Google's Android Studio Simplifies Mobile App Development

By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2013-07-23 Print this article Print

After you choose master/detail flow, the wizard then asks for the type name of the object to be used in the application, both as a singular noun and as a plural noun. For this project I used the names Expense and Expenses. Or, if you choose any of the other activity types, the next page of the wizard asks you for the Activity Name and the Layout Name as well as Navigation Type. For Navigation Type, you can choose Fixed Tab + Swipe, Scrollable Tabs + Swipe or Dropdown.

After these steps, a new project is created. The project is a complete starting point for your own application. Included in the project is a set of build files that use the Gradle build system; if Gradle isn't already installed, Android Studio will install it during the creation of the first project.

The initial source code contains the skeleton code as you configured it during the wizard, with the directory structure matching the package names as is standard for Java development. There's also an XML file describing the layout. When you open this layout, you can get to the WYSIWYG designer.

At first glance, this designer is a bit intimidating. There's a boatload of stuff on the screen. But looking at it closely, the left pane is actually a wide pane showing all the widgets and controls available. In the middle is the actual designer that displays the screen just as it will look when running on the Android device. You can click on the components in the designer and then, over in the Properties pane, set the different properties for the selected component—just like a typical IDE designer.

Besides the designer, there is, of course, a code editor. As with any good modern code editor, this editor includes full syntax highlighting based on the language as specified in the filename extension, as well as a popup autocomplete showing object members.

Android Studio is the IDE for building your application. In order to run and test your application, you use any number of tools such as the Android emulator that is included with the Android SDK. This emulator tends to be extremely slow and resource-hungry. With this in mind, I tested my apps in Android running inside VMware Player. This worked great. I simply had to start the adb Android debugger manually at the command prompt; Android Studio then detected adb was running, allowing me to debug my application. It worked perfectly; I had no gripes or problems.

Although not a completely new product, Android Studio is just what you would expect from a modern, powerful IDE. It's every bit as good as other IDEs such as Eclipse. And the Android-specific features make it easy to use. And the amazing part? This is only an early access preview, yet it's in fine shape already. It looks like I've found my new Android development tool.



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