When it comes to software development, there are two very distinct camps on the subject of tools: those who prefer to keep it simple with just a text editor and a compiler, and then those who go straight for a fully-featured IDE with all the bells and whistles. For more than a decade, the undisputed champion of IDEs is Microsoft with its assorted versions of Visual Studio. Having come from years of work on Visual Studio, nothing pained me more than the first (several) times I started up Eclipse.
Ahh, Google I/O, how we'll miss you for the next 365 days or so. The last 2 days have been filled with anticipation, knowledge, surprises, excitement, and fun - the perfect recipe for happy developers. As a developer myself, I've picked up heaps of new information, especially from the SDK Tools and ADT session by Tor Norbye and Xavier Ducrohet, and viewing the keynotes was simply a blast.
As you may have seen yesterday, day 1 keynote and sessions were already posted last night, and now the same fate reached the sessions and keynote from day 2.
A new Application Programming Interface (API) called Fragments has been opened to all 1.6+ versions of Android. If you have no clue what that means, this should have the effect of making many more apps tablet-friendly on tablets and phone-friendly on phones.
At the core of Fragment's API is the multi-panel user interface that you see on certain tablet email apps, for example (labels in left panel, inbox in right panel).
Ah, what a breath of fresh air. After today's SDK Tools r9 and ADT 9.0.0 update that I talked about earlier this morning, I noticed another new feature in the SDK Manager that has been requested for years. As if the near-instant AVD restart support due to the new snapshotting was not enough of a present, developers can now edit properties of existing AVDs!
Before this update, once you've created an AVD, the AVD Manager did not let you touch any of its properties, forcing you to create a brand new virtual device for any tweaks.
If you are a developer, you will want to fire up SDK Manager right now and perform an update. Besides the Honeycomb SDK preview that we'll talk about separately, Google also unleashed the next version of Android Development Tools, or simply ADT, for Eclipse as well as SDK Tools r9. I've been using ADT versions 9.0.0 preview 1, 2, and 3 for a number of weeks now, and I can tell you that 9.0.0 is a huge step up to where a serious set of development tools needs to be.
We, Android developers, spend our days staring at a computer screen, most likely at one of Eclipse's windows. Eclipse is an amazing IDE in theory, but it never quite feels complete and polished, mostly due to the fact that it's powered by open source enthusiasts and is based almost entirely on plugins (if you want to get it to do anything useful, that is).
Being Android developers, the plugin we are using every day is ADT - Android Development Tools, written by Google engineers, mostly @tornorbye and @droidxav who I've been conversing over twitter lately and annoying with filing numerous ADT bugs (hi, if you're reading!).
Today, I was looking at the Android Development Tools (ADT) commit history, as I normally do on a Tuesday morning at 3am, and I noticed something that made my heart skip a few beats. But let me back up for a second.
Every Android SDK release is normally accompanied by an ADT release that adds support for the new functionality and fixes existing bugs. ADT, in turn, is an Eclipse plugin, which is essentially a set of developer tools for one of the best free open source editors out there (that's Eclipse), which also happens to be the IDE of choice of Android core developers.
I was browsing the Android commit tree, as I like to do at 3:20am sometimes, and I just saw a new commit by Tor Norbye with the following description that made my heart skip a beat: "Add autoformatting of XML." This little update may not mean much to the regular folks, but to Android developers, like myself, this has been a long requested feature.
About a year ago, I wrote this article: Auto Formatting Android XML Files With Eclipse, which described how easy it is to achieve uniform, formatted XML files in Eclipse while doing Android development.