Google has announced a new browser-based visual development tool called App Inventor that allows users to create Android applications without having to write any code. It appears to be aimed primarily at students.
App Inventor enables user interface design with a simple drag-and-drop layout system. The behavior of the user interface elements can be programmed via a visual development system that the user manipulates by organizing blocks with specific programming characteristics into various structures. The blocks can be dragged around and snapped into each other to form relatively sophisticated programs. This aspect of App Inventor is based on Scratch, an MIT visual programming language.
The compiler that translates the blocks into Android bytecode is built on top of the GNU Kawa framework, which provides a Scheme-based intermediate language. It's worth noting that Kawa can also be used standalone to build entire Android applications with Scheme.
We were not able to test App Inventor ourselves because it is still in closed beta and is not broadly available to the general public yet. If you want to try it yourself, you will have to register on the Google Labs website and wait for approval. For more details, see the official introduction and demo video.
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