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Create native Android apps by dragging and dropping building blocks. jimu makes it super easy and leaves you fully in control.

Thanks backers!

This campaign will wrap up soon, but the project will NOT!  There are more ways to help us keep the project going:


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What is jimu?

Chances are you have a smartphone, tablet, or both. With a ton of great apps out there, these powerful devices improve our lives in many ways.  But did you know you can do a lot more by creating your own apps?  Whether it's for artistic expression or creating a unique tool, we believe everyone should be able to create their own software. jimu helps you create great apps for your Android device.

The gap between having an idea for an app and being able to create it with traditional tools is huge.  Even a basic app requires a significant investment of time and resources. Part of this is designing the app -- deciding how it should look, what it should do, and how the user should interact with it. The other significant part is actually coding the app. At a minimum, creating high quality, native Android apps requires knowledge of:

  • the Java programming language
  • how to program for Android
  • Android conventions and best practices

With jimu we've made the coding step as efficient as possible.  We want to help you focus on designing your apps, instead of the low-level details of coding. For most apps you won't need to write any code at all. Instead, you create your app visually by assembling building blocks. Each building block represents one component of an Android app, and you can put them together in infinitely many ways to easily create apps.

Add a building block (button) by dragging and dropping it into place.
Add a building block (button) by dragging and dropping it into place.
Define the action to perform for the button by visually connecting it to the target.
Define the action to perform for the button by visually connecting it to the target.

Why is jimu different?

There are many app builders around, but jimu is different. jimu is fun to use but flexible and powerful, and creates great looking, high performance apps. The block metaphor, native apps, and infinite customization are three aspects that make jimu special.

Blocks

Many app builders provide only a few very generic functions. They let you add content to the app but they don't let you decide how the app actually works. jimu's blocks encapsulate Android features and concepts into pieces that can be assembled to build powerful apps. The true power of blocks is in how flexibly they can be connected; this is how jimu lets you build your app. Blocks let you think about what you want your app to do and how you want the user to interact with it, and then make it happen.

For a detailed list of blocks we are going to include, see this page

Native Apps

Fully native apps have access to all of Android's features and have smooth, responsive interfaces. Rather than compromising on quality with cross-platform, web-based apps, we're focusing our full attention on helping you make the best possible Android apps.

Flickr Top Places, an app created using jimu: native list, grid, Google Maps, integration of web services, local caching
Flickr Top Places, an app created using jimu: native list, grid, Google Maps, integration of web services, local caching

Check out this page for some sample apps built using jimu.

Customization

When you’re done building your app, jimu lets you download a packaged app ready for the Market, or even load the app straight to your phone. But it also lets you download the full source code for the app. This lets you deeply customize your app’s look and behaviour however you want. We've designed jimu to let you make awesome apps without writing any code, but we know that it's important for you to have full control over your app. We've worked hard to ensure that the code jimu generates is understandable and easy to work with.

For the details on how jimu generates readable source code, please see this post.

Why should you use jimu?

Whatever your mix of skills, jimu will help you create great apps as efficiently as possible.

Maybe you love design but aren't interested in the low-level details of app development. jimu lets you decide how the app should look and behave, and then takes care of the rest. With fully customizable layouts, images, and fonts, you don't have to compromise your app's style for efficient development.

Maybe you're an app developer already; you know how little of your time actually goes into coding cool new things. jimu removes the boring work from app development. Quickly build the bulk of your app with jimu, then add the customizations that make your app unique. You’ll never have to say no to a client because of jimu.

Or maybe you simply have great ideas and want to see them come to life. jimu lets you do this easily without the large amount of up-front learning that app development currently requires. Try ideas quickly and find out what works. With jimu you'll be making cool apps and useful tools in no time.

We need your help!

We've already spent over a year working on jimu, and have accomplished a lot. jimu already has a solid backend that generates apps from a textual description of the blocks in the app and how they interact. We've already captured many Android features and concepts into blocks. These range from core application elements like screens, to basic UI structuring tools like lists and grids, to utility features like getting location data from the phone or taking a picture.

We’ve also created a prototype for the web app that you’ll use to access jimu. This lets you create apps by dragging blocks and visually wiring them together. This is the interface you’ve seen in our demo videos. There’s a lot of work to do to make the web app complete and ready for you to use. This is where we need your help.

Where does your money go?

Your pledge will fund development of jimu in several ways that are crucial to its success as a useful tool. Your funding is important to help us create a high-quality web interface for building apps, upgrade our app generator to handle the web app, and develop more blocks so you can make your apps even better.

Our prototype web interface is already a useful tool, but it needs work to become a product. The primary goal is support for all blocks we have developed and will develop and stable creation of apps using those blocks. We will also provide preset themes to use with your app, and allow easy customization by changing images and fonts. Similarly, we’ll provide preset layouts for your user interface elements. These will also be easily customizable by dragging-and-dropping elements.

The app generator we’ve developed already works well, but it needs polish to be ready for your use. We’ll make sure that any app you’re able to make in the web interface is able to be created by the app generator, and that your apps always behave as expected. We need to add support in the generator for themes and layouts as discussed above. We also need to make the app generator capable of supporting many users at once through the web interface.

For the private beta we’ll be providing a solid set of blocks that will allow you to create many useful apps. These will include

  • basic containers like screens and widgets
  • navigation elements like tabs and menus
  • basic user interface elements so users can interact with your app
  • interaction with the device’s hardware such as the camera and GPS

For descriptions and examples of all of the provided blocks, see our website.

When do you get to try it?

We're working hard to produce something that you can try. We plan to release the first private beta for backers in June, with frequent updates after that. We’re planning on a public release near the end of the year.

As a backer and early user you'll have access to the team to suggest features and improvements, and you'll help decide which blocks we should create next. Your experience and input will be crucial in determining how the project evolves.

Rewards!

We have some great rewards to express our deepest gratitude.  We have reserved them as special souvenirs only for you, awesome Kickstarters!  

Dedicated time from our "jimuists" with 5+ years of experience in Android (Limited $5000,$10000 pledge levels)

We'll dedicate our time build you custom blocks or customize your app.

jimu/Android courses on Google+ Hangout (Limited $200,$300,$400,$500 pledge levels)

Google+ Hangout is a great multi-person video chatroom. We think it's a perfect way to have a close conversation with you and bring you more value.

We'll be offering half-day courses on Google+ Hangout, one about using jimu, and the other about Android programming in general. We offer a friendly and interactive environment for learning the how-tos and tricks of jimu as well as hands-on, real coding for Android. Grab a spot while there's still room!

Kickstarter's special plans ($100 pledge level and above)

Available only to you, awesome Kickstarters!  We've decided to offer deep discount and more membership choices. For a proposal of regular pricing plans after 1.0, please see this page.

KS100 - $80 early birds, $80 All digital, $100 pledge levels ($600 value)

Your choice of 12 months of Developer or Designer plan. After the plan ends, you can switch to Flex plan or continue with the original plan.

NOTE: we are not able to update the rewards description for $80 and $100 levels because there are already backers. If you have backed us at these levels, you'll get the same deal as described above.

KS200 - $180, $200, $300 pledge levels ($1200 value)

12 months of Agency plan. After the plan ends, you can switch to Flex plan or continue with the original plan.

KS400 - $380, $400 and above pledge levels ($2400 value)

LIFETIME membership of the Agency plan.

Currently we focus a lot more on building the product than different pricing plans.  We will reveal more details later on.  But our goal is to offer our generous supporters and early adopters the best value (you guys are really awesome!). So you'll have something that others don't have access to.

Note: the above plans will become effective the first time you log in after 1.0 is released.  Before 1.0, if you pledge $10 or more, you'd get access to private betas with no additional cost.  You could probably already build useful apps during private betas.

A special reward prepared with love ($100 pledge level and above)

We'll send you a special souvenir if you pledge $100 or more.  We'll reveal more details during the campaign but you can be sure that it will be our special expression of love.

Cool T-shirt with our lovely "jimudroid" mascot ($35 pledge level and above)

Stickers: show that you are a proud supporter of a better future for all of us! ($10 pledge level and above)

Under The Hood

For the technical details about how things work, check out the videos below.

A demo about how the backend works.  Based on JRuby and Eclipse, the backend converts scripts in a Ruby-based DSL into readable Java code.
A demo about how the backend works. Based on JRuby and Eclipse, the backend converts scripts in a Ruby-based DSL into readable Java code.
A demo of an Eclipse UI based on the same backend.  In this demo, you'll see how to rapidly create a task list app.
A demo of an Eclipse UI based on the same backend. In this demo, you'll see how to rapidly create a task list app.
The second part of the Eclipse UI demo.  You'll see how jimu works with existing code to add functionality.
The second part of the Eclipse UI demo. You'll see how jimu works with existing code to add functionality.

Thanks backers!

This campaign will wrap up soon, but the project will NOT! There are more ways to help us keep the project going:


Follow us:

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

There is no doubt that this is a massive project. Like every software engineering project of this scope, domain expertise, effective processes, careful planning and execution are all needed.

We believe we can successfully deliver this project with our expertise in software engineering, agile methods, quality assurance and most importantly, our passion of making the world a better place. Everyone is looking forward to the challenge.

We have spent over a year on the project and have accomplished a lot. There is no better proof than this to demonstrate our commitment to the project as well as our ability to execute and deliver.

Your support will greatly help us in many ways.

FAQ

  • We definitely want to support programming logic. It's an active research problem on how to represent logic in a visual environment. We're currently investigating a few ideas, for example, we could have logic blocks. This will make jimu a bit like MIT App Inventor, which may be a bit off from our design principles though -- we want the app design environment resemble the actual running app as much as possible.

    Another promising idea is something similar to Dan Ingalls and Alan Kay's Squeak Etoys [1]. In the sreenshot [2], you can see a "if" logic ("Test car's color..."). We can have similar constructs in the event panel of jimu (the menu that slides out when you connect two blocks).

    So it's definitely on our roadmap, but please understand it's a challenging problem which may take some time. At the same time we need your help to evaluate different ideas and give precious feedback.

    [1] Squeak Etoys: http://www.squeakland.org/
    [2] Screenshot of Squeak Etoys: http://jimulabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Screen-Shot-2013-03-16-at-9.30.37-AM.png

    Last updated:
  • After 1.0, yes, you'd need a membership. Before 1.0, if you pledge $10 or more ($35 for early betas), you'd have access to private betas with no additional cost.

    Last updated:
  • You wouldn't be able to log in and access your apps after the membership ends. However, we'll give you a grace period allowing you to download the packaged app and/or the source code (depending on your membership type). We'll keep your apps for some more time after the grace period to give you a chance to renew your membership. We'll update with more details later on.

    You keep the ownership of your apps even after your membership ends.

    Last updated:
  • There're no connections between these two projects. Conceptually they are very similar -- both aim to make app development easier via "visual programming". But the details make all the difference. In our experience, jimu's UI is pretty unique and more intuitive. Also jimu generates readable Java source code, allowing the app to be tweaked in its finest details.

    Last updated:
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