How to read the official Android documentation

I worked on a few Android apps 3 years ago as a college student. Since then, I got into a full-time job in a different role, stopped working on those Android apps and went about learning other software stacks. About 2 months ago, I decided to experiment with Android again.

That is when I noticed that the Android world had changed considerably. The UI had got a lot more polished, developers had become more focused on writing great quality apps and almost every iOS development team had begun to port their apps to Android also ensuring that they weren’t sub-par to their iOS counterparts anymore.

This was widely because of the standards Google had adopted and I was tempted to read the official Android documentation at developers.android.com again, after so many years. This post is based on my experience with reading the documentation.


Design

It has become very important for Android developers to get a measure of how Android apps are supposed to look and feel, instead of throwing buttons and poorly-styled views all over the place, because Android users have high expectations from Android apps too.

The Design section will help you get started on the common patterns you should follow when designing your app. (The Videos section at the bottom might take a long time, so it’s better to skip them at the beginning and view them at a later point of time, if you are a developer.)

Develop

As you might notice, there are many sections under the Develop tab in the documentation. I would suggest the below order.

API Guides

Although this is not the first section, you would understand other sections better if you complete the Introduction and App Components sub-topics in this section, first.

Training

After completing the 2 sub-topics in API Guides, head over to the Training section and complete all the sub-topics here (this might take quite a while). Once you are done, head over to API Guides again and complete the remaining sub-topics over there.

Tools

There is a rather large list of first-party tools provided by Google and you can read about them in the Tools section.

Google Services

Google also provides a number of services like in-app purchase billing, Google Cloud Messaging, integration with Google Maps, Google+, etc. You can read about them in the Google Services section.

Samples

Once you are done reading, it is time to download the sample apps from the Samples section, play around with them and understand the code.

Reference

You would have completed most of the Android documentation by now, and the only part remaining would be to go through the References section whenever you’re using the respective Android API’s (or when you are bored).


Note that going through the complete documentation (excluding the Reference section, of course) is a long process and it might take a few weeks to complete it, if you’re reading it casually. Use this post as a companion guide for reading the documentation, until you’re done.

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