Last night we did the first, of what I hope will be many, MHV Android Hack-a-thons. The basic idea was to get folks together that are interested in doing android mobile development, and having others around they could bounce questions off of. We did it at Panera because they have food and wireless, though future sessions probably have to move elsewhere, like Barnes & Noble, because the 9pm closing time came a bit too early.
Turnout was promissing. Frank, Kershaw, and Muller all showed with their android phones and laptops, plus we got 3 other folks that just wanted to see what an android phone looks like. Frank and Kershaw both had the Droid, Muller has a google issued G1, and I’ve got my Hero. It was definitely interesting to see the differences across all of them, and supports my theory that there isn’t a straight road when it comes to android base platforms. The Droid did some things the Hero didn’t, the Hero did some things the Droid didn’t. A big reason for these differences is how modular Android is. You legitimately can replace any part of the core interface with your own code. HTC Sense, for instance, is a Home replacement. You can write your own. HTC also replaced the default mail, sms, contacts, and a few other things. Some for good (mail, contacts), some for worse (messaging power bug). But as a user you are empowered to replace the SMS system with a 3rd party app, which I did.
The evening started off with “oh, have you seen this yet?” which got a lot of knowledge cross shared. Frank’s starting a wiki page to try to keep track of that. I got out my laptop early and started working through the Sudoku example application in Hello Android. It’s a pretty good example that includes many of the widget systems as well as the 2D graphics API. I’m pretty impressed with the book so far. Frank and Kershaw spent some time getting the SDK installed and poking it, and Muller was focused on the Android Scripting Environment to do some python on the phone.
All of use except Muller are still a bit in the “ooo shiney” stage, as I’ve had my phone for a whole month now, and Frank and Kershaw have had theirs for less than a week. I suspect that future hack-a-thons will actually start generating a bit more code. I continue to be impressed by the API model for Android, and really look forward to working on applications on it. Yes, Java is not as nice and terse as Ruby, but at least I won’t have to write widget packing code. And that makes me a happy camper.