KMM Environment Variables: Part 1

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

In this article, I will talk about my experience working with environment variables on Kmm and what I am currently using.

Environment Variables

During the development lifecycle of a mobile app, you probably may be create apps that use API keys or passwords. It is best practise to store such sensitive info in a secure place. In Android, you’d ideally use local.properties or gradle.properties to set this up and on iOS, configuration files commonly known as xxconfig The good thing about this is you can configure it to support multiple builds/targets: eg, Dev , QA and Prod depending on your needs.

Now that we have that in mind, how do we go about this for a KMM project? There are multiple ways you can do this but I will only talk about the first two since it’s what I have worked with.

  1. Custom gradle plugin
  2. BuildKonfig
  3. Config file reader
  4. gradle-buildconfig-plugin

1. Custom Gradle Task

I will not go in depth on this but just give an overview. We can use some Gradle utils to generate code from build properties. There are three main concepts that we will need to make this possible.

  1. Creating a gradle task.
  2. Defining the generated file.
  3. Setting the source set

With that in mind we will need to create a task that produces a file as output. We can use Sync for this. According to Gradle’s documentation, it synchronizes the contents of a destination directory with some source directories and files. It’s more like a copy task.

Once we have that in place we can use TestResourceFactory to create files dynamically. If you have a custom source set, you will need to define it otherwise gradle won’t recognise it.

You can check out this answer by @aSemy on StackOverflow.

This is a library that basically embeds values from a gradle file. If you are an Android dev, this will feel more like home. It’s pretty simple

I created a small function to help us read from gradle.properties.

Below is how we use the custom function and buildConfig to read from `gradle.properies`

To generate the files, run ./gradlew generateBuildKonfig . The generated class will look like so:


3. Config File Reader

We can create a resource reader to help up read from yaml configuration files. The good thing about this is we can easily create multiple environment files for different flavours. Builkonfig also supports this but I has a hard time while switching between environments in a different project.

This implementation is from Touchlab’s Droidcon KMM App which has a neat way or reading files from both iOS and Android. I’d say this is the meat of it. YamlResourceReader helps us serialize the yaml file into a data class object. readAndDecodeResource takes in two params:

  1. name : Name of the yaml file. We have this as a parameter so that you can pass in different files based on the build target you want.
  2. strategy : Serialization strategy. We will be using kotlinx.serialization but you could also use Gson or Jakcson


Android Platform Implementation

We could also use Android’s AssetManager to read from the bundled assets context.assets.open(name) but this example we are using javaClass.classLoader

iOS Platform Implementation



Resources Folder

We then need to add our configuration files. Kmm libraries have a structure folder for resources. You can name them whatever you want. `qa.yaml` `release.yaml` depending on your needs. In this case, `config.yaml`.

We need to drag or add the file on iOS so it’s accessible. For uniformity, I have created a directory called Resources and added the file there.

One extra step that I did was to create a symlink in the root directory so we can easily access it. (This is optional)

Reader Implementation

Tying things up together. We can now use the resource reader and pass the intend file.

Conclusion

There are two things we need to do:

  1. Remember to add the files on iOS.
  2. Depending on your application, you might want to ignore the file so that you don’t end up publishing sensitive info. 

With that, all our resources are in one directory. There might be a better way but this is what has worked of me. I’m always up to learn from you so feel free to poke holes in my implementation. 😅

In part 2, we will look at how to create different build flavors. Until then, happy coding.


 
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