Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coding Green Robots: Debriefing #1 [+video]

I was announcing the other day the first episode of Coding Green Robots: a series of meetings focused on Android development. So right after work, fighting the rush hour, I went today to the YMC in Downtown Toronto to be "in the studio", with the hosts: Greg Carron and Matthew Patience from Mobicartel.

Today's Episode 1 was mainly a beginner's tutorial, but proved pretty useful in brushing up almost forgotten Android development skills. It was also a sneak peek into Mobicartel's workflow with varied ideas, from how Matthew and Greg divide/share the development and the design or how they make use of Dropbox in the development lifecycle for developing, sharing and quickly installing an app within the team, to how they decide which platform versions to target:

  • On the development side we covered from efficient IDE setup to basic Android components and Views (relative layout, fast prototyping, intents etc.).
    I found it particularly interesting to learn how experience has taught them the best practice of using sp as units of measurement.
  • As for the design, I got a better understanding of screen densities and how important is to use vector shapes in your design in order to be able to export nice and crisp 24-bit transparent PNGs that will fit your custom design like a glove.
    I also discovered the ShootMe app: useful for getting screenshots on your Android device.
In the interview with Mark Reale I found insights about organizing AndroidTO, and that it's 2011 edition will most likely be in October. His "be resourceful" philosophy was somewhat motivating for me:
  • use everything at your fingertips
  • always be around people smarter than you
  • never hesitate to ask questions
I found the night's coup de grâce to be in the short talk about NFC: I got to whet my appetite with a device that can write/read NFC tags, and the programmable NFC tags that accompanied it. It was the first real/physical tag that my Nexus S read: even if it was a blank one, it was still an Eureka moment!

Also tonight, the Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3) OTA update was announced, so I have to admit: I'm really looking forward to writing (not just reading) rewritable NFC tags, and even program my Nexus S to act as a NFC tag... and imagine the grin on my face when finally getting rid of those "random" reboots! :D

As I guess you can tell by now, every other Tuesday I'll head Downtown, to the YMC in Toronto. If you aren't in the area, but you're looking to learn how to develop for Android in somewhat of a classroom environment, you can always watch the sessions streamed live and/or enjoy the full videos of sessions published afterwards. Just head out to

Update: Here's the 2 hour recording of yesterday's first CGR episode:

...and wait till you read the debriefing on March 8th! ;o)

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