One Book Away, for Android

April 1, 2014
Android Development

After nearly seven months (7 months!) since my final project for my Android program was completed, I have released it onto the app store. Introducing (formally)… One Book Away!

Go install it now at the Google Play store:

If you like it, please leave a glowing review!

Now for some questions that no one is asking…

Where did this idea come from?
The idea for this app came to me a few years ago when I was trying to organize things I was waiting for at the library.  After placing holds on a few popular books or movies, I found they seemed to come all at the same time!  So I came up with a way to estimate how long I would have to wait for books and movies.

Originally, I thought it would be a greasemonkey script.  The only reason I decided to use Android was that I needed a project for my Android class and I couldn’t think of anything else.  The first app was just a manual-entry calculator, but as I learned about the platform it grew into a full-blown useful app.

Some past iterations of the app:

Why did it take 7 months?
One of my instructors gave the advice to build something that you would find useful, then after building it decide if it would be useful to others.  At the very least you get something you find useful for the work you put in.  However, I ran into the problem of the app working well enough for me, so I wasn’t as motivated to finish polishing it.  On top of that, I was only putting in about 1 day a week, and if a major issue arose it might take me 2 weeks to find a good solution.

What’s your status?
I’m a full-time contractor, so I was looking for something to do on the side for fun.  I don’t do any advertising for my apps, and I feel if I was ever going to look to do this more seriously it would be beneficial to me to keep publishing apps.

What got you into Android development?
I did some robotics development a few years ago that I very much liked.  The same bug that might render a web page incorrectly might cause your robot to turn left and run off the table.  Android development reminded me of that past, so I wanted to explore it further.

What do you think of Android development?
I’ve been on a c++ project for a few years, so getting back into Java was a little strange.  I don’t like development that gets in my way, and I want it to be straight forward and just work.  Some parts are very nice, especially the xml files for the layout and strings.  Other parts I’m not so hot on, like the amount of code it takes to do what appears to be a simple task.

It took a while to get used to Eclipse coming from the easy debugging style of Visual Studio.  I switched to Android Studio as soon as I could, but in hindsight I think I should have waited until it was more stable.  In a lot of ways Android Studio held me up the most.

What’s next?
Believe it or not, I have 2-3 more ideas I’m eager to start on.  I’d also like to work with someone fun to help keep the project moving, and keep it from being such a lonely process.

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