Help (You Need Somebody)

Where To Get Assistance on Android App Development

To all those of you who have jumped on the Android app development wagon in recent weeks, welcome aboard! Android development can be fun and exciting...until you run into your first show-stopper problem. Depending on your luck, that might take weeks, days, or hours.And at that point, you are going to be looking for some help. Beyond standard documentation, here are some of your options for getting assistance.The #1 resource for questions and answers are the official Android Google Groups. The two you will most likely make use of are [android-beginners] (for introductory questions on Android development) and [android-developers] (for more advanced questions on using the Android SDK). The good news is that these groups are monitored by many people who can help, including members of the core Android team. The bad news is that these groups are huge — over 25,000 members on [android-developers] alone. Also, your first post to the group will be moderated, adding days before it will show up. As a result, getting questions answered in here is a bit of a challenge, given the ratio of questions to answerers.Beyond the official Google Groups, there are many other discussion and Q&A areas you can tap into. My personal favorite for Android development questions is StackOverflow. Tag your questions with #android, and there is a decent chance you will get an answer within a few hours. The ratio of questions to answerers is much better here, but the small number of answerers means there will be some questions that stump anyone in position to offer answers. Note: if you like the feel of StackOverflow, but you have questions on using Android rather than developing for it, consider ForceClose.There are independent Android developer groups, boards on existing developer sites, and the occasional IRC channel that you can tap into as well. You might also want to grab the Planet Android feed and watch for development blog posts that may pertain to ongoing areas of concern, so you can chime in on the blog comments.If your questions are particular for some firm in the Android ecosystem, such as Motorola or HTC, please try to use their resources first, just to help maintain the focus. They will know much more about their products than will the community at large (in most cases).Conversely, here are two things you should not do:Do not find the email address of somebody who seems knowledgeable and just shoot that person a private email asking the question. If we cannot easily keep up with questions as a group from 25,000 people, asking individuals to provide one-on-one support for 25,000 people is crazy. You will see some people on the Google Groups with email sigs expressly warning people against sending private emails – while that tone may seem harsh, it's there for a reason, unfortunately.Also, try not to cop an attitude without tactical justification. For example, you may feel that those who develop GUIs in XML are evilmongers. That's fine, and you are welcome to that opinion. Parading that opinion in front of a community in the context of asking a question will not help you get the quality answers you seek, particularly if that opinion runs counter to the generally accepted advice for Android. Now, if somebody on a list "yanks your chain", that's another matter, but starting from a hostile position just doesn't make sense.All that being said, there's a good chance that if you ask intelligent questions and respond to inquiries for additional information (e.g., Java stack traces), you will get answers, though occasionally those will be answers you won't like. Pick the right venue for the question, have patience if you do not get an answer right away, and when you can, help out others with answers to their questions.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Now read: Getting grounded in IoT