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Java Versus Java Android- How To Build An Android App | Touchstone Words

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Do I need to know Java to design my first native Android App

By Editorial Team on 2017-11-23

The question that most novice App designers ask is this do I need to know Java to design my Android App. The answer to such puzzling yet important question is yes and no. This article explains situations where the answer is yes versus ones where the answer is no.

When building applications it is important to remember the tools required to create one. When using the Android platform, developers may think about Java and Android Studio, an integrated development environment created by Google that streamline the process of developing and testing Android Apps. However, while Java’s popularity is quite high, as many developers learn the language in at least once in their careers, it can often feel boring and slow to develop in, especially with its verbose syntax. As its versions keep improving, adding extra features to enable more rapid development of applications, developers can utilize different tools to create their Android applications.

The first alternative to using Java to develop on Android is through the Mono for Android platform. Mono for Android enables developers to modify their Visual Studio IDE in order to compile code into an Android App. Microsoft has two languages it has created for App development - C# and .NET which developers can use through Mono to create their own application. While this enables developers with a C and Java background to start developing Apps more rapidly, it is not as well maintained as Android Studio, and using .NET to create parts of an App can be perceived as something extra that is unnecessary.

The next alternative is a platform created by Google itself. This platform is called App Inventor. In an effort to get more developers creating Android Apps, Google released the platform when they started to notice fewer and fewer applications being developed. App Inventor utilizes Visual Basic, another Microsoft originated programming language. Visual Basic, compared to C# and .NET, was created with ease of learning in mind. Its paradigm of programming also fits in with the application style really well, utilizing higher order components like many libraries for creating Apps exist today.

For developers who want to be able to create Android Apps using a language they are more familiar with like HTML or CSS, platforms like PhoneGap and Titanium allow developers to do just that. These platforms enable developers to create hybrid Apps, which are in essence, web applications that have been modified for a mobile device. These applications have grown in popularity, especially with the increase in the number of mobile websites. Additionally, being able to create applications with a native web development codebase makes the development of applications much faster. However, these frameworks lack the performance of native Apps and can create a barrier for many developers who want to add a lot of functionality into their Apps.

Creating an Android App doesn’t necessarily require the use or knowledge of Java. While using Java is the way Google intended for Apps to be created, other platforms can enable similar features with different requirements. If performance is the most important aspect of the App, using Java might be more beneficial. If a rapid prototype is to be created, then maybe using PhoneGap would be a significantly better use case.

Programming Languages and Resources for App Developers
Here are a brief summary of coding languages and resources for developing web Apps or native Apps without using Swift (for iOS) or Java (for Android). In general, you need to know common web programming languages such as  HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React Web, Node, React Native, Ionic, jQuery Mobile or Express) and  a database  like MongoDB. Knowlege of a back-end coding in language such as PHP, MySQL, Apache or Ruby on Rails is useful but not required. For those interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer. Lastly, you can use Java programming  or Ionic Android to design Java Android Apps while using Swift or Ionic iOS to design iOS Apps.

Java coding is well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in mobile App design and development; however, other options are, system admin, web design and development and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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