Android developersA new SDK for Android is on its way, based on IntelliJ IDEA. It is a welcome change for some, who have been frustrated by the messy, open-source Java building Eclipse software, with Android Studio, the new development environment, being the first dedicated development kit for Android developers.

Previously, Android apps have been built using Eclipse, a development environment which could be used to build software in Java, or other languages by means of various plug-ins. Android Development was enabled by the ADT (Android Development Tools) plug-in, which made developing quicker and easier. Eclipse also allowed for other plug-ins to be created in an open-source environment, making the process a little scrappy.

The new development environment is unified and closed source, with Google building Studio from scratch. It is modelled on Eclipse with the ADT plug-in, meaning Android developers won’t be completely lost in a totally alien development environment, but the all-in-one development centre provides for quick and easy development with dedicated software. But everything is bundled together, with the SDK, emulators and tools all located in one, easy to use product.

In addition to everything the old Eclipse system had, Android Studio will feature integrated Gradle-based support, allowing you to automate processes when you need to, Android specific help and fixes, a rich layout editor with an easy drag-and-drop UI compiler, a fully integrated emulator and template-based wizards to quickly create common Android designs, as well as Lint tools to catch performance, usability and compatibility problems.

Android Studio is currently in early access preview, but is expected to launch later in 2013. The purpose of this beta stage is to iron some of the bugs before the official launch. Eventually, it will replace the old Eclipse system, making development for Android easier to learn and easier to turn around.

Still confused? Maybe we can help with a little Jargon Buster:

SDK: Software Development Kit. This is the set of tools which enable a developer to create applications or programs. Usually downloaded by the developer from the target system developer, i.e. Android or Apple, an SDK includes whichever tools a developer will need, from APIs (Application Programing Interface) which lays it all out like a manual, to more complex features to communicate with embedded systems.

IntelliJ IDEA: An Integrated Development Environment. This is a program in which developers can create an app. IntelliJ IDEA is the system which will run the new Android SDK, making development for Android a little easier.

Gradle: A build automation tool which runs a variety of tasks so the software developer doesn’t have to do them manually. Tasks such as running checks and deploying to production systems can be automated using a tool like Gradle.

Lint: Lint-finders comb through the source code of a program finding bugs, flagging them up to be addressed. Usually just syntactic discrepancies, lint is the name given to any problems in the code.

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