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While its possible to use virtually any IDE or text editor to create apps, the easiest way to get started with the Android platform is the official Android Software Development Kit SDK , which contains all of these components in a single convenient download.
This is also the development environment that well be using in this book, so go ahead and download it now so you can follow along. Installation After the download has completed, unzip the file and open the eclipse folder. It should contain an Eclipse executable that you can launch to start the IDE.
Youll be prompted to select a workspace folder, and then Eclipse should be ready to go. And thats it for installation! Creating a Project Lets jump right in by creating a new Android project. On the File menu, click New. In the resulting wizard, select Android Application Project.
Use Hello Android for this field.
Project Name: The name of the project directory. This should be automatically populated with HelloAndroid, and you can leave this value as is. Package Name: The unique namespace for the project. Since its just an example app, you can leave the default com. The remaining fields define important platform requirements, and you can leave them all at their default values. Your configuration should look like the following when youre done: 15 Figure 3: Configuring a new Android project The next two windows ask you about some other miscellaneous details and the apps icon.
You can leave all of them at their default values. Finally, youll come to the following window asking if you want to create an activity: 16 Figure 4: Creating an initial activity Well talk about activities in great detail next chapter, but all you need to know for now is that an activity represents a single screen of your application. We want to have something to look at initially, so make sure Create Activity is checked, then select Blank Activity to specify an empty screen.
Click Finish to create a brand new Eclipse project. Setting Up the Emulator Unfortunately, we cant immediately compile the template project to see what it does.
First, we need to set up a device on which to test our new app. Android is designed to let you run a single application on devices of wildly differing dimensions and capabilities, making it a very efficient platform for porting apps from smartphones to tablets to anything in between. This window makes it easy to see how your application behaves on all sorts of Android devices, test different screen resolutions and dimensions, and experiment with various device capabilities e.
To create an emulated device for our project, click New For development purposes, its also a good idea to check the Use Host GPU to use your computers GPU, since emulating animations can be quite slow and clunky. Your configuration should resemble the following: Figure 5: Creating a new emulated device 18 After clicking OK, you should find your device in the Android Virtual Device Manager window.
To start the emulator, select the GalaxyNexus item, and click Start.
Leave the launch options at their default values, and click Launch. This will start spinning up the emulator, which looks something like the following: Figure 6: The Android device emulator The emulator has to boot up the Android operating system just like a real device , so you might be staring at that Android logo for a while before the emulator is actually ready to use.
When it is finally ready, youll see the typical Android home screen, and you can click around to launch apps and explore the emulated device: Figure 7: The emulator after its ready to use 19 Since it takes so long to boot, youll want to keep the emulator running as you start writing code Eclipse can re-launch the application on the emulator without restarting it.
Compiling the Application Were finally prepared to compile the sample project. Back in Eclipse, make sure one of the source files is selected in the Package Explorer, then click Run, select Run as, and choose Android Application. After taking a moment to compile, you should see your first Android app in the device emulator.
As you can see, the default template contains a single text field that says Hello world! Figure 8: The compiled template project In the next chapter, well learn how to change the contents of this text field, add other UI components, and organize a simple Android application. Well learn how to work with activities, display UI elements by editing XML layout files, handle button clicks, and switch between activities using intent objects.
Well also learn about best practices for representing dimension and string values for maximum portability. Each screen in an Android app is represented by a custom subclass of Activity.
The subclass defines the behavior of the activity, and its also responsible for loading user interface from an XML layout file. Typically, this XML layout file is where the entire interface for a given activity is defined. To display text fields, buttons, images, and other widgets to the user, all you need to do is add XML elements to the layout file.
Intent objects are used to switch between the various activities that compose your app. For example, when the user clicks a button to navigate to another screen, you create an Intent object and pass the destination activity to it. Then, you execute the intent to tell Android to switch to the next page.
This is the general pattern for building up a multi-screen application. This chapter explains how all these android architecture components interact using hands-on examples.
You can follow along with the empty Android project that you created in the previous chapter, or you can view the completed code in the HelloAndroid application included with the sample code for this book.