Thursday, October 29, 2009

Learning How To Test Mobile Device Applications (Part 2) - Android

Last week we introduced this series on learning how to test mobile device applications based on the idea that developing a simple mobile app on each platform will help you understand how to test them (Learning How To Test Mobile Device Applications (Part 1) - Palm webOS). And we want to do this for free and without having to buy an actual device. That's worked for webOS from Palm and will work with this week's platform - Android.

And as we recommended in Part 1, testers should start by downloading and installing the SDK and building one of the included apps. For the Android platform, the steps for building your first app is explicitly laid out at Android Developer's SDK page. The instructions provided take you through the following steps:
  1. Preparing your development computer
  2. Downloading and installing the SDK starter package
  3. Installing the ADT Plugin for Eclipse
  4. Adding Android platforms to your SDK
  5. Getting the latest documentation
  6. Downloading other SDK components
  7. Getting started with an application project
As with the webOS SDK, there's a Hello World app provided and it comes with a very nice tutorial.  This tutorial explains how to set up a "virtual devices" for running your apps.  As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, we want to be able to build and run an app without having to own a device.  And that's possible because of AVDs or Android Virtual Devices.  With an AVD, you're able to run the Android emulator that is used to run your apps.

Since we're building apps to learn how to test them, then you need to add some debugging tools into the mix once you build your app.  And the Android SDK includes a fairly extensive set of tools to help you debug your programs.  Two debugging tools I'd concentrate on are logcat and Android Log.  All the Android debugging tools are describe here.

So there you have it.  Another mobile platform that comes with free tools and the ability to develop and run apps without having to own a device, as well as debugging tools that will help during testing.


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