I’ve been itching to get into Android development for some time now. I must confess my ultimate goal is to create games for Android, but I actually can’t do that right now for some reasons I won’t explain here (contact me privately if you’d like to know more). That’s ok though, because creating games is a more complex undertaking on a platform you’re not familiar with. I needed something to get my feet wet, so I chose to create something that is simple but still useful.
- Leverage validated learning
- Scientific experimentation
- Iterative product releases
- Measuring progress
- Gaining valuable customer feedback
To accomplish this, the book defines a ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP). An MVP is “a version of a new product which allows collection of the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
The general idea is that you should develop something extremely simple in quick order, put it out there, and use it to gain feedback early and begin successive iterations to improve upon it. The advantages are numerous, but most notably is this: If you spend a lot of time scheming and planning out a project and developing without releasing it for a while, you may end up developing something that isn’t quite what your customers want at best, and at worst is something completely useless and opposite of what your customer actually wants.
So I decided to build an Android app that is really simple with limited scope so that I could get something out there that provides value early and is open for feedback loops.
If you’re familiar with Stackoverflow (I really hope you are if you’re a software developer) you may be familiar with Careers 2.0. It’s a job search site tied in with the Stack Overflow crowd. Unlike traditional StackExchange sites which have full APIs, this site has only a limited RSS feed for job seekers (there is no API for employer or resume/CV data, which makes sense given that it’s a source of revenue for StackExchange). I chose to make an app that leverages that simple RSS feed data.
Here’s what parameters this simple RSS ‘API’ supports:
Given that this is my first Android project, I knew I needed to limit my scope as much as possible because a non-trivial amount of time and effort would actually be just in learning the Android SDK and development process. So to further limit the scope of the effort, I decided I would only implement the skill and location search abilities.
I learned all about Android concepts like activities, intents, and the lifecycle of such things. I learned best practices for network communication, xml parsing, asynchronous work off of the UI thread, and more. I kept a set of bookmarks and guides that were helpful to me along the way, with the intention of writing a blog post series on basic Android 101 development in the future (keep your eyes out for this soon).
48 hours of effort later I have a first iteration suitable for release. Behold, ‘StackCareers’:
It’s nothing amazing I suppose, but it does one job and does it well (those Unix guys in the days of yore were on to something). If you check it out, I’d love your feedback and suggestions.
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