Photos courtesy of Simon via Wes’s Facebook
WesGarner Developer Interview by Dan Lesser of AndroidSPIN
We’re pleased to present our next developer interview for our regular “Down with a Developer” series. Wes Garner is known by everyone in the Android developer community. He was responsible for the team that created the OpenEclair ROM for the Dream / G1 and first Open Development project. A big time kernel developer and excellent resource for the whole community, Wes is what the Android community is all about. You can follow Wes on Twitter to keep up with his latest exploits.
Without any delay, let’s get into the Interview!
Dan: So firstly, I can just call you Wes, right?
Dan: Okay then. Let’s get this first out the way quickly. Surely it’s safe for me to call you a “proper developer” without incurring the wrath of Team Douche, right?
Wes: I am a part of Team Douche, but I just fail a lot. And yes, I am.
Dan: How did you first get into Android, as a user and a developer?
Wes: For a long time I was just a user, then I started getting into some development as a WinZip dev working on the MT3G. The first thing I decided on was to get rid of Apps2SD for the MT3G as it wasn’t needed, then I did the ZipAlign work. Also, I did a lot of experimenting with CompCache, and that was when I started WG-Build.
Dan: What was your first Android device, and how long did you own it before you rooted it?
Wes: The G1 – I got the phone when it first came out and rooted it around the first few versions of JesusFreak.
Dan: And your current device(s)? I’m guessing there may be more than one.
Wes: My current devices are the MT3Gs and the Vibrant, though I still have my MT3G (still running OpenEclair) and G1 around somewhere.
Dan: OpenEclair, there’s something I haven’t heard mentioned in a long time.
Wes: No joke.
Dan: That just faded into nothingness after a while, didn’t it?
Wes: Yeah, we kept having some troubles with the version 2.0 we were making until Cyanogen started working on CM 5.0 for the Dream/Sapphire, so I tried to just help with the CM team, but I had some stuff in life going on so I didn’t get back into it until recently.
Dan: While you used to release your own ROMs and kernels, you now seem to have taken more of a backseat role in development. You haven’t released anything yourself in a long time. Is there a difference to releasing stuff yourself and being part of a development team?
Wes: Honestly, all of that was taking too much of my life. It is more fun to be a part of the CM team because there are so many developers working on it. Plus, I have been really interested in adding more to the CM device lists over work on CM and really basing most of my work on CM in the first place.
Dan: But you still get a fair amount of criticism, or at least so it seems to the uninformed person. Who was the first person to #blamewes and what did they blame you for?
Wes: #blamewes is just for fun. It’s completely a joke, and not serious at all. I think it was Ben Buchacher who started it, but I forgot what he said.
Dan: In the words of PsychoI3oy: “Why shouldn’t everyone #blamewes?”
Wes: No reason! I encourage it for fun. Psychol3oy really hated me for it because I made an issue on Google Code about it. It had about 40 comments on it filling up his RSS feed.
Dan: Is CM6 for the Vibrant coming along nicely?
Wes: Ha, I knew that was coming. Right now I have been putting most of my effort into the MT3Gs because that was the first phone I was going to work on and made some promises that it would be my first priority. There has been a good bit of work on it (originally started by Scepterr), but I have been a bit slow on it because it’s a new learning experience being Samsung and all. Actually, Cyanogen is going to work on a couple hold-ups we have going on with the Slide, so I will probably put some work into the Vibrant tonight.
For the record, tonight being the night of August 3rd
Dan: Can we eventually expect CM6 for the international Galaxy S as well as just the Vibrant?
Wes: I’m pretty sure that’s possible but is definitely something for the future. It would really help to have a developer for CM that actually owns the device.
Dan: What’s the hardest thing about ROM Development and what’s the most enjoyable?
Wes: The biggest problem is when HTC or whoever doesn’t provide us all that’s needed to get a working ROM. Plus, they try their hardest to prevent it.
Really, I just have fun working on it – love programming and Android is just something I have always been pretty obsessed with
Dan: What advice will you give to a new developer interested in ROM development? Considering how unpopular “file-pushers” are in the community, where should they start?
Wes: Reading source is the best way to really get into it. Personally, I only learn from hands-on. I’ve never been interested in classes or books. A good thing to start with is just to get into git/repo and download the source. Start playing with applications because Eclipse makes it pretty easy to get a feel for how it all works before OS development
Dan: Do you have a day-job in addition to your Android work?
Wes: Yea, I work for a certain cell phone company in sales plus going to school for Computer Science.
Dan: Let’s move onto stuff that’s a bit more general. If you could add one feature to Android, what would it be?
Wes: I don’t know, actually. A couple of things would be like having a working landscape mode for the Android IME when you have a hardware keyboard. Plus a few things I am working with a friend to try to get out to the Market. His Twitter account is @shagge68. We’re working on some things that would be completely new to the Market.
Dan: Which Android device, released or upcoming, do you most want to own? Do you already own it?
Wes: The new T-Mobile HSPA+ device, assuming it has a full keyboard and good camera. Right now, I am using the Vibrant but go back and forth between it and the MT3Gs. I like both pretty equally.
Dan: This is just something I traditionally ask. In one word, do Android phones need a task manager?
Wes: I personally have Advanced Task Manager but mostly to close out a program that is dead, but otherwise not really – especially with the newer devices that have more RAM. Also, I kinda hate the Android low-memory killer. It seems to be very inefficient
Dan: You, as Ander Webs did, have failed to spot the “In one word” part of the question.
Wes: Oops…final answer: No.
Dan: Now that you’ve had it a while, would you recommend the Galaxy S? Is it all that it’s hyped up to be?
Wes: Definitely not as hyped up as it seems to be, but it is still a good device. I’d say that it’s a good replacement for the Nexus One I think, but it is very much an iPhone knock-off.
Dan: What are your favourite apps/games for Android?
Wes: Apps – Touiteur, GMaps, TextEasy, Last.fm and FourSquare. Games – Sims 3 and all of the Papi ones.
Dan: Okay, final question. This is something that I asked Ander Web. What do you think of: a) the Android community in general, and b) the XDA Developers community?
Wes: The Android community is pretty awesome – much better than any other platform out there. Honestly, XDA kinda bugs me – never really seem to be on it much unless I see a post that interests me
Dan: Thanks for your time
Wes: No problem, I had fun.
We hope you enjoyed this latest developer interview and if you can always check the rest of the down with a developer series.