My development plan for the Android Developer Challenge 2

I haven’t posted lately about Barra de Español or the Biblefeed Project because my free time has been split among other projects and I have not been able to return to these two for the moment. Barra de Español is still awaiting approval on to be put in the public section, so I don’t want to make further improvements to it until that happens.

Recently I purchased an Android phone, and I love it! It’s everything I wanted a phone to be. It has an excellent web browser, a full QWERTY keyboard, GPS, and it’s hackable! I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to write an app for it, and as I start looking for the documentation on how to write one, I discover that Google is holding a developer contest. This discovery changed my approach to developing this app.

I’m not going to talk about the app I’m working on, but I did want to share how I intend to work on it, because it’s a little different than my normal approach to personal projects. Normally I start with a minimal list of features. These are the features that are most important to me. I work on each one a little at time, slowly improving the pieces until they are functional and working well together. Each piece that I work usually causes me to improve the other pieces of the program until finally they’re all done at around the same time. At this point the project is probably ugly. I may give it some finishing touches, but not always. The project is for me, so functionality trumps aesthetics.

For this contest I felt that developing an app required a different approach. I made a larger list of features that I felt the app could do that I had not originally planned for, especially features which would take advantage of some of the built-in hardware and software on the Android platform. I then prioritized each feature based on how essential the functionality is to the application, how much the feature took advantage of the platform, and how impressive I thought that the feature could be.

With this prioritized list, I’m going to develop each feature as a whole, one feature at a time. Each feature must be functionally complete and aesthetically pleasing before I move on to the next feature. The reason for this is because if the entry deadline arrives before all of the features are complete, I can still submit an application which is still functional and polished, even if it has fewer features than planned. With my normal development style I could be stuck with an ugly app where only half of the features work by the time the deadline rolls around.

I don’t expect that I will be able to complete all of my planned features for this project by the August 31 deadline, but I hope with this plan I will have a decent app to submit. There is a bit of a learning curve that is slowing me down though. Even though it’s been over five or six years since I’ve worked with Java, the changes to the language are similar to the changes to C# over the same time period. The real learning curve comes from the Android framework. The activities, intents, content providers, etc. are easy enough to understand but I’m still dealing with an API that is brand new to me, and will take time to absorb.

Wish me luck!