Mastering the Android Developer Tools to Build Better Apps

I’d like to present a resource on tools to develop Android apps. While I don’t teach how to write code or have a complete tutorial on how to use the development tools, these are essential part of the app development process and a lot of readers express an interest in hearing more. If you are going to develop native Android apps in Java rather than use a cross-platform framework (and sometimes even if you are using such a framework), you will be using the Android Developer Tools. There is a wealth of discussion on these tools, and now there is a book – Android Developer Tools Essentials (by Mike Wolfson and Donn Felker) – which I highly recommend.  Read on to see why.

Why buy a book?

Some developers quickly snap up books and build a large library, while others prefer to learn everything on their own before buying a book. Let me explain why I recommend getting this book in this case.

Developers have a wealth of free resources available to them, and since Android has a strong open-source community around it there is a near endless selection of online resources to draw from when writing an Android app. That can be the problem, however, as not all resources are equally useful. More information is not necessarily better, because the cost in time to parse and understand these resources can become a burden, particularly when you consider that there are 4-5 years of outdated tutorials and guides out there. Android has evolved!

Android Developer Tools Essentials is fresh – it was first published in the fall of 2013, just before Android 4.4 (KitKat) was released.  Some of the topics (such as Gradle and Android Studio) are very recent, while other tools may have been available for a while, but not used widely enough (such as the Memory Analyzer Tool, MAT).

Something for all Android developer experience levels

So, the book Android Developer Tools Essentials is a great resource for beginners as well as experienced developers. I learned a number of things about tools I use regularly, and the Android Studio section was particularly useful. Android Studio (the new Android development environment announced at Google IO 2013) is different enough from Eclipse that it is well worth doing some reading to understand it. The Gradle build system is coming to the forefront of Android development and it is worth knowing about it.

So what else does the book cover? It’s billed as an A to Z reference, and it really does cover a lot of material. I intend to come back when working on specific tasks. It covers topics such as:

  • Getting a development environment (Eclipse with ADT or Android Studio)
  • Making the best use of the features of Eclipse and Android Studio
  • Setting up and optimizing use of emulators and test devices
  • Testing, logging, and debugging
  • User Interface (UI) tools and techniques
  • Design topics such as 9-patch images
  • Deploying the app, including signing and obfuscation (ProGuard)

The breadth of topics makes it very likely that even seasoned Android developers will find new things to use, and I think the material provides an excellent background and walk-through of the tools that they will use every day to develop Android apps.

Other thoughts

Since the app itself is a pretty central to the whole strategy to make income from Android apps, the tools to build them are pretty important.  I’m glad to have a good resource to recommend now.

Beyond the book, note that Donn’s site has videos on Android Studio as well.

Oh, and note that the Kindle version is half as much as the printed paperback version. I still like the tangible feeling of a paper book, but the price for the e-book version does make it an easier purchase.

If you have anything to add on the Android Developer Tools Essentials book please post your comments below!

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About ProjectJourneyman

I am a software engineer that escaped the cubicle world at a large company to go solo with Android app development. My attention to detail and quality applies both to my apps and to my research on how to make money with Android. Now that I have the freedom to work on my own projects, I am documenting my efforts in the hopes that it will help other current or aspiring independent Android developers get the income they desire.

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