Programming in Creativity – STEP

My STEP project involved the use of android programming, where I spent time developing an android app that is applicable and appeals to what an app would look like in the app store. In my case, I decided to construct a weather app, and spent time constructing and refining the basis of the app.

 

I was new to the structures of android developing, as the classes I have taken only taught the basis of the language concepts and how to utilize them. With this STEP project, I was expecting to be exposed to the “real world” and how programming takes shape in everyday life rather than in a classroom setting with pre-set program projects and problem work sets. What was in store for me completely changed my perspective of the programming language.

Diving head-first into developing apps, I decided to use the Java language for the basis of my application since I already knew how to utilize most of the Java language components and structure. Going through tutorials and classes of introductions to Java android programming, I decided to create a weather app since it seemed simplistic and plain for a beginner like me. Little did I know that it was anything but simplistic. There were so many components that made up a simple weather app, and it got me thinking of just how much work it would have been to create other more intensive apps like the game apps that take up 3 GB of data on your phone. Care had to be taken for creating the basis for the app, multiple views constructed the activity lifecycle of the app, connecting the app to a source to read off weather data, as well as UI-friendly and responsive designs. Even the formatting of the screen sizes had to be done manually. I first would have thought programming it was a one-size-fits-all deal, but it turned out that I had to manually program every size range into the app files. For instance, someone with a Galaxy Note 5 phone would have a different screen size than say someone viewing the app from a Nexus 7 tablet. So many components made up the app that I realized everything I had was taken for granted, such as how complicated smartphones are and such.

This is what my workplace usually looked like, with constant debugging with the help of a AVD (Android Virtual Device)

Lots of tall buildings in Downtown Denver!

       In the middle of my programming session, I had the opportunity to go to an android conference. It was my first time going somewhere individually, let alone a conference, so I was really excited and nervous at the same time. Packing my stuff, I prepared for a 2-day trip to anDev 360, which was the android conference held in Denver, CO. Downtown Denver was a very crowded place, not as much as say New York, but there were constantly people in the streets. I arrived a day early, so I was able to explore around the city during the night after checking in at the hotel that the conference was held in.

Night time in Denver!

It was a good sight to behold, and many restaurants and shops plagued the streets. There were a lot more people out at night than I would have thought, but perhaps it was because of the Pokémon Go craze that was going on at the moment. Almost everyone out was playing Pokémon Go, as it had just been released about a week or two ago and it was the national sensation at the moment. The conference started off in the morning, with an introduction to the event. The way the conference was structured was unique, as two separate events would be ongoing at the same time. I could only go to one of the two, but video VODs were available on their website. The topics that they talked about were suited for all difficulty, with the most advanced being VR implications to the basic Hello World tips and tricks. I was able to absorb a lot of information from this conference, and lots of networking opportunities were available with sponsors such as Comcast and Google present to talk about android programming. After I came back from my conference, I got ideas on how to improve my application and UI ideas as well as which directories to use for progressing my application. Almost everything was done when Autumn semester came, and I was able to finish my project by the end of Winter Break. The total lines of my program took over 3,000 lines spanned over 50+ different files.

Free swag from conference!

       During the project progression, I was exposed to many ways of how to implement existing knowledge of programming into the project as well as learning new ones to add to my arsenal. The change in perspectives of what I had for programming is a very valuable lesson on both my academic and personal perspectives on many things. Programming the app made me realize of how little use my academic classes has taught me for this. When people have said “real world” is completely different from college, I was not completely bought on that idea. After finishing the app, I realized that this really was the case. The academic course only gave me the tools necessary to do the task. It did not direct me nor give me any ideas on how to complete it. Thus, adult work is completely reliant on one’s self and their creativity. When I first started, I had trouble getting started because the android programming library was too vast, and looking around in the directory one by one for the function that I needed to implement in my program took too much time. Through trial and error, I was able to learn through my errors and construct my own way of completing the program.

This project also taught me the valuable lesson of appreciation. As mentioned before, I would have thought a weather project would have been simplistic, but that was not the case. This has gotten me thinking about everything that I have taken for granted. Cars are a good example, as many won’t give a second thought on the mechanics behind it nor the millions of lines of coding that went to producing the car. All of the hard work spent on just one device which most people almost take as a granted privilege is really unsightly, and this project has taught me to treasure and appreciate all the small things in this short life.

The completion of my project looked like this