Friday, January 22, 2010

Android Development

I'm a geek, and I enjoy programming. In fact, I enjoy it so much that despite doing it all day, I will often come home and actually do it more in the evening for the sheer enjoyment of it.

This is most noticeable in my Codeplex project: eComic.

That's something that I wrote and maintain and update fundamentally for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Likewise, every time I get a new toy, I want to expand its capabilities, and make it do more. Since I'm about to get a new toy, I decided to preemptively set up my ability to play upon it.

In other words, since I'm getting a DROID, I decided to set up my home PC to allow ANDROID development.

Now, not to sound egotistical or anything, but I'm a smart guy; I work with computers day in and day out, and in fact it is my primary job description to make computers jump through the hoops I (or my customers) want them to. It's what I do.

Which is why setting up that Android DEV environment saddens me so much.

First off, the recommended environment includes the following elements:

  • Eclipse IDE
  • Android SDK
  • Android ADT
Now, that's not the bad thing, the bad thing is getting all those parts working together in a cohesive hole which allows you to actually create programs for the device you're aiming for.

Microsoft gets a lot of bad rep by geeks. It's big, it's massive, but despite all of the negativity from my peers, I LIKE Microsoft tools--especially the development ones.

When I went to install Microsoft's IDE on my machine, I downloaded the ISO, loaded it up, and ran the SETUP.EXE file and followed the prompts, making relevant changes as needed/desired to customize my environment.

Fundamentally, it worked. No hassles. No headaches, just thirty minutes of watching progress bars and then I was kicking and coding.

Sadly, the Eclipse/Android SDK install was anything but that easy.

Worse, because there was no installer (and consequently, the application was never identified to Windows) the whole thing flags UAC every time I launch it.

But, I get the Eclipse IDE downloaded, and shortcuts added to my DOCK tool, and then I have to install the SDK.

Which is a much Vista-Friendlier experience than installing the Eclipse IDE.

Then I run into integrating the two. This involves telling the Eclipse IDE where it can download the Android ADT package, and then allowing it access.

Now, I make this sound easy in this post. The thing is, it took me two tries to get it working. My first try was two weeks ago, and after three hours of trying to get everything installed, I gave up. Last night, I was successful, only because I followed the instructions in this article. Which despite being out-of-date, was much more informative and detailed than anything available on Google's Android Developer's website.

Now maybe I'm lazy, and just haven't utilized enough of those "free" IDEs to realize the "proper" way to go about utilizing the things. Maybe having Visual Studio's installation be hassle free has made me dumber.

Yet, in the end I think I'd rather be stupid that fight through setting up that Android Dev environment again...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another New Version of eComic

Well, I've finally gotten off my lazy backside and implemented a new version of eComic.  It's been up for less than 6 hours and it has already been downloaded 6 times.  Not bad for such a specialized application.

eComicOf course the primary reason I work on eComic is to ensure that my skills stay nifty and sharp, as well as a place to learn new tricks and technologies for my particular field. 

Which is why that as soon as I get both the SDK and my new phone I'll try working on an ANDROID version of eComic.

But that's neither here nor there. If you compare this to the previous version you'll notice a few things, including that the navigation box is once again on the side. I felt that it just consumed too much of the reader's screen real estate at the bottom, especially with the thought that wide-screen monitors are becoming more prevalent.

Secondly, if you look to the left side of things, then you'll see that there's a ZOOM control. In addition to the slider that will allow precise (in a manner of speaking) control of the zoom, there are also a 1:1 button which makes the image to be its "true" size and a FILL button which makes the control perform a "Uniform" fill of the image currently displayed.

I considered those necessary with the things like the new Microsoft tablets and netbooks that are out there, and just anyone that doesn't have the 19+ inch monitors.

At the bottom, there now resides a STATUS bar, which provides little things such as the current page being viewed, as well as the name of the file. I plan on having it also provide other details that can be found in the XML objects that can be associated with a CBR file.

So, for my next trick, this is my current plan of attack in regards to functionality for this:

  • Work on display XML data in status bar
  • Provide way to view NOTES text (either from a Notes.txt file or appropriate field from XML file
  • Provide keyboard short-cuts for Menu Items found in the Ribbon bar
  • Work on CBR (well, actually CBZ as creating RAR files requires the purchase of a library while creating ZIP files is free) editor
  • Work on the GNZ editor
  • Implement the 7z decompression function (cb7)

As always, content for eComic can be found in many locations, or even built yourself by scanning in your newly purchased comics.

But two sites that provide free (and typically public domain) content for eComic are:

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