Android development primer: Looking into Eclipse IDE

This entry is part 7 of 50 in the series Android Development Primer

This post is aimed at giving you a little idea about what Eclipse IDE is and how you can use it’s features to the fullest for relatively faster coding. This is based strictly on it’s use in Android Development.

  • Eclipse is a multi-language Integrated Development Environment.
  • In it’s primitive form it is mostly used for writing Java programs.
  • It can be used, with the help of various plug-ins, to develop applications in an array of languages. Some of the most widely used ones are C, C++, PHP and Python.
  • If we are not speaking strictly, we can say it is similar to any WYSIWYG editor.

If we look into what and how it can help us in Android Programming, a couple of striking features are present. They are described in layman terms.

XML ASSISTANCE

  • It allows developers having little or no knowledge of XML to create layouts.
  • It allows Dragging and Dropping of elements from Palette to the Layout. It adds the required source code to XML automatically.
  • It allows for changing the attribute values of elements from the Properties tab. The source code is edited to reflect the changes made.
  • If the attributes of a particular element is changed, it allows for reflection of the changes in all codes in a project where this element might have been referred. It saves the programmer both time and effort.
  • The elements can be added in different configurations depending on the type of Layout selected. While dragging and dropping, Eclipse understands this layout and places the elements accordingly. For instance, in Relative Layout it allows for attributes like android:toLeftOf and android:toRightOf etc. In Linear Layouts it doesn’t allows such attributes.
  • It also understands the orientation of layouts.

CODE HINTING

  • Code Hinting refers to a feature where the IDE guesses the commands you want to enter as soon as you enter a few letters and it presents you with suggestions.
  • Ctrl+Space in Windows and Cmd+Space in Mac is the default key combination for Code Hinting.
  • While typing long statements, hit the Code Hinting key combination and choose the suitable statement from the list of statements presented.
  • Based on the SDK you are using for Android, Eclipse tells you whether some functions and features are out of date. They are deprecated by Eclipse.
  • It shows warnings and errors progressively as you type in statements so you know whether you have got the syntax and function arguments correct.

Although these may not seem very useful or time-saving in the initial stages of development, but they save a lot of effort when you are in the later stages and every single code in your project consists of more than a hundred lines.

Series Navigation<< Android development primer: Multiple Screen Support for Android, using IntentsAndroid development primer: Creating Options Menu in Android – Part I >>

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