Droidcon: always mix business with pleasure

Droidcon: always mix business with pleasure

This was our team at Droidcon last year:

This is us this year:

Yes, your headcount is correct. In one year’s time our team doubled in size. Over the past couple of months we welcomed several new people, and it was great to join up and travel to London for Droidcon with the entire crew. Some would think such rapid growth is hard on the team spirit but not at iCapps. We headed down to London on Wednesday evening, enjoying a fun night out. On Thursday and Friday we attended Droidcon and in the weekend we went sightseeing with almost the entire team. Mixing business with pleasure, yessir!

Enough with the chitchatting. In this blog we would like to share with you some of the most interesting talks. Most of them were technical, but there were a few exceptions, one of which was very interesting for me personally. Let me start with that talk, after which I give the floor to some of my colleagues.
 

Mentoring new colleagues in the ICT world (Jonathan Maltz)

Through the eyes of Kristof Van Daele

This was not a techy talk, yet it was very relevant to me. I often coach new colleagues, and it was interesting to hear Jonathan’s view on how you can best do that. Four tips that stood out:

  1. The tricky thing with mentoring people in the IT world, is that you can review the quality of their work 24/7, just by looking at the code that they are writing. Some might believe this is sufficient, but it is not. You should sit down with people and talk to them about how they are doing. As a mentor you should follow-up on both the quality of their work and their wellbeing.

  2. Make sure you have high expectations for the quality of new colleagues’ work. It doesn’t matter how slow they are doing it in the beginning. It is far easier to increase the amount of work, than to lose time later on because the quality is insufficient.

  3. Another important thing to realize is that in the beginning you will invest a lot of time, and your own work will disappear to the background. This is normal and essential to be able to guide new people in their start at your company.  

  4. Final piece of advice: stick to one mentor per person. This will lead to consistency and trust.

 

Android: a developer’s history (Chet Haase & Romain Guy)

Through the eyes of Maarten Van Giel

The opening keynote looked back on Android’s history from a developer’s point of view. This might sound a little boring, but if I tell you that Chet Haase is not just a lead developer at Android but also a comedian, you’ll understand it was far from boring.

It was really interesting to hear Romain talk about the history of the different Android versions from an insider’s point of view. He wrote several important pieces of Android, so he was able to share lots of information you can’t just find on the internet. The presentation was a trip down memory lane and it was fun(ny) to see the (very) old Android versions and apps again.

They also talked about how the Android team tackled releases, what hacks and non-hacks were implemented to meet release deadlines. In the entire history you could clearly see which improvements took the operating system to a whole new level. It’s totally grown up now, and ready for the future!

Curious to hear more about this talk? You can find a transcript of the entire presentation here.

 

Droidcon inspires! How we ended up at an Android Things workshop on our day off

Through the eyes of Marianne De Turck and Joeri Verlooy

When we weren’t eating or listening to presentations, you could find us in the main hall checking out the sponsors. Google was one of them, presenting their Android Things DrawBot.

This bot was able to take a facial image and draw it on a piece of paper. On first sight, the bot wasn’t that impressive at all. Taking the selfie didn’t work from the first try and the portrait was unrecognisable. You’d almost start to wonder why Google presented this bot at the conference.

Then what was so inspiring about it? The proof of concept was built by only one developer in seven days’ time and it only costed 100 pounds. You just need a motivated developer and a realistic idea to work out your first version in the blink of an eye.

The demonstration inspired us to attend a workshop on Saturday to learn more about Android Things. We received a kit and got to work with Android Studio 3. With Android Things you can easily build connected embedded devices (IoT) with Android development tools, best-in-class Android framework, and Google APIs. In the workshop we first built a weather station and then an image classifier.

It’s really cool to see how far the platform has come already, keeping in mind that it is still relatively new. Setting up a devkit was super easy, and working with peripherals has never been easier for an Android developer. On Android Things, you have access to most Android API’s you are already familiar with, so every Android developer should feel right at home. Impressive workshop!

 

 

Animated vector drawables: a developer’s job? Or a designer’s? (by Nick Butcher)

Through the eyes of Koen Van Looveren

Nick Butcher has been working at Google for 5 years now, as an Android designer and a developer. He has lots of experience building material design apps for hundreds of companies. Nick’s experience as both a designer and a developer, puts him in the ideal position to discuss animated vector drawables. Vector images are sharp on any display, they are versatile and much smaller in size than png or jpg assets. They can be used as a static icon but more and more you see them being animated. These animations have to be programmed in Android. But whose job is this? Developers will say: I don’t think it’s my job to make an animation. Designers will say: I’m not a developer, so how can I program a vector animation in Android?

Both have a point, but in the end it will be the designer’s job, because there are easy-to-use tools, like Shape Shifter, that they can use to generate the code automatically.

What are the advantages of using such vector animations?

  • Vector assets are smaller, so the app including them will be smaller in size as well

  • It ensures a subtle navigation that is clearer for the end user

  • The loading time is - often - shorter

Any disadvantages?

  • Some features of the animations (like gradients, strokes, etc.) are only available in Android 6.0 or higher

  • If the vector has a complicated structure, it is still possible that the original png or jpg will load faster


//github.com/ANPez/Animated-Vector-Drawables
Source image https://github.com/ANPez/Animated-Vector-Drawable