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Introduction ============ BrailleBack is an accessibility service for Android that controls a refreshable braille display. It presents screen content on the braille display and let's the user navigate the user interface. It also provides an input method that enables entering text using a braille keyboard on the display. BrailleBack is distributed on the Google Play Store where it can be downloaded and installed. This file contains information for developers. In particular, you will find instructions for how to build the app from source below. Also, there are instructions on what to do, in addition to having brltty drivers, to add support for a new braille display to BrailleBack. Building BrailleBack From The Command Line ========================================== This section contains instructions for building BrailleBack from the command line. See the Android developer documentation at http://developer.android.com for general instructions on how to build android packages. These build instructions apply to building on Linux. NOTE: There's a build script (build.sh) that automates most of the process for a clean build. See below for how to use it. Prerequisites ------------- BrailleBack has a few dependencies that need to be available before it can be built: * Android SDK for JellyBean (API level 16) and NDK, revision 7a or later. These can be downloaded from developer.android.com/sdk. You'll need the platform tools r20 or later for JellyBean. Make sure that the SDK and NDK tools (android, ndk-build, etc) are available in your $PATH. * Apache ant version 1.8 or later. * A checked out copy of the BrailleBack source code from GitHub Building -------- After making sure that the dependencies are in place (see Prerequisites above), perform the following steps to build the BrailleBack apk. Please run all commands from the root of the eyes-free source tree. * If you are building on Linux, you might be able to use the shell script that automates the build process. This script builds a debug apk. It performs a clean build, which takes longer than an incremental build. You might want to use some of the steps below while developing. $ ./build.sh If the script finishes with a success message, then you're done and can skp the rest of this section. Use the adb command to install the apk on a device. Otherwise, follow and adjust the steps below for your build environment. * Make sure to have a copy of brltty, version 4.5 checked out. This can be checked out from subversion as follows (run from within the eyes-free directory as per above): $ svn checkout svn://mielke.cc//releases/brltty-4.5 \ braille/service/jni/brlttywrapper/brltty * Make sure to have a copy of liblouis, version 2.6.0 checked out. This can be checked out from Github as follows (run under directory braille/service/jni/liblouiswrapper/liblouis): $ git clone --branch v2.6.0 https://github.com/liblouis/liblouis.git * Apply patches to the dependencies: $ (cd braille/service/jni/brlttywrapper && patch -p1 < brltty.patch) $ (cd braille/service/jni/liblouiswrapper && patch -p1 < liblouis.patch) * Update the local ant property files: $ android update project -p libraries/utils -t android-18 $ android update project -p libraries/compatutils -t android-18 $ android update project -p braille/client -t android-18 $ android update project -p braille/service -t android-18 $ android update project -p braille/brailleback -t android-18 * Build the native libraries: $ (cd braille/service && ndk-build -j16) * Build the BrailleBack apk: $ (cd braille/brailleback && ant debug) * Alternatively, build and install on a connected device: $ (cd braille/brailleback && ant debug install) NOTE: If you try to install your own build on a device where a version of BrailleBack is already installed from the Google Play store, you will need to uninstall the package first. The reason for that is that you are using a different key to sign your debug version than was used to sign the installed release build. The command to uninstall BrailleBack is: $ adb uninstall com.googlecode.eyesfree.brailleback Adding Support for A New Braille Display ======================================== This section details how to add support for a new braille display. On a high level, the following steps need to be performed: * Make sure that the display meets the requirements listed in the subsection on Display Requirements below. * Include the brltty driver in the native library build. * Add the display in the braille display service source code so it gets automatically detected. * Adjust keyboard maps for Android. * Test the display with actual hardware. Support for hardware braille displays is handled by a service that is separate from BrailleBack. The source code for the display service is located in the directory braille/service in the Eyes-Free code repository. The instructions below assume that you've already built BrailleBack and that you have an actual device to test on. Display Requirements -------------------- The braille display service currently supports displays connected via bluetooth. Adding support for other ways of connecting such as USB would be useful, but is out of scope for this description. Further, the display must support rfcomm (serial) bluetooth connections. The display service uses hardware drivers from brltty. If there is no brltty driver for the display, that needs to be implemented and contributed to the brltty project (see http://www.mielke.cc/brltty). A stable version of brltty is being used (see the build instructions above for which version is currently imported). Including The Driver In The Build --------------------------------- The brltty native library is compiled using the Android NDK. The source files for a new driver need to be added in the file: braille/service/jni/brlttywrapper/Android.mk If not already present, add the base name of the driver directory to the list in the build-braille-drivers function call close to the top of this file. The new driver also needs to be listed in the file braille/service/jni/brlttywrapper/brl.auto.h A brl_driver_XX declaration needs to be added and included in the driverTable array for the brltty initialization code to be able to locate the driver. Now it is time to compile the new driver. Use this command: $ (cd braille/service && ndk-build) to make sure that the native library still builds. Since only a subset of brltty is used, you might encounter some unexpected compilation or linking errors that you will need to address. Detecting The Display --------------------- When the driver is compiled into the native brltty library, the display service needs to know to use the driver for the specific display model being added. For this, some code needs to be added to the file braille/service/src/com/googlecode/eyesfree/braille/service/display/DeviceFinder.java Towards the end of this file, there is a list of supported bluetooth displays. Simply add an entry to the list and the service should detect the display when it is paired to the Android device. Note that the name prefixes are the human-readable device names. Ideally, they should be unique enough to not have conflicts with other devices. Please refer to the next section for a discussion of friendly key names. Keyboard Mappings ----------------- brltty comes with keyboard bindings for the supported displays. These are written primarily for the Linux text mode use case and to provide a great user experience, they need to be customized for BrailleBack. This is done by modifying a copy of the appropriate .ktb and .kti files, which then get included with the BrailleBack as a .zip file resource. This is handled by a few scripts in the directory braille/service/tables See the README file in that directory for more information. One important change that need to be made for each display is to include the file brl-android-chords.kti in the keymap. This adds common mnemonic keyboard chords (space + braille dot keys) that are typically common across devices. To support translation of key names in the help screen and to support cases where the brltty internal key names don't correspond to the names in user documentation, user-friendly key name mappings should be added in the DeviceFinder class (see the previous section). brltty key names are mapped to integer resource ids. The resources for the friendly key name strings belong in the file: braille/service/res/values/keynames.xml Testing And Debugging --------------------- If all the above steps were implemented correctly, BrailleBack should be able to find and start using the display when it is paired in the bluetooth settings screen. If that's not the case, try some of the debugging tips below: * Write a small app that uses the braille display service directly to not have to debug with the accessibility service. BrailleBack uses a thin client library located in braille/client. This library can be used to connect to the display service for testing. * adb logcat is your friend. Look for logs from the various classes in the display service (they use the simple class name as log tags). The native C code uses log tags starting with Brltty. * Issues in brltty (including the driver and keyboard maps) might be easier to debug on a development system than on a real device. * Bluetooth connectivity issues: for certain displays, a bluetooth connection may be established and then disconnected within a few seconds. One thing to try in this case is to set the connectSecurely flag to false when constructing the NamePrefixSupportedDevice object for the display in DeviceFinder. Note that it is preferable to set this parameter to true whenever possible. See http://developer.android.com/reference/android/bluetooth/BluetoothDevice.html#createInsecureRfcommSocketToServiceRecord%28java.util.UUID%29 for more information. In addition to using BrailleBack to make sure it works as expected, open the keyboard help screen (space+l on the braille display) to make sure that keys and commands are listed correctly. Check that all commands that BrailleBack supports are listed (see braille/brailleback/res/values/help.xml for a list of supported commands). If this works, you are done. Please contribute the changes back to the Eyes-Free project so that they can benefit Android braille users around the globe.