Why Pivotal (android series) is great!

At the end of last February, the Android developers youtube channel launched a new series called Pivotal where Reto Meier screencasts a way how to build a simple location-based app.

There is only one video out as for now, but the content looks promising in several ways. Not only because as Reto says “There’s a thousand ways in which this implementation is wrong, and the end of the video explains some of why everything should be done differently” but also, and mainly, because it shows that everyone makes mistakes. And by mistakes I mean silly mistakes.

When I was teaching Android app development, there was one student who was constantly asking me how I was able to understand his code faster than he himself and how I could figure out solutions to the (previously prepared) final project in no time. And this situation reminded me just how I felt when I started learning how to code.

When I was younger, I would look up to many of my teachers and considered them genius. They were able to create simple solutions to complex problems in no time. That would intimidate me and almost all of my colleagues, but we were constantly forgetting two things – how experienced the teachers were and the fact that they had prepared all the lessons taking into consideration almost all the possible questions and outcomes.

Although I was never among the best students (and I am still not), developing and building things I wanted , somehow helped with the feeling of intimidation. Then, along with time and experience, I started noticing that many of my teachers (as well as colleagues) I once considered genius were very good at several things but they would also make mistakes. And that was comforting. Not because it makes me happy that they were wrong but because that gave me hope that I would be able to build (and develop) great products too.

Many people (especially beginners) tend to forget that most of the content that is available online (videos, SDKs, tools, demos, etc.) takes a long time to create and that the creators behind it had to fail a lot of times to get the product done the “right way”. After all, softwares need updates for a reason, right?

Going back to Reto Meier (a book author and Google employee who has a deep knowledge of the Android framework) watching him taking 20 minutes to figure out that a Toast wasn’t showing because he had forgotten to invoke .show() is great. It’s great because it shows that even some of the best people out there make simple mistakes. And that is just fine!

It’s great to watch Reto and his team publishing how to update a 5-6 year old app with the most recent Android components but watching that even they make mistakes is probably the most powerful message they’ve sent with these video series.

In the end, what matters is that you build the things you want to build. No matter how long you take or how many mistakes you’d made. As long as you build what you wanted and learn from your mistakes, joy and sense of accomplishment will be on the way.

As an Android Developer, I believe that every application should be as simple and as easy to use as possible. Currently a GDG Lisbon organizer.

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