Saturday, 11 April 2015

App Development: Overcoming Writers Block

Writers block - the curse of no longer being able to produce creative content. It's affected writers for years, but is also a very common problem for app developers. When it comes to app development, what can we do about it?

The causes for app writers block are mostly similar to traditional writers block, for example:

Since these are already known problems traditional strategies for overcoming them can also be applied.

  • Cut off the Internet! Is procrastination your problem - too many notifications or fun things to look at elsewhere? It's amazing how productive you can be if you turn off the internet for 30 minutes - a kick start is all you need. 
  • Exercise. You may not be doing any app development because you feel lethargic - exercise can help this and make you feel more alert. 
  • Brainstorm ideas. Get a bit of paper, and write down mind maps or random ideas you have. 
  • Change your location. A change of scenery can do you good - get out the house and head to a coffee shop or park and see if that can help inspire you. 
Picture by  photosteve101

The above techniques all transfer well to app development. However, the best technique I have found is to plagiarise! Ok - maybe not really plagiarise, but look elsewhere for inspiration. It's easy to think that you need to always do something unique, but taking another idea and making it better or with a different twist is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Check out the top apps in various categories on as many app stores as you can. If you do only Android - check the iTunes store as well and vice versa. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

How to: Install Gradle on Windows

Step 1: Download the latest version of Gradle from the official site.

Step 2: Extract the contents into a folder e.g. "C:\gradle-2.3".

Step 3: Open up the environment variables window. To do this:

  1. Right click on your computer and click "Manage"
  2. Click "Advanced System Settings"
  3. Click "Environment Variables"
Step 4: Add new System Variable (or user variable if you only want it on your user account).

Step 5: Click New and enter Environment Variable as "GRADLE_HOME" and value as the bin directory of your Gradle installation path from step 2 e.g. "C:\gradle-2.3\bin". Press OK. 

Step 6: Find the "Path" variable and press Edit. Scroll to the end of the text and add the text "%GRADLE_HOME%". Remember to separate from previous entry with a semi-colon ";". 

Step 6: Press OK to exit the environment variable window and advanced system settings. 

Step 7: Open up a command prompt window. (press windows button and enter "cmd" as a shortcut). 

Step 8: Check Gradle version by entering text "gradle -v". If installation has been successful you should see something like the following: 

C:\Users\username>gradle -v

Gradle 2.3

Build time:   2015-02-16 05:09:33 UTC
Build number: none
Revision:     586be72bf6e3df1ee7676d1f2a3afd9157341274

Groovy:       2.3.9
Ant:          Apache Ant(TM) version 1.9.3 compiled on December 23 2013
JVM:          1.7.0_25 (Oracle Corporation 23.25-b01)
OS:           Windows 8 6.2 amd64

You should now be set up for using Gradle. 

Android Studio - How to change app icon (ic_launcher)

Changing your applications icon (ic_launcher) is a common occurrence when developing your android application. Here's quick steps on how...