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To summarize: I can buy a book, people say "Just read the developer site", I like to be spoon-fed the early learning piece for a technology, what path through the developer site will give me that spoonfeeding I need (that is, examples tied directly to the section being discussed, a clear path, etc.).

I keep seeing that I don't need to buy an Android development book, that I should just read the Android developer site, because it has everything I need to know. I see it more as drinking from a fire hose.

But I'm one of those people who likes to be walked through the basics. I like to build up my knowledge, rather than being dropped into reference documentation. I also like to make sure I have see all/most of the topics covered. I'd hate to develop the wrong thing, because I don't know about Fragments, Content Providers, or whatever.

So, since it's a great resource, better than any book (we don't need no stinking books), how do I traverse the site to get the information provided in the same way as a book would lay it out?

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It's laid out exactly how a book would lay it out. It seems that is your problem with it. –  Ben Brocka Apr 5 '12 at 19:41
    
@BenBrocka you must be reading some crappy books. I get good information from them, and they aren't laid out like this.... –  Paul Apr 10 '12 at 15:49
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spoon-fed? If that strategy works for you, more power. But I had a hard time vizualising that in the fast-paced development world (in particular in the uber-fast-paced mobile arena.) I don't think it'd work for me since, at least they way I've seen it, the only way to learn (but truly learn) is to be dropped into a real situation. If you try to build your knowledge in baby steps, that stuff will be obsolete by the time you want to use it. YMMV. –  luis.espinal Apr 10 '12 at 16:09

4 Answers 4

I'm one of those people who likes to be walked thru the basics. I like to build up my knowledge, rather than being dropped into reference documentation. I also like to make sure I have see all/most of the topics covered. I'd hate to develop the wrong thing because I don't know about Fragments, Content Providers, or whatever.
...how do I traverse the site to get the information provide in the same way as a book would lay it out?

The read through sequence that looks close to learning path that worked well for me few years ago is about as follows:

  1. Open tab Dev Guide. Note the opening statement at its very beginning says:

    The Dev Guide provides a practical introduction to developing applications for Android...

  2. Read topics listed in left column one-by-one, from top to bottom
    Note dealing with hyperlinks in Dev Guide topics might be tricky. For a first read-through I would avoid side-stepping to study these, reading through as if it's plain text - but this is rather a matter of personal preference.

http://i.stack.imgur.com/U9hkO.jpg
While it looks obvious when you see the arrows and the relevant tab opened at above screen shot, it's not automatically clear when a newbie developer first time lands right at the http://developer.android.com.


This just suggests I drink from the fire hose...

Well thing is, introductory guides like that are designed to allow for fast study; if you feel you can't read through fast, you better learn how to do that.

  • One can use this very Android guide to practice that skill. Set a reasonable time frame to complete reading - say something like one week or less. Set a realistic goal - "to become an expert in 3 days" won't do. Aim for getting a big picture, for understanding where to look for details on various topics one may need in future - stuff like that. Then, well, start reading guide topics, one-by-one, from top to bottom - trying to keep up with time frame set.

It is very unlikely that Android will be the only technology you'll need to learn through your career. There will be many others ahead.

Being able to recognize beginner's guides and quickly read through these will bring you a serious advantage in the long run. This will let you to quickly start working with new technology while other guys around will still be complaining about fire hoses and waste time looking for a royal road which indeed lies in front of them.

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This just suggests I drink from the fire hose.... For example, it does Activities as the 1st section but doesn't talk about the UI until the 6th. As a beginner, I want those things tied together as I'm starting. –  Paul Apr 4 '12 at 17:49
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@Paul yeah that sounds familiar. :) "This chapter feels boring, I know there is much more interesting one few hops forward". If you developed that kind intuition (which somehow puts you a bit above a user new to Android doesn't it), consider using that intuition to "customize" a sequence in which you read Dev Guide topics. If you're lucky, this may save you some time. –  gnat Apr 4 '12 at 18:07
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@maple_shaft "I'm one of those people who likes to be walked thru the basics. I like to build up my knowledge, rather than being dropped into reference documentation. I also like to make sure I have see all/most of the topics covered." - that's the quote from the question I intended to answer –  gnat Apr 5 '12 at 14:54
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@Paul - your question is unanswerable in the general sense because almost everyone has different strategies for learning, in particular with software development. Some people will legitimately say that the site is as good as the book because, for them, it is. Are you really surprised by this? And do you actually think they should stop saying so? Not only it is specific to people, but it is specific to technology. –  luis.espinal Apr 10 '12 at 16:13
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The revamp of the Android Developers website means that the old link now takes you to the API Guides index page. A better start these days would probably be the Training index page. –  Mark Booth Jan 21 '13 at 16:07

Well here's the steps that I took (granted I like to jump in over my head which from what I gather isn't exactly your way of doing things):

  1. Google around
  2. Keep getting directed here: http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/fundamentals.html
  3. Get about half way through, then get ADD. Back to google. Before you do the same, have a gander at 'The AndroidManifest.xml, Activities and all of its subpages, and User Interface and all of its subpages
  4. Find some tutorials: (google it. Hackaday and ActiveFrequency had some decent ones, but there's some stupid two hyperlink rule here or something, so I can't link them)
  5. Feel ready to start work on an app
  6. Start programming
  7. Get confused
  8. Find answers on StackOverflow and other similar sites
  9. When I get one part of the app working and move on to the next, check the appropriate section in http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/fundamentals.html to try to find anything that could be relevant.
  10. At some point, realize that I did everything wrong with my first app and move on to another.
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This shows my point that I was trying to make... I would like to avoid #10 –  Paul Apr 13 '12 at 12:26
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@Paul If you intend to make a full-fledged app as your learning one, good luck. If you have a well-thought-out idea, what I'd recommend is working on an app that you can re-use the majority of the work on for your main app. I guess the biggest area where I screwed up was in not making use of all of the tools available. I highly recommend googling around to see where people have already done your work for you. Also, try to write your code as modular as possible, so that if you need to fix something, you can pop it out, test it, re-write it, and put it back in with minimal effort. –  Ross Aiken Apr 14 '12 at 0:08
    
@Paul Also, just found this youtube playlist, might be worthwhile, haven't had a chance to look in depth at it, has 200 videos on Android development...: youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2F07DBCDCC01493A –  Ross Aiken Apr 14 '12 at 4:20
    
Just worked my way through the first 20 videos and, so far, it seems like it's almost exactly what you need. –  Ross Aiken Apr 15 '12 at 20:38

The community college I attend actually has a course in learning how to program in Android. We're learning the basics (and some advanced) of Java first and then moving on to Android. The textbook does a pretty good job of explaining things and, to my knowledge, is one of the only Android Programming textbooks out there. Here is a link to it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Android-How-Program-Series-ebook/dp/B007HDPSAU/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_3

I have the ebook for my iPad. Maybe a textbook could help you! It has some Self-Assement questions (and their answers). Good luck :)

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

After going through the developer site I believe that my original premise is correct. If you want a clear (guided even) overview of the topic, use some other source first.

I was able to use Android Boot Camp 2012 to get an overview of the topic. (Of course, it's not that great for reference back to later)

After that, I'm better able to read what's on the developer website and put the pieces into a good context.

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