Each and every day, you will hear of a developer somewhere that has added a new app to the Google Playstore. We understand that for the average mind, this sounds like rocket science. This should not be the case.
There are several software and tools which aid in the development of apps. They all come with different features and characteristics. Some of the tools are web technologies while others cut across platforms. You can develop an app via several alternative languages and integrated development environments.
This article aims to guide you through some of these ways of developing Android apps.
App development through Basic4android
This app is quite popular with app developers globally. It is probably due to the many impressive features necessary for developing apps.
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Install Java JDK v8
First you will have to open the Java 8 JDK download link. To proceed, it is necessary that you check the Accept License Agreement button.
From the platforms list that will display, select “Windows x86 (32-bit) or Windows x64. Finally, download the JDK file and install it.
Download Android SDK
At this stage, you will have to download the Android SDK command line tools. First, you create a new folder; say Androids folder in drive C, in which you will unzip the downloaded tools.
Download and Install B4A
In this step, you will start by downloading the B4A trial version. From the “downloads” icon, open the B4A file. Select tools followed by configure paths. If the “Javac.exe” is empty, set the path it.
You then click on “Open Sdk Manager button”, before setting the path to “sdkmanager.bat” and installing all the recommended items.
Read and approve the licenses when asked for. After a few minutes, return to B4A and set the path to “android.jar”
The B4A-Bridge is an alternative to the USB debug mode and facilitates the IDE in connecting to the device over Wi-Fi. You can download it from the Google Playstore.
Alternatively, you can download the apk file directly. However, your device’s settings should allow the installation of apps from unknown sources. You will then run the Bridge on the device.
The final step is connecting the IDE to the device. Head over to tools and select B4A Bridge and then connect. Ensure that you save the project. The message “Hello world” will display on the screen. Tap on okay.
Just like that, you have created your first Android app. If you for some reason you do not like this method, we have another one for you!
App development through Xamarin 2.0 (C#)
In this approach, we use the C# technology for business logic development and a separate technology to develop a user interface based on the platform. For Android UI development, we use Xamarin.Android.
With this approach, we can share business logic code across multiple platforms, implying that any change in business logic will have its effects on multiple platforms.
The major downside is that we have to use multiple technologies to create User Interface based on the platform.
Firstly, you will download the Xamarin unified installer. You have the option of downloading the Visual Studio Community Edition or the Xamarin for Visual Studio. Once you decide on your option, run the installer.
The Visual Community Installer will start downloading and uploading files, before assessing your system and let you select optional components. From the Menu, ensure that you select Xamarin if asked to do so.
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The Installation Process
The first step is reading and approving the terms of the license so as to continue. Check the “accept” box and hit next. The system will then inspect the system for any missing components which need to be downloaded and installed.
Once the components are identified, the installer will download and execute the installers for the platform dependencies.
Lastly, the installer will commence the download and installation process of the chosen items, after which you should exit the installer by closing the window.
Setting up the Installation
After installing the components, you may have to tell the IDE where to locate these components. For this, you have to configure the Visual Studio tools to show you the location of the java and Android SDK.
The Installer normally puts the components in default locations and configures the IDE with appropriate path configuration.
In case the components are not installed in their default locations, then you will have to specify the paths to these components. Head over to tools and then options. Follow this by selecting Xamarin and then Android settings.
You need to have a valid Xamarin license if you want to activate the app to become useful for use. Make sure that you are logged in to Visual Studio, if you have a Professional MSDN subscription. This will give you full access to the store of Xamarin products.
You can also utilize the option of Visual Studio Community Edition, which lets you develop your own Android apps with Xamarin for free.
To obtain a Xamarin license
If you want to purchase a Xamarin license, you will need to create a Xamarin account. However, if you had already purchased your products, head over to tools and tap “Xamarin account”. Then you log into your account.
You will read and accept the software licensing terms before completing the purchase.
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Running the app
With Android, there are two ways of testing the app; In the Android emulator or on a common device such as a phone or tablet. Of importance to note is that if you want your app to feature in Google Playstore, you will pay a fee.
The emulator, as the name suggests, lets you emulate several Android versions, as well as diverse screen aspect ratios and resolutions.
The advantage of using an emulator over a device is that the former lets test on device configurations that are not readily available.
An important point to note is that, the methods of creating android apps are not limited to the two we have discussed above. There are various other ways and none is superior to the other. A fault in one is easily compensated by another IDE.
So why don’t you try creating your own Android apps via the two methods above and see how far you can go?