Recently I’ve been working on an big Android application where I work set for release later this year. It’s going to be a great help to employees and distributors in the field letting them do all sorts of things they normally need to be at a computer for. I’m using my Macbook Pro to do development as it’s easier to not have to switch back and forth from OSX to windows as I’m building application features in parallel in an effort to release simultaneously (which may or may not be smart). One thing, though is that we use Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server at work, which is, of course, a Microsoft product. Luckily they bought TeamPrise somewhere along the line and now there’s a great Eclipse plugin (unfortunately and frustratingly, only available to Bizspark or MSDN Ultimate subscribers – license key required upon install) to let you check in/out right from within Eclipse. However, I had one problem that I couldn’t seem to figure out until I accidentally seemed to find something that works…
Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Beta is out for MSDN subscribers, and brings great new features for everyone – not to mention SharePoint development. If you’ve used Intellitrace to step backwards through your code to debug tricky situations that require more context, you know how awesome it is. Unfortunately, that’s not available for x64 bit and SharePoint projects currently. Finally, SP1 bring that functionality to us along with a lot more. Here are some of the highlights via Jason Zanders’ Weblog:
When developing SharePoint 2010 Applications, you must have an instance of SharePoint 2010 installed on the same machine to both allow for access to SharePoint .dlls as well as for easy deployment and debugging purposes. One of the problems with this is that SharePoint 2010 has always been solely supported on Windows Server operating systems. With SharePoint 2010 you can now install and develop on Windows 7 (x64 versions only)!
I love CodeRush. When I was looking at a productivity plugin for Visual Studio, I basically had two options: CodeRush+Refactor! Pro or ReSharper. I eventually picked CodeRush for the visualizations, code-from-scratch productivity boosters and templates, and extensibility. As with anything, it takes some getting used to the shortcuts inside CodeRush to really become effective using it. Here’s a link to a downloadable and printable cheat sheet with all of the most-used shortcuts for CR and Refactor!
I recently started doing an evaluation of JetBrains’ ReSharper and DevExpress’ CodeRush. Both are developer productivity tools for Visual Studio that give you code templates (shorthand notation that pumps out full sections of code), refactoring tools, code metrics and analysis, and much more. I had been contemplating getting ReSharper (R#) for a while now as it seems to be by far the most popular. However, recently I attended a presentation at a local user group by Gary Short, a Microsoft MVP from Scotland who actually works at DevExpress and told me about CodeRush. As I looked it up, I saw great reviews of it across the board to the point that many R# devs were making the switch. As I looked more into it, I saw solid community support (headed up by Rory Becker), and that CodeRush was an great platform to write plugins if I so chose later on.
With that said, I’ll be writing my experience and logging helpful sites and tips that I find out as I go along with my evaluation of CodeRush. Is there anything you ReSharper guys want me to look into? Things that I should be aware of?
One of the things I say a lot is the quote “Incentives make the world go round”, and that, my friends, is true. So why do I develop for the Android platform and not the iPhone? The iPhone certainly has that “cool” factor about it. I even own a MacBook pro and have access to an iTouch for testing, so I have everything I would need. When I was looking for a new phone last November, one of the top priorities for me the prospect of developing and releasing new applications for my device of choice. So why then didn’t I pick up an iPhone? Let me explain…
There were three major phone platforms out in the Winter of 2009: iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android. I knew iPhone would currently be the most popular device to release an app for. Second would be Android, since its market share was (extremely) rapidly increasing. Then, there was Windows Phone, which showed great promise with Zune integration (I LOVE my ZuneHD). There were a few different things that I had to consider when I was picking out a phone (and ultimately, a platform), but let’s focus on the ones that matter from a software development and business aspect:
- Current and Future Popularity
- No lie here, iPhone has an amazing interface, partly due to no (and now minimal) multitasking. Android is good, but could use some work, partly because screens are different across devices, so apps have to be built in such a way that all devices have a great experience.
- The SDK for both are great. There are lots of APIs to hook into and lots of functionality to leverage (I wrote a very light iPhone app for version 2). The documentation for iPhone is good, with several videos explaining the development process. However, Android’s developer center is absolutely top-notch. They have videos and in-depth tutorials that are the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. The best part, however, is that Android’s developer forums (used for Q/A) is actually officially integrated as a part of StackOverflow. That community is amazing and very quick to help you understand anything you’re banging your head against.
- Development Language
- If you’ve ever switched from Java to C#, or vice versa, you’ll know they are very, very similar. Windows Phone is C# (.NET) based. Android is Java based. Both are popular, solid languages with tons of support and lots of community involvement. iPhone development uses objective-C, an extremely popul…wait…objective-C? Oh, you didn’t say C? Not even C++? So, wait, wait…is it anything like those? The syntax is totally different you say? Oh…well, looks like you had better start your steep learning curve so you can get that app out the door. Also, you better ask your boss for an extension, because this could take a while. Or, you could always write for the iPhone using a mixture of .NET and the convolutedness of the the way objective-C and development on the iPhone is structured. Good luck with that.
- The marketplace on both are good…once you get and stay there. The iTunes store feels like the cheapest app is $0.99, whereas the norm for Android apps is Free. So, if you’re after making money, iPhone is probably the way to go. Of course, you have to be approved…and stay approved…and Apple has to not change their mind. You see, on Android, Google and the community builds in functionality like tethering, and cool apps like the Google shopping app. Also, you have community options like ShopSavvy. Just because ShopSavvy’s functionality is the same as one of Google’s apps, Google just tries to BUILD A BETTER APP, whereas Apple simply bans you from the marketplace altogether and causes your app to shut down. From Apple’s perspective this reduces competition, provides a more consistent interface, and cleans out duplicate apps (read: anti-capitalism). From an app developer’s business point of view, this increases risk DRAMATICALLY. Would you be willing to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into an app, only to have Apple steal your idea, integrate it, and then kick you out? Tough luck, chump. Android is the only sure bet that you will 100% have a chance.
So that, in a nutshell, is why I write for Android and not the iPhone. Or, it could just be that I have a Droid and AT&T service is terrible where I live. You know what they say, “Incentives make the world go round”.
Writing software can be both a job and a hobby for many of us, and we all have projects sitting out there that we start and never finish. Some of them, however, are farther along or more useful than others. When we remember that we need to finish a project, whether at work or at home, you can use these tips for getting things done immediately to get back to your life!: