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TJ Rogers8,758 Points
Feedback on "Build a Blog Reader" app - Android
Hi, this isn't a question at all, so I apologize if this isn't the place. But I couldn't find a General Feedback section. So figured I'd just use the forum. Again, apologies if this simply clutters the Forum.
I can't wrap my head around the Android "Blog Reader" tutorial. I've been through all the Objective-C tutorials, and have a pretty good handle on building iPhone apps. I've also been through the Crystal Ball app and Random Fact generator for Android and understand those very well - in fact, I can now do the entire random generator on my own without having to refer back to the vids.
But I cannot for the life of me seem to grasp the Android blog reader project. And I have now gone through it four times - twice earlier this year using Eclipse, and twice again this week using Android Studio.
Don't get me wrong, I've completed the project and it works fine in the emulator. But at the end of the lesson, I have no idea what I did. Unlike every other tutorial up to this point, I don't understand the code in the abstract and would not be able to reproduce any of it on my own or use it in my own application, which I am actually trying to do (I'm attempting to rewrite for Android an iPhone app I designed). This is completely contrary to my experience with the Objective-C and random fact generator tuts. I get those, and can apply the concepts very well.
I think it's because there are so many new methods, classes, functions, etc introduced that have no clear function in the operation of the app as a user. Yes, I appreciate their utility in catching exceptions, producing error notifications, and everything else. There just seems to be so much arcane and obscure code with no impact on the interface.
I think beginner and intermediate tutorials need a lot more of the basic functions to understand the concepts, and a lot less of the code dealing with errors and such. Because I still haven't the foggiest clue how to parse JSON, populate it into an array, and add it to a list. Somehow it got lost in a lot of busy work dealing with errors, handling exceptions, popping up toast notifications, doing stuff the wrong way, then the right way, and whatever else. I look back at the code, and as a beginner it's very difficult for me to sort out the code that populates the data from the code that does I-have-no-idea-what. Dealing with errors and such is great, but I think it does very little good if it impedes the learning process of the functions they are designed to protect.
I think it would have been helpful to start with a small local JSON file offline just to demonstrate the basic concepts of parsing the data, populating an array, and adding to a list. Then go back and get the data from the treehouse blog and deal with all the trials and tribulations that accompany retrieving data from the web.
Maybe I just need to tough it out, grit my teeth and plow through it. But I don't know how many times I can repeat a lesson and not understand it before I just throw in the towel and say, "Screw it. Back to iPhone apps."
Sorry for venting. If anyone has any thoughts on how they understood the Android Blog Reader app, I'd love to hear it.
I totally understand your concern and not something new that I've heard apparently. I haven't yet been through the iOS apps tutorials, so wouldn't be able to relate much to it. But, yes given I've been working with OOP languages and thus Java for a number of years now, Android doesn't come hard on me. But again that only takes care of the core understanding, the new methods introduced through Android do intimidate me at times.
So coming back to Android Blog Reader App. I did go through the module twice myself, when I started it out. The videos do make a lot of code shifting, start with wrong methods and then show the correct ones, but its all for a purpose.
This is how I've come to get a grasp on the app, through my favourite approach of breaking things down. Don't worry about the methods, JSON data, parameters etc. when you start out.
Scan through the tutorials in a jiffy and take out the process flow. It starts with defining a list view, calling a URL, connecting it, checking if connection exists, and so on. Now pick up each step in the module and study that throughly. It might take a day or two extra, but you'll surely wont need to refer again.
The Simple App course, if you look at it only deals with three modules, creating a layout, randomising content and separating core working in separate files. So it came off easy.
Hope this helps.