Winston Lawrence

Project Manager & Occasional developer

Android Development

I am thinking about getting an Android based smartphone as I mentioned in last week's post, partly because of the possibility of doing some mobile application development. It really isn't too difficult to get started and to build the obligatory "Hello World" app in Android just to ensure that everything is installed and working correctly.The big benefit to Android development is that the cost to entry is low - you don't need to run out and buy new hardware and software and you don't have to learn a platform specific semi-proprietary language before you can get started either.

I already had the latest Java Development Environment installed so the only thing that I needed to do was to get and re-install Eclipse. I Don't really like Eclipse ever since I had to work with IBM's version which forms the core of IBM's Rational Developer Tools.  I know Eclipse is powerful and can be used as a collaborative development IDE for a lot of languages but to me, it has a kind of kludgy Windows 98 era feel with a generally non-intuitive interface.. Eclipse also seems prone to subtle configuration errors that make it very difficult to determine the cause of problems. Eclipse generated error messages have a neat trick of being numerous while remaining almost completely devoid of useful information. That said, I installed Eclipse, the Android SDK and then the device manager. One trick that I learned while working with the IBM Rational Tools version of Eclipse when you get a workspace configured the way you like it make a copy (its just a folder). When you make a change or create a new project make another copy - preferably keeping the earlier copy around as well. When you run into one of those weird configuration problems or you find that creating a project hoses your workspace just delete the entire workspace and replace it (copy) the backup version in place and try again. This is much quicker than trying to troubleshoot, debug and/or fix problems indicated by the obtuse Eclipse error messages that you will get (in my opinion).

Anyway Eclipse was installed and I followed the tutorial over at to build the hello world app.It took a little while for the App to show up but it did work. Of course now I have to go back over the build and configuration steps to figure what I actually just did :-)

Winston Lawrence

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