This is a guest post by Google Engineer Bob Rose
I’m very proud and excited to see my first Android application go out to the Market! Finance for Android (http://googlefinanceblog.blogspot.com) is a real-time stock quote, portfolio, and market news application. I’ve been working on it in my Google 20% time since late last year.
Developing this app was a very educational experience as it was well designed and pretty far along when I joined, but had a lot of bugs, holes, and requested features to work on. I started by fixing a few bugs and improving some of the user interface screens. I did a lot of reading and working on some sample apps before this, but jumping onto a real app that uses a lot of real data is a great way to get exposure to a lot of Android features. Having a great team of people working on this also made it really easy to get a lot of work done quickly!
One thing I really like about the Android model is how you can create user interface elements in declarative as well as procedural ways. The screens in Finance are created in the XML design language and then manipulated programatically to update the values. This allows a really nice separation of layout and content. We changed the layout and visuals many times, often without having to change the underlying application at all. Several times I reworked the XML files to address issues and didn’t have to touch a line of Java code.
Working on this as a 20% project at Google was a great experience. We have a team spread out over many sites, involving engineers, UI designers, testers, and product managers. Google employees are used to working in a distributed way, so this was no different. We made great use of video conferencing, instant messaging, and lots of email. We also used Google Docs quite a bit to have schedules, meeting notes, design docs, and other information that we could all access, modify, and share internally.
Having lots of Google employees testing and giving us great feedback on this app for the last several months has allowed us to find all kinds of issues and places to improve. We think it’s made the product much better and appreciate all the help we received!
Since the start of my own learning about and using the Android SDK and a G1 phone, I’ve found a large number of RSS feeds, forums, websites, and twitter streams that have helped me greatly. To help spread that knowledge to the greater Android community, I created the website http://androidsavvy.com. AndroidSavvy is a dynamic site that shows actual RSS feed information and live Twitter streams about Android so there’s always something new to discover!
I’m a software engineer at Google (Boulder, CO office), working on Google Docs. I focus on user interfaces and interaction design. I’ve been building GUIs for desktop and web applications for almost 25 years and love that there’s always a new device, toolkit, or paradigm to keep things interesting!
I’ve always been intrigued by mobile applications and was excited when Android came out. I love that it has a Java API, that it’s open source, and that it’s really easy to get started and build high-quality apps. I started using the SDK over a year ago and really enjoy the programming model and toolkit. I hope you enjoy the Finance App and AndroidSavvy.com!Bob Rose