Open-source mobile platforms are tricky, Ch. 23: The Android SDK Blow-Up

You can do nearly anything you want on Android, except try to create a new Android. Wait, what now?


I’m fairly certain there are experienced open-source coders inside Google that have seen great projects go awry in many sad ways. Initial goals and ideals are abandoned, politics put a big hurt on achievement, contributors feel embattled and underappreciated, and big projects move too slowly to adapt new technologies and concepts. So a bit of top-level guidance might make sense to some. But if you’ve set the expectation that Android is an open project that can change with the community, it’s a tough thing to tell people that the tools you are providing are only for making Android apps, for actual Android phones, and don’t you dare think of creating tools for an alternative platform.

Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering at Google, has responded to this kind of uproar before. Google’s stance and response likely remain the same: Android is an open platform, but we take steps to ensure compatibility. Compare this to the Ruby on Rails development environment, where David Heinemeier Hansson declares himself the chef, the environment as a single-menu restaurant, and diners as free to leave if they don’t like what’s offered.

Sometimes it’s easier to let people vote with their feet.

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