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Fernando Ballester in Mobile App Development

10 programming environments for mobile app development on Android without Java

As we know, Android is the operating system taking up most of the mobile app development market. Therefore, as an Android developer it makes sense to master Java up to a point close to perfection. However, the strong competition currently in place makes us have to learn different programming languages for more than a single operating system. Also, being able to programme apps for Android and iOS is getting more and more valued.

We live in a world where more than one million Android apps are being downloaded. So, how can we programme apps for Android without using Java or Android Studio? In writing this article, our aim is always to give you a helping hand to aid you in getting ready to programme apps for Android. And in this case, without having to turn to native tools and programming environments.

However, it’s always worth remembering that Google has made Java available for programming apps for Android, as well as for native and unique applications. And to encourage this, they have recently renewed their support site for developers: developer.android.com. You will find in it all the necessary information on Android app development: videos, forums, tutorials and all kinds of material.

But the truth is that getting started in Android mobile app development can always be difficult if you have just freshly begun and are not particularly familiar with native programming languages. Also, if you’re not a programmer, even if you might code apps for Android by having basic notions, they will not show off results as outstanding as those of more experienced professionals.

Mobile App Development Environments (Android without Java)

Here we list some of the best tools to build android apps without using Java:

Basic4android

Basic4Android - Mobile Development Environment

The Basic4Android platform is one of the great challengers of Android Studio. It uses Visual Basic for programming and is also a clear rival of Java from its very outset. In this sense, Basic4Android is particularly suitable for developers who are starting to programme apps for Android. The reason for this is that it’s a more graphic and less abstract environment, making it possible to see the progress attained at the same pace in which programming advances.

Mono for Android

Although Java is Android’s native programming language, this operating system’s big reputation has brought about the arrival of tools that make programming apps for Android possible to those knowing other programming languages. The languages created by Microsoft for app development (C# and .NET) have also landed on the Android sphere. If you want to use one of these programming languages it’s very likely that you are already using Visual Basic. If this is the case, you just have to download Mono for Android’s SDK to be able to programme apps for Android directly in your Microsoft environment.

App Inventor

What if you don’t have a technical background? What if you know nothing of C#, .NET and Java and have never heard of Visual Basic? Well, then it’s a good idea to remember the existence of App Inventor, a tool that has already been discussed on our blog. It’s a platform developed by Google Labs to encourage more people to programme apps for Android. It’s a completely visual environment in which not a single line of code needs to be written in order to get apps for Android programmed. One of its major drawbacks is also its main strength: its simplicity and speed when creating Android apps. It’s completely free and you only need to download App Inventor from the Internet to start creating apps.

LiveCode

LiveCode - Mobile App Development Environments

Imagine a platform on which you can programme apps for Android, but also for iOS, Linux and Windows, as well as programming websites and servers within a single tool. This platform is LiveCode.

Let’s put as an example an application we have programmed for Android, but that we now want to make available for Windows and iOS to market it more widely. It’s logical to think that you will have to hire a developer for Windows and another one for iOS. But even if that would be the most advisable thing to do, if you have some knowledge of LiveCode, you can also programme it yourself for those two other platforms besides Android.

InDesign CS6

If we are talking about converting publications into downloadable apps, InDesign CS6 is the perfect programme. The range of publications goes from books, magazines and comics to newspapers and catalogues. It’s particularly suitable if you personally do not have the time or enthusiasm to learn how to programme to convert those publications into apps. By means of this CSE you can create Android apps based on the contents you have already created. You just have to follow these steps:

  1. Download InDesign CS6.
  2. Download Adobe Content View.
  3. Purchase a licence depending on how many publications your magazine or newspaper will have.

After this, you will just have to take care of the design work and the programme will do the rest of the work.

HTML5

It’s ideal for all of those who have previously programmed websites in HTML. This programming language allows you to know in advance what results you will be able to achieve when programming apps for Android. With HTML5 you will go further, as it represents a huge step forward, especially when it comes to web applications. The advantage of this programming language is that it has a great versatility and its content can adapt to many different platforms. That is, it’s perfect for cross-platform app development. It’s also perfect for programming apps for Android. And all of this in addition to the great asset of being able to make updates instantly.

Appcelerator Titanium

Appcelerator Titanium - Mobile App Development Environments

Currently, this is one of the most active mobile app development platforms. It has over one million and a half active users and more than 20,000 applications developed. If you are interested in programming for Android, then you are in the right spot, as there is a lot of documentation about this tool that will ease your learning and help you begin programming mobile applications. As a proof of its quality, we can point out that large digital companies such as eBay or PayPal develop their mobile applications with Appcelerator Titanium.

Ruboto

If you are familiar with Ruby or JRuby, Ruboto is a good option to apply all that knowledge to Android app programming for devices running under this operating system. Although not as big as Appcelerator Titanium, there are a lot of programmers that use it and there is also enough documentation to get started. You can currently download the console and scripts that allow you to start programming.

Rhomobile Rodes

In this case, we focus on frameworks that –like Ruboto– also run with Ruby. However, Rhomobile Rodes also allows creating cross-platform applications. One of its great advantages is that you can include functionalities making use of the hardware integrated in the mobile device, i.e. you may request access to its camera, GPS, etc. You can do this very easily without being an expert Android programmer. And all of this on top of being a framework that includes MVC, something which many programmers will show gratitude for. What is the catch? If you want to market your app you will have to pay a license to be able to do so.

Adobe Air

Adobe Air - Mobile App Development Environments

First of all, it’s worth saying that Adobe Air is an application for creating desktop programmes that arises from website development technologies such as HTML, Javascript or Flash. In itself, it’s not an application for Android programming, but it’s possible to use for such purpose. In this case, you will create apps based on codes that are non-native to Android running on your Android device, which you would otherwise not have. And indeed with good results.

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