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Android Development: Creating your first App

Describes how to start designing and developing your very first app. Also describes what tools to download etc.

Where do I Start?

When starting your first Android Application, it’s important not to get too daunted. Take each step at a time and you’ll be fine. When starting my first Android app I first brainstormed all the ideas I had. I ended up with two pages of ideas. I then eliminated all the ones I didn’t like that much and eliminated ones that were already overdone.

Once you have it whittled down to a few app ideas, it’s best practice to choose one that you can actually do. Choose something that can be simple yet you can always make it more complex in the future. OK now you’re ready to go, you have your idea. Now it’s time for the Design!

Android Development First App

Designing your first App

Now you have the idea, it’s time to make that idea a reality, i.e. a full functional app. I found it useful to draw out the screens and to draw in the layout for each screen. It’s good design practice to do this. It will serve you well when you actually start creating the app. Here is where you have to make some important design decisions.

Keep in mind the number of items on screen. Will it be too crammed? Will it look good? Does the look suit the target audience etc. Also keep in mind usability, functionality and if you can actually achieve what you set out to do. Choose what colour the screens will be, how many screens there will be, how will the menu screen look and work? It’s good practice to have the same theme throughout your app, e.g. white background throughout the app. See my Irish Tin Whistle App as an example here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fas.project.android&feature. I’m also a fan of the splash-screen/welcome screen. It’s a nice touch but not necessary.

Don’t worry too much about implementing positioning and layout, the software program we will be using has a graphical aid to help you design the layout of your screens, how good is that! You can decide where the items go on the screen etc. It’s a real handy tool to see how it will look like in the actual application. OK you got the design sussed. Now for the nitty gritty, how do I go about programming my app?

Tools you’ll need to program your app

OK every tradesman has a set of tools. The same is true of the Android Developer. We will use a software program called Eclipse to develop your first Android Application. It is important you know/learn some Java and XML. Java is a programming language. See http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/ to learn and find out more.

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. XML is designed to transport and store data. XML is important to know, and very easy to learn. It is mainly used for the screen components etc. in your android app. See http://www.w3schools.com/xml/default.asp to learn more about XML. There are many books on these languages and also many sites out there to help you learn and implement them.

A great reference for you throughout your Android Development process is the Android Developer site. You can find the Development Guide here: http://developer.android.com/guide/basics/what-is-android.html.

Downloading and Setting up Eclipse

Right now to download Eclipse. Download Eclipse here http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/. Download Eclipse Classic 3.7.2. Then check out http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html to download the SDK (Software Development Kit), AVD (Android Virtual Device) and the ADT (Android Development Tools) Plugin. Remember to reference http://developer.android.com/sdk/installing.html also when doing this.

When that is done check out http://developer.android.com/resources/tutorials/hello-world.html to install a platform to use on the virtual android device (e.g. Android 2.3.3 or Android 4.0). When you have it set up, you’ll have a virtual Android Smartphone running on the platform of your choice at your disposal. The link above also shows you how to create your very first Android project!!

The android developer website http://developer.android.com/index.html will have all the information you’ll need. It’s pretty neat.

Conclusion

OK now you have an idea of what is involved in creating your very first Android application. It wasn’t so bad was it? It’s quite easy once you keep a level head and have a bit of patience really. I find it good to take breaks after long periods of programming and come back bright eyed and bushy tailed. This way you can see problems or solutions a bit better.

Now you have the know how, it’s time to get your app done. Once created go onto the android developer site. It will show you the ins and outs of publishing your app. I hope you enjoyed this article and I wish ye all the best in creating apps for the future.

Best of Luck,

Steve



Has designed and developed several android applications from scratch which are available on Google Play.

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