Thursday, April 16, 2015

Back to the BASICs

I first started programming in GW BASIC on my first computer. It was a Texas Instruments 286 laptop with an external floppy disk drive, 30 megabyte hard disk running DOS 4.1. Later I managed to cram Windows 3.0 on to it by getting rid of almost every utility program that came with Windows at the time. I then installed a hard disk compression program called SpeedStor that quickly corrupted the entire hard disk and I had to start over. The laptop came with the DOS setup program stored on a ROM chip on the motherboard, so it was easy to get back up and running.

My first impressions of Android Studio was that I was going back to the "good old days" of programming in BASIC on a DOS computer. That quickly changed, but the learning curve was steep. I was coming from a world of drawing an interface like you would do if you were using Adobe Photoshop or something. Coming up through the ranks of Visual Basic (VB 2,3, 4, 6 and then VB.Net in Visual Studio) I became accustomed to what was at one time referred to as RAD programming - Rapid Application Development.

The IDEs I had used in the past made it easy to add a few buttons and put code behind them to pull data from a database and populate lists. It is great for the work environment I was accustomed to working in. A request was made for a program to interact with data in a new way and I could have a workable solution in 2 days. Another week of tweaking with feedback from the end-user and it was on to the next project.

With Android Studio I was designing interfaces with XML and positioning controls by setting Top and Left. It seemed crude and archaic. Sure there was an visual drag and drop interface to put controls on a picture of a phone, but even that seemed crude compared to the earliest version of Visual Basic.

There is an on-line tutorial that was fantastic for getting up and running, but I quickly out grew what it had to teach me. I first spent a lot of time on looking for solutions to what most Java programmings would not consider a problem. There are a lot of helpful people on that site, but there are also a lot of people who seem to have a lot of time on their hands and do little more that critique posts instead giving useful information. I swear to God it is like dealing with a bunch of little old ladies. is another great resource. Lots of workable examples for how to do basic things in Java and Android Studio.

I now love Android Studio, but the first month was brutal. I'm not going to say it is better than Visual Studio. If I could I would squish the two together. They both have annoying aspects to them and great aspects to them.

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