What I cannot create, I do not understand.

Just because you've implemented something, doesn't mean you understand it.

Android development with ... Vim?

It was enormously refreshing to find this while I was setting up the Android SDK and developer tools recently:


For the past several months I’ve been working on our BlackBerry application at work. Despite my very limited experience with Android (I’m really only at the “Hello, World.” level) I think that based on the link above, I’d be safe to assume that the support and documentation from Google is much better than what RIM offers.

RIM has their own custom IDE for BlackBerry development (written in Swing so it’s pretty clunky). There’s also an official Eclipse plugin, but the most recent release doesn’t support older versions of the BlackBerry OS, making testing on a range of devices tricky (or impossible). I’ve mostly been using Netbeans and its generic J2ME/mobile plugin, because that’s what my co-worker suggested. It works, but just barely: you can install older component packages to test your app on older phones, which is worth putting up with the flaky debugger connection (and you should be testing on a phone anyway).

You actually can use any editor for BlackBerry development, and build your app using ant, bb-ant-tools, and antenna. In fact this is how we do automated builds for testing and releases, but you could easily develop this way too. I admit that I’m picking on RIM and BlackBerry a little bit, but this really is just the tip of my grievances with the platform. I don’t think I am alone.

Anyway, finding semi-official support for other editors and other OSes (BlackBerry development is completely Windows-based) was quite a pleasant surprise. While I’m sure that the Android Eclipse plugin is great, my muscle memory is heavily invested in Vim’s command set and modal editing style. And my preferred development environment is the flavor du jour of GNU/Linux (currently Ubuntu seems to be the strongest contender, but more on that later perhaps).

I’ll be spending some more time with the Android SDK in the coming weeks, so I’ll be able to follow up about my initial impressions and confirm if I was correct.