Hello world in Scheme for Android

(This has been updated here.)

Google's phone operating system "Android" is based on a custom Java virtual machine on top of GNU/Linux. So it occurred to me: How difficult would it be to get a Kawa application running on Android? Not that difficult, it turns out.

Here is "Hello world" written in Kawa Scheme:

(module-extends android.app.Activity)
(module-name kawa.android.hello)
(define (onCreate (savedInstanceState :: android.os.Bundle)) :: void
  (invoke-special android.app.Activity (this) 'onCreate savedInstanceState)
  (let ((tv :: android.widget.TextView (make android.widget.TextView (this))))
    (tv:setText "Hello, Android from Kawa Scheme!")
    ((this):setContentView tv)))

It's got some annoying boiler-plate, though it's similar to the Java version; hopefully we can simplify later.

Here is how to get this program running on the Android emulator on GNU/Linux. (I haven't yet figured out how to get it working on the actual phone.) This article Android Phone development from the Linux command-line was helpful in figuring out what to do.

First you need to download the Android SDK. Unzip, in a suitable location, which we'll refer to as ANDROID_HOME:


To get this to work I had to make some modest changes to Kawa, so you will need to get the Kawa developer sources from SVN.

You need to configure and make Kawa appropriately:

./configure --with-android=$ANDROID_HOME/android.jar

Next, we need to create a project or activity, in the target directory KawaHello, with the main activity being a class named hello in a package kawa.android:

activitycreator  --out KawaHello kawa.android.hello

Replace the skeleton hello.java by the Scheme code we started out with:

cd KawaHello
cd $HELLO_APP_DIR/src/kawa/android/
rm hello.java
emacs hello.scm

We need to copy/link the Kawa jar file so the Android SDK can find it:

ln -s $KAWA_DIR/kawa-1.9.3.jar libs/kawa.jar

We also need to modify the Ant build.xml so it knows how to compile Scheme code:

patch < build-xml.patch

Finally, we can compile our application:


Next start up the Android emulator:


Wait until Android has finished booting, clisk the menu and home buttons. Click the tab above the menu key to show the installed applications. Now install our new application:

adb install bin/hello-debug.apk

The new hello application should show up. Click it, and you should see something like: HelloKawa1.png

Some debugging notes

You will find a copy of the SDK documentation in $ANDROID_HOME/docs/documentation.html.

If the emulator complains that your application has stopped unexpectedly, start ddms (Dalvik Debug Monitor Service), click on the kawa.android line in the top-left sub-window to select it, then from the Device menu select Run logcat.... This shows log messages, stack traces, output from the Log.i loggin method, and other useful information.

To uninstall your application, do:

adb uninstall kawa.android