Thursday, February 11, 2016

Starting out on Android

Oohhh, it's been a while since I've posted. I spent some time working on haskell-ide-engine, but then I got Haskell fatigue and decided to look at Android instead. A change is as good as a rest!

Coming from the Java world, it's not difficult to get into Android. I followed the guide on the Google site to get the basics. At first I got a bit afraid of the unholy mix of Gradle build scripts, visual layout editor, XML files and Java code, but you get over it. The IDE has some nice touches and it's good to get useful autocompletion in resources like ids and strings. I liked the warning about SDK level APIs and missing resources once I started translated my app into French.

But I have to say, when I was working on EclipseFP I often ran into IDEA fanatics that swore that IDEA was miles ahead of Eclipse. Android Studio famously moved from Eclipse to IDEA, and frankly, I don't see what the hype is about. Yes, Eclipse has some annoying bugs and idiosyncrasies. But Android Studio, at least with the default settings, as I haven't spent much time customizing it, is not such a wonderful IDE. It's slow to start up, the view layout is sometimes confusing, the font is too fine or small in places (I must be getting old, but sometimes I couldn't see that a semi colon was in fact a colon) and the warning/error markers in the gutter are way too small and nearly invisible, to the point that sometimes the build fails and I can't see where in the source is the error! Maybe there's a special "grumpy old man with failing eye sight" setting to make things bigger.

Since I believe that you learn by doing, I've developed my first app, and I'm in the process of publishing it to the App Store (so I can claim I'm a published Android developer in my CV, wink). Apart from the fact that you need to supply an icon in 2 million different sizes, which is challenging for somebody with my artistic abilities, it's a straightforward process. My app is an uninteresting workout log app (to record how much weight you supposedly lift at the gym) that's purely local (no social features, so you can't boast online about the weights you may have lifted), but hey, it's a start. The code is of course on Github.

I've also wrote a basic game using the framework presented here, and the nice asset from Kenney (see note about artistic abilities above). Nothing fancy, just a rabbit hopping over holes and getting carrots for points, but just seeing my little game running on my family's phones and tablets is nice! It's on Github too.


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harada57 said...
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