Purple Robot development primarily relies upon the Android SDK as well as plugins for retrieving the sourcecode from the GitHub repository. In addition to the base development environment, memory analysis plugins are also very helpful for keeping track of our running heaps.

This document describes the process to get started developing Purple Robot. It covers the tools required, software dependencies, and the checkout procedure. If any of the instructions below are incorrect, missing, or otherwise lacking in any way, please submit an issue so that I can get it fixed. This is a living document that is in progress. -Chris


Eclipse and the Android SDK require Java as a prerequisite. Download & install the latest JDK from Oracle.

Android SDK

If you are using Windows or Mac as your base development platform, please download and install the Android SDK bundle for your platform that Google has helpfully compiled. (Linux users, can you confirm or deny if a similar bundle is available for your platform?)

This bundle is distributed as a ZIP file without an installer, so to complete installation, extract the contents of the ZIP file to an appropriate place on your local filesystem. (Ideally a path with no spaces in any of the parent folders.)

Note that Windows gives you the option to explore the ZIP file without first extracting its contents and copying the contents elsewhere in the filesystem using drag and drop. You will experience problems starting Eclipse from this kind of installation, so instead, right-click the ZIP file, select Extract All... and move the extracted folder to its new home on the filesystem.

Once the SDK is in place, navigate to the eclipse folder and launch the Eclipse executable contained within.

With Eclipse open, we need to update the Android SDK packages. From the Window file menu, select Android SDK Manager to retrieve a list of packages and updates. Purple Robot targets SDK level 19 (Android 4.4), with a minimum SDK of 8 (Android 2.2), so install the SDK Platform and Google APIs packages for those releases. It’s also helpful to install the Google USB Driver if you are developing using Nexus devices.

GitHub for Eclipse

Next, we need to install GitHub for Eclipse. In Eclipse, open Install New Software from the Help menu. Add the http://download.eclipse.org/egit/updates (EGit) and http://download.eclipse.org/egit/github/updates (GitHub) repositories and install Eclipse EGit.

Memory Analyzer (Optional)

If you wish to analyze heap files and collect other memory information, install Memory Analyzer and Memory Analyzer Charts from the Eclipse package manager.

Purple Robot

From your Git Repository Exploring perspective, clone the Purple Robot repository.

Navigate to the project’s working directory and import Purple Robot Manager. Use the New Project Wizard to create the project as an Android Project from Existing Code. Browse to git/Purple-Robot-Manager and select Purple Robot Manager. Rename the project from StartActivity to Purple Robot and you’re almost ready for development.

Android Support Library & Google Play Services

Recent iterations of Purple Robot have switched from using ActionBar Sherlock in favor of Google’s Android Support Library for functionality like action bars. From the built-in SDK Manager, download the support library and install it as a separate project in your Eclipse workspace.

Within the support bundle, set up the Media Router library as a library dependency as well as the Facebook Android SDK.

Finally, the Google Play Services library provides mapping functionality for Purple Robot. Download the Play Services via the Android SDK Manager and set it up as a separate project in your workspace.

Once all projects have been set up, be sure to add them to the Purple Robot project’s Library requirements (warning: image is out of date and missing the Facebook and Media Router libraries):


Finally, close the build settings, clean the projects, and build the project.

  • Kevin Hollingshead

    Had trouble importing PRM via the given URI, but worked fine with GitHub search. In the Git Repository Exploring perspective, click the “Clone a GIT repository…” icon (NOT the Add… or Create… options), then select the GitHub option and click Next. Type “Purple-Robot” and click search, then select “nupmmarkbegale/Purple-Robot-Manager” and click Next. Unselect all but the “master” branch and click next.

    Builds fine, but currently running veeeerrrryyyyyyysssssllllllooooowwwwllllyyyyy. 🙂 Could be I have too many sensors enabled or some such, just started exploring and went into setup and selected “Enable Probes”. There’s a notfication for “Current sensor acquisition exceeds the available outbound bandwidth.”

    Love the home page image!

    • Chris Karr

      Thanks for the feedback. We migrated the repo over to another account, and I neglected to update this documentation. Apologies for any time wasted on your end.

      With respect to the slowness, odds are that you’re running quite a few too many sensors. Can you let me know what kind of device you’re using?

      • Kevin Hollingshead

        Hi Chris,

        I’m using a Galaxy S3 running Android 4.1.2. Should have included that in my original report, sorry. We’re working with David currently, but I’ll keep your email handy.

    • Chris Karr

      Also, if you need some more personalized assistance or would like to discuss the app, please feel free to e-mail me at c-karr@northwestern.edu. I’d love to hear what you’re looking to do with it.

  • Deb

    I don’t think the android-support-v4.jar file should be included under libs/ directory in the Purple Robot repository. The build path is erroneous then.

    • Chris Karr