[Update: Google phased out App Inventor, but made it open source. It is now hosted by MIT at http://appinventoredu.mit.edu/welcome-to-app-inventor-edu“]
We have previously shown how to setup your environment to develop Android application using Eclipse. However, if you are not into Java programming and learning Android API but still want to develop (simple) Android applications, that’s still possible thanks to App Inventor.
App Inventor will allow you to create the application UI in your web browser (The Designer), configure how your application behaves via a Java JNLP (Java Network Launching Protocol) applet (The Block Editor) and run your application in your Android phone/tablet or if you don’t have hardware in an emulator (The emulator).
For Windows XP + Emulator, all you’ll have to do is to follow the instructions in http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/learn/setup/setupwindows.html and then you’ll be able to create some “Hello Kitty” application.
First download the installer. Run appinventor_setup_installer_v_1_1.exe to install the necessary files. It is recommended not to change the default installation path.
Once it is installed, simply go to http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/ to start a new project.
To make yourself familiar with App Inventor it is highly recommended to go through the HelloPurr example first. All the steps are very clearly explained, so I won’t reproduce it here. This example simply show how to use a button (A Kitty Image in that case) and make it meow when you click on it. Remember to let the emulator start the first time (It took 4 to 5 minutes on my hardware), before running the application.