AsTeRICS Packaging Environment (APE)

The APE let’s you select a set of AsTeRICS model files and create a downstripped (minimum size) version of the ARE including plugins, configuration files and data files to execute the models. Optionally, the APE allows the creation of native installers for Windows, Linux incl. Raspberry Pi and Mac OSX using JavaFX packaging technology.

APE consists of two major elements

  • APE-copy command line tool: a commandine tool to create a downstripped version of the ARE based on provided model files
  • Build infrastructure: a template project directory including an ant build file and a property file APE.properties. The build file contains the target ant APE-copy which provides the functionality of the APE-copy commandline tool and the target APE deploy to trigger the creation of native installer and native launcher for a dedicated target platform.

Important Terms

The term APE.baseURI refers to the location of APE.jar and the APE-copy command, which is in the folder APE parallel to the ARE folder of an AsTeRICS installation. The APE.baseURI folder also contains the build infrastructure to create the native installers and contains the default project directory (APE.projectDir=<APE.baseURI>/defProjectDir) and the default build directory (APE.buildDir=<APE.baseURI>/defProjectDir/build). APE.models refers to file and directory paths containing model files to use. Finally, ARE.baseURI refers to the location of the ARE that is used as the source for the extracted ARE versions.

Dependencies

The commandline tool APE-copy only needs a Java Runtime Environment. In order to use the ant build targets and create native installers you also need ant and a Java Development Kit 8.

APE-copy commandline tool

Check the dependencies before you start.

To start APE-copy, call

APE-copy[.bat|.sh] -DAPE.models=<paths to model files or folder (seperated by ;)> [[-DAPE.buildDir=<Path to build folder>] [-DARE.baseURI=<Path to ARE installation>] [-DAPE.projectDir=<Path of project folder to use] [-DAPE.logLevel=[FINE|INFO|WARNING|SEVERE]]

Relative paths are resolved against the APE directory…

  • APE.models: Provide a semicolon (😉 seperated list of model files or folder. Relative and absolute paths can be mixed where relative paths are resolved against the APE directory. By default, the directroy <APE.projectDir>/custom/bin/ARE/models is automatically added to the parameter.
  • APE.buildDir: The path to the build (output) folder. The downsized ARE is copied to that folder. The path can be relative or absolute where a relative path is resolved against the APE directory. By default, the build subfolder of the project directory (APE.projectDir) is used.
  • ARE.baseURI: The path to the ARE installation. This can be the path to the bin/ARE folder of a development version (cloned git repository) or the ARE path of an installed AsTeRICS release (>= 2.8). The path can be relative or absolute where a relative path is resolved against the APE directory. By default, the parallel ```ARE`` folder is used.
  • APE.projectDir: The path of the project directory to use. If the directory does not exist it is automatically created by copying the template directory to the project directory. The given project directory must contain the APE.properties file, which contains default project-specific property values that can be overridden by the commandline switches of APE-copy. Additionally, the files and resources in the subfolder custom are finally copied to the target build directory (APE.buildDir). Read more about [customization of the ARE] here. By default, the project directory APE.projectDir=<APE.baseURI>/defProjectDir is used.
  • APE.logLevel: You can specify the verbosity of the console output of the APE-copy command. Additionally, the log messages of the command execution are logged to the <APE.projectDir>/tmp

Example usages of the APE-copy commandline tool

You should be able to copy/paste the example commands below as long as you replace the placeholder with real values. The examples use windows path notations.

Note for Linux, Mac OSX: On Linux and Mac OSX you must use APE-copy.sh and slashify (’/’ instead of ‘’) the paths.

One model file

Create a downstripped ARE package of the model file ImageDemo.acs located in the ARE/models folder.
By default, the result is written to the folder <APE.buildDir>/merged.

cd <APE.baseURI>
APE-copy -DAPE.models=../ARE/models/ImageDemo.acs

Several model files/folder

When specifying a folder, all contained model files (recursively) will be used. Several file or folder URIs can be seperated by a ‘;’. Relative and absolute URIs can be mixed. By default, the result is written to the folder <APE.buildDir>/merged.

cd <APE.baseURI>
APE-copy -DAPE.models=../ARE/models/ImageDemo.acs;../ARE/models/eyetracking;D:/MyModelFiles/

One model file, custom build folder

You can specify a custom build folder with the property APE.buildDir

cd <APE.baseURI>
APE-copy -DAPE.models=../ARE/models/ImageDemo.acs -DAPE.buildDir=C:\ImageDemo

Build infrastructure and native installer creation

The tool APE-copy is only used to copy the required resources for a given model file to a certain location, but APE also provides a full build infrastructure (APE.projectDir=<APE.baseURI>/defProjectDir) that let’s you

  • configure the properties for APE-copy and the creation of native installers in a single file (<APE.projectDir>/APE.properties)
  • replace single files/resources (images, model files, component and services jars and the respective configurations,…) of the ARE installation with custom files of the folder <APE.projectDir>/custom
  • customize the installer creation by providing drop-in resources and installer-specific files in the folder <APE.projectDir>/package/linux, <APE.projectDir>/package/windows or <APE.projectDir>/package/macosx
  • trigger the creation of a native installer by using the provided ant build file at <APE.projectDir>/build.xml

Simplified folder structure

Subsequently you can see the simplified folder structure of an APE-based project, which contains an ant build file (build.xml), a property-based configuration file (APE.properties), the custom/bin/ARE folder to store the solution-specific files (e.g. model files), a build folder and a package folder for native installer customization.

build
  |- merged
  |- deploy
custom
  |- bin/ARE
    |- data
    |- images
    |- LICENSE
    |- models
      |- <custom model file>.acs
      |- ...
    |-profile
package
  |- linux
  |- windows
  |- macosx
APE.properties
build.xml

General workflow for using the build infrastructure

If you want to start a new project based on AsTeRICS functionality, you would normally

  1. Use the subfolder defProjectDir directly or copy the template project directory to your project repository location.
  2. Edit APE.properties and set the location of the AsTeRICS ARE (ARE.baseURI) to use for APE-copy. You only have to set ARE.baseURI if you use a project directory not within the AsTeRICS APE directory.
  3. Create your AsTeRICS solution and save all needed resources (model files, images, configuration files,…) to the custom/bin/ARE folder.
  4. Call ant APE-copy to create the extracted ARE solution or ant deploy to create a native installer for a certain target platform

Many Integrated Development Environments (IDE) like Eclipse support the ant build system. So you can use your favourite IDE to edit and build the project.

Example usages of the build infrastructure

Check the dependencies before you start.

One model file, ant APE-copy

Copy the model file <ARE.baseURI>/models/ImageDemo.acs to the location <APE.projectDir>/custom/bin/ARE/models or edit the APE.models property in the file <APE.projectDir>/APE.properties. Then execute the following commands:

cd <APE.projectDir>
ant APE-copy

The extracted ARE version can be found at <APE.buildDir>/build/merged/, to test it, execute

cd build/merged/bin/ARE
start.bat

One model file, windows .exe installer

To create a native .exe installer [InnoSetup >= 5] (http://www.jrsoftware.org/isdl.php) must be installed and the build process must be run on a Windows system.

Copy the model file <ARE.baseURI>/models/ImageDemo.acs to the location <APE.projectDir>/custom/bin/ARE/models or edit the APE.models property in the file <APE.projectDir>/APE.properties. Then execute the following commands:

cd <APE.projectDir>
ant deploy

By default, all supported installer types for the currently running platform are created and stored at <APE.buildDir>/deploy/bundles
This can be changed by setting the property fx.deploy.nativeBundles to another value like msi

One model file, Linux debian package

To create a debian installer the [debian packaging tools] (https://wiki.debian.org/PackageManagement) must be installed and the build process must be run on a debian-based Linux.

Copy the model file <ARE.baseURI>/models/ImageDemo.acs to the location <APE.projectDir>/custom/bin/ARE/models or edit the APE.models property in the file <APE.projectDir>/APE.properties. Then execute the following commands:

cd <APE.projectDir>
ant deploy

By default, all supported installer types for the currently running platform are created and stored at <APE.buildDir>/deploy/bundles
This can be changed by setting the property fx.deploy.nativeBundles to another value like deb. On Linux, although also a .rpm package could be created by JavaFX packaging technology, APE only supports debian packages because the ARE needs some postinstall and prerm operations in order to run on Linux.

One model file, Mac OSX dmg installer

Run one of the above examples on Mac OSX to create a .dmg installer. The .dmg packaging dependencies should already be contained in your Mac OSX version.

Properties for copying/extraction behaviour of APE

To change the behaviour of the ARE extraction with APE-copy, edit the following properties of APE.properties

  • ``APE.models```: Defines model files and folder containing model files to use
  • APE.dataCopyMode: Define if all the data files of the <ARE.baseURI>/data folder should be copied or just some.
  • APE.servicesFiles: Define if optional service configuration files should be used.

Properties for installer creation

The provided build files only support a subset of the whole functionality of JavaFX packaging.
To change the behaviour of the installer creation, consider the following properties in APE.properties

  • fx.deploy.nativeBundles: To define installer type to create
  • fx.application.* and fx.info.*: To describe meta information of your application
  • fx.preferences.*: To define the desktop integration of the application
  • APE.embedJava and fx.platform.basedir: To embed a Java Runtime Environment into your native installer. The embedded java is linked to the native application launcher. If it is not embedded the default system java is used (only on Windows and Mac OSX).

ARE customization

The ARE can be customized by replacing single files/resources (images, model files, component and services jars and the respective configurations,…) of the ARE installation with custom files of the folder <APE.projectDir>/custom/bin/ARE. You only must ensure to use the same relative file paths.

Skipping non-used ARE services

If you want to exclude some of the ARE services (e.g. javacv-*.jar or cimcommunication*.jar), simply copy the services configuration files of <ARE.baseURI>/profile/*.ini to the <APE.projectDir>/custom/bin/ARE/profile folder and edit them. You can exclude a service by commenting it out (prepending #) in the respective .ini file.

Installer customization

If you want to customize installer-specific configuration files (.e.g .iss for .exe installer) or add your own application icon. Use the respective platform-specific subfolder in the package folder. There you can place replacement files for the default ones. To find out the supported files, that can be replaced, enable verbosity by setting fx.deploy.verbose=true in the APE.properties file.

Summurized, the following steps are necessary:

  1. Enable verbose mode in APE.properties: fx.deploy.verbose=true
  2. Run ant deploy
  3. Copy the resources (e.g. .iss or icon files) from the temp folder of the installer creation to the package/<os> folder
  4. Edit the custom files
  5. Rerun ant deploy

If you want to know more, read Customizing the Package Using Drop-In Resources.

ant build files

The template directory contains two ant build files: build.xml and imported.xml. The file build.xml contains some targets left for customization of the deployment build process. The targets before-deploy, before-deploy-windows, before-deploy-linux and before-deploy-macosx are called after the APE-copy target and before the deploy target. This way generic and platform-specific task can be added before the installer creation is triggered. You can use it to delete files which are not needed for a certain target platform (e.g. ARE.exe on Linux or javacv-*-macosx on Windows).
The second build-file imported.xml contains the internal targets and should not be modified except you really know, what you do.