Charles Brian Quinn
Today’s the day: the schedule is clear, the agenda is set. It’s time to start work on a third edition of our Android book.
How did we get here? If this were a software project, we would be in something close to continuous delivery, continuing to issue new releases. And we do that for the book, too, to a certain degree—our book serves as our course materials, so we do some maintenance in between editions as necessary.
But a book like ours does’t work exactly that way. Not for us, at least. Our goal is to have a physical book on physical shelves all across the world. For as long as that edition is out, that book is our foothold for time on the world of Android development. We’re always aware of where that foothold is, and how it might need to change.
And one morning early this summer, we decided that our list of improvements had become a bit too long.
Many changes happen in a new edition, but what really forces a new edition are topics that change the structure of what we lead you through, that alter your priorities as a learner. If we were only changing material at the back of the book, it wouldn’t be worth our effort or your money.
A good example of this is a new tool called
ConstraintLayout. Ever since our first edition, we have focused on what we consider the three major layouts in Android:
GridLayout has been out there for a while, but we didn’t consider it essential enough to integrate into the book. In our view, you will be fine without it.
Not so with
ConstraintLayout is a supercharged replacement for
RelativeLayout. For many layouts,
ConstraintLayout should allow you to replace an entire view hierarchy with a single layout. Reducing the number of nested layouts has a big performance impact, so
ConstraintLayout should have a real impact on performance for most apps.
For those reasons, we think that most developers will want to use
ConstraintLayout as their go-to layout. That means that it needs to be the go-to layout choice in our book, too. And that’s a much bigger change than writing a new chapter and sticking it in there.
That’s just one example. You get the idea, though—the guide is a whole path, not a set of standalone topics.
That’s not all that changes, though. With a new edition, we have an opportunity to clean up many smaller details we want to keep up to date:
minSdkVersion. Time has moved on, so we’ll bump up our recommendation again in the third edition.
This is just the beginning, of course. We’ve got quite a lot of work ahead of us before the new book shows up on shelves. Keep an eye out for more updates!
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Charles Brian Quinn