I found the experience to be straightforward and intuitive. I was able to find tutorials for any task I couldn't figure out myself and the API documentation is perfectly adequate. Working with images and settings files are two areas where I was very pleasantly surprised at just how easy it was.
There were some minor frustrations. The Android emulator fought me a little so I started just debugging on my actual device. Debugging certain problems can be difficult, Eclipse can cause headaches and throw random nonexistent exceptions, etc. but overall I think you've vastly overstated the difficulty level of jumping into Android development. "The depth of knowledge of in design patterns required is so great..." It's really not. With almost no experience with Java or Android, I've put together a working app in a few days that, in my opinion at least, is pretty good, and that works on various mobile devices with different resolutions and capabilities.
Some other things I'm happy with about the Android platform: the SDK is free, Android is open source, you're very unrestricted with regards to what your app can do, and Android Market developer accounts cost a one time fee of $25 instead of $100 a year.
If the Android Market punishes people that do this then I think that's a very real problem with the market that will directly lead to poorer quality software.
Mobile apps are a lot more like movies. Opening weekend means a LOT. If you are weak out the gate, you'll have bad reviews. When you update, no one will care, because not many people will buy the updated app because of all the one-star reviews.
The only time this doesn't apply is if you a huge built in userbase like Facebook, where even with bad reviews, people will still get the updated version of the app.
More here: http://www.google.com/search?q=android+sideload+apk
P.S. Has anyone had success developing an Android app with Google's App Inventor tool (http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/about/index.html)?
Once an app is a month or two old, even if it's well rated and doing decent, it can crash in the rankings and get buried under thousands of other apps, even if it has a lot of enthusiastic fans. And it seems like this happens simply if people don't download it ENOUGH -- if it loses momentum, you're toast.
Once you know Cocoa and Xcode iOS development is faster and more fun than Android development but it's no small learning curve. It's worth it for the fast turnaround of using the simulator compared to Android where both the emulator and device are slow, you're looking at 5-10x as long to launch your app compared to the iOS simulator. Plus ObjC > Java if you ask me, but I'm a masochist who likes both C and dynamic languages. Individual statements are verbose in Cocoa but I'd have to look at how much boilerplate is caused by the Java straight jacket to speculate on which is ultimately more verbose.
You also have to be willing to put with some crusty stuff. Nothing compared to OS X programming but it still feels old next to Java's APIs. Two good examples are string manipulation and interacting w/ the filesystem, so verbose on iOS but pretty good in Java.
I don't really have anything bad to say about WPF but when I first got my hands on UIKit and Objective-C I fell in love.
In WPF you can do anything and customize everything. UIKit is Apple's magical black box but it will get you like 80-90% of the way to your goal so you don't need to engineer everything like I did with WPF. Couple that with Foundation and their other great frameworks like CoreLocation and so much boilerplate code seems to be hidden behind Apple's walls.
I'm also probably in the minority but I like the verboseness of Objective-C and the dynamic nature of it. Honestly it is a small thing but not having to put null pointer checks all over my code is the thing about the language I love the most.
That said, the app I'm writing at work does a lot of stuff with strings, which you did mention specifically as a problem.
Properties also drive me crazy. just a ton of extra annoyance just to declare a variable.
I also prefer eclipse to xcode, and visual studio to both.
oh and good point about the simulator. The iOS simulators are MUCH better than the android simulator. So much faster.
You have a single line that specifies a property and then a single line to synthesize the accessors if you don't need to do anything unique inside them.
Every time I turned around, the Android platform surprised me. In a bad way. Full disclosure: I'm also not a Java fan, and think it was a completely brain-dead idea to make Java the first-class API. I'm certainly not a Microsoft fan, but even C#/Mono would have been better (not that I know any C#), if only so they wouldn't have had to waste time reimplementing the VM for licensing reasons. But it's not Java that I had a hard time with.
I've developed games on 12 different hardware/software platforms. There are so many things missing and/or broken about the way Android does things that I feel embarrassed for Google. Some of those things have subsequently been fixed, but many haven't, and some have been ignored in the bug database for YEARS now. A LOT of those things wouldn't have been problems if they didn't have so many layers between the app and the hardware (Java being one of those layers, but not the only problem).
As you say, it's really Not That Hard to just throw a simple app together that does what it needs to. Intents and Services are also ABSOLUTELY not the problem. The developer who wrote the original article didn't read enough of the docs or the right docs, or isn't as smart as he thinks he is -- the concept of Intents is not rocket science. The application lifecycle isn't even hard to understand -- it's laid out in the intro docs pretty clearly.
If only Android actually DID what those docs said, things would be a lot easier for a game developer. In fact, an "app" can be stopped and then a new one started before the old one actually receives its shut-down message. In the same (Linux) process -- so any native code with static data is still sitting around. One of many annoying problems I ran into.
I think the core mistake of almost every new platform is one of ego. "We'll design this NEW AND DIFFERENT platform in some revolutionary and awesome way, and make everyone rewrite their apps in this way feel is Better." When dealing with platforms, the one most important thing to do, in my opinion, is to HIDE the differences between one and another platform as much as possible. Android does this to some degree WITHIN the Android ecosystem, but we simply DON'T NEED multiple ecosystems. I submit it would be better for everyone if there were a single cross-platform engine that everyone used. Before I get dismissed as a kook, please think about OpenGL, and the fact that something as complex as a rendering subsystem IS in fact supported on all platforms, to everyone's benefit.
What would have been better is a library that abstracts away the fact that Android is its own unique OS, period. When I write code, I don't want it to be Android code, or iOS code, or WebOS code, or Windows [Mobile] code, or Linux code. I want it to be, as much as possible, completely cross-platform. I want the platform to fade into the background. You could bootstrap this by creating all the UI and other OS code as a portable layer that can run on many different systems.
But no new platform developer ever seems to get that, and so we end up with a new ecosystem for every new platform, and it's left to third parties to fill in the gap with cross-platform libraries. But it's not the developers -- or the users -- that big initiatives like Android get funded to satisfy.
I think everyone gets the value of cross-platform development, but in reality it's very difficult to achieve without enormous compromises and history tends to plot against it.
Apple's platform (Objective-C/Cocoa) can be traced back to NeXTstep. In 1988, it was the most progressive thing out there and some would say it still is. Apple leveraged their existing technology and ecosystem through OSX and all the way to iOS.
But the rest of the industry went in other directions. Objective-C/Cocoa would have been a strange choice for Android and would only have made it even more vulnerable to Apple's formidable patent arsenal. Instead, Android uses Java, which is also an attempt to leverage an existing ecosystem. But Android's fairly novel models of user interaction and application lifecycle required a whole new API. And Google had to reimplement the VM to avoid license fees, which still wasn't enough to avoid a patent attack.
In summary, as long as we have a) innovation and b) lawyers, we will constantly have to learn new development platforms which may not always be entirely novel.
I got my apps ported and basic iOS/Android shells set up, and I haven't had to go back to the code for the OS-specific stuff in 6 months - all the continued development work has been in C++ at the GL ES level.
So, I would say, if you do your work properly you can set up a very comfortable environment, as a games programmer, to support cross-platform development on these platforms with ease.
I dont get your other complaints though. Show me a developer guide for a console platform that doesn't have outright lies in it and I'll show you my unicorn.
There is a single cross-platform engine, btw, its called Unity, and if you can live with its constraints, then off you go.
Its not in the platform creators best interest to make it compatible with other platforms. So dont hold your breath for write-once that doesnt suck.
Java is still annoying to me, even JITed. It's most of the cruft of C++/OOP without the speed. I'm a Lua fan, and a conversation here isn't likely to sway me. ;)
And it's not just mistakes; it's huge areas of the APIs that are missing or confusing or just plain poorly designed. I've developed for a lot of consoles (not current gen, but XBox/PS2 and older), so I know what you mean about docs being WRONG. But for the most part they let you do what you needed. Android just doesn't in some cases.
Try to do low-latency (or even reliable latency!) audio on Android and get back to me, for an example that Google is basically ignoring.
>What would have been better is a library that abstracts away the fact that Android is its own unique OS, period. When I write code, I don't want it to be Android code, or iOS code, or WebOS code, or Windows [Mobile] code, or Linux code.
There are options out there. I'm one of those 3rd parties soon releasing a comprehensive middleware solution for app dev including a lot of game dev oriented effort that provides a clean abstraction layer via a component architecture that uses a large majority of advanced Java language features under the hood without sacrificing performance.
Keep a watch out for TyphonRT; drop me an email via the contact address and I'll be glad to discuss more and make sure you get early access. I'm aiming to get it out ASAP and before I give an all day game dev workshop at AnDevCon II in November. I suppose one thing that makes TyphonRT unique is that it's a tool, framework, and future platform (PaaS). At the heart of things you can pick and choose individual blocks of functionality (tool), or utilize the runtime framework (framework), and soon there will be optional PaaS features aiding Android and cross-platform dev in the coming year after launch.
Another Java based cross-platform effort which is similar in purpose though significantly different at the architecture level is libgdx. For C/C++ check out Battery Tech and the Proton SDK for similar cross-platform efforts (both of these with even more device coverage).
TyphonRT provides that layer of sugar you seek without losing performance and creating full cross-platform execution for OpenGL apps without changing a line of code for J2SE -> Android. TyphonRT is not limited to OpenGL though and can utilize any graphics API potentially allowing a hybrid UI, but the rest of an app still being cross-platform.
Having worked intensely with Android since v1.0 and the G1 hit my hands in Oct '08 I have more than a few stories on the difficulty of low level development / games, etc. across different OS and major device hardware generations. I've experienced first hand a good deal of general engineering blunders and have found and reported a few major ones myself (you know when big G fixes a bug immediately upon being reported you found a good one; the 3.0 & 3.1 / NIO immutable endian swap issue comes to mind!).
Middleware will mature and soon provide a lot that the Android SDK lacks for certain app development areas. In many ways the Android SDK while novel in several areas is still being developed from an old engineering model, but that is seemingly unavoidable for a large organization such as Google. There are of course additional inherent problems with tying the SDK to firmware, but such is life.
I do agree with your last point though that generally the SDK in addition to the particular ecosystem quirks that have occurred over time isn't exactly indicative of satisfying developers.
I know that middleware providers will step in to fill in the gaps, but it's just annoying to be non-native on ALL platforms. And there are already a lot of options.
http://www.batterypoweredgames.com/batterytech is one that I know that's low level, for instance -- it gives you events, OpenGL and sound on Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android. It's pretty bare-bones, though, as far as I know.
If I haven't been clear, I think Lua IS an awesome language, especially now that LuaJIT 2.0 works on Android (and at least partly on iPhone), and so I'm strongly considering using Moai for my next game.
I actually already use Lua on the server side, though I'm using a different stack than Moai (they're on Mongrel2/Tir, and I'm using Nginx with lua-nginx).
Can't solve that.. ;) ;)
>I feel it has 95% of the problems of C++, without the advantages (predictable speed, mostly).
I suppose you'd have to get a little more particular in the 95% of problems angle. I have been working with Java for quite some time and TyphonRT contains necessary workarounds or API extensions enabling predictable speed. For instance TyphonRT being a Java based component architecture is highly dependent on iteration over collections of components. The custom collections API in TyphonRT has recycled and resetable iterators overcoming the "iterator problem" of the standard collections API. There is a bit more of other things done too to provide predictable runtime performance. A lot of that involves staying as memory efficient as possible and not triggering GC. Of course when things get too hairy yeah native code is used. One has to do that for physics engines (Box2D / Bullet) especially on Android. I'm really loving JavaCPP which is a relatively new effort for managing native bindings (http://code.google.com/p/javacpp/).
>I'm sure your platform will be useful for anyone porting J2SE code to Android, but that's not me.
If you are most familiar with C/C++ certainly by all means go with that and the NDK and use BatteryTech, Proton SDK, or something like that to provide the core cross-platform architecture support.
>And it doesn't look like you're supporting iPhone?
Not yet, but just like Unity which you mention cross-compilation is not out of the question. Like libgdx once the main framework is mostly finalized I'll be looking at say an Angle backed for the desktop and / or other options for expanding device and environment support. The primary goal is to create a leading edge Java framework / platform first. The platform / PaaS aspects also are a priority in the short term among many other things like strong Scala support / integration over say iPhone support. A thing to keep in kind too is that TyphonRT is not just aimed at game dev, but is applicable for all dev efforts including enterprise.
So yes, if you need cross-platform support go native or use a canned 3D engine like Unity if it matches the type of game you are trying to make.
>I know that middleware providers will step in to fill in the gaps, but it's just annoying to be non-native on ALL platforms.
Hrm? C / C++ is available on the majority of platforms... ?
>http://www.batterypoweredgames.com/batterytech is one that I know that's low level, for instance -- it gives you events, OpenGL and sound on Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android. It's pretty bare-bones, though, as far as I know.
Yes it's not a complete game engine nor is Moai which you mention you have your eye on presently. BatteryTech, libgdx, and TyphonRT provide the core architecture to abstract the common requirements (input, audio, etc.) for real time apps & games. TyphonRT also has higher level optional components for game dev including a fully featured component oriented entity system (libgdx / BatteryTech, etc. don't). This class of tech is meant for folks that can build their own engines and perhaps their own creative games rather than trying to force canned engines to do things they are not great at doing. As mentioned though there are optional components with my efforts to further assist game dev efforts beyond core architecture abstractions.
Regardless of what you choose though I hope you make some cool games for Android! :)
>I suppose you'd have to get a little more particular in the 95% of problems angle.
Hmm...getting very much off topic here, so I want to keep this brief, but roughly speaking I'm talking about the problems of the language being very verbose and missing a lot of useful features: no duck typing (C++ at least has templates, which have their own drawbacks -- Java generics need to be Object-derived), no coroutines, and no first-class functions are three examples that come to mind. Just look at the size of programs in the "Language Benchmark Game" -- Lua's entries are tiny compared to Java. Call me lazy. ;)
In addition, in Java you HAVE to force everything into an object paradigm, whether it makes sense or not. Lua can act object-oriented if you want it to, but you can also use it in other ways that simply make more sense to the problem at hand.
>Yes it's not a complete game engine nor is Moai which you mention you have your eye on presently.
No implied criticism there. As you mention BatteryTech is also low-level. There's a place for that.
For what it's worth, Moai does come with things like physics; not sure how they bind things together, but I would have guessed that they have a very basic engine with game objects. Could be wrong.
JavaCPP looks interesting, though I'm instead just minimizing my use of Java so I can have a Windows and iPhone version trivially.
>>I know that middleware providers will step in to fill in the gaps, but it's just annoying to be non-native on ALL platforms.
>Hrm? C / C++ is available on the majority of platforms... ?
Yes, but it's the API for getting events, putting up native dialogs, etc. that will be non-native everywhere. On Android more so than usual.
And actually...C/C++ isn't currently supported on Windows Mobile, at least in the public SDK, for what it's worth. Though C/C++ are supported on pretty much every platform where the company behind it isn't being stupid, yes.
No implied criticism toward your project in general, by the way. It's just not my thing, since I'm not a Java person. It does sound like you've solved a lot of the problems that people often have with Java, though, which is great.
>Regardless of what you choose though I hope you make some cool games for Android! :)
Yes, let's not belabor things, but I do want to point out that Scala essentially covers all of the points you raised. It supports duck typing (type safe too!), coroutines, first-class functions, and is more syntactically elegant. Scala even supports a particular mechanism to "sort of" support primitives w/ generics with the @Specialized annotation. So yes, I'm turning to Scala to provide additional language features and it's especially cool keeping type-safe aspects and being able to do joint compilation, so this works well for desktop / J2SE & Android integration. Of course Scala on top of the finely tuned TyphonRT / Java COP API and such is nice; more concise code for sure; this in addition to having access to all of the Java and/or Android SDK and 3rd party libraries. On the Java tip too regarding generics / Object situation TyphonRT has primitive collections available as well which is the main use case.
> Lua can act object-oriented if you want it to, but you can also use it in other ways that simply make more sense to the problem at hand.
I'd argue it's not a silver bullet as a primary language to write an entire game / engine in w/ more discussion continuing along those lines; there seems to be flexibility gained and lost. As a scripting engine that's one thing, but not a catch all for everything.
The important part here though and hopefully this ties back in a little with the OP and your concerns is that there are options available to take the edge off of mobile dev Android or otherwise and things should radically change in that regard in the next couple of years.
@seclorum is certainly correct that cross-platform mobile dev with OpenGL/ES is not out reach at all and once the C/C++ or Java decision is made depending on dev flexibility one can be creating rich content games not limited by a particular mobile OS concern.
Ultimately you want to pick the tool you are most comfortable and proficient with as in regard to indie game dev there are many other fish to fry let alone the hit based nature of the current app stores.
>For what it's worth, Moai does come with things like physics; not sure how they bind things together, but I would have guessed that they have a very basic engine with game objects. Could be wrong.
From what I read Moai supports Box2D. You know who else supports Box2D; everyone... BatteryTech, libgdx, TyphonRT, the list goes on, etc. etc. ;) It does sound like there is a basic game object API in Moai, but it only is geared towards 2D presently.
I know Robert of BatteryTech is doing a whole lot of Lua integration and work with BatteryTech, so do take a 2nd look and drop him an email perhaps.
>JavaCPP looks interesting
Indeed.. It's the 1st JNI / native marshaling assistance API that I like that takes the pain away of hand rolling JNI
>Yes, but it's the API for getting events
This is abstracted with most middleware mentioned. In fact input control is the largest category of core architecture components in TyphonRT (almost 10%).
>putting up native dialogs, etc. that will be non-native everywhere.
Why would you do this if you are creating an OpenGL/ES cross-platform game? Use a GL based GUI that will be cross-platform!
>It's just not my thing, since I'm not a Java person.
Fair enough hence why I'll stop posting on the thread! :) Though I did want mention some responses on the off the top general criticisms at the front of this reply. JVM languages will breathe some life into the Java sphere of things. This in concert with well developed middleware will make a lot of things that are hard now much easier soon enough.
It gets better.. ;P
>I'd argue it's not a silver bullet as a primary language to write an entire game / engine in w/ more discussion continuing along those lines; there seems to be flexibility gained and lost. As a scripting engine that's one thing, but not a catch all for everything.
I write a lot of the core "engine" in C++ for speed and lack of garbage creation. The game I've got on the Android market right now has about 3149 lines of C++ code specific to the game (not counting 7400 lines of auto-generated Lua bindings), but 10k lines of Lua code. Most of the game code is in Lua; is that scripting?
The engine itself has about 10k lines of C++ code, and very little Lua. I want the engine to be as fast as possible, so it's hard for me to imagine doing it in a language that isn't C or C++.
>>>putting up native dialogs, etc. that will be non-native everywhere.
>Why would you do this if you are creating an OpenGL/ES cross-platform game? Use a GL based GUI that will be cross-platform!
Geting UI right is really, really hard. For the primary game UI, and dialogs with buttons, sure, all of it happens in GL.
But if I want a list dialog, or a grid view, or a WebKit view, I'm not going to want to do my own halfway implementation -- I'm going to want a dialog with a native feel. There's no game anywhere that I've used that really gets anything as simple as a keyboard entry field completely right, if it doesn't use the native UI; there are some things better left to the UI experts.
A good friend of mine is a big Scala fan, but I haven't really explored it as an option.
The thing that kills Scala for me (without knowing anything else about it) is that most platforms I write for don't already have a guaranteed JVM -- iPhone and Windows being big ones. I mean, sure you almost always have SOME JVM on Windows, but I'd likely want to be shipping a specific JVM.
And that means adding multiple megabytes onto my package size. You've got 20Mb on iPhone if you want to be able to download over the air. Adding 5Mb to support a language...isn't an option.
LuaJIT takes up about 50k. With all its libraries. And performs on par with Scala. Which is a huge win for me. How much overhead does Scala add to an app on Android? I bet it's more than that, even with the guaranteed JVM (well, DVM) preinstalled.
And for the wrap up wrap up ;P
> I write a lot of the core "engine" in C++ for speed and lack of garbage creation.
Most definitely. That was all I was getting at is that the core engine should be as fast as possible.
What game on Android Market BTW? Would be glad to check it out and support yah! :)
> Geting UI right is really, really hard... But if I want a list dialog, or a grid view...
Indeed.. UI is hard though I'd say list dialogs and grid view is still GL possible without too much difficulty given various tool kits. Yes a WebKit view is difficult to pull off cross-platform presently. There are options like Awesomium though I've yet to see it used on a mobile platform, however I'm sure something will come up soon.
Yes.. a keyboard entry field depending w/ a GL UI in conjunction with say popping up the default native UI keyboard for touch only devices is something that would need to be fine tuned.
I plan to tackle general GL UI matters at a future point to offer a nicely integrated set of optional components. You are right though it's generally difficult.
For aspects in TyphonRT that require local / native peers the main application container is loaded declaratively with a cross-platform interface component backed by the proper native implementation, so from the devs perspective they can just request the common interface and the platform specific aspects are active behind the scene.
>... most platforms I write for don't already have a guaranteed JVM
Yes, for a desktop release it might be pertinent to distribute a private stripped down JVM. For mobile.. Well.. It's not easily feasible or likely allowed if I recall in the TOS to have a JVM on the iPhone. Cross-compilation is the likely way to go if / when TyphonRT supports iOS.
>How much overhead does Scala add to an app on Android?
Yeah you got me there.. ;) If one uses the Scala standard library that jar file is ~8MB. Whether that can be split up and paired down I'm not sure yet. I'm close to starting on Scala integration (mind you this is optional w/ TyphonRT).
There are also platform aspects of TyphonRT that will reduce overhead for multiple apps installed, but this gets into a bit more conversation here than necessary; essentially though side-loading shared components installed by other apps thus minimizing each app requiring a large download.
So yeah, some work and experimentation ahead. I'll definitely be working on a minimum profile (if possible) for Scala integration.
EDIT: Disclosure - I am one of the rare types who is actually a big fan of both Java and Objective-C's syntax, though I'm more partial to Scala's approach than Java's, overall. I view Objective-C, conceptually, as somewhat in between C and Python, with good parts from both (though of course ObjC is far older)
I made the mistake of using ArrayAdapters, and hand-writing my own wrappers around the android sqlite libraries to manage my app's data. What did it get me? Garbage collection cycles that crashed the app, among other things.
I am of the opinion that in order to build a stable, robust app, Content Providers, at the very least, are required (for many reasons, the primary one currently being the ability to use LoaderManagers and CursorLoaders). But where was the documentation that explained why this was so? The complete lack of a centralized, high-level overview of Android systems have lead me to several development dead-ends, resulting in rewrites. While I'm wiser for the effort, and have finally settled on a sane, reusable, fairly general pattern for data-driven Android apps, I used up some really valuable development time finding this out. And you know what? Looking at the codebase before my (just-deployed) rewrite, and looking at the Android codebase at the job I left before it, everyone is making these same mistakes, and not many are realizing it until later.
Aside - Rant:
BaseColumns (http://developer.android.com/reference/android/provider/Base...) has no discernible use other than for a class to inherit some static variables. This is kind of ridiculous, as there's no requirement to use the column constants anyways, and they're static. I use enums instead, for each database table. Works much better. At my last job I even wrote an automatic SQL create statement generator for use in onUpgrade(). Oh, and if you want to use anything other than _id for the column name for your objects' unique IDs, you're not going to have an easy time with automatically binding your database objects to your UI.
Lots of stuff requires contexts. Against your common sense, you should try to avoid supplying the current activity as a context when you can use the application context instead. Why? Because if an Activity, which is a context, is retained as a member variable in something - perhaps a class that is, itself, a member variable of the aforementioned Activity, voila! You've got a circular reference and a potential memory leak! Where was this in the documentation? Nowhere. It was in a blog post that isn't exactly on most people's radar: http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2009/01/avoiding-memo...
Changing orientation destroys and recreates an Activity. Did a AsyncTask run at an inconvenient time? Oops. Chances are you're going to crash if you needed to do anything special with your Activity's state.
Using Apache's HTTP client? Careful. Don't use RequestWrapper, because executing a POST request wrapped in one can cause it to drop headers from the request. Just use different methods for HttpGet and HttpPost, and add on (for example) authentication parameters, device model names, other info for metrics, etc. separately for each. Funny thing is, I had better luck duplicating code for GET/POST here than reusing it, which I found disgusting, because duplicating code is not a good solution to anything, but it just got the work done.
I've gotten unreasonable Cursor closings that weren't my fault because someone at Motorola thought they were being clever and closing Cursors in a finalize() method was somehow a good idea: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6552405/android-compatibi...
TL;DR (my main argument):
Android has many avoidable gotchas that require a solid programmer to identify and work around, but which aren't immediately fatal if ignored. Android provides a lot of infrastructure, and some of it is even good! Despite its mess of poorly-written, poorly-documented, or incorrect APIs, it manages to allow decent programmers to write pretty decent solutions and some pretty robust code. But it does a damn piss-poor job of documenting its wrongness when it rears its ugly head, and it fails to make clear that while there's freedom to do things many ways in Android, there are really only a few ways to do them well.
All android devices seem to suffer from gross over-logging, some far more than others, like Motorola, or some newer HTC phones., which is a huge pain in the ass when I'm just concerned with my own error logs, and not spurious calls to the logger that the software author or device manufacturer forgot to or didn't care enough to elide.
Rant #3 (emphatically):
The worst and most fundamental flaw with it, though, IMO, is that the classes for the views and the serialization format representing them (the layout xml's) do not have anything even close to a 1:1 mapping. Serializing a class - it's not that hard. iOS does it by literally serializing the state of the view objects as configured in Interface Builder into what was once a binary file, but now is an XML file (nib, xib). Anything you can initialize or style or otherwise edit to affect the initial state of a view in interface builder or (were it reasonable) another method of directly editing the serialized representation you can also do in code. Not so in Android.
Here's a link to a post of mine last month that addresses some more gripes with Android: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2737284
P.S. I've talked to Bob Lee (of Square; former core library lead of Android) about this before. Even he agreed that Android's APIs were poorly thought-out and designed in places. That's pretty damning right there.
Most of my iOS developer friends have no desire to learn Android. That is what makes Android development hot - as you have very little overlap of iOS and Android. Believe me, I've paid for attempting to switch back between iOS and Android with splitting headaches (if not done on separate days). I don't believe people who specialize in both.
You left something off your list, the sheer insanity of async loading images into a ListView. iOS developers have EGOImageView, we have a few competing implementations, including writing your own.
> I am of the opinion that in order to build a stable, robust app, Content Providers, at the very least, are required (for many reasons,
One way to see if someone knows what they are talking about is to ask them about multi-table content providers.
Also, what phone does the candidate have in his or her possession...
The SKImageDecoder returning null is a pain.
Thanks for your reply. Check out http://droidux.com (just saw a tweet about it)
* AirPlay - My phone will be my gaming console and media center, genius!
* iCloud - Good, no more transferring files back and forth.
* CoreImage & AVFoundation - 30 lines of code to add video editing and filters to my application, sounds good!
* GLKit - High-level 3D libraries for a game developer noob like me. I'm in!
* TwitterAuth - I'm still going to integrate FB authentication but this is cool too.
* Ice Cream Sandwich - No more fragmentation. Unifies hundreds of devices (not just phones). Brand new UI library. I can't wait!
* ADK - My home, car, and toaster will soon be at my mobile command while giving me status updates. This is so awesome! I foresee Android powered cleaning robots in the future.
* Face-tracking - So my phone can recognize me and focus in on my face and voice automatically. This sounds like fun.
* USB Host - I can plug anything USB into my Android phone. Hot damn!
This does not seem like a sustainable model. If my app and the next app a user launches are both memory heavy, I expect my app to be killed to make space. How does this process work on iOS?
Also, nobody really seems to understand how amazing Intents are before they use Android :)
I fought Android until I decided to throw my entire weight behind Java and settled on it as a platform. Don't fight it: learn Java proper, do a few SWT & Swing apps, feel the burn .. then do Android.
You can ignore the abstractions and just "draw up" your application with Eclipse, inside one giant activity, but you would be doing yourself a disservice.
I told myself "Java sucks, it's bloated, it's big, yada yada yada. Just man up and learn it; no sense in bitching about what you don't know" :-) Glad I did. It gets work done.
* A much more complex set of (good!) abstractions that are poorly documented;
* and, if I might add alongside the OP, requires a much higher workload in terms of code length and complexity, debugging, device configuration management and tools for what seems to be a much lower payoff?
I have a successful iOS app out, and I tried to rearchitect it in a manageable way to port it on Android. What I found out is:
* The code would be roughly twice as much as the iOS version.
* A proper UI effort would require roughly 2.5x work than the iOS version, as I need to prep up a flexible layout that will work on phones (the buckets 'small' to 'large'), and then another for tablets (actually up to two: 'xlarge' and Honeycomb, which may require some rethinking to accommodate the new action bar). Contrast this to two, fixed-size layouts for the iOS version.
* I already have a path for implementing backgrounding on iOS and it requires minimal change to account for services not available while backgrounded; otherwise, code is exactly the same. On Android, I would have to plan for it from the beginning and set up very poorly documented IBinder stuff to have my Activities talk to a background Service.
* The general unwillingness of Android users in the face of paid apps, and a use model that does not lend itself easily to the insertion of ads, would make my (more costly) effort go unpaid.
I must admit I have never used resources other than developer.android.com and Google, and the latter didn't help me as much as (as little as) developer.android.com did. There might be an excellent book on all of this, but I haven't bought any — any recommendations are welcome.
And you can try these sites for code snippets on anything:
Why would your app need twice as much code? Why is using the Android ui designer so much harder than iOS's equiv?
What is so undocumented about IBinder? It's basic IPC?
I would really like to hear reasons, not abbreviations.
I actually use this to inflate a series of layouts, and then to arrange them inside an existing layout dynamically.
An Android developer grows up once they have to deal with Activities going poof.
To be fair, services and content providers enable widgets. Widgets are a differentiator.
I also have to say that maybe iOS is bit easier to get started with but have the author come talk to me after doing ten or twenty apps wrangling core data, list view, sprites, physics engines, universal apps and mixing c c++ and objectice-c and tell me that rabbit hole is not pretty damn deep.
Gosling's "The Java Programming Language".
And Josh Bloch's "Effective Java".
After that, Java Concurrency in Practice.
Langr's "Agile Java" is good for just that.
Bloch, Goetz, and Doug Lea have each written excellent books on java concurrency.
That's just about all the java books I would want to recommend. Many j-books are trash.
Effective Java is a must-read once you understand Java. It points out what is magic and what is not. What takes up processing time and what doesn't.
It pulls the sheet back on the abstractions and shows you how everything works and what you should be aware of.
Doug Lea is a brilliant developer in the concurrency space. With his Executor framework that went into (Java 5?) he suddenly made threaded programming as easy as possible to get right.
I've been exploring iOS using Objective-C and I'm about half-way done with my first real app for the Appstore and I can't wait to try and rewrite it using ECL once it is done.
Otherwise it will probably be Unity for me since my main interest is games and game-like apps. I really don't have the time to become and expert in each and every differing mobile platform.
Our Android apps are all on the galaxy tablet, we plan to roll out a deployment of 50 devices by year's end.
Except... no, you don't. :/
The first sentence of the documentation on Service: "A Service is an application component representing either an application's desire to perform a longer-running operation while not interacting with the user or to supply functionality for other applications to use."
Do you need to do either of those things? If you say no, then don't use Service.
In the Processes and Threads documentation: http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/fundamentals/proce...
It describes how when the user leaves the activity in a process, it goes in the background. It doesn't kill the process. You can continue doing networking. You don't need a Service to have background threads in your process. (In fact again from the Service documentation, a Service is not a thread at all.)
Just continue doing your work, and if the system needs your RAM for other processes, it will kill your process, but otherwise you can continue downloading in the background.
This is exactly how for example the web browser, and any app using a WebView, works.
This is similar in many ways to iOS. Not surprising, iOS seems um inspired in its multitasking design by Android.
He also failed to see the huge amount of community support there is for Android developers too. There's so much information inside multiple forums you would almost never be unable to find an answer to a problem.
The rest is/should be fair game. Try to run a hello world on the device.
I'm a Java developer and I don't know, either. I suspect the expertise you're looking for might be described as an "Android developer" ;)
Give us a nice scripting langauge. Pretty Please?
But one should remember that too high-level APIs and abstractions has its cost in terms of performance and bloatedness of required runtime (J2EE/Spring/Hibernate way) especially on resource-limited (lack of FPU, etc) platforms.
Well that's not true, the other thing I know for sure is Objective C makes me dry heave.
That's confusing to me. Message passing is one of the simplest actionable metaphors we have in the world of programming. I'm new to android development, but they seemed pretty straightforward to me.
I would still use Java directly on Android though.
I do agree with the author that Android's SDK is a little complicated, but it has good reasons for it and whenever I choose new platforms I take it as a given that I have to make an effort to learn it.
I don't see much value in bitching that the learning curve is steep, when once you get to know the platform it becomes easy to make it do what you want -- in general I bitched about Java frameworks because power and ease of use are completely missing, even once you learn them properly, but that's not the case with Android.
And as far as iOS development goes, I work on apps more complicated than drawing Hello World with a couple of buttons -- and to me Android is better because it allows me to do mostly whatever the hell I want; compared to iOS where I always ask myself "is this even possible"?
Skillful Surround could be an attractive game if it got some TLC.
It's hard to fault Google for providing an open-source Java-compatible OS. It's not their fault if other OS builders are not compatible and actively block cross-platform solutions.
I haven't tried it, but I don't know a reason why one couldn't write an Android native app on Objective-C. You'd need a cross-compiler and technical/legal ability to port Cocoa though, the latter which I suspect would be quite challenging.
I really wish Adobe could have found a way to build Android apps so you basically distribute a small Air runtime bundled with your AS code as an App instead of requiring the Air system be installed separately.
I make iOS and Android applications for a living.
It is ridiculous to have to create a service to make a few HTTP calls.
For that, Android/Java provides various threading classes so that you can keep multi-threaded code nice and neat.
With iOS, out of the box, you get NSURL and its family.
You have to setup callbacks in your class and you have to keep track of your http calls per class by using things like action=whatever. What a pain.
ASIHTTPRequest makes things much easier.
Ugh, this just makes me mad. Why would people listen to shitty developers?
Why are you spreading this ignorance?
Objective-C is a giant paint, with opaque types.
Having to remember what class you've put into a dict can get messy.
I have to work with both frameworks every day, and Android is the better framework BY FAR.