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Mastering the Android Development Tools

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This chapter walks through a number of the most important tools available for use with Android that will help you develop Android applications faster and with fewer roadblocks.
This chapter is from the book

What You'll Learn in This Hour:

  • Using the Android documentation
  • Debugging applications with DDMS
  • Working with the Android Emulator
  • Using the Android Debug Bridge (ADB)
  • Working with Android virtual devices

Android developers are fortunate to have more than a dozen development tools at their disposal to help facilitate the design of quality applications. Understanding what tools are available and what they can be used for is a task best done early in the Android learning process, so that when you are faced with a problem, you have some clue as to which utility might be able to help you find a solution. Most of the Android development tools are integrated into Eclipse using the ADT plug-in, but you can also launch them independently—you can find the executables in the /tools subdirectory of the Android SDK installation. During this hour, we walk through a number of the most important tools available for use with Android. This information will help you develop Android applications faster and with fewer roadblocks.

Using the Android Documentation

Although it is not a tool, per se, the Android documentation is a key resource for Android developers. An HTML version of the Android documentation is provided in the /docs subfolder of the Android SDK documentation, and this should always be your first stop when you encounter a problem. You can also access the latest help documentation online at the Android Developer website, http://developer.android.com (http://goo.gl/K8GgD, see Figure 2.1 for a screenshot of the Dev Guide tab of this website).

Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1 Android developer documentation (online version).

The Android documentation is divided into seven sections:

  • Home—This tab provides some high-level news items for Android developers, including announcements of new platform versions. You can also find quick links for downloading the latest Android SDK, publishing your applications on the Android Market, and other helpful information.
  • SDK—This tab provides important information about the SDK version installed on your machine. One of the most important features of this tab is the release notes, which describe any known issues for the specific installation. This information is also useful if the online help has been upgraded but you want to develop to an older version of the SDK.
  • Dev Guide—This tab links to the Android Developer's Guide, which includes a number of FAQs for developers, best practice guides and a useful glossary of Android terminology for those new to the platform. The appendix section also lists all Android platform versions (API Levels), supported media formats, and lists of intents.
  • Reference—This tab includes, in a Javadoc-style format, a searchable package and class index of all Android APIs provided as part of the Android SDK.
  • Resources—This tab includes links to articles, tutorials, and sample code. It also acts as a gateway to the Android developer forums. There are a number of Google groups you can join, depending on your interests.
  • Videos—This tab, which is available online only, is your resource for Android training videos. Here, you can find videos about the Android platform, developer tips, and the Google I/O conference sessions.
  • Blog—This tab links to the official Android developer blog. Check here for the latest news and announcements about the Android platform. This is a great place to find how-to examples, learn how to optimize Android applications, and hear about new SDK releases and Android Developer Challenges.

Now is a good time to get to know your way around the Android SDK documentation. First, check out the online documentation and then try the local documentation (available in the /docs subdirectory of your Android SDK installation).

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