For quite some time I’ve dreamed of being able to use my Android devices for development. Until recently, this dream seemed like it would never become a reality (at least, to the extent I wanted). Then, I learned of a new app available on the Google Play store… AIDE – Android IDE, an on-device development environment for Android applications. I’m not sure if this is the first app of its kind or not, but it sure seems like it’s the best.
So, what exactly does AIDE do that makes it so awesome? Well, first of all, like any good code editor AIDE offers syntax highlighting. More interestingly though, it provides code completion, refactoring, and other helpful features that traditional IDEs offer (and most on-device code editors don’t). Lastly AIDE, makes it possible to compile and run your application directly without having to use a computer. This is, to me, the most exciting aspect of AIDE.
After working with LibGDX for the last year and a half, I naturally wanted to see if I could use AIDE to continue to do so. My first attempt ended rather quickly with a issue report to the developer of AIDE but they turned around a fix very quickly and I was back in business. Lo and behold, it works!
There are a couple ways to get this set up, but here I’ll describe an easy way to start a new project. I’ll assume we want to maintain the best practice 3+ project setup and, to make it easier, I will utilize the dev-guide demo project from the LibGDX SVN repository on Google Code.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this but, to be sure, ensure you have AIDE installed on your Android device (this will work the same on phones or tablets).
With that out of the way, the first step will be to acquire the dev-guide project. I did this right on my device using Open Android SVN but you can use any means you like (Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive are all fine choices, as is copying from your computer). I copied the dev-guide folder to the AppProjects folder that AIDE sets up on the sdcard but this isn’t strictly necessary as AIDE will open projects from anywhere you like. Next, start AIDE, then locate and open the my-gdx-game-android project. We’ll need to make some very minor modifications so it works in the AIDE environment. Open the .classpath file in the project root. Update the references to the shared project and gdx.jar so that they are relative to the project (as opposed to the workspace). At the time of writing, the icons included in the my-gdx-game-android project are broken so you’ll need to replace them. Creating a new project in AIDE is a fine method of acquiring new ic_launcher.png graphics. Just copy and replace the same in the my-gdx-game-android project. Now, we are ready to run the game to make sure everything is correctly setup. Simply choose the Run option from the Menu (or Action Bar if on Android 3.0+). It will take a few moments to compile and install. When it opens you should be met with a nice fuschia screen (You can thank Mario for that one).
Assuming all went well, you are now ready to build out the next big thing. You’re only limited by your own imagination. Well, that and your ability to be productive and creative on your Android device. Perhaps, I will do another post with some apps I’ve found useful in that regard.
So, to recap, the steps are:
- Acquire AIDE
- Acquire the dev-guide project from Google Code
- Update the classpath
- Replace the icons
Update:: I’ve fixed the icons in the LibGDX SVN, so that step should no longer be required.