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#FLmobigame – Week 1

Tue 4th March 2014

Week 1 is setting up the development environment and explaining a little about what programming is about. The theory is all quite high level at the moment, so hopefully the absolute beginners are getting a gentle introduction to what they are in for.

I quite like the [Mark as complete] and continue approach of FutureLearn, but it’s a little frustrating that the instructions for installing the development environment are in an immersion breaking PDF. It’s also entirely broken that the section of the PDF that tells you to download the code framework doesn’t include a link to the code framework.

In trying to find the link to the framework, I’ve found that the next step (1.5) is also how to install the JDK, so I don’t understand why Step 1.4 linked me to the PDF.

Luckily I’ve already for the JDK and ADT installed, so I’m skipping straight to setting up the code. The instructions aren’t really clear where to put this directory, but it looks like it is a workspace, so I’ll just chuck it in my Dropbox/Programming/Java/workspaces šŸ™‚

I can’t seem to import the workspace into ADT, claiming there’s no project inside there *sigh*. Just realised that I was trying to import as the wrong sort of project (it should be “Existing Android Code Into Workspace”, not “Existing Project into Workspace”). But even then, clicking the [Finish] button doesn’t work šŸ˜¦ Deleting and reinstalling all of ADT.

After far too long of trying different combinations of where to put the project, I eventually imported it into Eclipse. Tools built on top of Eclipse are so annoying. I guess part of the problem is that the project is called MainActivity, but is not in a folder of that name. I learned that Eclipse doesn’t like folders with # in the name šŸ™‚

#FLmobigame 1

Setting up the IDE and project are explained through video and a screenshot-led tutorial, which is nice, as my headphones are broken, making the video hard to listen to in public places.

Importing the project is explained in more detail later, so I guess I should have just been patient. I guess I should read ahead for what the various steps are.

Surprised that Android 4.4 was chosen. My experience is that the more advanced version of Android take far longer to boot on the emulator, so targeting something earlier (e.g. 1.6) might have avoided the 10-15 minutes it takes to boot the emulator.

When trying to run the code I get “Error generating final archive: Debug certificate expired on 03/03/12 23:51”. Luckily it’s as easy as deleting the ~/.android/debug.keystore file – StackOverflow to the rescue!

Step 4 of 1.9 tells you to Select All and Copy the code before telling you which file to open.

I’d be interested to know how outright beginners cope with the use of words like block and actionOnTouch, without having been introduced to what a block or function name are. It may just be interpretable, but I’m so far removed from learning from scratch that I don’t know. The images do a reasonable job of indicating where to remove the block comment tags (/* */), so I guess you can do it by observation.

Step 6 of 1.9 also mentions running the code on a phone, which I don’t think has been introduced yet. I only remember the emulator being mentioned. It feels like getting the code to run on an actual device should be a separate optional step.

Not sure why I’d want to rename the project. Is this an important step, or just demonstrating the process in case it’s needed in the future?

Step 1.12 is using the comment discussion system as a peer-support system, but I really think a forum would be more appropriate. There are bound to be repeated questions, and too many comments to scan through for existing answers, and a forum groups questions by topic slightly better. Would it be a barrier to entry though?

It’s a little disappointing that the video system doesn’t have subtitles. A transcript in a PDF is better than nothing, but it means you can’t watch the video at the same time, and an HTML page would be preferable to PDF šŸ™‚

It’s unclear why the assets folder and res folder both exist. Why is assets for audio, but res for graphics? The folder exploration is quite nice though – a place for the keen to go off on a tangent while waiting for other weeks. Nice looking through the comments to see what changes people have made to graphics.

Finally, there is a step for setting up on your device. It seems there’s a few inconsistencies in the order the supporting PDFs assume and what is actually on FutureLearn. I’m going to skip this step for now as I don’t have a USB cable with me. I’ll do it at some point in the future.

Well that’s Week 1 finished, 2 days into Week 2. My MOOC pattern continues šŸ™‚ Hopefully the next couple of weeks will just be watching videos and editing code, which should be a bit quicker and less frustrating than installing an IDE.

Overall this looks pretty well put together so far, but I’d be interested to hear from any complete beginners to say how they’re getting on with this approach. Do you understand the terminology? Do the instructions make sense, or are you having to guess what they mean? Get in touch in the comments below!

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From → MOOCs, Programming

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