Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Further adventures in android NDK

Following some good advice on forums, I've gone and got an NVidia Tegra based tablet (Nexus 7). The reason for doing this was to get access to their android tools, one-stop-shop tools for android development. It'd be nice to say that the installation was entirely painless but, unfortunately, that wasn't quite the case. Partly, this was due to our internet connection dying which, due to this being a massive ~2 GB download, wasn't very nice. Eventually, I did get it to download but there were still some troubles: The kit includes a nice visual studio integration (which is great, that means I have more options) along-side a tailored release of Eclipse.  When trying out their 'hello-world' example, I got various errors that would change each time I downloaded the NDK (which I had to do several times).
  Seeing as my co-worker managed to download and install it without problems last Friday, I think what may have happened (although I have no direct proof of this, take with a pinch of salt) is that the server has been updated in between then and now and therefore, I received a corrupted download. For one thing, his installation includes this directory:  c:\NVPACK\NVNDK , which mine does not. That directory contains another copy of the android SDK and the first time I installed the SDK, the Visual Studio template 'hello world' example project referred to that directory.
  Today, when I cleaned, reinstalled and recreated the template sample project again. This time, it didn't refer to the NVNDK directory but still referred to a tool-chain that didn't exist (4.7.2). Fortunately, you can select a new tool-chain (visual-studio10->project-properties->android directories->Toolchain version) and it all just works. And debugs!
  The next problem I had was on my Nexus 7 - it wan't appearing on my 'device' menu in visual studio or in eclipse. On my old Samsung phone, you had to enable developer mode in the settings but I couldn't find the option on the Nexus 7. After a bit of forum hunting, I found that you have to click seven times on (on the tablet) 'settings->about tablet->build number' in order to enter developer mode. That's pretty cryptic, guys.

Incidentally, if you click many times on 'android version' you get a picture of a jelly bean (on this version of android (code name: jelly-bean), anyway.) Swiping the screen gives a little 'game' where you flick jelly beans around. Doing the same on my Galaxy S II, I get this picture:
Android & gingerbread zombies by Jack Larson
Easter eggs are great.  So, anyway. I've finally got debugging working on android thanks to NVidia. One caveat is that this only really works on NVidia hardware; I can't debug on my Samsung phone right now. However, this is a big improvement on feeling utterly defeated, pulling out hair and swearing at unseen and presumably beleaguered tools developers.Thanks NVidia!

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