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Configuring NetBeans and Eclipse with the Android SDK

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Jonathan S. Harbour explains the steps needed to get started programming with the Android SDK using both NetBeans and Eclipse. Learn how to create an emulator device and install the Android plug-ins for NetBeans and Eclipse.

This hour covers additional prerequisites needed to use the Android SDK with an IDE. We’re taking this in small steps now with plenty of figure examples to act as a quick reference for your Android programming projects to come. In this hour, you learn how to use the Android Virtual Device Manager to set up the emulator to run your Android programs. Then you learn how to add the Android SDK to NetBeans and Eclipse. The SDK was already installed in Hour 2, “Installing the Development Tools,” so if you skipped that step, you will need to go back and install it.

Creating an Android Emulator Device

If you think that there are a lot of steps required just to get up and running with Android, you would be right! But we’re on the right track and almost done with all of the prerequisites. Soon we will be writing game code. First, what you need to do is configure an Android emulator. An emulator is called Android Virtual Device, or AVD. You must use the Android Virtual Device Manager, shown in Figure 3.1, to create an emulator device.

Figure 3-1

Figure 3.1. The Android Virtual Device Manager is used to set up the Android emulator.

The reason for needing an emulation manager is because of all the Android OS versions that have come out so quickly, in just the past three years. Also, developers might need to test their programs on more than one version of the Android OS to ensure that they work correctly.

Creating a New Emulator Device

First, we’ll create an emulator device. Click the New button on the right side of the AVD Manager. This brings up the dialog shown in Figure 3.2, Create New Android Virtual Device (AVD). If AVD Manager is not running, you can find it in Program Files under Android SDK Tools.

Figure 3-2

Figure 3.2. Creating a new emulator—Android Virtual Device.

As you can see, a lot of options exist for the emulator! First, we’ll focus on the Target field, which has a drop-down list of Android OS targets. This list will be quite small if you installed only 4.0 or 4.1 (using the Android SDK Manager in the previous hour). If multiple SDKs are installed, you will be able to choose the version you want to emulate.

Give your new emulator device a name, such as MyAndroid (or a descriptive name related to the settings chosen).

Choose the target for Android 4. It might say 4.0.3 or 4.1 or some other revision, depending on the specific version you installed on your dev PC.

The CPU/ABI field should be grayed out for Android 4 because devices use a standard CPU. If, for any reason, this field is not grayed out (for instance, if you are targeting API 14 or earlier), be sure to set it to ARM. Again, this shouldn’t be necessary if you’re using the latest version of the API.

If you want to simulate an SD Card in the emulator, you can specify the size of the SD Card.

The display setting is a challenge because there are so many options. It’s probably safe to go with WVGA800, although there are others. This will differ quite significantly depending on the hardware you want to emulate. For instance, if you want to emulate a specific smartphone model, you would look up the screen resolution for that phone. But if you want to emulate a tablet, it will likely have a different screen. This allows you to create more than one emulator device for these various possibilities in the hardware.

Figure 3.3 shows the AVD Manager with the new device added to the list. An emulator device called MyAndroid has been added. If you want to quickly peruse the settings for any device, double-click the device in the list to bring up a mini detail dialog.

Figure 3-3

Figure 3.3. A new Android Virtual Device has been added.

Running the Emulator

Choose your emulator device in the list and click the Start button on the right. This brings up the mini launch dialog shown in Figure 3.4. You can tweak a few options if desired and then click the Launch button.

Figure 3-4

Figure 3.4. Preparing to launch the emulator.

The emulator device is shown in Figure 3.5, running Android OS 4.0. It may take a few minutes for the emulator to bring up the home screen shown here. The emulator must install the OS and then run it. Because this is rather time consuming, you will want to keep the emulator open while writing Android code so it’s available anytime you build and run your code.

Figure 3-5

Figure 3.5. The Android OS 4.0 emulator is running.

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