Table of Contents

Android Packaging

22 May 2020

This document explains how to compile Hop for Android devices and how to package it in an apk file. We also show how to build an Hop application that runs inside an HTML container on the devices.


Developping for the Android platform is hard. It requires skills, practices, and experience. Debugging is generally difficult, error messages and exception handling is rudimentary, and development cycle slow. Hop tries it best to simplify the process but it cannot hide all the complexity of the Android environment. At the very least, you will have to understand how to create your own application manifest and how to customize the application layout.

Only a tiny subset of Android features are currently available in Hop. These documented in this page. The Hop Scheme layer is generally more advanced because bindings are first created in Scheme and then ported to JavaScript.


The development method used by Hop requires the devices to be in developper mode.

Complete Android sdk and ndk toolkits are needed. Check the Bigloo Android cross compilation instructions for installing the needed packages.

To build the Hop apk you will only need the following Android tools:

The Makefiles Hop are sufficient to build the package. That is, ant, cmake, or gradle or not needed.

The Android port is experimental and incomplete. The restrictions are:

In addition, you will need the Bigloo and Hop source file distributions. In the rest, we assume that these files are stored in the repodir directory

Default Build

To build a full hop+bigloo stack and to produce an apk file:

$ cd arch/android
xport REPOSITORY=repodir
$ make apk 

This will use the android sdk and ndk pointed by the environment variables $ANDROIDSDK and $ANDROIDNDK. The default configuration can be changed with make arguments. For intsance:

$ make apk ANDROIDNDK=/opt/android/android-ndk-r21b

The default configuration assumes a physiscal device connected to the USB bus. If an emulator is used, add the following to all make invocation:

$ make apk ANDROIDHOST=-e

If only hop needs to be recompiled:

$ make apk-sans-bigloo

If only the apk file has be to regenerated:

$ make apk-sans-hop

When preparing an apk for an old Android version (api-level < 22), static linking must be forced.

$ make ANDROIDLINK=static

For additional configuration, check arch/android/Makefile, in particular the variables ANDROIDTARGET and ANDROIDSDKVERSION that control the targetted Android version.


The standard adb Android tool tool is used to installed:

$ adb install hop-3.3.0.apk
$ adb shell monkey -p fr.inria.hop 1

To uninstall it:

$ adb uninstall fr.inria.hop

Building a Custom Application

The default build process constructs an apk containing a bare hop installation. This is useful only as a demonstration. The makefile located in the arch/android is designed so that it can be used to build custom application. To add a weblet to your apk build, you just have to specify an ANDROIDWEBLET argument to the make command line that must point to the directory containing your weblet. Let us show how to build such a complete application. The 4 steps will be:

  1. create the arch/android directory;
  2. create the Makefile needed to build the apk;
  3. invoke make to build the package.

We detail these steps in the following. First, let's ensure that we have properly defined the two environment variables needed to find the location on our disk of the Android sdk and ndk:

$ export ANDROIDSDK=.../android-sdk-linux
$ export ANDROIDNDK=.../android-ndk-r21b

Second create the directory that will contain our weblet source files. Normally you already have this.

$ mkdir hopdemo; cd hopdemo

We create a simple service for the demonstration hopdemo.js:

const fs = require( "fs" );
const path = require( "path" );

service hopdemo( arg ) {
   const dir = (arg && arg.dir) || "/mnt/sdcard/home";
   return <html>
       <style>body { font-size: 200% }</style>
       <div> ${dir} </div>
         <li><a href=${hopdemo( { dir: path.dirname( dir ) } )}>..</a></li>
         ${ fs.readdirSync( dir )
               .map( p => {
                  const fp = path.join( dir, p );
                  if( fs.lstatSync( fp ).isDirectory() ) {
                     return <li><a href=${hopdemo( { dir: fp } )}> ${p} </a></li>;
                  } else {
                     return <li><a href=${fp}>${p} (${fs.lstatSync( fp ).size})</a></li>
               } ) }

Of course, it's also possible to define the same weblet in Scheme. The source file should be hopdemo.hop:

(module hopdemo)

(define-service (hopdemo #!optional (dir "/mnt/sdcard/home"))
      (<HEAD> (<STYLE> [body { font-size: 200% }]))
      (<DIV> dir)
         (<LI> (<A> :href (hopdemo (dirname dir)) ".."))
         (map (lambda (p)
                    (if (directory? p)
                        (<A> :href (hopdemo p) (basename p))
                        (<A> :href p (basename p) " " (file-size p)))))
            (directory->path-list dir)))))

In the rest of this document we focus on the JavaScript backend.

We now create the directory for the Android package:

$ mkdir -p arch/android; cd arch/android

Then we create the Makefile needed to build the apk. For convenience, we split it in two files. First a Makefile containing only the application configuration:

$ cat > Makefile.config <<EOF
HOPDIR = $$HOME/prgm/project/hop/hop
ANDROIDWEBLET = $(shell realpath $$PWD/../..)

HOPAPP = hopdemo

# the list of hopdroid plugins the application will need

Second the Makefile to build the application.

$ cat > <<EOF
include Makefile.config

    $(MAKE) -C $(HOPDIR)/arch/android apk \

apk-sans-bigloo: doit
apk-sans-hop: doit
install-apk: doit

    $(MAKE) -C $(HOPDIR)/arch/android $(MAKECMDGOALS) \

	find . -name '*.o' -exec /bin/rm {} \;
	find . -name '*.so' -exec /bin/rm {} \;
	rm -rf ../../arch/android

Note that the name is mandatory. It cannot be changed. We can now build our apk with the following:

$ make -f

This generate a file name /tmp/ that can be installed on the device as explained earlier.

Customizing a Custom Application

The procedure shown before builds standard packages with default Hop Android configurations. This default configuration can be customized in two ways. An altnerative Manifest can be given. For that, create a (pay attention to the suffix) file and extend your Makefile.config file as follows:

$ echo "ANDROIDMANIFEST=PROJDIR/` >> Makefile.config

Check the Hop orginal arch/android/ to create your. This file follows the Android syntax and semantics but in addition the @-keywords, e.g., @HOPVERSION@, will be replaced by their actual values during the package construction.

Note : As make rely n a sort of lazy evaluation, if you define ANDROIDMANIFEST as $$PWD/, the environment variable will PWD be evaluated on the hop directory and not the directory containing your project, which will yield to ignoring your configuration. There are two options for solving that problem:

  1. use an absolute file name for ANDROIDMANIFEST;
  2. force an eager evaluation of the variable by passing it to the sub make command with:

    $(MAKE) -C $(HOPDIR)/arch/android apk \

The icons and other graphical elements of an Android application are stored in the res directory. Hop uses a set of default icons that can be changed by providing a replacement directory. For that, extend the Makefile.config file as follows:

$ echo "ANDROIDRES=PROJDIR/res` >> Makefile.config

Some projects rely on particular libraries that needs to be installed after Hop but before the Androd application. This is the purpose of APKCUSTOM make variable. It can be assigned to an application goal that will be executed by the Android make invocation. Example:

$ echo "APKCUSTOM=custom-proj-compile-and-install` >> Makefile.config

Using the hopdroid package

The hopdroid package enables JavaScript programs to access device specific features. Example:

const hopdroid = require( hop.hopdroid );
const phone = new;

service hopdemo() {
   console.log( "phone=", phone.model, phone.product, phone.sdk );
   return <html>
       <style>body { font-size: 200% }</style>
       <div> ${phone.model}, ${phone.product}, ${phone.sdk} </div>


Hop Android applications can be executed out-of-device. The whole Android API exists and can be executed but it delivers fake values and fake behaviour. This simulation mode can be of great help for developping an application because it lets programmers develop the application on their regular development platform and install it on the phone only when the application is mostly operational.

To use the simulator, spawn your application as usual on you development machine. Then, within a browser running on the same machine, access the file /hop/hopdroid/simulator. This page will let you control the state of the simulated phone.

Note: the simulator only supports one phone object at a time. That is, the simulator will only let you access the state of the last created simulated phone.


Here are some hints for debugging the application running on the device. The first is the logging facility offered by adb. On new devices:

$ adb logcat -e 'Hop'

On old ones:

$ adb logcat | grep -i 'hop'

This will show all Java message and also all the output of the application, in particular, all the application write on its standard output and standard error ports.

Sometime it's useful to execute commands on the device. The Android protection mechanism makes it's difficult to access the files belonging to the application. For that use the adb exec-out run-as fr.inria.hop command. Examples:

$ adb exec-out run-as fr.inria.hop ls /data/data/fr.inria.hop/assets/bin/hop
$ adb exec-out run-as fr.inria.hop /system/bin/sh -c "export HOME=/mnt/sdcard/home; export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/data/data/fr.inria.hop/assets/lib/bigloo/4.3h:/data/data/fr.inria.hop/assets/lib/hop/3.3.0:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH;exec /data/data/fr.inria.hop/assets/bin/hop --no-color -p 8080 -g0 --max-threads 6 -z --no-jobs --rc-dir /mnt/sdcard/home/.config/hopdemo -v2"

If more debugging is needed, gdb can be used remotely. For that, proceed as follows:

$ pid=PID
$ port=5050
$ adb shell run-as fr.inria.hop /data/data/fr.inria.hop/lib/gdbserver ":$port" --attach $pid

$ adb forward tcp:$port tcp:$port
$ gdb app_process
(gdb) target remote :$port