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The Android Application Development Process

Generally speaking, developing Android software requires the same steps as generalpurpose software: designing, encoding, compiling, linking, packaging, deploying, debugging, and optimizing. For some Android systems, testing and verification steps are also required. In terms of process, it can be divided into five stages: encoding, construction, deployment, debugging, and tuning. The typical development process is shown in Figure 3-2.

Figure 3-2. Development process for Android software

Encoding

Encoding is the first step in the software development process. Software source code can be written using various editors. During Android development, this work is mainly editing

.j ava code and .xml source files.

Construction

The task during the construction stage is to convert code into executable programs on Android hardware. This stage includes sub-steps such as compiling, linking, and packaging as shown in Figure 3-3.

Figure 3-3. Software construction stage

The first step of construction is the build, which means to translate all source code files into target files. Some target files are machine-related such as C/C++ target files that correspond to the execution instructions of the machine. But some are not specific to the machine, such as Java target source code that is not machine-executable instructions.

During Android application development, these files usually have the suffix .class. On Android, .classes are translated to .dex files.

The second step is packaging. The purpose of packaging is to combine and install all target files and affiliated files into one folder on the target machine. As for Android, .dex files and resource files are all packaged into an .apk file that can be stored outside the target machine. The packaging operation is usually done with special packaging tools.

Deployment

Deployment, the last stage of software development, is where the installation package is copied from the host machine, decompressed, and installed into the memory of the Android device.

Android has adopted USB cable-based ISP deployment. As shown in Figure 3-4, the host machine is connected to the target machine via USB cable. The Android OS runs on the target machine while the Windows† or Linux OS runs on the host machine.

The file packages generated (.apk) are copied to one directory of the file system in the target machine before being decompressed and installed to finish deployment. The process can be done using command line terminals or the DDMS inside Eclipse.

Figure 3-4. Android application deployment

Under the online programming model, the copying direction of the files between the host machine and the target machine is different. And different terminologies are used for file copying. For example, download/upload is called push/pull in Android. Push means to copy files from the host machine to the target machine, while pull means copy files from the target machine to the host machine.

 
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