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.Â By now, you’ve all heard of ADW Launcher, created by AnderWeb (aka Ander).Â If you haven’t, you must be living under a rock.Â ADW Launcher is the Android Launcher replacement taking the Android community by storm.Â This excellent piece of software fills in the missing holes of the standard Android launcher and much more.Â ADW Launcher has become so popular that it’s now included as the standard launcher replacement for the next generation of CyanogenMOD.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.
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 hereÂ 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: Hmmâ€¦thatâ€™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 thinkÂ it was Dr Cloverdale who tweeted “We can haz 2 more shirtcuts!!!” So finally, when the 2 more shortcuts arrived to ADW, thatâ€™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 itâ€™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: Youâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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: Iâ€™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 Iâ€™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: â€¦ [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?Â Send us a message and we’ll see what we can do.