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Getting started with Android development

Developing for the Android

This is a brief overview - much more information is available at the Android Developers website.

Platform
Android applications are written in Java and run in a Java-like VM (the Dalvik VM) on the phone. The Android framework for app development includes a set of core libraries that provides most of the functionality available in the Java core libraries. Work has been done to support other languages on the platform (e.g., Ruby, Scala) but it's not clear whether these will ever be useful for writing applications as such.

The Android platform code itself is open source. The Dalvik VM relies on the Linux kernel and C/C++ libraries for underlying functionality. Android devices currently use ARM processors but may expand to others.

Development tools
The Android Developers site provides the Android SDK as a free download. The SDK provides the Android framework libraries to develop against, an emulator for trying out apps under development, and useful dev tools.

There is also a useful Eclipse plugin that aids with developing an Android app, deploying it to the emulator, and debugging it as it runs. You do not have to use Eclipse to do Android development, but with the plugin it's the simplest path to start with.

What you need to get going
Everything is free of charge except the computer and (possibly) OS.


  • Intel-based computer (extra RAM/CPU is good but not required)
  • Common OS (Linux, Windows, Mac)
  • Install JDK 5 or 6 (JRE is not sufficient; non-Sun JDKs may work but aren't supported)
  • Install Eclipse 3.4 or 3.5 with JDT plugin (included in most Eclipse IDE packages - try Eclipse IDE for Java Developers, Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers, or Eclipse for RCP/Plug-in Developers)
  • Install Android SDK.
  • Install Eclipse ADT plugin. That link also explains how to link the plugin to the installed SDK.

There may be per-platform quirks for the install steps (for instance, with Linux you probably want to coerce the system package manager to install the JDK and Eclipse for you rather than using a download - I have tried this and can help out) but it is basically the same sequence.

With your environment set up, proceed to the Development Guide to begin learning application development fundamentals. You may want to consider getting an Android book to help walk you through the framework's capabilities.

Helpful links
Of course the best place to start is with the official Android Developers site. There are also a number of videos about Android in the GoogleDevelopers channel on YouTube, for instance this one on beginning app development.

You might also want to check out my Android blog (shameless plug!), Android from scratch. A good place for finding more Android blogs and links is Ed Burnette's aggregator, Planet Android.

You might also want to attend the Google IO conference and walk the Android track (or view video from the past conferences).

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Presentation Material from Meeting Speakers October 5, 2013 11:27 AM former member
Stupid Android Tricks | Pitch your idea September 10, 2010 9:45 PM Sean
Meeting intro announcements April 25, 2010 11:15 PM Luke
Getting started with Android development January 25, 2010 8:58 AM Luke
About TriDroid - NC Triangle Android Meetup September 5, 2010 11:02 AM Luke

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