Friday, August 5, 2011

RTFM: First MonoDroid Steps

This will be a short post on my first experiences in using MonoDroid. It will primarily be a small list of the mistakes I made in getting a simple app to run on a configured device. This actually didn't work quite as easy as I thought it would.

I started with following the download and installation instructions for Visual Studio 2010 on the Xamarin site. Clicking all the SDK's and packages you need to download and installing all of those.

First error I made here is, they indicate at their site you need to install the Android SDK on a path with no spaces in it. This recommendation, actually, is one you should follow. If you install the Android SDK in the regular Program Files location, the Visual Studio plugin won't be able to find the SDK. That's the first mistake that made me have to reinstall the Android SDK.

After reinstalling the Android SDK, just check if the new path is filled out correctly under Tools - Options - Mono for Android in Visual Studio. If it is not, fill it out and restart your Visual Studio (and recheck if it is filled out correctly).

Another handy option here is the Adb logging option, which puts a log file on your desktop, so you can see a bit what's going on if things go terribly wrong.

That done, I tried to run the default project that's created when you start a new MonoDroid project. This failed miserably. I kept getting the error message that my activity could not be found: "Activity class {\} could not be found". I struggled quite some time with this error, figuring the mandroid process must have created an incorrect package name or maybe created an incorrect folder structure under my obj folder of the project. Whatever I tried, nothing worked:

  • renaming folders,
  • renaming the namespace, 
  • renaming the project, 
  • creating my own AndroidManifest.xml file
  • ...

After a lot of hair pulling and rereading the installation instructions and the first tutorial for the 100th time, my eye fell on the Java SDK version they recommended you download. You should install version 6, but if you click the link for downloading this, you get the download site for version 7. After uninstalling version 7, googling for version 6 and installing that one I finally could get the tutorial app deployed on an Android device.

Another error I thought I made along the way, is one I made out of laziness. While downloading the Android SDK I got tired by the size of the download, skipping it and only downloading the latest version (3.3 at the time of writing). And apparently MonoDroid doesn't support this latest version (yet). So installing revision 8 and configuring an Android device for this, made it all ok. But on the other side, deploying to the 3.3 version after I got revision 8 to work, went just fine. The only problem is that your UI gets stretched, because the 3.3 device is a tablet device. I still need to figure out how you can set op MonoDroid for bigger screens.

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