Android development is primarily done in Java, which is great because it is already an established, stable language with a large community around it in addition to the Android community itself. If you’re interested in getting started with Android development and use Kinvey’s mobile Backend as a Service (BaaS), here are some key resources to help you get off the ground, depending on your experience with development and Java. Because there are so many disparate resources for learning Java and the Android environment, we wanted to pull together the crucial resources to learning the platform and running your first application.
If we’ve missed valuable resources or other tools in our research, please definitely let us know and we’ll add them in an update to the article later. Before we dive in though, Kinvey also has some great resources to accelerate your Android development with our Android SDK.
If you’re not familiar with Java programming or object-oriented development concepts, it’s important to start at the basic level of the language as you learn the Android platform. Google’s own Android Developer’s Guide assumes significant knowledge of programming concepts, conventions, and tools. While you don’t need to be an expert, if you’re not comfortable with a command line or don’t already have Eclipse installed, their guide will not start you in a position to be successful. There are other great getting-started guides available from good resources, but they also expect at least some background Java knowledge before you can be productive with the tutorial and do more than just follow provided steps. If you already have a background in Java development and techniques, you can skip this step.
As a result, if you’re a true beginner, try getting started with learning at least some basic Java before diving into the world of Android. Two solid guides for learning Java are: “Learn Java for Android Development” and this post, “Top 5 Resources For Learning Java for Android”. Unfortunately, the materials are pretty dry but are short primers on Java basics, geared to educate you with the minimum knowledge to be effective once you dive into Android development.
Once you’ve figured out the essentials of Java development and are comfortable with the concepts, you can get started with the Google-supplied Android Developer’s Guide or with Smashing Magazine’s Get Started Developing for Android. These resources take you from installing the Android SDK and Eclipse, the preferred Android development environment, through creating a sample application and running it either in a virtual machine on your computer or on an Android device. There is a fairly steep learning curve here, but once you’ve run through this exercise you’ll have the practical skills to begin real development.
If you’re an experienced Java developer looking to add Android to your list of skills, there’s also a more recent guide available here, “Getting Started With Android Development” that assumes significant knowledge of Java and related technologies, but quickly briefs you on the Android platform and moves you from installing the Android SDK to writing your first application and deploying it to the Android Marketplace, a topic that most other entry-level guides do not cover.
While developing your skills and experience, here are some other resources that a number of existing Android developers on Kinvey’s Backend as a Service platform have found useful to increase their skills:
Vogella, updated regularly, with tutorials & training on Android and Java development (RSS)
Android Developer’s Blog, updated semi-regularly, news & updates about Android (RSS)
“Android” on StackOverflow, the world’s preeminent Q&A site for technical discussion.
Let us know how it goes, or if you find any other helpful resources to getting launched as an Android developer!