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Android Development Minipost

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I picked myself up an Android-2.1 powered smartphone, the HTC Desire. It's a nice phone, for sure - but what appealed to me the most was that you can develop stuff for it for free. Unlike the iPhone, which requires you to have an Intel-powered Mac and a $100 per year developer licence, you can download the Android SDK and Eclipse for free. I'll admit that I know nothing about Objective-C or developing for the iPhone, so I cannot compare experiences so far. I can talk about my first foray into Java and the Android SDK, though.

I never used Java before, like EVER. I've got a few years of C, C++ and C# under my belt so felt as if I could jump into it and pick up the basics quickly. I was right on that at least. I have, however, realised that the Eclipse IDE is lacking somewhat when compared to the Microsoft IDEs. I doubt you can blame anyone as it's a great product, but I just don't feel as happy with it as I do in Visual Studio. The way the Android platform integrates into the IDE is admirable; there's support for virtual devices (emulators) and debugging on an actual device. You just use the USB cable from out the box and follow the detailed instructions on the Android developer's portal. Boom, there you go. No trouble.

Within a couple of hours I'd found a basic OpenGL ES and Java tutorial and had wired myself up a spinning rectangle that was textured with one of Szaza's wonderful "Coup" images. Wonderful. I then looked into adding some really simple Touch controls, I wanted to be able to use the touchscreen to control the direction of the rotation. To my surprise it was extremely easy - a simple capture of a MotionEvent and then processing it from there. Amongst loads of other things, it gives you X & Y positions of now and when the event started - it's all pretty intuitive.
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Cool, I've been thinking of buying an Android phone for the exact same reason. Now I'm even more inclined towards doing so. What little experience I have with Eclipse, my impression is that I kind of like it. It has most of the important functions and is still very lightweight.

Now you tell us once you have an Android game up and running, ok? [grin]

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I also have a 2.1 android device (the motorola milestone) and have considered making an app or two for it. I have a bit of Java experience from college, but have only recently started using Eclipse at work (I'm also a Visual Studio addict). The comparison is non-existent, with VS being a superior product. However, Eclipse allows significant freedom in extending it and adding new things to it, which is certainly more flexible (IMHO) than VS.

Anyways, I'm glad to hear that it doesn't take too much effort to get it up and running. I look forward to hearing more about how things work out!

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Do wonder how easy it would be to extend VS2010 to support Android dev as it's meant to be easier to extend than VS08/05 before it.

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