What the App Does
This is a simple app to calculate the tip and total bill at a restaurant – or other service provider where a tip is common place.
This is the first of 3 apps that will implement a tip calculator.
- Version 1 (this tutorial) introduces the basic app and demonstrates the use of error checking to handle user data entry mistakes.
- Version 2 will introduce an App Inventor feature that makes the app more interactive and reduces data entry errors.
- Version 3 will introduce a way to avoid user data entry errors – by designing the app in such a way that the user can enter only correct values.
Check back in the days ahead to see how this app evolves to Version 2 and then Version 3. I think you will learn a lot, have a bit of fun, and end up with an app that might be rather useful!
The Tip Calculator User Interface
In version 1.0, The user interface features two inputs: one for the amount of the bill and one for the tip, as a percentage (such as 20 for 20%), plus a button to calculate the amount of the tip and the total bill including the tip.
A Notifier component displays a warning message when non-numeric values are entered for the amount of the bill and the tip. See “Display Warning and Alert Boxes in App Inventor apps” for a tutorial on the use of message boxes.
The label fields below the button display the result of the calculation.
The arrangement of the user interface controls relies on vertical and horizontal layouts. Please see “Chapter 4 – Layouts in Detail” – available here – to learn how to use the layout features to arrange components in the user interface. The layouts are arranged as shown in this components list:
If layouts are confusing for you, you may just drag and drop controls on to the Viewer any way you wish, but by using the Vertical and Horizontal Arrangement layouts, the controls can be arranged in a more pleasing way and centered on the screen. Your best bet is to learn how to use layouts as they provide a way of creating nice user interfaces that work in both portrait and landscape modes – automatically. Refer to Chapter 4-Layouts in Detail for a tutorial on layouts.
The labels used to display the calculation result are shown in 18 point font size. To set the font size, select the label in the Viewer and then enter a FontSize value of 18 (or other size – your choice) as shown here:
For the text box data entry, use the Hint property to enter an example data entry, as shown below:
The Blocks Code
This tutorial introduces data error checking – specifically, if the user enters non-numeric values for the bill or the tip amount, then a message box is displayed. The blocks code, below, is too large to display full size. However, you can view an enlarged version by clicking on the image. Depending on your Internet browser, you should be able to click a second time to zoom in on the image.
How This Works
An if-then-else block is used – together with the is a number? block – to ensure that only valid numbers are processed by the program. Note that there are two if-then else blocks – the first checks that the entered bill amount is a numeric value, and the second checks that the entered tip value is numeric. If either data entry contains non-numeric characters, a message is displayed on the screen about the problem.
The calculation of the tip is straight forward. The percent value (such as 20 for 20%) is converted to a decimal fraction – 20 becomes .20 – by dividing the percent (20) by 100. The bill amount is then multiplied by the tip percentage. For example, if the bill is 30 and the tip is 20 (%), the tip is 30 x 0.2 or 6. (I am leaving off $ signs to make this tip calculator generic for any currency.)
The total bill, including tip, is just the sum of the calculated tip amount and the original bill.
Key Features Shown
- Use of is a number?
- Use of error checking and processing
- Use of layouts
- Source code App Inventor “.aia” source file (App Inventor source code files have the filename extension .aia)
- Download the source code to your computer. Then, in App Inventor, go to the Projects menu and select “Import project (.aia) from my computer…”