Android For Beginners: Tips And Tricks To Get You Started
Are you thinking about buying some Android code but have never worked with Android before?
As with iOS, a lot of people buy code at Chupamobile and outsource everything – graphics, sounds, development, etc. That’s great as it allows you to work ON your business instead of IN your business and will probably allow you to scale faster.
But Android is fairly easy to develop for, so that with a small investment of time you can master the basics and quickly take much greater control of your reskins.
When I first started investigating Android programming, I was flustered by so many books and websites telling me I should have a foundation of Java. I just wanted to get things going. I eventually learned just enough to cobble together my first app, then to reskin it several times. That is sort of my goal with this series – teach you just enough Java, XML and other aspects of Android so that you feel comfortable making (or attempting to make) a few basic modifications as well as:
- Import images from your graphic artists into the project
- Integrate ad networks
- Identify trouble areas in your code
- Make your conversations with developers more efficient and effective
- Package up your reskin for submission to the app stores
- And much more.
If you screw up, it does not matter as long as you have your code saved somewhere. And if you get in over your head, there are lots of developers that can unravel things for you quickly and cheaply. So let’s go.
Here is our plan, starting with this article and continuing over the next several weeks:
- Download the software for Android development – Eclipse and the Android Software Development Kit (Android SKD or sometimes ADK)
- Configure Eclipse (update it to meet your needs and set up a virtual device)
- Create a very basic app – getting exposure to Java, XML, Android file structure, and some of the key files
- Import an app into your workspace and address some of the most common problems
- Explore how to set up some of the most popular ad networks – AppLovin, RevMob and AdMob
- Set up a Google Developer Account – for app submission and management
Lets’ get started.
Download Eclipse with the Android SDK
Most Android development work is performed in a program called Eclipse. It is completely free and works with Windows, Linux and Macintosh. Eclipse is used for a lot of different types of development. You will also need something called the Android Software Development Kit. It too is free. Both are now bundled in one easy download. To ensure you get the proper version go to the following website – http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html.
When I go to this site, there is a big blue button for Windows users. If you have a Mac or Linux system, click “VIEW ALL DOWNLOADS AND SIZES”. Perform the download, unzip the files and open the Eclipse application. You should see a screen similar to the one pictured below.
Orienting you to Eclipse
When you look at Eclipse, it looks pretty innocuous – with some standard-looking drop-down menus and icons across the top. The majority of the view is taken up by 3 major panes:
- The tall pane on the left is where you will soon see your directory structure for your apps and the folders and files within them.
- The pane that takes up most of the window is where you will see the code from a file you have opened. You can even open multiple files (of varying types) and it will show them in a tabbed view similar to a browser.
- The lower pane on the right has a lot of functionality that you should hope you never need. When things are going well, you usually do not need this pane. But when things are going badly, it is invaluable.
Updates – SDK & ADT
Software Development Kit
It seems there are always updates to the Android SDK files. You should perform this update now before going any further. Click the icon at the top that shows a little green robot on top of a download arrow to open the Android SDK Manager.
The little window that opens will list several options with checkboxes so you can select the ones you want to download. Don’t feel obligated to download everything. Many items will already be checked – I would keep those. Then, scan through the Tools (top of the list) and Extras (at the bottom of the list) and select any that seem applicable to what you want to accomplish. You will see several sections with labels such as Android 4.2.2 (API 17). Depending on what you need to accomplish, you probably do not need anything 3.x or lower. You can always come back here and download other packages if it turns out you need something that you did not download at this point.
Once you have selected all the options you feel you need, press the Install x packages… button. Depending on how many packages you selected and your Internet speed, this could take a long time to download. You should be able to proceed with the steps below while the download process continues in the background.
Android Development Tools
The last step in preparing your environment is to install something called the Android Development Tools (ADT.) I’ll spare you the lengthy explanation; just trust me – you need it. Follow these simple instructions:
- Click Help in the menu at the top then choose Install New Software…
- Click Add in the window that opens, which in turn opens yet another, smaller window
- Type “ADT Plugin” (without the quotes) for the Name
- Copy and paste the following URL for the Location – https://dl-ssl.google.com/android/eclipse/
- Press OK, which takes you back to the previous window
- You should now see “Developer Tools” in the main pane, select the checkbox next to it and click Next
- In the next window, just click Next
- Click Finish after reading and accepting the license agreements
- Just click Ok if you get a security warning. You should be able to proceed.
- Restart Eclipse when prompted to do so.
Congratulations! You now have the basic tools you need to edit your code. In the next article, we will create a basic app to learn some of the key elements of Android. Talk to you soon.
If you ran into problems feel free to leave a comment below. I can’t promise that I can fix your problem, but I promise I’ll try.