From the Big Android BBQ Europe: Blendle dev Jolanda Verhoef on getting into Android development, current challenges, and where it's all going.

The Big Android BBQ Europe, held in Amsterdam, Netherlands recently, brings together some of Europe's top Android developers, enthusiasts and other community members in a celebration of Android, code and cooked meat. A spin-off from the U.S.-based Big Android BBQ, the European event is now in its second year.

In addition to the actual BBQ part, it's also host to two days of talks from Android developers, and this year's keynote was presented by Blendle's Jolanda Verhoef. We caught up with Jolanda during the event to talk Android, mobile development, the past and the future.

Jolanda Verhoef

Who are you and what are you doing here at the Big Android BBQ Europe?

My name is Jolanda Verhoef and I've been developing for Android for six years, focusing mainly on architecture. [At the Big Android BBQ] I gave a talk on architecture together with RxJava. So, how can RxJava help you create a nice clean architecture. I work at a company called Blendle, which is a startup in the Netherlands, and before that I worked at companies like Philips, Dutch railway stations, Enexis, stuff like that. And I built my own app for geocaching as well.

How did you get started in the world of Android development?

I taught myself, did a few tutorials online, and ported the app to Android. And the basics of that app is still running in production today.

Well that's actually a pretty nice story, and I'm gonna tell the long version because I feel like talking. Originally I was studying Computer Science, I'd just started [studying], and I had a summer holiday. And then my dad who is an iOS developer said, "well, I've got this nice iOS app, do you feel like porting it to Android?"

I was like "uh, what is Android?" because it was in the starting times of the smartphone business. And I was like "yeah, well, I don't have anything to do anyway, I've just learned how to code, so why not." So I didn't know any Android at that moment, but I taught myself, did a few tutorials online, and basically ported the app to Android. And the basics of that app is still running in production today, so that's pretty cool.

It's called Geocaching Buddy, so it helps you with geocaching, viewing multicaches...


What are some of your favorite and least favorite things about working with Android?

My favorite things are, I guess, that you really get to build something that you actually see on-screen. Of course, that's basically from app development, but I really like that with mobile it's very touchable, very sensable what you're building, and you directly see the results.

Also, I like the vibrant community around it, so you see that there's a lot of people thinking outside the box, creating cool stuff like RxJava, but also like Jake Wharton creating all kinds of different libraries, and I really love that.

With mobile it's very touchable, very sensable what you're building, and you directly see the results.

The things I like less are that, in my opinion, the official Android guidelines kinda don't help people create a nice architecture. So whenever you get, for example, into enterprise Java programming, then you will learn about design patterns and layered architecture patterns and stuff, and that is, like, core to enterprise software. But then if you go and build mobile apps they just have no idea. So thank god for the vibrant community.

Another thing [that I don't really like] might be turning the screen, kinda, is very, very annoying. (Laughs) So, it's just the landscape/portrait thing. It's always messing around with things.

What's the most important piece of advice you could give to someone starting out in Android development today?

Starting out, I would say that: Don't assume that what the official documentation says is right. So read a lot of blog posts and ask for advice from everyone. Look further than just the basic documentation.

Where do you see Android development, or Android in general, headed in the next few years?

I expect Kotlin to take over, basically. So new developers will just learn Kotlin and stop Java development completely. And I expect... I hope that Google will get more into the whole architecture thing and that they will start giving advice on how to do that.

Jolanda Verhoef is the Android Master at Blendle. Follow her on Twitter at @Lojanda.