August 28, 2014

Android Scripting, Redux

ase1About 10 months ago, I wrote a blog post describing how one could integrate Beanshell into your Android app. Two days ago, Damon Kohler released the Android Scripting Envirnoment (ASE), allowing one to develop scripts directly on an Android device, using Lua, Python, and Beanshell. ASE is a slick demonstration of Android’s capabilities and what is possible when your platform is not encumbered by restrictions on using interpreted languages. After all, I suspect that Mr. Kohler is not on the core Android team, and that ASE was written in “20% time” akin to other Android apps like Sky Map.

More importantly, it shows that there is a future to Android beyond Java. Not everybody is a fan of Java, and so offering a path for other languages is important. I spoke about this at a Google I/O Android lightning talk (not recorded, natch) — we as a community need to reduce developer fear, and one way to do that is to allow developers to write apps in languages and frameworks they are comfortable in.

This will take time, and inevitably some changes to Android itself (e.g., the class import problem that some scripting languages encounter when trying to use android.* classes). Along with tools like PhoneGap and Appcelerator Titanium Mobile, ASE is an important step along that path, and I thank Mr. Kohler for making it available.