Android development, my first steps

After several years with my beloved Sony Ericsson K800i I recently decided that technology had moved far enough and it was time to enter the 21st century and buy myself an HTC Desire S. The HTC Desire is great, the Android user experience is great and it’s after a little bit of playing around and learning the features and quirks pretty nice to use. Unsurprisingly within a few hours I already had some ideas for projects that I could do on the HTC Desire and hopefully at one time or another get onto the Android Market place.

I used the Java programming language during my Masters degree and I also have some experience using it in industry, so I’m pretty comfortable with it. I was also pleased to see that the IDE of choice for Android development is Eclipse. After designing and creating a paint plug-in (with layer, blend modes, tools, effects support and even able to load Photoshop files) for Eclipse during my dissertation I’m quite comfortable with the Eclipse IDE and its way of doing things.

First thing first was to run through the tutorials. I started off with the tutorials at android.com, but found that although a pretty good way to start programming that they didn’t really have much on using the 2D functionality, also I like to sit in the park at lunchtime so a book, a notepad and a pen are ideal. Also when you are designing an application being well away from a computer is the best approach, but more about that at another time. I took a look at the forums and Amazon and finally found the book Hello, Android: Introducing Google’s Mobile Development Platform by Ed Burnett. Hello, Android is a pretty good and well written book in my opinion. After the first few chapters you are pretty much ready to get up and running on Android and producing some pretty good applications. It is also good if you are like me a little rusty on Java or using the Eclipse IDE and just need a few polite reminders to kick start those brain cells.

Well I’m pretty much nearly finished on the Sudoku example from the book and several tutorials on android.com. Generally I find Android development pretty nice. It’s great how you can design the User Experience in a clear and well defined XML schema. The architecture appears pretty good too and it’s fairly straight forward to create well designed, clear and scalable user interface designs. The SDK is well defined and it’s fairly straight forward to find what you need, or a tutorial on the internet to help you out. The Eclipse tools are also quite handy and after a little searching around you can find lots of time saving features. I would also add that if you are serious about developing for Android use a real Android phone, although helpful at some times the emulator is painfully slow even on an Intel Core i7, I would love to see the Android team put more effort into optimising and accelerating the emulator to be more like a real device.

So all in all pretty impressed. I’ll let you know how I get on further down the line.

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