Holy cow! If you write Android apps, you need to look over here right now. You've probably heard of AIDE, a complete development environment that runs on and builds for Android. While it was pretty impressive before, you won't believe what the appfour GmbH team has in store now. Just today, version 2.0 of the Android IDE was pushed to the Play Store with support for building native apps with C/C++, quick previews of XML layouts, and a cleaner and even more Holo-themed interface, along with major enhancements to Git.
These days, it seems like everybody can create basic Java-based applications on any old Android device thanks to tools like Tasker App Factory or any number of IDEs and compilers; but nobody even mentions building high performance native apps and games. AIDE breaks that barrier with full support for the Standard Android NDK (Native Development Kit) toolchain and includes templates and samples for building Java that leverages JNI (Java Native Interface) or fully native C/C++ code. The website also includes a simple NDK Tutorial to get you started, which mentions downloading the NDK on the first occasion that it is needed.
For the rest of us that build our interfaces using XML, the new Quick Preview feature gives us a live rendering of how our layouts will look on a device. Switching between Portrait and Landscape is supported, as is outlining views in red to help with solving positioning issues. Not only can we see our layouts, but tapping on an object will navigate directly to its definition in code.
Overall, the look and feel of AIDE has gone through a pretty significant facelift with new icons, an even more Holo-like appearance, and the subtle addition of line numbers. Switching between files is much more fluid thanks to a new swipe gesture and tabbed interface. Tablets automatically see tabs, but phones can opt to turn them off to conserve space.
Last among the headlining features, but certainly not least: a major expansion to support for Git. The update brings the ability to automatically create repositories with new projects and perform create, merge, and delete operations on branches. Considering the original version of AIDE completely lacked any kind of source control, and then only gained minimal Git compatibility a while later, this is a really important step forward. Solid versioning capability was one of the last roadblocks for being able to effectively use AIDE in more serious projects where source control is a must.
- New: Support building native apps with C/C++
- New: Quick preview of Xml layout designs
- New: Swipe between open files and between tool windows
- New: Editor tabs for open files (optional)
- New: Line numbers in the editor
- New: Git create, merge, delete branch
- New: Create Git repository for new project
- Improved: Auto import for nested classes (OnClickListener)
- Improved: Code completion in Xml layout files
- Improved: App template includes the Android support library
- Improved: Holo look and feel
These were just the main improvements to the app, but the blog post and changelog go on to include better code completion for XML layouts, auto-import for nested classes, app templates that now include the Android Support Library, and quite a few bug fixes. The overhauled interface combined with improved Git support is enough to bring the IDE well beyond the simple standards of hobbyists. Kudos to the appfour GmbH team for a job well done, and I can't wait to see what else will be coming in the future.