Two years ago I wrote a blog post complaining that the Android build system was broken. At the time, Eclipse ADT and Ant were the blessed solutions and they just hadn’t scaled with the platform. Third-party solutions existed for both tooling and IDE but they always felt a bit illegitimate and at risk for problems. My post joined the cries of others who knew that something had to be done.
In the two years since he and the tools team have transformed the landscape of how Android development is done. A first-party Gradle plugin now provides the powerful and dynamic platform on which any app of quality is built. Ownership of the Android plugin inside IntelliJ IDEA (with a sprinkle of branding) yields a development environment that moves mountains for you.
Neither the Gradle plugin nor the IntelliJ IDEA plugin (known bundled as Android Studio) are at a v1.0 yet. They’re both still beta (albeit arguably in the sense that GMail was circa 2008).
Why was all of this important and why is it important for Google moving forward?
Developers are the top of the funnel for Android’s continued success. Without quality development tools there are no quality apps, without quality apps there are no quality users, and without quality users the developers will flee. Half of the developer flow in this funnel comes from the tools and the other half from APIs. This post is about the former.