Learning more about Android development

From Tuesday: I spent most of the long weekend learning about Android development by working on the MobileOrg for Android open source project. When it comes to learning new technologies, I like working on existing projects more than starting from scratch. There’s plenty of sample code to draw on, and there’s enough functionality to inspire me to think about how to tweak it to fit my needs.

The first two days were really slow in terms of progress. It took me a while to figure out how to build both MobileOrg and MobileOrgNG, and I blogged the instructions in case someone else needs them in the future. After I figured that out, I started fiddling with the settings menu. I made the system more consistent, updated the look and feel to the latest design guidelines, and learned a little more about how everything tied together.

I’m starting to feel more comfortable with Android development. There are still tons of things to learn, of course, but I’m getting the hang of where things are, what things are called, and how things flow together. It’s an amazing thing, feeling the concepts click into place. As you learn more things, the possibilities grow combinatorically.

I should take care of a few other tasks before I move on to the next steps. I have to prepare a presentation for the Quantified Self conference in September. It’ll be an Ignite-style presentation, which is good – clear constraints make it easier to put something together. I also want to do an annual review in preparation for my birthday on Sunday.

After I finish those tasks, what do I want to do next in terms of Android development?

  • I’d like to build a better browsing interface for MobileOrg. I like the way MobileOrgNG makes it easy to browse the Org file’s hierarchy.
  • I want to be able to capture information from other applications.
  • It would be awesome to be able to handle attachments, too.
  • Tasker integration for automatically capturing information, perhaps?
  • Org-contacts would be great.

If I have a year of days like this, I think I’ll be able to learn and do a lot.

  • Regarding MobileOrg, I’ve always wondered why it was not simply reading the Org files directly. If you keep everything in Dropbox, reading/basic editing would be much more useful than the actual push/pull method.

    On my side, I find something like Nebulous Notes on iOS more useful than MobileOrg as I can directly edit my Org files. Nebulous Notes has extended keyboard row as well as macros which helps adding things quickly to an Existing Org file.

  • Carl: Navigation, mostly. =) I have a really big Org file, and it’s nice to be able to jump around to different sections.

  • I’m curious at what you have in mind for use with Tasker. I presume you’re talking about this automation tool? http://tasker.dinglisch.net/

    I suppose it would be interesting to set up to have some notes automagically captured, though that feels more like “logging” to me, something that I’d kind of rather have take place using the Android logging facility. I’m not sure I want those logs captured “permanently” in an Org file.

  • I think it would be interesting to be able to use Tasker to open specific notes based on your geographic location, or to remind you to capture something with a specific template, or all sorts of other nifty things. =)

  • Mark

    This is good and I’m just starting to learn mobile application and starting to know the in and outs of mobile development. I just want to start new app and would like to create something like Dextr (http://www.textwithdextr.com/)

    Do anyone have an open source script for something like this or similar to this. I think this is one of the most needed like here in the Philippines, a texting capital.