9a-f]/([^/]+)/([0-9]+)px-.*$ %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}/mediawiki/w/thumb.php?f=$1&width=$2&archived=1 [L,QSA,B]
# ENDREGION Redirects for MediaWiki Short Canonical URLs

In your MediaWiki's LocalSettings.php file, insert the following lines (preferably right under "$wgScriptPath" and "$wgScriptExtension" just to keep things organized):
## Added for short URLs.$wgArticlePath = "/wiki/$1";$wgUsePathInfo = true;
## Added for short URLs because .htaccess on root includes 404 thumbnail handler config.$wgGenerateThumbnailOnParse = false;

Note: With this method, you don't even need a /wiki/ directory to make it appear that all the files are there. You should use this method so that when you make changes to the backend, the frontend will still be the same for users, search engines, and SEO. It also makes URLs easier to remember and more.

More detailed information: Manual:Short_URL

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Webmaster: Transfer MediaWiki Instance To Another Domain or Server

I just completed the process for the first time, so it is fresh on my mind. Provided here is an easy summary of the exact links and steps that I needed. I went from MediaWiki version 1.20 to 1.22.2.

MediaWiki recommends only transferring files/database between same versions. So, these steps will also quickly include updating the "old" wiki first before installing a new instance on the new domain.

This information is for small, non-customized wikis. For more important data, you should probably read Manual:Upgrading.

Upgrade to newest stable release (optional)
0. Check requirements by reading the release notes
1. Backup files and database. The different ways include SSH, FTP, and via phpMyAdmin. More info
2. Upgrade files. Latest version. One idea is to upload these new files in a different directory, then change the names of the two directories so that the new one starts serving the files.
2.1. Added back LocalSettings.php, Images folder, and custom extensions.
3. Upgrade database. For the web method, navigate to "/mw-config/index.php". Some requirement checks will be performed during the setup wizard process.
4. Test if successful.

Create MediaWiki instance in the new server/domain
0. Backup files and database if you haven't already done so in the first section.
1. Create new instance of MediaWiki on new domain.
2. Import old settings and files from old domain, and change link locations as appropriate.
3. Test.

More detailed info: Manual:Moving a wiki

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Published New App: Flappy Fishes

(YAFBC = Yet Another Flappy Bird Clone)

I really wasn't going to make a copy, but then I did.

Available for:
- Windows 8
- Windows Phone
- HTML5 (slightly older version)

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Webmaster: Setting Up Your First Laravel Website Or App

(For webmasters, a continuation on my last post Level Up - Webmaster: Installing Laravel and Composer on Bluehost.)

This walkthrough contains all the instructions I would have needed on one page, rather than looking through twenty different pages. This is a blunt how-to for connecting to a database with Laravel and displaying information. At the end are links for more specific and advanced info.

The following has explicit instructions and commands for a shared hosting provider like Bluehost, but the instructions should be the roughly the same for other providers and setups. I suggest to follow the steps explicitly the first time through, then run through it a second time with your specific project's names.

0. This simple "tutorial" assumes that you already know a little bit about Laravel and have possibly read my first install and setup walkthrough.

Setup the database:
1. Create a database on your server with a user and password.
2. From your root project folder, edit app/config/database.php to match your new database credentials.
3. In your root project directory, run php-cli artisan migrate:make create_users_table
4. You should now have the file that looks something like: app/database/migrations/2014_02_09_195357_create_users_table.php. Edit the up() and down() function to look like:
    public function up()
        Schema::create('users', function($table)

    public function down()
5. Now, back in the project root dir, run: php-cli artisan migrate
6. At this time, your tables in the database will be automatically created. Add some data manually so that we can test that retrieving data works.

Create a view:
7. Create a route (subdirectory pointer) in app/routes.php by adding the following code:
    Route::get('users', function()
        $users = User::all();

        return View::make('users')->with('users', $users);
8. Create two new views in app/views. Call the first one layout.blade.php and add this code:

Laravel Quickstart

Create the second view, called users.blade.php:

        @foreach($users as $user)
            {{ $user->name }}
9. Go to your doman.com/users and you should have all the user names from the database displayed on the page.

- If the php-cli command doesn't work for you, then try just php

More info:


Level Up - Webmaster: Installing Laravel and Composer on Bluehost

These steps will get you though getting Laravel up and running on your Bluehost server, though these instructions should be a good enough how-to for other shared hosting providers as well.

This was my first time experiencing (and hearing of) Laravel and Composer and had to look at many websites to figure this information out. Below is a walkthrough of all the steps I would have needed in one location. For more advanced and specific informations, I provide links at the end. But, the steps shown should be enough to get going quickly from scratch.

1.  SSH into your server at ~/bin/
2. Ensure that you have PHP 5.3.7+ on your server. Composer requires 5.3.2+ and Laravel requires PHP 5.3.7+. You can check with which php and which php-cli
3. Install Composer: Run the command curl -s http://getcomposer.org/installer | php
4. Test that the installation worked by running php-cli composer.phar
5. Install Laravel: Run the command php-cli composer.phar create-project laravel/laravel --prefer-dist
Note: Step 5 may take a minute or two, there are many dependencies that have to also be installed for Laravel.

Extra steps
6. Look at this file for project-specific adjustable values: app/config/app.php and bootstrap/paths.php
7. See my next post for more walkthrough

More info:
- Laravel installation instructions
- Laravel configuration instructions
- Then, the Quickstart

Error: "warning: composer should be invoked via the CLI version of PHP, not the cgi-fcgi SAPI"
Fix: Use the command php-cli instead of php.

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Windows 8: How to Copy/Move Files From Many Subfolders To Just One Folder

Long Title: How to Transfer Files From Many Subfolders To Just One Folder and Rename Them All Easily and Quickly.

Example: I had about 100 images that were all neatly organized into 100 different subfolders. I wanted to put them in just five different subfolder as painless as possible. Manually moving each image one-by-one was not ideal, so here's what I did, using the Windows Command Prompt and a Batch file:

1. Create a BAT file.
2. Add the following code:
FOR /L %%i IN (0,1,19) DO (
copy %cd%\ic_launcher(%%i)\res\drawable-mdpi\ic_launcher.png %cd%\_mdpi\data_cycle_%%i.png
copy %cd%\ic_launcher(%%i)\res\drawable-hdpi\ic_launcher.png %cd%\_hdpi\data_cycle_%%i.png
copy %cd%\ic_launcher(%%i)\res\drawable-xhdpi\ic_launcher.png %cd%\_xhdpi\data_cycle_%%i.png
copy %cd%\ic_launcher(%%i)\res\drawable-xxhdpi\ic_launcher.png %cd%\_xxhdpi\data_cycle_%%i.png
copy %cd%\ic_launcher(%%i)\res\drawable-xxxhdpi\ic_launcher.png %cd%\_xxxhdpi\data_cycle_%%i.png
3. Run the BAT by double-clicking the file (or right-click->Open) (or run via command prompt).

- The parenthesis after "DO" must go on the same line. Putting it on the next line will cause the file to not work properly.
- If you want to move files rather than copy, then change "copy" to "move".
- If you want to keep the same file names, then you don't have to specify the file name on the second parameter.

Now in a simpler English, what this batch file does:
- There are five "copy" commands with a source and destination.
- These commands are each ran 20 times because of the "FOR" command.
- The "FOR" line says do the following commands within the parentheses 20 times. The first time will have the variable "%%i" equal to 0. The second run will have "%%i" equal to 1. The variable will keep incrementing until "%%i" is equal to 19. This behavior is defined at "%%i IN (0,1,19)", where 0 is the starting number, 19 is the ending number, and 1 is the increment number (which could also be negative).

For more information about for-loops, then type "for /?" into the command prompt.

Here's some more commands that you can try: Windows Command Prompt Cheat Sheet
~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - Windows 8: How to Create a Batch File

Batch (*.bat) files are useful because they allow you to save and reuse commands for the command prompt (or CLI, command-line interface). Also, it is easier to send multiple commands at once, fix typos, and edit the commands.

Batch files are available for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. Any command that you can put in the CLI, you should be able to put into the BAT file.

Method 1:
- Right-click on your desktop (or in File Explorer), and select New->Text Document. Now, rename the file to something ending with .bat.

Method 2:
- Open Notepad, then when you save the file, make sure to end it with ".bat".

Saving a Batch file requires a .bat ending.
Test the Batch file:
Now that you have the BAT file, you can easily test that it works by putting in the following code, then double-click to run the file.
echo Hello, World!

Here's some more things you can try out: Windows Command Prompt Cheat Sheet

Note: If method 1 didn't work for you, then try method 2.

~ Danial Goodwin ~


Level Up - WP Dev: How to Remove Debug Information From Windows Phone Emulator

(This post is for developers of the Windows Phone platform.)

Ever find the frame rate counters and other debug information on the Windows Phone emulator more annoying than useful? It always appears there, whether in debug mode or release mode.

What if you want to get a clean screenshot without having to edit the image later? The red and white performance information on the side of the emulator screen is a nice feature, but I haven't needed to use it much in my recent apps.

It's possible. And, you only have to change one word.

How To:
1. Open App.xaml.cs.
2. Find the line that says `Application.Current.Host.Settings.EnableFrameRateCounter = true;`.
3. Change `true` to `false`.

That's it!

Now, you can get the full/real experience that end users would get when using your app, emulator style.

Feel free to share this with other WP devs that you know.

By default, the emulator has debug information on it.

Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/gg588380(v=vs.105).aspx

~ Danial Goodwin ~