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Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Google App Inventor evil?

Here comes Google App Inventor. Now anyone Can Create an Android App without coding.

Larry Dignan from ZDNEt said, “AndroidLib estimates that the Android marketplace will soon have more than 100,000 mobile apps. Apple’s App Store has more than 225,000.
And now you throw in App Inventor and it’s clear Google is trying to do to Android what it did for YouTube. You contribute and the ecosystem grows—exponentially. In addition, App Inventor is a nice way to show off what Android can do.”

On ZDNet, there are a lot of comments from programmers who stress the fact that app development cannot be easy and that "Do it without writing a code" approach could lead to disaster similar to VB applications - bad, lacking of any structure, tightly coupled.

@mejohnsn said,
"Rather, he hit the nail on the head: app development IS hard, developing good apps is even harder. All these tools pretending to make it easy have the same value as those books/courses promising to teach a foreign language without memorization and without effort: none."

As an experienced .NET developer I would mostly agree on what you said. No RAD environments can replace real programming experience and understanding of design principles.
At the same time, I believe that App Inventor could become an excellent teaching tool. Does it allow to see generated source code? I hope so. There are a lot of smart kids in schools, there are many programmers totally unfamiliar with Android environment. App Inventor could be a first step for such people.
And, back to VB analogy. VB was a crap language by itself from the very beginning. It promoted bad programming practices - every real developer understand what I'm talking about.
A bad language like VB + RAD tools = Disaster.
A good structured modern environment and Java language + RAD tools might lead to great success.