Building Android Widgets & Documentation

I’m building an App Widget for an Android app and the process has mostly been straight forward. The developer docs are easy to understand, but what’s lacking is the educational context that’ll really make the process stick.

For instance, the conceptual framing or the architectural rationale behind app widgets are not discussed adequately. Context, what little there is, is set mainly through links to other pages, which have even more links to even more pages. That quickly overwhelms less experienced developers.

The design docs do help categorize widgets, but that content is mainly utilitarian. There’s a tension between practical and critical knowledge at play here, but that’s better left for another post.

Overall, the emphasis is mainly on building widgets, which makes sense for a developer site. And yet, more and more people are developing software. So it becomes a question of who is developing the software and are we addressing their needs?

As the line between engineers and designers continues to blur the typical pedagogical framing applied to developer docs needs to be reimagined.

Perhaps a suitable approach would make better use of abstraction (see the image below) and, at the outset, target less experienced developers. Doing so would help provide a more unified design & build process.

Image for post
Image for post
Src: https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/appwidgets/index.html

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