On paper

On paper

I read programming books on paper.

There, I said it. Not every one and not exclusively, but still. In the age of weekly screencasts, live coding streams, and bite-sized chunks of knowledge delivered via Twitter, I read programming books. On paper.

It’s not a mere sentiment. The smell of paper does not teleport me to a better time of wizards and fair maidens. I choose paper for its strengths. However, these strengths are often vastly underutilised. Now more than ever, it seems.

The paper book nowadays feels more and more like an afterthought. This here is my plea to the publisher and my humble contribution. Let’s make paper great again.

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Jack, Jill & building Android apps by hand

Jack, Jill & building Android apps by hand

This seems to be the overarching theme of my posts. I renounce modern IDEs, go command-line and claim it’s good for you. But this time it’s serious.

I’m scared of magic.

Mysterious background processes performing tasks I’m unaware of and don’t understand. IDEs reading my mind and generating code behind my back. “Here, try some”, they’ll say. And I will try some indeed. Heck, I will even like it. But the mystery of it all will make it hard to swallow.

One such mystery for me has been the Android build process. Even outside the IDE, turning Java and XML into APK via Gradle was just enough magic to make me uncomfortable.

Whenever possible, I like to strip away the magic and do things by hand. Even if only as an exercise.

This was one such exercise.

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The 5 most exciting Google I/O 2016 announcements

The 5 most exciting Google I/O 2016 announcements

2016 marks the first year I’m more excited about Google I/O than Apple WWDC. It may not be the Steve-Jobs-pulling-a-laptop-out-of-an-envelope kind of excited, but I did watch the entire keynote live on the TV and enjoyed it a lot.

Some of the news has been circling around the Android community for a while now but I was pleasantly surprised by a few items.

Here are my top 5 favourite announcements from Google I/O 2016, in no particular order.

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Using GWT with IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition

For a recent game project I wanted to try out GWT. I was already making it cross-platform — with both a desktop and an android target — so it made sense to try and run it in the browser as well.

As a recent convert to IntelliJ IDEA, I’m perfectly satisfied with the free Community Edition. Doing mostly Android work, my usage does not justify getting a license just yet. So I was slightly bummed that GWT support is only available in the Ultimate Edition.

The IDEA Help page lists in some detail what this “GWT support” entails. A lot of useful stuff no doubt, most of which I don’t really need. I want the GWT classes to show up in the IDE and autocomplete when asked. This shouldn’t be hard to achieve in CE now should it?

Indeed it’s not hard at all and here how I did it.

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Top Sketch resources for Android UI design

Over the past 2 years, Sketch has become the fan favourite when it comes to UI design on Mac. However, Android designers weren’t getting the same kind of attention as iOS designers. This is now starting to change with some support in the app itself, some coming from Google, and with more and more Android designers sharing their work online.

Obviously many resources are universal. Many plugins will be useful across all platforms and a lot of the knowledge can be transferred over.

But then there are specifics of Android design. Screen densities, vector drawables, common patterns and layouts. With Google’s introduction of Material Design designers need to step up their game for apps to stay relevant and fit in.

I would hardly call myself a designer. But even I fire up Sketch every now and then for a quick UI mockup or a simple icon. This post gathers my favourite Sketch resources for Android UI designers.

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