How to learn Android development from scratch

by Guest Author on December 2, 2017

in Articles, Guest Posts

If you’re starting to learn Android from scratch, or you thought about it but felt it’s a long way to go, we’ve got you covered. Learning Android development is not a particularly scary mission to undertake. In fact, it’s quite intriguing and fun. But like anything else, no one likes to learn by wandering around till he finds a way. Particularly in programming, roaming around is not a very healthy technique, and if you’re looking for speed that definitely won’t cut it.

Learning Android development is all about the small steps you take, one at a time. It’s not a magical pill to take and master effortlessly. However, when you follow the right footsteps, your road to mastery is guaranteed. So let’s break the learning process down:

1 . Getting Started:

The First steps will be, of course, learning a programming language for Android. There are many languages that you can use for Android development, but only two (Java and Kotlin) are supported by Google. Both Java and Kotlin are great for learning from scratch. Get yourself familiar with the syntax, and train yourself on writing simple programs. Building a calculator or a calendar is a very good practice. They might seem complicated, but they can actually be coded in under an hour. This step is crucial for all steps to come.

2. Learn to design:

Understanding how to design Android applications will give you hands-on knowledge on what you need to learn. It will get you acquainted with every necessary step in the Android development cycle and give you insights. The thing is, when you start getting your hands dirty in Android, you’ll figure you that it’s not what you thought it was. It’s not a single language or a few certain functions you write. There are a lot of misconceptions about Android that you’d need to clear out of your way.

Android applications are made of a collection of programming languages. For example, you might choose to use Java for your programming logic, but you might use XML for the User Interface. And SQLite for the database, and HTML or XML for connectivity. You need to understand what’s the programming logic, how it’s different from the user interface and the database. Here’s a picture of how the structuring goes, in general.

You also need to learn all about the Android files Hierarchy. How do activities work? What’s the main activity? Who’s responsible for what? etc…
Architecture is the first and most fundamental layer. You can read this article to understand more about the Android Architecture and how the Android world works: https://fernandocejas.com/2015/07/18/architecting-android-the-evolution/

3. Learn to implement:

First of all, you need to get yourself familiar with the tools you’ll be using. You’re going to use the Android Studio as an IDE, which stands for Integrated Development Environment. An IDE is where you’ll write and test your code. It provides you with the developer tools you need to get your ship sailing. Here’s an article on how to start your first project in Android Studio.

https://www.androidauthority.com/android-app-development-complete-beginners-658469/

There are other developer tools out there, but you don’t necessarily have to pick it up all at once. It’s wonderful if you can keep their existence in mind, though. Android Debugging Bridge is one of those applications that make life much easier, and applications a whole lot better.

The Android development scene has changed remarkably since 2015. Back then, development was a ludicrous even for the veterans. Nowadays, the process is smoother, easier to understand and above all, developer friendly. So it would be a complete upset if you don’t make use of the tools at hand and bring forth the potential of these tools.

Learn to search when you’re implementing, because most of the times you won’t know how to get past where you stand. The internet is full of guides and resources for Android development. Getting stuck is no shame in programming, at all.
You can check the Official Android Documentation, where you can find almost everything you can use in the Android. There are even code examples now to help you through: https://developer.android.com/guide/index.html

If you can’t seem to understand the documentation, don’t get frustrated. You can check https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/android. The website is fundamentally known as the savior of programmers. Don’t know how to use a certain function or feature? Just check StackOverflow! Most answers are actually guided with code samples to give you grips with what’s going on.

Remember that in the design process, you learned about the different stuff that you need for Android development. Implementation learning is where you learn to make these stuff for real. Yes, Android development isn’t all about Java or Kotlin. So you need to learn how to make the UI interfaces, the databases, etc…It’s not a lot to take in, and you might find it quite intuitive in fact.

The real power in coding doesn’t lie in how many languages you can use. Coding mastery resides in your proficiency of using a certain language’s libraries efficiently and effectively. Libraries bring a lot to the table that you might not be able to create yourself. It might not necessarily be complicated, but the task is really massive in terms of project size.

I find this link useful to get you acquainted with a lot of the Android Programming practices: https://blog.mindorks.com/how-to-learn-android-development-f33dd6dba40d

I’d advise that you’d become socially active in the developer’s community. Join a forum and try to participate in discussions and ask questions yourself. It’s enlightening and motivating at the same time. You might even get opportunities to work with professionals. You can contribute to ongoing open-source Android projects on GitHub once you get proficient

4. Learn to optimize:

Writing a working application is not enough. Imagine if you make the best messaging application, for example, but it uses so much memory that it wouldn’t run on any mobile phone. This is where optimization and testing come into play. It’s not healthy to stuff your head with everything before you start, but you need to know where you’ll be headed. This section will enhance your code reusability. When you write a piece of software, it has to be consistent with itself, not barely standing. When you want to update or remove a feature, you shouldn’t have to delete your code or rewrite big parts of it.

Your application should be run on multiple devices as well. If it’s defective in a certain family it might be defective in its entire family. Android Studio allows you to run your applications on emulators and test their performance. You need to keep track of how much memory and processing power it’s using. Sometimes, a very simple application that is not optimized can eat up memory, wherein a more sophisticated one might not. In Android, if a certain application eats up a lot of memory, it might not crash. Rather, it might close other applications causing them to restart upon opening which will ruin the entire user experience.

Final Thoughts:

Get a project going. There’s a saying that the only way to start a business is to get into the business. The same rule applies to programming. If you want to learn to code you have to do the typing. Watching and reading alone will not do it. Try to always have a project running when you’re learning something new, and directly apply what you learn to your project. It doesn’t have to be a very attractive application or have a high sense of purpose. Good luck on your learning journey!

Guest article written by: Saurabh has worked globally for telecom and finance giants in various capacities. After working for a decade in Infosys and Sapient, he started his first startup, Lenro, to solve the hyperlocal book-sharing problem. He is interested in product, marketing, and analytics. His latest venture Hackr.io recommends the best online programming courses and tutorials for every programming language. All the tutorials are submitted and voted by the programming community. Twitter, Google+.

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