Nearly all Android developers are familiar with the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE), but Android Studio, currently offered in a preview version, may be the one to supersede Eclipse as the industry standard IDE.
Android Studio has features that will benefit the entire Android community, from solo developers right up to enterprise-level teams. The enhancements are also designed to support the range of devices and languages under Google’s global umbrella.
According to the Android Studio developers webpage, the IntelliJ IDEA is based on a Java IDE. The environment features are broadly comparable to Eclipse with the ADT Plugin, which is also available at the Android Developers site.
One of the key features provided by Android Studio is build support for the Gradle automated build tool set, which streamlines the app creation process for Android devices. Other features include lint tools to catch performance, compatibility and other problems; ProGuard and app-signing support; template-based wizards for common components; and a drag-and-drop layout editor. But the features most likely to challenge Eclipse relate to globalization and localization.
With Android Studio, developers can see at a glance how their interfaces will look on devices of any physical size or DPI dimensions. As Android tablets proliferate, and hardware manufacturers explore new form factors, this capability is becoming critical in allowing broad-based Android apps.
Much the same can be said of Android Studio’s ability to show how layouts will look in different languages. For developers, globalization and localization go hand in hand. In order to achieve global reach, an app must communicate with users in their own language. Multi-language development should become considerably easier with this formatting capability.
All of this comes with an important hitch: Android Studio is still just a preview. The Android Developers website specifically recommends that users uncomfortable with an unfinished product should instead use the Eclipse-based ADT Bundle.
This Android endorsement is a clear indicator that Eclipse will not be going away anytime soon. The developer page notes that their lineage dates back to the 1980s, and with Eclipse Kepler (4.3) just released, Google has plenty of time to perfect Android Studio before its public launch. The question is, will 4.3 be the Eclipse’s last iteration?