Creating Android Apps in Java: An Interview with Mark Meretzky


In this interview, Mark Meretzky talks about his presentation at Agile Development and Better Software Conference West 2014, how he feels about Android versus iOS, his favorite programming language to teach at New York University, and what language he thinks programmers should learn first.


Mark Meretzky will be presenting a presentation titled "Creating Android Apps in Java" at Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West 2014, which will take place June 1–6, 2014.


Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Today we have Mark Meretzky and he'll be speaking at Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West 2014 which is June 1st through June 6th and he is speaking at a presentation titled Creating Android Apps in Java. Mark Meretzky has been teaching since 1990 at the New York University School of Continuing Professional Studies where he has created courses in Unix, C, C++, Java, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, iOS and Android. Many years before that Mark taught Zilog, Z80 assembly language on the original Radio Shack TRS-80. He was one of the operators at the Andrus Planetarium at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York and in his spare time still programs astronomical simulations with application Celestia using a custom superset of the language Lua. Did we catch everything?

Mark Meretzky: Yeah, that's about it.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: All right, fantastic. Now since you're doing that presentation titled Creating Android Apps in Java can you tell us a little bit about the presentation?

Mark Meretzky: Well, we only have seven hours so you're not going to cover all of Android in seven hours. What I'd like to do is show them how to write an app that will launch itself, get itself up onto the screen, maybe display some text, some graphics, a circle or triangle. I'd like to make it touch sensitive in two ways. I'd like to show them how to make a button or some kind of control that will respond to a touch and I'd like to be able to respond to a gesture, a swipe, or a pinch or a spread or something like that. If we can get through that much then we're safe because with that material you can write a lot of interesting apps.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Yeah, sounds like it.

Mark Meretzky: If there's time left over in the afternoon I want to do apps that display a series of data items say a table or drop down menu and if people are still going at 4:00 maybe we can have two apps that communicate with each other on the same phone.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: All right, very cool. In your presentation you also talk about three important design patterns involving views. What are views exactly? In brief, can you describe what these three patterns are?

Mark Meretzky: Oh, a view is an object that you can see on the screen. It's got a width and a height. It's got a foreground color and a background color. Everybody wants to make views because that's what you see but the more important objects are the invisible objects that underpin what you see on the screen. Things like a cursor object which provides item after item after item of data or an adapter that takes each of these items and encloses it inside of a view or an adapter view that takes all of these views and puts them up onto the screen. The infrastructure is more important than the views that you see on the screen but I know if I offer a lecture on what it's good for people to know rather than what people want to know no one's going to register for it so I have to compromise.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: You ask anyone who's attending the presentation to have a reading knowledge of Java. What elements or aspects should those new to Java make sure that they spend some extra time reading about before attending the presentation?

Mark Meretzky: Well, you would have to know how to create a class of objects. An object is a thing that has little variables inside of it called fields and an object contains chunks of code called methods and you have to be able to tell the object to execute its methods. In other words, all day long we're going to be calling methods and passing them arguments so I'm not going to do anything with bitwise exclusive or anything like that. I'm just going to be calling methods of objects. Very basic stuff.

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