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Home Screen

Welcome to Help for the Home Screen of the Alpha Launch app. This screen shows the list of installed apps and lets you run them with just a tap.

About Alpha Launch

This app lets you download, manage, and run apps created with the Alpha Anywhere development system. For more general information, see the About This App Help topic.

Launching an App from this Screen

To launch an installed app listed on the Home Screen, tap the row for that app.

To return from the app, the app itself should have some sort of "Back", "Exit App", "Home", or "Return to Launch" button. If not, you will need to terminate the app (remove it from the multitasking/overview list) and restart Alpha Launch to get back to this Home Screen.

Managing Apps: Installing, Deleting, Reordering

To install apps, start by switching to the Manage App List Screen by tapping on the "Manage/Add" button at the bottom of the Home Screen. On that screen you will find an "Add" button for bringing up a list of apps to install.

The Manage App List Screen can also be used to change the order of the list of apps shown on the Home Screen, as well as access the App Details Screen from which you can uninstall an app.

The Settings button

At the bottom of the Home Screen there is a "Settings" button that brings you to the Settings Screen which lets you specify the server from which to download and install apps, as well as access information when instructed by Technical Support.

Using Help

Most screens in this app have a circled "?" button for accessing help related to that screen. Within Help, you can go to the Table of Contents to see information about all of the screens by tapping the "TOC" button in the upper-left of the Help Screen.

You can exit Help and return to screen where you invoked it by tapping the ">" button in the upper-right of the Help Screen.

Manage App List Screen

This screen is used to manage the installed apps. Managing includes setting the order in which the apps will be listed on the Home Screen, installing, uninstalling, and re-installing apps, and viewing extra information about each installed app.

The screen presents a list of all installed apps, showing their name, description, and the name of the server from which they were downloaded.

You get to this screen from the Home Screen and return by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

Tapping a row selects that app for further action. Double-tapping or press and holding on a row selects the row and shows the App Details Screen for more information about that app.

The commands available (at the bottom of the screen) are:

  • Details

    Switches to the App Details Screen to show more information about the app in the selected row, and to give you access to uninstall and update commands. A row is selected when you tap on it. You can also go directly to the App Details Screen by double-tapping or press and holding on a row.

  • Add

    Switches to the Apps to Install Screen to show you the list of apps available for download from the current server. From that screen you can initiate the downloading and installation of apps.

    This command should only be performed when the mobile device is online. It requires connectivity.

  • Reorder

    Toggles the "Reorder Mode" of the displayed list. When doing reorder, each row will have an up-arrow and a down-arrow on the right. Tapping those arrows will move the app one step at a time up or down in the list.

    To stop reordering, tap the Reorder button a second time.

    When in Reorder Mode, the rows may not be selected, and the Add button is disabled.

App Details Screen

This screen shows you some values associated with an installed app, as well as allows you to delete or reload it. You get here from the Manage App List Screen and return by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

The commands at the bottom of the screen operate on the app. They are:

  • Uninstall

    Removes the app from the device, including all of the data related to that app that is stored locally. This data includes any associated localStorage entries using the App Namespace shown as well as data loaded by the app into its private storage area.

    This action will request confirmation. It cannot be undone.

  • Update

    Reloads the main software code of the app, leaving local data unchanged.

    The reload will be from the same server from which the app was previously downloaded. This is in contrast to "reinstalling" on the Apps to Install Screen which downloads from the currently selected server. Usually these servers are the same, but there are cases when they might be different, such as when newer or older versions are kept on different servers.

    This action will request confirmation. It cannot be undone. The confirmation will show the version number of the app that is currently installed as well as the version number of the app that is currently available for download that will replace the installed version.

The displayed values are:

  • App ID

    This value is not normally of interest to regular users.

    This value is the unique name by which the Launch app differentiates between different installable apps. The name is provided by the server from which apps may be downloaded, and is usually in a form that looks like a domain name in reverse (e.g., com.alphasoftware.demoapps.formexample).

    The App ID is used to name the subdirectory of the Launch app storage where the code for an app is placed.

  • App Display Name

    This value is the text used in lists showing apps to name this app. It is provided by the server from which apps are downloaded.

    Like all the other values on this screen, it is read-only and may not be changed by the user.

  • App Description

    This value is the text used in lists showing apps to provide additional information about this app. It is provided by the server from which apps are downloaded.

  • App Namespace in localStorage

    This value is not normally of interest to regular users.

    This value, if present, is a name the developer of an installed app specified to identify localStorage for maintaining persistent data for the app. It is retrieved for display here from the downloaded code itself.

  • Version

    This value is the version number of the installed app. It is provided by the server from which apps are downloaded.

Apps to Install Screen

This screen is used to install apps. It displays a list of apps retrieved from the current server.

You get to this screen from various other screens, but most commonly from the "Add" button on the Manage App List Screen.

The information about each app is as follows:

  • App Name

    This is the name that will be used for the app in lists when installed.

  • App Description

    This is additional information that will be displayed about the app in lists when installed.

  • Extra Information

    This is optional information only displayed in this list that may be helpful when deciding which apps to install, or to give information about new versions. The text will be surrounded by a thin black border.

  • Version Number

    The version of the app to be downloaded is shown. If the app is already installed with a different version, that version will also be displayed.

  • Screen Size Warning

    In some cases, a red message may be displayed if the device you are using has a screen size that is larger or smaller than recommended for that particular app.

  • Install, Update, or Reinstall button

    In the upper-right corner of the listing for each app will be either the word "Install", "Update", or "Reinstall".

    Which word will be displayed depends upon whether that app is not already installed (Install), is currently installed but with a different version (Update), or is currently installed with the same version (Reinstall).

    Tapping the word will initiate the download. Update and Reinstall will require confirmation.

Message from Server

Sometimes, when the Apps to Install Screen is displayed, a "Message from Server" may pop up over the screen. This is a message that may be of interest (such as notifying you of general changes that occurred that affect more than one app). The message is created by those who control the list of apps on the server.

The message has a version number, and is only displayed once. It may be dismissed by tapping the "OK" button below the message.

To see the message again, you must go to the Server List Screen (from the Settings Screen) and then go to the Edit Server Info screen for that server where you can reset the "Latest Version of Message" value.

Settings Screen

The Settings Screen gives you access to various values that affect the app, as well as information that may be of help to Technical Support and app developers.

Most users should rarely need to use this screen, if at all.

You get to the Settings Screen from the Home Screen. You can return to the Home Screen by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

Normally, the Settings Screen only displays a single value, the Server Web Address (described below). Optionally, there are Support Settings that may be displayed. These are not normally needed by regular users.

Server Web Address

The Server Web Address is used by the Launch app to access information about installable apps. While the web address is a normal URL, for example, starting with "http://", there is a more descriptive name for the server that is usually displayed on the Settings Screen. If no server has been selected, "No server selected" will be displayed in red.

If no server has been set you will be unable to install apps.

Tapping the "Server Web Address for Downloading Apps" setting will bring up the Server List Screen. That screen will enable you to select a predefined server from a list, or add/delete/modify entries in the list.

The Launch app comes with a default Server Web Address built-in, but you may need to specify a different one to install the specific apps you want. The provider of the apps to be installed should provide the information needed for this setting. In many instances, the values needed may be entered by scanning a QR code or barcode using the device's camera.

Support Settings

The Launch app gives you optional access to data that may be of interest to Technical Support if you run into issues running Launch or an installed app. This access is usually turned off.

Most users should never need to use the Support Settings.

The "Show Support Settings" switch lets you make those settings accessible. Tapping the switch toggles between showing them and hiding them.

Note: Use of these settings may have a negative impact on behavior of the Launch app and installed apps. This includes possible loss of data. They are only meant for use when instructed by support personnel.

The descriptions provided here about the Support Settings are written for support personnel and developers. They are not meant for regular users.

The Support Settings are as follows:

  • Local Storage Information

    Tapping this setting brings up the Local Storage Screen showing a list of the items in localStorage. The data in these items is usually used as persistent storage for apps run by the Launch app.

  • Session Storage Information

    Tapping this setting brings up the Local Storage Screen showing a list of the items in sessionStorage. The data in these items is usually used as temporary storage for apps run by the Launch app, and is used by the Launch app to pass data to apps that it runs as well as to keep track of data itself.

  • List Files

    Tapping this setting brings up the File List Screen which shows the contents of the directories used by the Launch app to store installed apps, as well as persistent storage for the Launch app.

  • List App Files

    Tapping this setting brings up the File List Screen showing the contents of the directories used by PhoneGap to store the Launch app itself.

  • List PhoneGap Plug-ins

    Tapping this setting brings up the Plug-in List Screen which lists the PhoneGap/Cordova Plug-ins available to apps running in this instance of the Launch app.

  • Show Log

    Tapping this setting brings up the Log Entries Screen which shows the most recent entries made to the Launch App Log. They are usually about events, such as communications failures, which may be of interest to technical support when trying to diagnose various issues.

File List Screen

When accessed by tapping the List Files setting, the File List Screen shows the contents of the directories used by the Launch app to store installed apps, as well as files with persistent storage for the Launch app. When accessed by tapping the List App Files setting, the File List Screen shows the contents of the directories used by PhoneGap to store the Launch app itself.

Most users should never need to use this screen.

You get here from the Settings Screen and return to the Settings Screen by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

The screen starts with a listing of the files and directories in the top level of the main part of the file system being examined.

Rows with magnifying glass icons on the right are directories. Other rows represent files.

Tapping on a row will cause the display of information about that file or directory in the bottom half of the screen. For some data files, the contents of the file will be displayed as raw text or as an image.

The magnifying glass icon on the right of rows for directories is a toggle that when tapped will cause the display of the files and subdirectories within that directory. Double-tapping a directory row will also toggle the subdirectory display.

The Delete Command

At the bottom of the screen is a "Delete" button. When tapped, this will delete the selected file or directory. When directories are deleted, all of their contents is also deleted.

The Delete button is not available for the List Apps setting.

Note: The Delete button does NOT ask for confirmation and the operation cannot be undone! Do not delete files or directories except as instructed by Technical Support personnel.

Local Storage Screen

This screen displays a list of the items in either HTML localStorage or sessionStorage, depending upon which setting is used to access it.

The data in localStorage items is usually used as persistent storage for apps run by the Launch app. The data in sessionStorage items is usually used as temporary storage for apps run by the Launch app, and is used by the Launch app to pass data to apps that it runs as well as to keep track of data itself.

Most users should never need to use this screen.

You get here from the Settings Screen and return to the Settings Screen by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

The items in the list are sorted alphabetically.

Alpha App Item Groups

Some rows in the list may have a title starting with "Alpha App" in bold. These rows in the list give information about a group of local storage items dedicated to specific installed apps. The syntax of the name of local storage item entries is used to discover this grouping. If that syntax includes a "namespace" reserved for one of the installed apps, information about that app is included in this listing.

Tapping on a row in the listing will display additional information in the bottom half of the screen.

See Alpha Anywhere documentation about localStorage for more information about the Local Storage component properties, including the Namespace name, the Namespace Friendly Name, and the Namespace Description. The use of sessionStorage is usually specific to the Launch app.

Individual Items

In addition to list entries starting with bold "Alpha App", the actual local storage items themselves are listed. The row in the list has the item name as well as the size of the item as reported by the system. (Sizes are usually in characters, which are 16-bits each in JavaScript.)

Tapping on a row in the listing will display the contents of the item as raw text in the bottom half of the screen.

Commands

There are two commands at the bottom of the screen:

  • Delete

    This command deletes the selected local storage item. For Alpha App group rows, it deletes all of the associated items with the same Namespace identifier.

    Deleting items frees up the local storage memory space used by those items.

    Note: The Delete button does NOT ask for confirmation and the operation cannot be undone! Do not delete items or groups except as instructed by Technical Support personnel.

  • Remaining

    This command calculates the amount of either localStorage or sessionStorage used, and the amount still available. The total amount available is determined by the operating system. The two types of local storage are distinct, so adding sessionStorage does not affect localStorage usage.

    The total space is shared by all apps installed in Alpha Launch. When an app is uninstalled, Alpha Launch attempts to determine localStorage items used by that app and then deletes those items, freeing up the storage.

    The amounts of storage listed as used and available are approximations. They do not take into account various overheads for keys, etc., used by the operating system to implement the localStorage, so slightly less free space may actually be available than listed.

Plug-ins List Screen

This screen displays a list of the PhoneGap/Cordova Plug-ins available to apps running in this instance of the Launch app.

Most users should never need to use this screen.

The names listed, and the version numbers, are provided by the running PhoneGap/Cordova support code included as part of the Launch app.

The items in the list are sorted alphabetically.

Use of any particular plug-in is determined by each installed app. This list is provided to help support personnel investigate any incompatibilities between what is provided by the Launch app and what is needed by a particular installed app.

You get here from the Settings Screen and return to the Settings Screen by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

Log Entries Screen

This screen displays a list of the most recent entries made to the Launch App Log. They are usually about events, such as communications failures, which may be of interest to technical support personnel when trying to diagnose various issues.

Most users should never need to use this screen.

The entries are in chronological order and show a maximum of the last 100 items. The Launch app attempts to maintain this list across restarts of the app.

Each entry has an item number, a date/time when the event was logged, and some text associated with the event.

If there is more than one entry, a scroller will appear on the right side of the list. Dragging the blue handle, or tapping on it, lets you move quickly to different parts of the list, including directly to the bottom (the most recent entry).

You get here from the Settings Screen and return to the Settings Screen by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

Server List Screen

You use this screen to specify the web server from which to download and install apps. It displays a list of potential servers, some initially provided when you install the Launch app and others that you add yourself.

Usually one or two servers will be all you need to access, and you won't need to change servers much at all.

For each server, at least three values are maintained by the Launch app: A name to display, a URL for the server, and a description.

You usually get here from the Settings Screen and return to the screen from which you came by tapping the "<" button in the upper-left of the screen.

The List

The list displayed on the Server List Screen has entries for each defined server. The top, bold line is the name by which the server is known to this app. The rest of the entry is an optional longer description. Both of these values may be edited by you.

The currently selected server is indicated by a checkmark to the left of the name.

Selecting a Server to Use as the Current Server

You select a server by tapping on the entry, and then tapping on the "Select" button at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively, you can double-tap an entry, which will select it and then return from the Server List Screen to the screen from which you came.

Editing the Values for a Server Entry

You can edit the values maintained for a server by tapping on the entry and then tapping on the "Edit" button at the bottom of the screen. You can also start editing by press and holding on the entry (which also sets it as the "selected" server).

Starting edit will bring up the Edit Server Info Screen. This has four values that you can edit:

  • Name to Display

    This is the name which shows up in lists and when the server is referred to in the Launch app. You can use whatever you want here.

    Tapping on the item on the Edit Server Info Screen will switch to a screen for using the keyboard to edit the name. That screen has a "Save" and "Cancel" button, and if you press the Return or Enter key on the keyboard, a Save will be done.

  • URL

    This is the URL of the directory on a web server where the Launch app will retrieve information about apps that may be downloaded. It should start with "http://" or "https:" like a normal URL and end without a trailing "/". This value is usually provided to you by those maintaining the apps.

    Tapping on the item on the Edit Server Info Screen will switch to a screen for using the keyboard to edit the URL. That screen has a "Save" and "Cancel" button, and if you press the Return or Enter key on the keyboard, a Save will be done.

  • Description

    This is optional text for the Server List to give additional information about the server. You can use whatever you want here.

    Tapping on the item on the Edit Server Info Screen will switch to a screen for using the keyboard to edit the description. That screen has a "Save" and "Cancel" button, and if you press the Return or Enter key on the keyboard, a Save will be done.

  • Latest Version of Message

    This number is used to keep track of messages provided by the server. Normally each message has a version number, each greater than the one before. Messages will only be displayed if the version is greater than the one stored here. Once a message has been displayed its number is stored.

    Tapping on the item on the Edit Server Info Screen will reset the stored number to 0 so that the next message will be displayed, even if it was already shown.

Scanning a QR Code for Values

Instead of giving you a URL to type in, the maintainer of the apps can provide a QR Code or barcode to scan with the device's camera.

To scan such a code, tap the "Scan" button at the bottom of the Server List Screen. Align the image of the code on the screen and wait for it to be recognized.

Once the value is decoded, a new entry will be added to the server list with the values scanned, and then that entry in the server list will be selected and you will be returned to the screen that brought you to the Server List Screen.

The QR Code or barcode should be text with one of the following formats: The URL itself starting with "http", the name followed by "|" and then the URL, or the name followed by a "|" and then the description followed by another "|" and then the URL. For example: HR Apps|Corporate Expense Reporting & Medical|http://apps.xyz.com/hrApps.

Adding a New Server

Instead of scanning the values, you can create a new entry manually with the "Add" button. The new entry will be opened for edit, switching to the Edit Server Info screen.

Deleting a Server Entry

To delete an entry in the server list that you no longer need, tap the row in the list and then tap the "Edit" button to switch to the Edit Server Info Screen. At the bottom of that screen, tap the "Delete" button. This will require confirmation and cannot be undone.

About This App: Alpha Launch

The Alpha Launch app lets you download, manage, and run apps created with the Alpha Anywhere development system. Alpha Anywhere apps use HTML5 technology and can access native functionality using Cordova/PhoneGap.

While Alpha Anywhere apps can run standalone, either as web apps in a browser or installed on a mobile device's home screen as a Cordova/PhoneGap app, Alpha Launch has the added benefit of simplifying installation and management of multiple apps, especially in an enterprise environment and when providing for offline operation.

Alpha Launch is a product of Alpha Software Corporation. It was created using Alpha Software's Alpha Anywhere development system.

About Alpha Software and Alpha Anywhere

Alpha Software, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, produces products that help developers of all levels speed the development and deployment of cross-platform mobile and web business apps. The Alpha Anywhere development and deployment environment delivers enterprise-grade, mobile and web apps that work on the desktop and any mobile device. Its coding-optional approach accelerates development of mobile-optimized forms and business apps that drive daily business processes and connect to any backend database or corporate application. The software also delivers seven critical capabilities that enterprise users demand in modern business apps - including rich media, mapping, optimized data capture, digital ink and offline operation with read/write.

For more information, go to www.alphasoftware.com.

Using Help

Most screens in this app have a circled "?" button for accessing help related to that screen. Within Help, you can go to the Table of Contents to see information about all of the screens by tapping the "TOC" button in the upper-left of the Help Screen.

Legal Notices

Alpha Launch, and this documentation, are:
Copyright © 2016 Alpha Software Corporation.
All Rights Reserved.

Alpha Software ® is a registered trademark of Alpha Software Corporation.

PhoneGap is a trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Apps installed in Alpha Launch, while usually created using Alpha Anywhere, are created independently of the Alpha Launch app. They have their own copyrights, legal notices, licenses, restrictions, etc., and are not products of, nor the responsibility of, Alpha Software Corporation unless otherwise so indicated by Alpha Software Corporation.