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  1. #1
    chacham is offline Member
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    Default Where to start for Android?

    I am interested in coding for Android, but i do not know Java. I am wondering where to start.

    How much Java specific stuff is there on Android? Do i need to learn a lot of Java first, or just a little? Or is it better to learn Android first. I plan to code on my mac at home and Windows at the office which makes me think Eclipse is the right IDE here. OTOH, if i really want to focus on Android, maybe i should start straight away with Android Studio. I'm so confused; i don't know where to start. Help!

  2. #2
    jim829 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Where to start for Android?

    You have asked a very difficult question to answer. I have been programming in Java for quite a while. I am teaching myself how write Android based apps. So I believe I have a significant advantage over someone who does not know Java. But I expect there are lots of people who have learned Android programming as their first language. Here are some things I have encountered.

    1. Java does layouts in Java. Android does them in XML (resulting in some generated Java classes).
    2. A single program written in Java will run on most PC's. Android has much more variety of target devices which can behave differently.
    3. No simulation for Java is needed for PC's. Android makes use of both device simulators and attached Android hardware.
    4. The simulators for Android are inconsistent in their behavior. I tend to use Oracle's Virtual Box with Genymotion for my simulator. It responds better and faster than the ADK available with Eclipse (my chosen IDE).

    So my recommendation is to learn Java first. The reasons being as follows:

    1. You can focus purely on the syntax and error messages.
    2. You won't be bogged down by an additional learning kit or needing to used simulators.
    3. Learning to debug a Java program will help you debug your Android programs.
    4. Knowing how to program Java is of benefit itself so why not learn both?

    Bottom line is that learning Java is like fighting a single battle. Learning Android, whether you know Java or not, is like fighting multiple battles at the same time.

    Regards,
    Jim
    Last edited by jim829; 04-08-2015 at 02:14 AM.
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  3. #3
    DarrylBurke's Avatar
    DarrylBurke is offline Forum Police
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    Default Re: Where to start for Android?

    Moved from New to Java to Forum Lobby.

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  4. #4
    chacham is offline Member
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    Default Re: Where to start for Android?

    Thank you for taking the time to reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    I believe I have a significant advantage over someone who does not know Java.
    You mean in programming for the Android, not necessarily for answering this question. :) That is, while it is assumed that some Java knowledge is required, i wonder how much. You, being experienced in the might have a bit of bias there. (I say this mostly in jest, but with a tinge of seriousness.)

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    I expect there are lots of people who have learned Android programming as their first language.
    To be clear, in my case, Android/Java is neither my first, nor likely my last. I avoided Java like the plague in the past (especially as it wreaked havoc on Netscape. Remember fdisk.com's java-based "browser"? :)) It's much more mature now, and mostly required for Android, with perhaps other "side benefits" like cross-platform capabilities. Nonetheless, old habits die hard, and i am a bit biased against the language. Thought that bias is likely only to take the form of "to learn as little of it as possible", and even then, perhaps, only at the beginning.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    Java does layouts in Java. Android does them in XML (resulting in some generated Java classes).
    Good point to remember.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    Virtual Box with Genymotion for my simulator.
    Neve hoid of it. Looks awesome though. From a very quick look, it seems to be geared more toward being a pan-device testing platform than a fancy looking simulator.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    my recommendation is to learn Java first.
    Argument is decent enough, and exactly what i wanted to hear. (The argument that is, not specifically Java as the recommendation.)

    Um, where and how much? :)

    Java is a huge language, with many, many aspects, is it not? How much of it do i need to learn to start Android? Yeah, there ought to be different answers both based on your experience and my (perceived) requirements. There's the basic stuff and foundations. There's also: good to know, likely to help, and be aware of these. If i'm going to hunker down and learn it, i'd like to know what my goal is. Maybe it's a book or two. Or maybe it's the ability to comfortably write a basic program. Maybe it's just a direction. Regardless, how much do i need to know?

    The natural extension of that question is where to learn it. Book, website, video, i don't really care. Though, that may be (already answered in) another thread.

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    KevinWorkman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where to start for Android?

    You should know the "basics" before diving into Android- know the syntax of variables, functions, if statements, for loops, arrays, etc. You really need to understand Objects and OOP, and you need to know how to dig through documentation and APIs.

    I would highly recommend starting out in basic Java first.

    Also, it doesn't really matter which IDE you use. There is no "best" IDE. Different people have different preferences, and you shouldn't marry yourself to any particular IDE ahead of time. Try a few out and see which one you like the best.
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  6. #6
    jim829 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Where to start for Android?

    Quote Originally Posted by chacham View Post
    Thank you for taking the time to reply.

    You mean in programming for the Android, not necessarily for answering this question. :) That is, while it is assumed that some Java knowledge is required, i wonder how much. You, being experienced in the might have a bit of bias there. (I say this mostly in jest, but with a tinge of seriousness.)
    Of course I am biased. I have no other framework from which to answer this question. Nor does someone who didn't know Java first. Which makes it a hard question to answer objectively.

    The natural extension of that question is where to learn it. Book, website, video, i don't really care. Though, that may be (already answered in) another thread.
    I prefer books. But you should do what's best for you. Just make certain the site/tutorials are reputable. There's a lot of bad advice out there. Unfortunately, the book I used is out of print. You can start by checking out the Java tutorials link in my signature.

    Regards,
    Jim
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  7. #7
    chacham is offline Member
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    Default Re: Where to start for Android?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    I prefer books.
    I'm looking for the goal right now. How much Java to know before looking for what book will teach it to me. If via a book, i'm usually a cover-to-cover reader, so i'd like to make my choice wisely. Further, with the plethora of books out there, each with a different target audience, and so many from different years and therefore versions of Java, i'm confused. Then again, i have read lots of Oracle documentation online, so their website might just be a good option.

    Regardless, determining my goal ought to come first. Then i can start my search.

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    KevinWorkman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where to start for Android?

    Goal 1: Can you install Java and get it working via the command prompt? Create a simple Hello World. You can get this from the basic Java tutorials.

    Goal 2: Work through the basic syntax. Variables, functions, if statements, for loops, arrays, etc.

    Goal 3: Start familiarizing yourself with Objects. ArrayLists, etc.

    Goal 4: Dig deeper into Objects. Understand OOP, inheritance, extending a class, implementing an interface, anonymous classes, etc. Swing might be one way to learn this stuff.

    If you want my honest opinion, I think you should do the first 3 steps in Processing. Processing allows you to learn the syntax and the basics without all the confusing Java boilerplate- and you can even deploy as JavaScript or to Android.

    From there, it's much easier to get into step 4 and then more advanced topics like pure Android programming.
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