Sunday, December 9, 2012

First day @ AnDevCon_IV

Last week I had a great time at AnDevCon_IV. Three days filled with Android, learned interesting stuff, met some smart people, connected with old buddies and shook hands with some famous personalities in Android world.

AnDevCon 4, a four day technical conference started on Dec 4 at Burlingame, California. They had hands on workshops on day 1, including Android Bootcamp, Embedded Android and Facebook apps for Android.

The second day was kicked off by a keynote by Ethan Evans, Director of App Developer Services, Amazon. He discussed the performance and impact of HTML5 apps and also mentioned how Amazon achieved the better performance by using both HTML5 and native code in their apps. He also explained blended HTML5 used in their App store hybrid architecture. "Updates without requiring Upgrades" was the most promising feature of HTML5, he said.

After his keynote, the actual classes began. It was a daunting task to choose between 70+ classes and many interesting topics were cross listed which made the selection even tougher. 'Hacking APKs for fun and profit (mostly fun)' sounded fun but I instead headed to "Dive into Android Fragments" session by Donn Felker. After he explained the basics of Fragments and fragment transactions, he talked about RoboGuice. It's a lightweight library that uses Google Guice library for dependency injection. It's not recommended for games or performance centric apps, but it does make code simpler and cleaner. He also talked about other open source projects -

  • Otto from Square - another dependency injection framework
  • ActionBarSherlock - extension to Android's support library to facilitate the use of ActionBar on all versions of Android
  • Viewpageindicator - adds pagination to Android code, especially useful when using multiple fragments or panes.
Android Bootstrap might be useful if you are planning to use above technologies, the project is built using many open source projects widely used in practice. 

Here is a link to Donn's Github project that he used to explain fragments.

Mike Wolfson presented two part series on Android Developer Tools. Google IO videos on this topics are much more informative so I will skip my notes on this session except for one piece of information.

HAXM - Intel® Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager  It's hardware assisted hypervisor, can greatly reduce the time required to boot an android image on an emulator. You need to download the driver for haxm and also Intel Atom image to use with the emulator. Currently it supports only ICS and JB images.
He also has a repo of all different types of AVDs, which can come handy during testing.

Marko Gargenta presented 'Architecting Android Apps' where he explained basic building blocks - activities, services, providers and receivers, as well as intents that glue them all together.

The post lunch sessions were the most engaging ones and were packed with useful information, so keeping myself awake was not hard.

Alex Gargenta presented 'Deep Dive into IPC/Binder Framework'. You should check out this video. He did a great job explaining binder concept, starting with the kernel level binder driver all the way up to application level code including discovery mechanisms, threading context, security implications etc.

I concluded Day 1 with "Mastering Android Touch system" session presented by Dave Smith. He provided in-depth look at how Android passes touch events between view hierarchies, why should you care about ACTION_DOWN even if you are interested only in ACTION_UP or ACTION_MOVE, what it means to handle a particular event etc. Code examples will make the theory simpler - here is the project he used.

Oh btw, driving on 101 sucks and it doesn't matter which direction you are travelling or if you are in hov lane or not, it sucks!

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