Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Android Programming - Yes I know it's Java!!

So this week has lead to me getting to that point in my interminable list of projects to do where I finally bit the bullet and started doing some development for Android.

The first thing that struck me with Android development is Java. I could not believe that I was being forced in to such an unusually bloated language for such a small device. However, I instinctively feel that the guys behind it must have a much better undestanding than me so, let them get on with it. The interesting thing is that it is not a standard JVM but rather runs on the Dalvik VM.

So I decided to go for the new kid on the block Intellij Idea as an IDE. I looked into the Eclipse, and didn't much like it. I installed and almost immediately went with Intellij and haven't looked back. I realize this is subjective, however, I don't care! ;-)

The second thing I learnt was that you need to have a kettle handy for the first time you run the emulator. Closely related is the fact that you never want to close the emulator until you are sure that you are done debugging. This is somewhat due to the fact that the time it takes for the emulator to load the first time is comparable to my grandmother crossing the road, walking up the stairs and putting a brew on for me!

But when you get past all of that, I was really impressed with the layout tools, the xml resources and how easy they were to use, the simple differences between activities, services and broadcast receivers and how they all fit together with the Java language. (it nearly turned me to Java for desktop apps but not quite!) Everything by default is well layed out in the various folders and I feel that I automatically know where I should look for changes to be made after only a day looking into it, and I am no master by any stretch.

A few more interesting features took my eye (and it is possible that these are IDE specific):

[1] Awesome debugging and logging in the Android tab
[2] Git support  (oh yes!!!!)
[3] The DDBM (Dalvik Debug Monitor) has Emulator control where you can call the phone. Great for the app I am writing and also for feeling that you have friends without having to talk to them on the phone!!
[4] Good support network. I can't belive that in the relatively short time that Android has been about, I can find someone else somewhere who has done, is trying to do, will do something that I am trying to do and documented it online (go to love Google for that). This is something that even Python and C# have not yet managed despite the slightly longer life they have led.

So all in all, I really like programming for the Android and would recommend it to anyone! Programming is fun again!! Actually it was always fun but now we have an emulator which means that debugging is more interesting for my long-suffering wife :-)

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