I’ve talked before about how I’ve started to build apps for use in school, but I’ve never really gone into how I do it. Surprisingly there are a number of methods.
1) Using Google’s SDK and Eclipse software to write apps directly
This is where I started. Although started is a bit of a misnomer (started and stopped being closer to the truth). It’s easy enough to sign up for the free SDK and links in the developer area point you in the right direction for downloading the Eclipse platform. But that’s where it gets confusing. Eclipse being a third-party, open-source product has a number of different versions and figuring out the right one to download either involves blindly guessing or reading through a pages of text. tl:dr I’m afraid.
Through more luck than judgement, I downloaded and installed a version of Eclipse (Gallileo seemed right at the time) that worked with the SDK and through a bit more luck, managed to get it hooked up to my phone.
Struggling to get set up is something that only Apple seems to understand is an issue. Open-source and SDKs are great, but you need an underlying knowledge of how and what to install before you can even get started. Recently, we tried to get the Xbox Kinect SDKs to work with Windows 7. This could have been so easy, providing a single file which would have installed all the drivers we need. Instead, we were taken to a page with 4 different installation programs. Three of which installed fine, the fourth was just impossible.
A big chunk of Apple’s success comes from wrapping everything up together. Take iTunes for example. MP3 players had existed for at least 5 years before the iPod. Apple were the only ones to provide a standard way to get music onto a player that was easy to use. Now, they have launched their iBooks and (reportedly) their iBook creator makes it easy to create content. eBook programs have existed for years for Windows, but Apple makes it easy by declaring “this is what you need, nothing more”. As a long time PC and Android lover, I have to take my hat off to Apple for this. But I digress. Back to Android.
2) Using Adobe Flex (and/or Flash Builder)
There seems to be a quickly growing community around using these Adobe products to build apps for all platforms.
I can’t quite figure out how you use Flex and there is a cost involved with Flash Builder so I’ve never fully investigated it. At school, we have the full Adobe Production Premium suite which includes Flash CS5, which I’ll talk about in Part 2.