Using IntelliJ for Android Development – the Sequel

A while ago, I posted a blog article about using IntelliJ for Android development.  Given that was a year ago, and one version of IntelliJ later, I thought I would do a follow up post.  Long story short (and to sound like a TV commercial):  I liked IntelliJ IDEA 9 so much, I bought a license.

Since I blogged last year, the Android plug-in for IntelliJ has really matured.  I guess the only draw back to it is that you only get the Android plug-in when you buy the Unlimited Edition of IntelliJ – it’s not in the Community Edition.  Here are some general comments/thoughts/observations of mine:

  • It’s cool to have IntelliSense in the XML files.  One of the biggest failings of Android (perhaps Java in general?) is the painful lack of a surface designer for a user interface.  DroidDraw is tolerable with enough scotch.  One could say say the same thing about the UI “designer” that comes with the ADT.  So, much of the time I find myself just plugging away at the UI in XML.  Sub-optimal, but I don’t have the resources to write a nice designer for the Android layout files, so I’ll just pour another double of Talisker and carry on.  :)
  • I like the fact that, as a Resharper junkie, IntelliJ seems very natural to me to use.  The keyboard mappings are not 100% between IntelliJ and Resharper, but that is merely semantics. I find that within about 30 minutes or so I’ve recovered from the differences and that I don’t suffer to much of a penalty switching between the two.
  • I’m a bit more structured when it comes to deplopyment.  I don’t like how IntelliJ wraps all the deployment magic for me.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s handy as all hell for development and getting an APK on my phone real quick.  For production level stuff though, I’m finding that Rake more than handles what I need done.

Of course, with Monodroid now in a closed beta and looming in the future, perhaps IntelliJ will be redundant to me?  Can I actually just write my Android applications in C# and forget about Java? As Monodroid is in a closed beta, I can’t really comment much about it at this point in time.  I think I can say, without the Mono gods smiting me from above with hail, thunder, and lightening, that I’m cautiously optimistic that Monodroid will be appealing to those who want to target mobile devices.

So, over-all impression: 

  • I like IntelliJ better than Eclipse for Android development.
  • I’d say that IntelliJ is worth the money I spent on the unlimited license. 

This claim may not be valid in all states.  It is also void where prohibited by law.  There is a good chance that it may not apply in Quebec.  This definitely does not include batteries.  YMMV.