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Learn Nougat App Development: Gary Sims interviews Tim Buchalka
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We recently reviewed an Android Development course by Tim Buchalka, and we received a lot of positive feedback from our readers regarding the course and the deal that Udemy extended to Android Authority readers.
We reached out to Buchalka to learn a little bit more about him, and about what makes his courses unique. Our own Gary Sims led the discussion:
Gary: Hi Tim! Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you get into Android development?
Tim: Hey Gary! I’ve been interested in technology since my early teens. I distinctly remember leaving high school just as my school was getting computers for the first time. Sinclair ZX-81’s. Talk about antiquated!
I wrote my first computer game at the age of 18 that was published for the Commodore 64 (A “Simon” game clone) and have been programming computers ever since.
Over the years I’ve consulted for many companies, including Fujitsu and Mitsubishi, and started using Java in the late 1990’s.
With the advent of smartphones, I got interested in app development, and worked as a consultant and programmer for some Android apps for third parties.
Along the way, I even released a few games on the Google Play Store: Flip Frenzy and ASTRO Assault.
Gary: What do you find attractive about developing for Android rather than for the other major desktop and mobile operating systems?
Tim: Creating an app that provides real functionality to a user, on a device that fits in your pocket for one!
The endless possibilities of being able to create an app to fill even the smallest function (like a Torch, a calculator, or a mini-game), which provides endless opportunities for developers is another.
And easy access to true backward compatibility for Android developers, ensuring that the Android apps I create today, still work on older Android hardware running older versions of the Android operating system, giving me access to a larger potential user base.
Gary: What are some key new features on Android Nougat that current developers should not miss on?
Tim: I’m going to talk about what’s changed in Google’s Android Studio 2.2, the free development tool that is used to create Android apps, as this is probably of most interest to Android developers.
The new Constraint Layout, which allows developers to create complex user interfaces, without having to edit XML directly has to be my favorite feature.
Android Studio has long had drag and drop user interface creation, but invariably, screen design required developers to edit XML directly.
The Constraint Layout means that anyone can create attractive and fully functional user interfaces, without having to deal with code (XML in this case), leaving developers to focus on the app functionality, rather than being bogged down in software tools.
The other really cool change is Espresso built-in support for developers in Android Studio 2.2. Espresso is a framework designed to help user interface testing, and many developers found it a little challenging to setup in the past. Full integration means the Record Espress Test menu option is available directly in the run menu.
The bottom line here is these features make it easy and faster to build Android apps, with fewer bugs. And that’s a huge benefit to beginners and experienced developers alike.
Gary: Tell us something quirky about learning Android development that nobody knows?
Tim: Android Studio’s internal editor is extremely powerful, because it’s built on top of IntelliJ IDEA, the Java IDE, created by Jetbrains. As a result, it has an incredible number of features to make programming more productive for developers.
Try selecting the Format Code option from the Code menu. Not only will it nicely reformat and re-indent your Java code, but it will also neatly format XML files as well! Seriously cool!
Gary: If there was something you could change about the Android development model, what would it be?
Tim: One of my big bugbears was the relatively poor tool for user interface creation. This has been addressed in Android Studio 2.2 with the Constraint layout as I mentioned above.
I go into great detail showing how to get the most out of the Constraint Layout in the course.
Gary: What led you starting teaching about Android? How did you become an instructor?
Tim: I’ve been a programmer for over thirty years. Sixteen of those in Java, and around six in Android.
I’ve often been in programming positions where I mentored junior staff, and I always found this a rewarding part of my job.
With the advent of the Internet, and ability to create interactive online courses, and teach via online video, it was a natural progression for me to move to a full-time instructor.
There is nothing else I would choose to do! For a geek who loves programming and teaching, an instructor is the ultimate position!
Gary: How can your Android 7.0 Nougat course make it possible for complete beginners to start down the Android developer path?
Tim: We’ve made sure total beginners, new to Android developer, or new to programming altogether are covered with this course.
Firstly, we have videos showing how to download, install and configure the necessary tools needed to develop Android apps. Videos are included, where appropriate and needed for Windows, Mac and even Linux.
All concepts and terminology are explained in detail. Videos show how to build apps, step by step, allowing the student to follow along by watching me.
A range of supplemental material such as slides, and diagrams, and reference material (links for more information on the internet).
Plus, full support is provided. There is a Q&A section where questions can be asked.
Gary: What new material did you add to the Nougat course compared to your previous Android dev courses?
Tim: Each and every video has been recorded from scratch using Android Studio 2.2.
A big focus of the Constraint Layout, much more detailed explanations of how things work. An expanded Java tutorial section, more extensive information about how to make your apps backward compatible with older Android versions and lots more.
Plus, slides, diagrams and student challenges/exercises, all designed to make it easy to learn the fundamentals of Android app development.
Gary: Is it fun to learn about Android development or is it just lots of study and theory?
Tim: It absolutely is fun and enjoyable to learn. I’ve spent a lot of time designing the course along those lines, and the videos are easy to follow along with. The course itself is not just theory either. Rather, you get to build actual complete apps and see them take shape step by step as you follow along in the comfort of your home.
Gary: Tells us about the relationship between Java and Android? Do you cover Java programming as well?
Tim: Although it’s possible to create Android apps in other languages such as C++, the vast majority of Android app development is done in Java. An entire section of the course (approximately six hours) is dedicated to the Java programming language, and is ideal for those with no previous programming experience.
Gary: Is your course only for beginners? What about those with existing software development experience?
Tim: The early parts of the course are for beginners with no previous Android, or even programming experience required. Everything from downloading and installing the necessary tools, to your first app, and then onto more complex apps is included.
However, many of the advanced apps in the course will also be of benefit to experienced developers as we cover topics like the RecyclerView, GestureDetector, Material Design, Styles and Themes, and also how to make sure your apps work well on previous versions of the Android operating system.
Gary: What can students expect to be able to achieve after they take this course?
Tim: Students will come away with a sound knowledge and understanding of how to create Android apps and be able to create their own apps and submit them to the Google Play Store.
Gary: Tell us about your current set of 40K students?
Tim: Yes, my original Android course has 40K+ students and thousands of positive reviews!
It’s been extremely well received and more than a few developers have contacted me to say that they have managed to secure a full-time job as an Android developer, after completing the course!
Gary: What are some of your most memorable students?
Tim: I distinctly remember a student by the name of Mustafa, from India. He was just 14 years old when he went through my old Android course, and managed to publish his app in the Google Play Store!
On the other end of the spectrum, I had an 82 year old man, Marcel from Romania, do the same thing. Although knowing very little English, he was able to learn enough to develop his own app as well.
Gary: Trying to learn something new on your own isn’t always easy, if a student gets stuck can they get help?
Tim: Myself, and my co-instructor Jean-Paul are in the Q&A section of the course, answering questions each day. Support is something I am passionate about, probably because when I was learning computer programming, there were no online forums, no video training, and little to no support! It’s one of the reasons I become an instructor in the first place!
So support is always available, if needed.
Tim is currently running a developer course that specifically targets the changes and advantages introduced by Android 7.0 Nougat.
Even if you don’t know a lick of code, you can go from absolute novice to a full Android developer in just over six weeks.
The course includes 33.5 hours of video content and 177 lectures that you can peruse at your leisure. Although it’s possible to complete this course in less than two months, users get lifetime access to the course content, so you can move at your own pace.
Normally this package is $195, but we’ve struck an arrangement with Buchalka to knock 92% off the course price. That means you can jump-start your new career in Android App development for just $15.
This arrangement is only for a limited time, so you’ll have to act before this Saturday, September 10 if you want to take advantage of this opportunity. After that, the course will return to its original $195 price tag.
Use the promocode 15ANDROIDN when you check out or click the button below to start developing today!
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