Category Archives: software development

An Android cat… doing the can-can

its a cat.... doing the can-can

Done much mobile phone development?
Me neither.

In an attempt to fix that I put a day aside to write an Android app with the theme decided by my imaginative housemateCan-can cat was born.

It turns out than in a day you can;

  • Install eclipse and the relevant Android Develeopment Tools (ADT) plugin.
  • Learn the basics (Activities, the various xml Android files and resources) to get started
  • Write a simple Android mobile app with animation and music
  • Upload it to the Android Market

There are very useful resources on how to get started.  So instead here are some of the good parts of the experience;

  • Its Java.  Its obvious but for me this makes the barrier for entry so minimal you can be productive as soon as your IDE is configured.
  • The documentation is great and there are loads of familiar resources like stackoverflow out there if you get stuck at any point.
  • The Android Market is open, in minutes you can upload an app and it be available.  Great for a developer… less so as an Android user (there are too many helloworld and stupid apps like mine on there)

Here are some of the gotchas that slowed me down;

  • The built in Mediaplayer seems flaky, or at least overly complex with error and status handlers all over the place.  I kept it simple and created/destroyed rather than reusing players.
  • If you get an eclipse error complaining about not being available…. try selecting your Activity class when running.
    That slightly unintuitive error means you have one of the many xml files selected and its trying to run a transform instead of your app…
  • Its not required for a valid android manifest but make sure you include a minimum SDK or you can’t upload to the Android Market :
    <uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion=”7″ />
  • The Android Market is not web browsable, you need to be using an Android mobile to access it… why?

Other than that its all quite painless.  What to make to check out the next platform?  Disco Dog?  Polka Pig?


Free Geek Books!

As I’m now getting back into work-mode (watching Wall street: money never sleeps counts as research) I recently got around to reading  The Pragmatic Programmer and took heed of a few of its points.  I particularly liked the reminder to invest in yourself by reading a new tech book every quarter.

This combined serendipitously with stumbling upon a list of free techie ebooks so now I’m going to be spending each spare 10 minute slot investing in me.

I’ve looked around for other free or decent pay-for techie books via iTunes seem thin on the ground.  Amazon seems the best bet.

Anyone got any recommendations or suggestions (nothing obscene) on how to fill those idle 10 minutes of me time with geekery?