Here’s my top takeaways from this year’s Droidcon London.
- Material design
- Papercraft (Chris Banes / Nick Butcher) slides, video
- The new AppCompat includes the transparent assets (works Pre-L) so we can set an apps colour scheme using the appPrimaryColor and appAccentColor. Eliminates the need for holocolors.com and adding all those extra assets, Yay!
- Testing support library – *coming soon Q4 2014* video
- Continuous Integration is hot topic with several new services mentioned when talking to people.
- Travis CI seems to be the popular CI server/solution for open source
- Green House CI had a stand at Droidcon and having experimented with their CI solution today I’m looking forward to try on live project.
There was also a focus on Custom UI, Animation and Gradle. Specifically with regards to Gradle all the cool kids are writing their own gradle plugins rather than littering build files with custom/boilerplate logic.
This is a couple of libraries that I’ve come across mainly from Android-Arsenal.com and Androiddevweekly.net both essential resources for keeping up to date with all 10’s of libs released each week.
Tip: If you’re using Slack/Hipchat hook up these rss feeds (aa-rss, adw) to your Android team channel/group
As you probably saw from my previous post I’m really likely the new material design / Android L look at the moment and keen to bring some of these animations in to my apps.
This library includes 2 views :
- ActionView – ideal for your home icon when using a nav/side menu.
- RevealColorView – brings some of that gorgeous ripple style animation to pre L Android. I love this, I just can’t find a legitimate reason for using it the apps I’m working on at the moment.
I’ve previously used Crouton and App-msg both good libraries, but starting new projects from now I’ll use Super Toasts.Like the Crouton and App-msg creating custom styles is easy, but where Super Toasts kills it is the option for having Card Toasts notifications appear at the top of the activity and push other content down. This was ideal of “offline” notification I needed to be permanently active on each screen while connection was lost. Also creating things like undo bar or retry toast notifications is simple.
Over last weekend I created and released a simple API to perform AES encryption on Android with no dependencies. This is the Android counterpart to the AESCrypt library Ruby and AESCrypt-ObjC created by Gurpartap Singh. I created this mainly due to pain I had writing some code to be compatible with AESCrypt and hoped to save others from that.
*disclaimer : I wrote this
Personally I’m really excited about the new design language/framework/guide from Google to be all encompassing across web, mobile, tablet, TV. I talked recently at a local meetup about some of the cool things in material design followed by a good debate about what material design is about. The main place to head to is google.com/design
Here’s some other resources:
- Short video intro to showcasing some of the material visual elements and interactions
- Collection of material design elements selected by Roman Nurik on Dribbble
- Android UX course on udacity
While we are on the subject of design here’s a link to Designer cheat sheet for Android it’s very much based on holo but I’m sure as L preview is released these tips will be updated.
Nexus 10 can be one of those handy test devcies apart from being a descent 10″ tablet even if it’s 18+months old. One handy thing about the the it’s high res is that you simulate lower display size and/or density. This assumes you have the Android SDK installed and adb in PATH.
Plug in device to usb and turn off screen and try these commands to change/override both the screen res and the density:
adb shell am display-size 640×800
adb shell am display-density 480
//if you want to reset to normal just type
adb shell am display-density reset
From Android 4.3 this command moved to the window manager (wm)
adb shell wm size 640×800
adb shell wm density 480
Let me know how you get on, you can of course use on other devices.
Credit for flagging these commands should go to Adam Powell based on his G+ post
Over the weekend I was catching up on Android Design in Action videos / app and thought I’d share a couple of my favourite ones as I often have discussions about both design/brand consistency and app start up screens. Each video is ~30mins but if you can’t spare that then hit up the links to g+ posts below you’ll see links to slides.
UX anti patterns
Design consistency and branding
Onboarding/ app start up
These are a couple of command line commands I have never managed to commit to memory so I figured I’d blog them for reference.
Install apk on multiple connected devices
$ adb devices | tail -n +2 | cut -sf 1 | xargs -I X adb -s X install pathto/myapp-release.apk
Port forwarding device
adb forward tcp:8000 tcp:8000
Generate an Ant build.xml
$ android update project -p .
This is bug logging acronym that I’ve used previously and works really well (from a developers perspective), I propose you do not accept any defects that do not follows pears (i.e those that don’t have the following information.)
- Priority – indicator to the importance of the issue, 1=showstopper, 5=Meh? if time
- Expected result – clear concise explanation of what you expected to happen, if possible reference requirement id
- Actual result – What actually happened?
- Reproduce (steps to Reproduce) numbered steps to Reproduce to error/issue. You cannot be too detailed in this section.
- System – Os version, device mobile/version, version of app, Browser version, etc.
This came up at a talk at Droidcon 2011, but cannot for the life of me remember who it was. It’s a great and simple idea thanks! If it was you let me know so I can credit you.
Not heard of Over The Air(OTA)? it’s an awesome hack-a-thon/conf in Bletchley Park, MK more info
This list definitely has a Android developer bias. Did I miss anything?
- Laptop – fully charged and loaded with music, large files and docs on APIs needed
- Power supply
- dev Android smartphone
- dev Android tablet
- Phone with 3G tethering / 3G dongle
- usb hub
- x3 usb cables
- x2 Network cables (2meter) – useful if wifi dies
- x2 usb pen drives – useful for sharing files
Know one likes a stinker! and crap loads of coffee, redbull, beer and junk food is gonna make for some interesting BO
- x2 T-shirts
- Sleeping bag
Plenty of brain food and caffeine
- Muesli bars
- Red bull
What are you taking?
Now to think of killer app idea!
Recently saw NumericPageIndicator noted in the Android developer weekly email and thought I’d share my simpler solution to having page X of Y in a view
Gmail’s X of Y pager
PagerAdapter X of Y. When using a view pager you can simply override the getPageTitle to create a page x of y text as seen in apps like gmail. This was used in a app to swipe through the RSS stories with android.support.v4.app.FragmentPagerAdapter.
Alternatively you could use something like https://github.com/ManuelPeinado/NumericPageIndicator
Gist after the break
After judging the Bristol Uni Computer society Appathon a couple of weeks ago, several students approached me with career related questions and I thought I’d collect them up and post them. These are purely my personal views not that of Mubaloo. When I’m talking about App developer I’m meaning native app development.
Also I jotted this down in a hurry as the students needed to include some of the comments in an assignment. So expect spelling mistakes!!
What’s your favorite and worst aspect of your job?
- Developing apps used by millions of people (having great designer to make them look great)
- As head of Android I’m the go to person for Android and I shape how the company approaches the density of devices.
- working in team with motivated and talented people – it really makes a difference when team mates are all pulling to the same goals.
- Trying to estimate how long a app will take to make based on limited details/requirements
- Personally I find logging time to projects tedious, it should be simple but the software is clunky at best – but in all the companies I’ve worked the time tracking tools have been subpar. – someone should write a easy to use app for it!
- Being point of contact, has it’s downsides mainly lots of interruptions which can make focused development (the bit i really love) difficult.
How would you describe your company (business area, number of employees, approx number of Countries operated in)
errrm, RTM… check the website for that www.mubaloo.com
Day to day taks and in general what does a typical working day consists (design work vs paper work vs talking with clients vs actual coding etc)
- reviewing design documents,
- writing specification,
- meetings with clients to dsicuss current project progress or future project developments
- fixing defects raised in defect tracking system
- Writing code meet specification/design
But wait, there’s more Q and A