TypeScript in Tizen

I was writing a program to run on my television and encountered a scenario that I’ve encountered many times before; an HTML enabled device supports a JavaScript standard that is older than the one that I would like to use. The easiest workaround for this is to use a tool that will compile from a more recent version of JavaScript (or something similar) back to the version that is supported by the hardware. This is something I’ve done when developing for BrightSign and other devices.

For targeting the Tizen based Television I decided that I would use TypeScript to accomplish this; in addition to getting access to some more recent features that can be found in JavaScript there’s we also get type checking.

A bit of work was required to get this working though. On my first attempt I tried includint the TypeScript files in the same folder as the project. This doesn’t work;when the project is being compiled the compiler will try to take these files and package them in the solution. This isn’t something that we want to happen. It’s necessary to have these files in a folder that is outside of the project folder to prevent this from happening. I moved the files and made a TypeScript configuration file that specified the destination to which I wanted the resulting JavaScript files moved.

{
  "compilerOptions": {
    /* Basic Options */
    "target": "es2015",
    "module": "commonjs",  
    "sourceMap": false,   
    "outDir": "../tizenWorkspace/projectName/js"
    "strict": true,                           
    "noImplicitAny": true,                 
  }
}

This almost works. The next problem encountered is that when there is a reference to anything on the tizen object the compiler will complain about it net having been declared. The tizen object, not being a web standard object, is not something that is recognized by the compiler. There are two ways to handle this project. A work around would be to declare the tizen object as being of type any. With this declaration the compiler will just ignore what ever we do with the object and not complain.

I made a TypeScript definition file named tizen.d.ts in which to place my definitions. TypeScript already has an understanding of the interface provided by the Window object. To augment this I declare another interface that will be merged with the understanding that TypeScript has and added a definition for the tizen member there.

declare	interface Window {  tizen:any }

That works, but that’s also eliminating some of the type safety features that that TypeScript has to offer. Instead of working around the problem I wanted to address it. I wanted to provide the type definitions for the Tizen object.

There’s a project called Definitely Typed in which contributors make TypeScript definitions that can be downloaded and shared to other developers that are targeting the same environment. At first glance there appears to be existing entries for targeting Tizen within the collection. But upon further inspection it turns out that the definitions that are there (at the time of the writing of this post) are for targeting a cross development tool that also supports Tizen. that’s not what I needed. Instead of relying on community provided definitions I’ll have to make my own. When I’m done though I may have a definition file that could be shared through Definitely Typed. Since that repository is constantly being updated I would encourage seeing what it has to offer before using the code that I provide here.

declare	interface Window {  tizen:ApplicationManager}

This is when I start my descent down the rabbit hole. To define the ApplicationManager interface that is implemented by the tizen object there are a number of other interfaces that must be defined. Those interfaces have dependencies on other interfaces.

The interfaces for the various objects are documented and can be found on a Tizen.org page. Browsing through it there are some types mentioned that ultimately are strings of some type of another. Within TypeScript we can make a declaration that is similar to a typedef for equating some custom type to another.

type ApplicationId = string;
type ApplicationContextId = string;
type PackageId = string;

There is also a frequently used callback type for successes and errors of callbacks. The links to the documentation for the functions’ call signatures are broken taking me to a 404 page. I was more generic with defining these in my type definitions until I can get the specifics of the actual accepted call signatures.

type SuccessCallback = (...args: any[]) => void;
type ErrorCallback = (...args: any[]) => void;

The rest of the definitions are interfaces and follow the same patterns. I’m showing a few of the interfaces closer to the root of the definitions.

declare	interface Window {  tizen:ApplicationManager}
declare var tizen:tizenInterface;

interface tizenInterface {
    application:ApplicationManager;
}

interface ApplicationManager { 
    getCurrentApplication():Application;

    kill(contextId:string,
              successCallback:SuccessCallback,
              errorCallback:ErrorCallback):void ;

    launch( id:string, //ApplicationId
                successCallback:SuccessCallback,
                errorCallback:ErrorCallback):void;
    launchAppControl(appControl:ApplicationControl,
                        id?:ApplicationId, //ApplicationId
                          successCallback?:SuccessCallback,
                          errorCallback?:ErrorCallback,
                          replyCallback?:ApplicationControlDataArrayReplyCallback):void ;
     findAppControl(appControl:ApplicationControl,
                        successCallback:FindAppControlSuccessCallback,
                        errorCallback:ErrorCallback):void;

    getAppsContext(successCallback:ApplicationContextArraySuccessCallback,
                        errorCallback:ErrorCallback):void ;
    getAppContext(contextId:string):ApplicationContext;
    getAppsInfo(successCallback:ApplicationInformationArraySuccessCallback,
                     errorCallback?:ErrorCallback):void;
    getAppInfo(id?:ApplicationId ):ApplicationInformation;
    getAppCerts(id?:ApplicationId ):Array;
    getAppSharedURI(id?:ApplicationId ):string;
    getAppMetaData(id?:ApplicationId ):Array;
    addAppInfoEventListener(eventCallback:ApplicationInformationEventCallback):number;
    removeAppInfoEventListener( watchId:number):void ;    
}

There are a lot more objects that could be defined for Tizen. If you’ve come along this article checkout the DefinitelyType archives first. If you don’t find Tizen devinitions there you can download the version of the video that I have from here.

PWAs Available in the Galaxy Store

The Galaxy Store for Samsung Devices now supports Progressive Web Apps; your progressive applications can be listed there.  In the Galaxy Store App if you navigate to My Apps->Web Apps you can see the PWAs that are presently available.  But why target PWAs?

SamsungPWA

Progress web applications have a advantages over native apps. They can run on a variety of operating systems. PWAs tend to be smaller and the installation process is simple. Updates to a PWA can be deployed much faster than a conventional application since updates don’t need to go through an application store. Because of the sandbox in which most browsers run PWA applications have much lower potential for exploiting someone’s computing device.

A license agreement is a basic requirement. You need to own the app and give Samsung permission to have the app listed in their store. While this is a work in progress it is something that is available today; though presently the process is of enrolling an application is manual. You would need to e-mail pwasupport{-at-}samsung.com (replace the {-at-} with an @. I don’t list e-mail address plainly as not to feed to spam bots). Someone will review your web application and assist with getting the application listed.

What is .Net

.NetFramework

I have some .Net related content that I plan to post and thought that I would revisit this question.

It’s a question I find interesting in that the answer has changed slightly over the year. In the earliest years it was a branding for technologies that were not necessarily related to each other; Windows .NET Server and Windows .NET Messenger are two products that had the branding at one point. But let’s not walk down memory lane and jump straight into the answer.

.NET is still a branding but the technologies with the branding are related to each other. Microsoft uses the branding on their Common Language Runtime (CLR) products. That answer only has kicked the can down the road. What is the CLR?

The CLR is a virtual machine component. Executables targeting the CLR don’t necessarily contain any code that is native to the processor on which they are running (though it may contain native code, but let’s ignore that for a moment). CLR binaries can be distributed with no processor dependent executable code within them. At runtime when the code is being executed it is converted to machine code as needed. Because of this the same program can be run on machines that have different processor architectures. The computer on which a program is running needs to have the runtime that is specific to it’s architecture and operating system.

This system might sound familiar as modern Java does something similar. There was a time when Microsoft was invested in Java virtual machines and made the first Java runtime that compiled the Java binary to machine language. The entity that owned Java at the time (Sun) wasn’t happy about this and they took Microsoft to court for deviating from the standard of how Java virtual machines worked and for using the Internet as a method of distribution among other reasons. This disagreement might sound petty, and in part it was. But there were good reasons for their position that I’ll present in another post. But this interaction added weight to the argument that Microsoft should have their own virtual machine. They also made their own programming languages (C# and Visual Basic .NET) and a few CLRs for x86, x64, and for their mobile devices.

The CLR, also known as the .Net Framework has seen several updates over the years. Microsoft eventually decided to make the CLR open source. This contributed to another CLR implementation being created named Mono which allowed .Net Framework applications to run on Linux and Mac.

If you look up .Net now you’ll find a few .NET systems listed.

  • .Net Standard
  • .Net Core (2016)
  • .Net Framework (2002)
  • ASP.Net / ASP.Net Core

What are these?

.Net Standard is a specification of the set of APIs that are expected to be in all implementations of the .Net Framework. Think of this as analogous to an interface; .NET standard itself isn’t an implementation. If you make an application that sticks with these APIs then it will have a wide range of compatible targets.

For the .Net Framework only one version of the framework can be installed at a time. Microsoft generally kept backwards compatibility, but it wasn’t perfect. Since a system could only have one version of the Framework installed in corporations updating the Framework had to be a company level decision.

.Net Core was made to contain the most common features of the .Net Framework, but has a few new features installed. It was made with multiple operating systems in mind and multiple versions in mind.  A system can have multiple versions of .Net core installed and they can run side-by-side.  From hereon Microsoft will be putting efforts on improving .Net Core. The .Net Framework will continue to support the .Net Framework but don’t expect to see new features in it; the new features will be coming to .Net core. There are a lot of legacy functionality from the .Net Framework that did not get ported over to .Net core in the interest of performance and compatibility.

ASP (Active Server Pages) is the name for Microsoft’s Web development system. Some of the earlier versions used a language that was similar to Visual Basic (yuck). The first version of ASP that supported .NET was called ASP.NET. ASP.NET used the .Net runtime and the more recent version supports the .NET Core runtime.  Traditionally ASP pages were hosted within IIS (Internet Information Services), a Windows component for hosting web pages. Wit the modern versions while this is still an option ASP.NET pages can be hosted outside of IIS too.

If you are starting a new desktop .Net project and don’t know what version to use the safe choice will generally be .Net Core. In my opinion the best feature is its ability to run on multiple systems (Mac, Linux, Windows, and varios IoT devices including the Raspberry Pi).

 

Trying to learn C# and .Net Core? This is a book I would recomend.

 

Enabling Development Mode on Samsung Tizen TVs

The modern Samsung TVs run the Tizen operating system. You can develop for these just as you might develop for the Tizen based watches. The Tizen TVs are locked down more than the watch is.  To deploy to a Tizen TV you’ll need to both enable developer mode and will have to let the TV know from what address it will be receiving code. If it receives request from other addresses it won’t respond to them.

On the consumer displays there is no obvious way to enable developer mode. The option is hidden. If you open the apps browser (for seeing what other apps there are to install) you can open the developer mode menu by entering “12345” on the remote. A popup window will show from which you can select to turn developer mode “On.” If you are using one of the commercial displays (SSSP, or Samsung Smart Signage Platform) the method to enable developer mode is more obvious. If you open the TV’s menu there is an option called URL Launcher Settings. The developer mode option is within these settings.

On the consumer devices you’ll also be asked to enter the IP address of the machine from which the development will occur. This prevents other rouge devices on your network from doing anything to the TV.  Here you should enter the IP address of your development machine.

After these options are set the TV needs to be rebooted before the changes are fully applied. you can do this by holding the power button on the consumer TVs for two seconds, holding the power off button on a SSSP display for 2 seconds, or removing the power source from the TV and reapplying it.

After the TV boots developer mode is now enabled. However the mode being enabled doesn’t mean that all of the conditions for deploying code have been met. You will need to generate a distributor certificate also. Samsung has this page with instructions for generating a certificate. In following these directions you will need the the Device Unique ID (DUID). To get this you first need to connect to the TV. I prefer to use the sdb utility that comes with the Tizen SDK. It is located in tizen-studio/tools (adjust this path according to the location at which you installed Tizen Studio). The syntax for connecting is:

sdb connect

Sometimes I have to type the command twice before it takes effect. After the connection is successful open the Tizen Device Manager. You should see the TV connection within the UI. If you right-click on the connection you will have the option of selecting the TV’s DUID. Select this option and copy the DUID to the system clipboard. Keep the DUID on the system clipboard and when it is needed during the certificate generation it will automatically be pasted where it is needed.

If you at some point find that you need the TV extensions, don’t have them installed, and don’t see them in the the package manager you can install them using these instructions. https://developer.samsung.com/tv/develop/tools/tv-extension/download/

Creating a certificate based on the Device Uniuque ID (DUID) is slightly different for the two classes of displays. For the consumer displays a Samsung certificate should be created. For the commercial displays a Tizen certificate should be created. It can be a little confusing with Tizen being a Samsung creation. But you may be able to make better sense of it from another perspective. The Samsung certificate is associated with the Samsung App store. The consumer displays access the app store and the certificate rules for that are different than for apps that have no access to the App Store.

samsungremote

samsungtv

Bixby Studio Available for all Bixby Compatible Devices @SDC19

bixby

Samsung announced today at the annual Developer Conference that Bixby Studio, their developer tool for building natural language interactions, is available on all devices that support Bixby. Previously this functionality was only available on the mobile devices. With today’s announcement it is available on other devices such as the TV, Tizen powered refrigerators, and the watch.

To encourage developers to get started with Bixby development they’ve also opened a contest offering thousands of dollars in prizes. For more information on the contest visit BixbyDevJam.com.

Consumer v Commercial Displays

There are two mistakes that one might make about the difference in consumer and commercial displays.

Mistake 1: Commercial Display are just Consumer Displays that cost More

This is an easy mistake to make because at first glance the displays may look alike. But commercial displays are made to withstand a wider range of conditions than their consumer counterparts. An illustration of this that comes to my mine is a display I worked on that was installed in an airport. When the display opened to the public we saw some abuses that we didn’t quite imagine. The installation included touch screens. We expected people to touch the screens. We didn’t expect people to set their children on top of the displays. Yes, this really happened. The displays survived the years that they were at the installation without problems, but I still consider some of what they endured to be borderline abusive. If a small child were set on a consumer display (do not do this) I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t last long.

That is just one of the tolerances that a commercial display may have that it’s consumer counter part does not. The commercial displays may also have higher tolerance for moisture (perhaps even outdoor use), temperature, potentially higher potentially a brighter screen (as might be needed for outdoor use).

Commercial displays may have a number of features that the consumer counter parts do not.  These may be additional connections (such as RS232), the ability to control several displays at once (as one might want to do in a video array configuration) and even internal media players or security features.

Mistake 2: A Commercial Display would make a good Home Display

This misconception comes from the idea that a commercial display is a consumer display with features added. The reality is that while the commercial displays may have additional features they might also be missing features that the consumer displays have. If you buy a typical consumer display above a certain size it will have the ability to run several consumer oriented applications such as a Netflix and Hulu player and a few others. The commercial displays don’t have this; and that is understandable since they are not for engaging in these consumer activities. A person that pays the extra money to get a commercial display may leave one feeling quite disappointed after realizing the features that are not available.

Samsung Consumer Displays v Samsung Commercial Displays

I’m looking at to displays that were made at about the same time. Both are made by Samsung; one is a consumer display and the other is a commercial display. Getting the differences between them has required my own exploration and experimentation. Samsung has a site at https://samsungDforum.com that contains information about the consumer displays. Unfortunately this information is only available to those that sign up for the Samsung Partner program. From what I’ve read about this program an NDA is required to enroll within it. I have not signed up for this program; if I did then I wouldn’t be able to talk about the information gained within it. As part of my interest in the displays is to talk about them (on this blog) I’m instead am gathering information both from experimenting with the display and through scraps of information available on the Internet.

The process of experimentation has had it’s moments of frustration, and I’ve already written some material on my experiences that are to be posted in the future.  In my next post on this topic I’ll talk about the differences in the Samsung Consumer and Commercial displays.