AnderWeb’s Interview by Dan Lesser of AndroidSPIN

We’re pleased to present our next developer/Modder interview for our regular “Down with a Developer” section.  By now, you’ve all heard of ADW Launcher, created by AnderWeb (aka Ander).  If you haven’t, you must be living under a rock.  ADW Launcher is the Android Launcher replacement taking the Android community by storm.  This excellent piece of software fills in the missing holes of the standard Android launcher and much more.  ADW Launcher has become so popular that it’s now included as the standard launcher replacement for the next generation of CyanogenMOD.  ADW Launcher is available for Android 1.6 and Android 2.0 and above and can be found in the Android market.

Be sure to check out the featured article on ADW Launcher

We managed to grab some time with Ander and find out more about the author behind application. The first thing we’d like to try and clear up is where Ander fits into the community.  Many people have questioned these interviews in the past and been upset that people we’ve interviewed have been referred to as developers. so let’s clear that up for Ander before we start.

We asked Ander where he fits within the Android Developer community and he said that he doesn’t consider himself a developer.  We’ll let you make your own decision about this, but as far as we can can see, what he has done with the ADW Launcher would make him a developer and not a modder.  If you don’t agree with that then just read the interview below and give Ander whatever label you prefer. It’s just an interview.

Without any further delay, let’s get on with the AnderWeb’s interview.

Developer: AnderWeb
Products: ADW Launcher [homepage]
Twitter: @anderwebs

Dan: So firstly, what would you prefer I called you?

Ander: Ander is fine

Dan: Okay. So Ander, what do you consider your position in the Android community to be? Do you think of yourself as a proper developer?

Ander: Not at all. I’m just a man with a lot of free time due to being actually unemployed, and I love computer science, especially programming. I love having my brain occupied. And usually the community call those who merge files to make ROMs “developers”, so I’m not that guy.

Dan: Yeah, I know what you mean. How did you first get into Android?

Ander: On January 2010 I got an HTC Magic. 2 weeks later I rooted it so that I could theme it. After the 3rd theme I found myself modifying those themes. Then I found I could do more than just taking images from everywhere and merging them, so I started my own theme. I published it, and found again that I could make MORE than just “images”. So I started “hacking” XMLs thanks to a lot of useful info on XDA and a few real devs. Then one day I realized that everything would be easier if I tweaked the source code instead of hex editing things, and I reached today.

Dan: So your first device was a Magic. Is that still what you have?

Ander: No, I got a second hand Nexus One a month ago. The Magic is here for testing purposes, rooted with latest CyanogenMOD ROM, and my wife has another Magic with stock Android 1.6.

Dan: She won’t let you root it for her?

Ander: No, I just like a stock one for testing apps. And if something goes wrong with her phone, she couldn’t blame me for it.

Dan: Is your daily driver stock CM, or do you run a kanged rom?

Ander: I run stock stable versions of CM. I’ve only installed beta/testing versions a few times, for testing/helping. I once flashed a Desire ROM from Modaco to see what all the bluff was with Sense UI.


Dan: We might as well get to it now. You are of course best known for ADW Launcher, which is now included as part of CyanogenMOD. How did you first start working on an alternative launcher app?

Ander: Just as I previously said, once I realized I could change the apps source code, I started “porting” a few visual features of Android 2.1 Launcher2 to the old school Android 1.6 Launcher. First I just added the dots on the bottom of the screen, then a lot of users started asking for more on XDA and I slowly added what I or some people wanted. All that time I was really just doing a “learning” exercise. I’ve NEVER coded in Java before.

Dan: ADW Launcher started off pretty small, and now it’s included in CyanogenMOD. How did that come to happen? Did Cyanogen come to you, or did you go to him?

Ander: Well, the users came to him and he came to me, but it wasn’t like a “Hey, I want to put your code on my rom”. My code is open source, so everyone is free to do whatever they want with it. Steve just sent me a hilarious message with something like “Hey, here comes the fun, I’m gonna add ADW into CM, are you ready to fight the masses?”

Dan: You must be pretty happy that your work is included on every single installation of CyanogenMOD, right?

Ander: Yeah, for sure, and finding those great devs giving me a hand when needed is great too.

Dan: What is your favorite feature of ADW Launcher?

Ander: Hmm…that’s a hard one, but I think I’ll stick with the hidden dockbar.


Dan: Of course, ADW isn’t just for rooted phones. It’s on the market as well. Can you explain to me what a ‘shirtcut’ is?

Ander: Hahaha, that’s a funny story. On the first stages of ADW’s market adventure, almost 90% of the users complained about having only 2 bottom shortcuts and the dots, when Helix or LauncherPro came with 4. I tried to convince them they should be happy that the dockbar was there, but they never stopped asking for 2 more shortcuts. Over twitter, some friends and I found that very funny. The market comments were like “add 2 more shortcuts for 5* rate”. I think it was Dr Cloverdale who tweeted “We can haz 2 more shirtcuts!!!” So finally, when the 2 more shortcuts arrived to ADW, that’s how I announced them. Nothing more, nothing less.

Dan: You mentioned LauncherPro there. ADW and LauncherPro are often compared to each other on forums, in the Market comments and such. What do you think of LauncherPro?

Ander: I think that Fede is a great Java dev, with a great product. The only thing I hate about LauncherPro is the same thing I hate about ADW.Launcher: fanboys. There’s no need to send a product to the hell if you just like another one more.

Dan: Is ADW your only project at the moment, or are you working on anything else?

Ander: No, I don’t have any major projects now, though I’d like to start anything. I don’t know what yet, though.

Dan: Any new features we can expect in ADW Launcher any time soon?

Ander: Top Secret, at least until I know if I can make them work. I say again, I’m not a Java coder.


Dan: I think I’ll move on to a few more general questions now. What are your favourite apps/games for Android?

Ander: I don’t do a lot of Android gaming, maybe some puzzle games, but very casual. For apps, I think my favs are Twicca, QuickDesk, WordPress and some really cool widgets like BeautifulWidgets and PureMessenger widget.

Dan: In one word, does Android need a task manager/killer?

Ander: This is a hard one…. If you’re running android 2.1 on a device not really ready for the stock 2.1, you need a way to “tweak” the system autokiller to your needs. I never found it necessary using stock Android 1.6, and it’s not necessary on the Nexus One, either. Using the Dream or Magic with Android 2.1, I’d suggest maybe tweak it a bit with a great free app called AutoKiller. It’s not a task manager/killer, but a system tweak for the internal task manager.

Dan: You’re ignoring the fact that I said ‘In one word’, I see.

Ander: Oh! A one word reply: NO.

Dan: Which Android device, released or upcoming, do you most want to own?

Ander: I already own the Nexus One, and the upcoming devices are not “improved enough” for me to change yet.

Dan: So if someone gave you an EVO for free, would you sell it, or would you use it?

Ander: I would have to sell, because where I live, it wouldn’t work as a phone, because it uses CDMA and WiMAX instead of GSM networks. But maybe I could use it as a test/playing device.

Dan: What about if someone gave you a Dell Streak?

Ander: I’ve never thought about “tablets”. It is easier to carry a one-handed device, but who knows?

Dan: What about if someone gave you an iPhone 4 for free? Would you use it, sell it, or destroy it brutally?

Ander: I’d probably use it for a few days, and then I’d try to sell it.

Dan: Froyo is basically here already, we’re just waiting for the ROMs to start getting released. What is your favorite feature in Froyo, or what do you think it will be?

Ander: The br0tips from Kmobs.

Dan: … [slience]

Ander: Well, seriously, I think there are a lot of new features in Froyo, but I cannot tell what my favs are until I start using them. I may end up using the remote installation/pushing, but I may end up using it on a daily basis.

Dan: Okay, final question. What do you think of; a) the Android community in general, and b) the XDA Developers community?

Ander: Both communities are divided (as every community thing), between casual users and hardcore users. I think the hardcore users are great in the general Android community, as they are on XDA, but the casual users are just as good as they are in every other “community” you can think of.

Dan: Well thanks for your time, Ander.

Ander: And the same to you.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the world of our Android developers, and remember that you can check out our previous “Down with Developer” interviews any time.

Is there someone you’d like to see interviewed?  Send us a message and we’ll see what we can do.

69 Responses

  1. Bulgaro

    Good interview, a lot of insight on a person that’s becoming a star in the Android community. Thanks

    Reply
  2. Bulgaro

    Good interview, a lot of insight on a person that’s becoming a star in the Android community. Thanks

    Reply
  3. Bubert

    Keep up the good work Ander 🙂 Your launcher is the best .. thx for it !

    Reply
  4. Bubert

    Keep up the good work Ander 🙂 Your launcher is the best .. thx for it !

    Reply
  5. Garok89

    gotta say that my favourite feature is the hidden dock – and as i said before, i would love to see the option to make it the default as i am too lazy to pull it up 😛
    i did try the dreaded LP (sorry, someone had to mention it) but i much prefer ADW, especially with its rom integration over the whole separate process hogging resources.

    keep up the good work anders

    Reply
  6. Garok89

    gotta say that my favourite feature is the hidden dock – and as i said before, i would love to see the option to make it the default as i am too lazy to pull it up 😛
    i did try the dreaded LP (sorry, someone had to mention it) but i much prefer ADW, especially with its rom integration over the whole separate process hogging resources.

    keep up the good work anders

    Reply
  7. Protocol-X

    I’ve got one word…. Very well said. Oops that was 3 🙂

    Reply
  8. RyanMacG

    I get where Anderson is coming from in terms of Launcher fanboys. I really like ADW but LauncherPro is just a tiny bit more useful to me. That said a couple of updates and I could see myself switching to ADW properly.

    Reply
  9. Glotzeulor

    Great interview. looking forward to what Anderwebs will do to my preferred android launcher. maybe something magical? flying unicorns? we don’t know, but i think He’ll make it possible!

    Reply
  10. Protocol-X

    I’ve got one word…. Very well said. Oops that was 3 🙂

    Reply
  11. RyanMacG

    I get where Anderson is coming from in terms of Launcher fanboys. I really like ADW but LauncherPro is just a tiny bit more useful to me. That said a couple of updates and I could see myself switching to ADW properly.

    Reply
  12. Glotzeulor

    Great interview. looking forward to what Anderwebs will do to my preferred android launcher. maybe something magical? flying unicorns? we don’t know, but i think He’ll make it possible!

    Reply
  13. kathi17

    Great interview. I am using ADW Launcher, and recommend it to everyone I know who uses an Android phone. Love the launcher, and Anderwebs is a great person.

    I love seeing themers and everyone else who does a tremendous amount of work to make our phones better included in these interviews. In my opinion, anyone who tweaks code or changes the graphics to make themes, apps, launchers or ROMs should be included. They are all developing things for us, and most of us wouldn’t have a clue how to do what they do. Without them, Android wouldn’t be any where near as exciting as it is now!

    Reply
  14. jpuntogarcia

    ya sabes que pienso que google debería contratarte y poner el ADW como launcher por defecto de android ajaja

    Reply
  15. kathi17

    Great interview. I am using ADW Launcher, and recommend it to everyone I know who uses an Android phone. Love the launcher, and Anderwebs is a great person.

    I love seeing themers and everyone else who does a tremendous amount of work to make our phones better included in these interviews. In my opinion, anyone who tweaks code or changes the graphics to make themes, apps, launchers or ROMs should be included. They are all developing things for us, and most of us wouldn’t have a clue how to do what they do. Without them, Android wouldn’t be any where near as exciting as it is now!

    Reply
  16. jpuntogarcia

    ya sabes que pienso que google debería contratarte y poner el ADW como launcher por defecto de android ajaja

    Reply
  17. DroidDew

    Great stuff. ADW Launcher is the best. I tried LauncherPro and didn’t even use for long before I jumped back to ADW and haven’t looked back since. Anders, for not being a Java coder, you sure know a thing or two I could learn from you.

    Reply
  18. DroidDew

    Great stuff. ADW Launcher is the best. I tried LauncherPro and didn’t even use for long before I jumped back to ADW and haven’t looked back since. Anders, for not being a Java coder, you sure know a thing or two I could learn from you.

    Reply
  19. mahuq2005

    this guy is great and i guess people should prefer donating to programmer like this who just work for passion i think we must encourage such people.

    awesome anders i would have donated but i am just student still

    Reply
  20. mahuq2005

    this guy is great and i guess people should prefer donating to programmer like this who just work for passion i think we must encourage such people.

    awesome anders i would have donated but i am just student still

    Reply
  21. haxzamatic

    This is hands down my favorite app for android, what do I use more? Ander is right about the fanboys, some peoples market comments are so funny for any app. Guys if you want a feature added try sending an email it lets you right in the market! If an app works as advertised and missing a feature you want don’t rate it one star thats low at least give it 3 or just don’t rate and uninstall. People seem to think even devs with free apps get paid to do this work, time is money so the dev is paying for you to use the app. Just my 2 cents. I got a lot out of this interview, I definitely will start messing with source a lot more. I built CM from source but I really want to try editing some stuff simple stuff when I have the time…time ahhh wish I had that 🙂

    Reply
  22. haxzamatic

    This is hands down my favorite app for android, what do I use more? Ander is right about the fanboys, some peoples market comments are so funny for any app. Guys if you want a feature added try sending an email it lets you right in the market! If an app works as advertised and missing a feature you want don’t rate it one star thats low at least give it 3 or just don’t rate and uninstall. People seem to think even devs with free apps get paid to do this work, time is money so the dev is paying for you to use the app. Just my 2 cents. I got a lot out of this interview, I definitely will start messing with source a lot more. I built CM from source but I really want to try editing some stuff simple stuff when I have the time…time ahhh wish I had that 🙂

    Reply
  23. Jacklc

    Very nice interview….I have been a fan of ADW Launcher since the beginning.
    The features you have added are quite amazing. I can’t wait for whats next!!

    Reply
  24. Jacklc

    Very nice interview….I have been a fan of ADW Launcher since the beginning.
    The features you have added are quite amazing. I can’t wait for whats next!!

    Reply
  25. Kr0nos

    Great interview, great Home App, currently using it.

    But i’m a “home nomad” used home++ till it crashed too often (even if i still love the loop, and the clickable statusicons in the powerstrip), then Helix Launcher,then SupderD version of ADW, then Launcher Pro, and currently ADW again.

    Cause your code is opensource you improve most other launchers too ;)making the differences smaller, but is all in all an improvement.

    Thanks for yout time

    Reply
  26. Kr0nos

    Great interview, great Home App, currently using it.

    But i’m a “home nomad” used home++ till it crashed too often (even if i still love the loop, and the clickable statusicons in the powerstrip), then Helix Launcher,then SupderD version of ADW, then Launcher Pro, and currently ADW again.

    Cause your code is opensource you improve most other launchers too ;)making the differences smaller, but is all in all an improvement.

    Thanks for yout time

    Reply
  27. joshuas_79

    Go Andi!! great interview, you seem you are a celebritie, next interview will be for People Magazine. You made the best launcher so far and you improve it everyday! but you still own me a goat!

    Reply
  28. joshuas_79

    Go Andi!! great interview, you seem you are a celebritie, next interview will be for People Magazine. You made the best launcher so far and you improve it everyday! but you still own me a goat!

    Reply
  29. djdarkknight96

    Ander is awesome! This launcher is the best ever! I can see why cyanogen likes it! Nice interview, moving on up to iconic status! Nice job ANDER!

    Reply
  30. djdarkknight96

    Ander is awesome! This launcher is the best ever! I can see why cyanogen likes it! Nice interview, moving on up to iconic status! Nice job ANDER!

    Reply
  31. landon gonsalves

    Ander is the man and a huge part of the android movement / takeover…great interview for a great Guy.

    Reply
  32. landon gonsalves

    Ander is the man and a huge part of the android movement / takeover…great interview for a great Guy.

    Reply
  33. jeilerman

    I’m thinking about coding for android. Any books you suggest for coding in java

    Reply
  34. jeilerman

    I’m thinking about coding for android. Any books you suggest for coding in java

    Reply
  35. cckeeler

    adw launcher is one of the biggest advancements to the android experience I have seen. As a wannabe dev I find it encouraging that someone that doesn’t consider themselves a coder can make such a big impact on the android community. Stuff like this is why I love android.

    Reply
  36. cckeeler

    adw launcher is one of the biggest advancements to the android experience I have seen. As a wannabe dev I find it encouraging that someone that doesn’t consider themselves a coder can make such a big impact on the android community. Stuff like this is why I love android.

    Reply
  37. blerfont

    What can I say? AnderWeb is a great developer and a very humble person for the great work he done

    Offers a great support to people who have problems or doubts with your launcher

    Thanks for all!!

    Reply
  38. blerfont

    What can I say? AnderWeb is a great developer and a very humble person for the great work he done

    Offers a great support to people who have problems or doubts with your launcher

    Thanks for all!!

    Reply
  39. chunsanger

    Great interview Ander!

    Love ADW Launcher, and it is always the first app I install on my Droid. Thanks for the near continuous stream of updates and improved usability with ADW Launcher.

    It has certainly been fun watching your product develop over time.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  40. chunsanger

    Great interview Ander!

    Love ADW Launcher, and it is always the first app I install on my Droid. Thanks for the near continuous stream of updates and improved usability with ADW Launcher.

    It has certainly been fun watching your product develop over time.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  41. dictionary /forksnspoons

    ADW is an amazing launcher. That, and Ander is just an all around great dude. Didn’t realize just how much a launcher was capable of before him. I thought helix2 and home++ would be as good as it got. LauncherPro came in as well, and while great, I can’t get over ADW. Everything just works. Awesome support too.

    Reply
  42. dictionary /forksnspoons

    ADW is an amazing launcher. That, and Ander is just an all around great dude. Didn’t realize just how much a launcher was capable of before him. I thought helix2 and home++ would be as good as it got. LauncherPro came in as well, and while great, I can’t get over ADW. Everything just works. Awesome support too.

    Reply
  43. shaydlife

    This launcher is great. I think I can say I’ve tried them all. I was a long time fan of Helix launchers but once this one hit the seen I knew it was made just for me. So many options and he updates very often, and doesn’t mind answering questions when they are asked. I also bounced over to Launcher Pro, but always find myself coming right back to ADW. If you’re looking for the perfect launcher, you should pick this little gem up.

    Reply
  44. shaydlife

    This launcher is great. I think I can say I’ve tried them all. I was a long time fan of Helix launchers but once this one hit the seen I knew it was made just for me. So many options and he updates very often, and doesn’t mind answering questions when they are asked. I also bounced over to Launcher Pro, but always find myself coming right back to ADW. If you’re looking for the perfect launcher, you should pick this little gem up.

    Reply
  45. Joe Paxton

    Ander:

    Two follow-up questions:

    1.) I’d be curious to know what kind of improvement a phone would need to make you want to upgrade. Put another way, from your perspective, what killer features are currently available Android phones lacking?

    2.) You said that, although you don’t consider yourself a developer / Java coder, you enjoy programming. I expect there are many Android community members who would describe themselves in a similar way. In light of that, do you have any recommendations for hobbyists who have some programming experience and are interested in contributing? Any particular apps or general tutorials that you think provide good examples for the relative novice to Android and Java?

    Thanks for all your hard work on adw! I use it daily and am continually impressed.

    -Joe

    Reply
  46. Joe Paxton

    Ander:

    Two follow-up questions:

    1.) I’d be curious to know what kind of improvement a phone would need to make you want to upgrade. Put another way, from your perspective, what killer features are currently available Android phones lacking?

    2.) You said that, although you don’t consider yourself a developer / Java coder, you enjoy programming. I expect there are many Android community members who would describe themselves in a similar way. In light of that, do you have any recommendations for hobbyists who have some programming experience and are interested in contributing? Any particular apps or general tutorials that you think provide good examples for the relative novice to Android and Java?

    Thanks for all your hard work on adw! I use it daily and am continually impressed.

    -Joe

    Reply
  47. AnderWeb

    Thankyou everyone for the comments 🙂

    @john paxton:
    1.-improvements? Better Power management (the major flaw of nowadays smartphones), maybe a touchscreen with auto clean? Don’t know, and that’s why a dont need an upgrade, no real “news” on current devices/near announcements.

    2-for sure, I think EVERY android user with a little programming knowledge should play with the code , even if it’s only for themselves (tweaking an app, customizing something, adding a feature). They should start downloading the sdk, the api samples, and reading the startup tutorials from developer.android.com .
    When they feel comfortable with the basics, download the full android source code and digg into it to read/learn how the “pros” made the things 🙂

    Reply
  48. AnderWeb

    Thankyou everyone for the comments 🙂

    @john paxton:
    1.-improvements? Better Power management (the major flaw of nowadays smartphones), maybe a touchscreen with auto clean? Don’t know, and that’s why a dont need an upgrade, no real “news” on current devices/near announcements.

    2-for sure, I think EVERY android user with a little programming knowledge should play with the code , even if it’s only for themselves (tweaking an app, customizing something, adding a feature). They should start downloading the sdk, the api samples, and reading the startup tutorials from developer.android.com .
    When they feel comfortable with the basics, download the full android source code and digg into it to read/learn how the “pros” made the things 🙂

    Reply
  49. GrandDestroyer

    Nice interview, fun to read about the developer of my favorite launcher 😛 I dont know anything i miss expect 3D but i guess that can wait…

    Reply
  50. GrandDestroyer

    Nice interview, fun to read about the developer of my favorite launcher 😛 I dont know anything i miss expect 3D but i guess that can wait…

    Reply
  51. koveleski

    It’s hard not to love ADW when it offers so much customization and is constantly adding the features people want to see, all while remaining original in implementation and presentation.

    Reply
  52. koveleski

    It’s hard not to love ADW when it offers so much customization and is constantly adding the features people want to see, all while remaining original in implementation and presentation.

    Reply
  53. zszen

    Hello, I’m twitter’s Zszen. I come here and add a comment. That I really like your app. You’re awe——-some!

    Reply
  54. zszen

    Hello, I’m twitter’s Zszen. I come here and add a comment. That I really like your app. You’re awe——-some!

    Reply
  55. Tim

    Where can I get the wallpaper in the screenshots ? It looks so sexy. Thanks in advance and thank you Ander for all of your awesome works.

    Reply
  56. Tim

    Where can I get the wallpaper in the screenshots ? It looks so sexy. Thanks in advance and thank you Ander for all of your awesome works.

    Reply

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