Saturday, November 22, 2014

Android development is the new .NET

Back in 2001 Microsoft Windows had 90% of the worldwide OS market for PCs. But desktop windows software development was dire.

Developers were using tools like ...
  • Visual Basic 6 - very productive, with the downside of ugly, primitive syntax, lacking modern features such as interfaces and classes.
  • Visual C++/MFC - serious windows developers were using this, but it was less productive and extremely verbose, with lots of boilerplate.
  • Delphi -  the successor of Turbo Pascal and possibly the best of all frameworks on Windows at the time, but it never really took off.
  • Borland C++/OWL - the Open Windows Library from Borland tracked pretty closely with Visual C++/MFC, verbose + boilerplate.
  • Java - this had a reputation on Windows at the time for slow performance, bad visuals and bad tools.
At this point, Microsoft came out with Visual Studio.NET, the .NET framework and a new language named C#, with the help of former Delphi & Turbo Pascal language designer Anders Hejlsberg. Most Windows developers got on board - compared to what came before it was a breath of fresh air. Since that time, .NET has remained a large player, especially in the corporate and business market.

Fast forward to 2014, Android now has an 80% worldwide market share of approx. 1.75 billion smart phones.

Google has their own IDE, Android Studio and the open source Android SDK, which you can program using Java or any other JVM language. In the same way that .NET lets you use different .NET compatible languages such as C++/CLI and F#, Android supports other JVM languages like Scala, Clojure and Groovy, all of which let you cut down on the verbosity and boilerplate of Java.

Google is attempting to bring as many developers over to Android as possible. Their Head of Scalable Developer Relations, Reto Meier, aims to bring 50 million developers to Android.

Based on Android's market share and future employment prospects, Android is a decent choice for developers to try out. Compared to iOS, Android isn't as performant or profitable, but now it has a decent IDE, the weight of numbers, and the capability to use many Java FOSS libraries.

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